The Nuts and Bolts of Your Mitochondria – How to Enhance Mitochondrial Function | Podcast #349
Have you ever thought about what powers are inside your body? In this video, Dr. J and Evan talk about mitochondria and how to boost them.
When we talk about your body’s powers, the easy answer is nutrients, of course! Our body transforms those nutrients into energy, and it’s that energy that boosts the cells in our body. All types of cells have small generators called mitochondria that, in many ways, are their sources for life. Mitochondria are the only part of the cell where our basic life requirements — food and air — are combined to make energy in a process known as the Krebs cycle.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani
In this episode, we cover:
1:30: The role of creatine in mitochondria
6:34: Energy pathways
14:47: Cell Danger Response
16:07: Citric Acid Cycle
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Mitochondrial function, your mitochondria, little the powerhouses in your cell and they help generate ATP which is the cellular currency of energy so to speak. And we’re going to talk about natural ways to improve mitochondrial function, Evan, and how we doing today, man.
Evan Brand: Doing really well. I think first, let’s dive into some of the big assaults that we have as a modern society on mitochondria. And that could be anything from viruses, bacteria, parasites, gut infections, pesticides, herbicides, heavy metals, plastics, phthalate’s, the BPA, the BPS, flame retardants, nonstick chemicals, car exhaust, air pollution. That I miss any I mean.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Like you hit a lot of I would say being sedentary. There’s a lot of mitochondria in your muscles. And if you don’t do enough, you’ll put enough force to those muscles, they will atrophy. And so just not doing enough about creating enough stimulus on your body. That could definitely we can and decrease your mitochondria in your muscles. So, I would say, sedentary and in active resistance through your muscles.
Evan Brand: OK, OK that’s a good point. That’s a good point. So, you’re saying that, like, just in general, you have to have some level of physical stimulation physical activity to keep the mitochondria working. I guess it’s kind of like an old car that you’ve sat there…
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: All your muscles at least. Yeah, ’cause if you decrease, you know your muscle levels via just atrophy due to lack of use. Yeah, your muscles will shrink absolutely and that’s your mitochondria will shrink for.
Evan Brand: Sure, what about creatine? Do you know anything about the role of creatine in mitochondria? ’cause I know when I’m taking creatine, I just I feel stronger? Obviously, there’s creatine’s used a lot in like bodybuilding world, but there’s gotta be a mitochondrial mechanism there because I’ll tell you I feel like. I can lift, you know, at least a good 1020 pounds heavier on particular exercises with creatine in my system.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, me crazy definitely has an effect on growth hormone and improving growth hormone stuff that will help with muscle. Creatine is like instant energy for the muscle. So, it’s it’s there. It’s ready to be used right away in that first 10 seconds or five, five to 10 seconds of muscle use or like explosion movement through that muscle. So, that definitely plays a role in muscle. I’m not sure how it plugs in 100%. I see ’cause really you know with ATP right in the mitochondrial function? If you look inside the mitochondria you have glycolysis and then you have the electron transport chain. Or I’m sorry, you have the Krebs cycle citric acid cycle and that plugs into the electron transport chain. So, glycolysis that’s going to be utilizing the carbohydrate in the muscle right glycogen in the muscle. Fast immediate source. I think creating plugs into that top part. And then you have the Krebs cycle citric acid cycle, where B vitamins, magnesium. All these different things kind of plug into that and with that. With the citric acid or Kreb cycle, that didn’t mean the same thing. Essentially, they’re grabbing hydrogens, right? So, there it’s it’s a reducing agent, so it’s just grabbing reproduce. Reduction is a gain in electrons and so you have NAD goes around. Then it grabs NADH so you get 3 NADH and I think 1FADH2 so you have FADH. And it grabs another hydrogen and that becomes FADH2, and so it’s grabbing all these hydrogens. And then it’s essentially bringing those hydrogens downstream into the electron transport. Jane and Beta fatty acid oxidation there and so yeah, I think you generate was at 36 to 39 ATP through the Krebs cycle and the electron transport chain.
Evan Brand: Unless you’re in like chronic fatigue stayed, this cell danger response, and I think you’re spitting out something low like 2 maybe 3 ATP. I’ve read about this cell danger response. They just call it HDR in the literature, but it talks about how. The cell danger response, could be initiated by trauma or a car wreck or even mold exposure or tick-borne illnesses, or viruses. There’s a lot of you know, Epstein Barr. You’ll see the link between like mono and chronic fatigue. It said that these people are in this state of just a low power output, or even if you have the nutrients, you’re just not generating the ATP with some I don’t know if it was Caitlyn or somebody that you and I had looked into where there was a talk on this about. How the w the the ATP was literally in the single digits. The low single-digit output in some of these states. So, the message here is that for people that have chronic fatigue, you got to realize there is a mitochondrial component to this. Why don’t we talk about testing a little bit? The main thing that you and I are going to look at is going to be the organic acids. I know there are some other tests out there. I’ll admit I’ve had clients send them to me such as the mito swab. I’ve not run the model swab. Personally, I don’t know enough about it to speak on it much, but I’ll just say that it does exist. I believe it is a a mouth swab and it’s probably looking at just a couple generic markers in the saliva. But we like to use the organic acids test because, as you mentioned, there’s the Krebs cycle metabolites on there. We can look into the supinate or what some people call succinic acid. You’ve got the malic acid. You’ve got fumarate. There are other markers on there, and we we see when people have talks and exposure. Like I said in the beginning, the heavy metals, the mold, the pesticides will see those. Mitochondrial markers go up. And the higher the numbers go, generally, the more tired someone is because that indicates more damage to that Krebs cycle. So, the oh is huge, and then obviously we’ll look at stool too. Now the stool test you don’t measure like the stool tests we’re running. You’re not measuring mitochondrial function, but I look at it in a roundabout way. Meaning if you have all these gut infections producing toxins that could be damaging mitochondria as well, so we know that when we clear the gut out, we see the mitochondrial function improve.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: 100%. Yep 110%. I want to just put something on screens. People can see it here I guess is really helpful.
Evan Brand: Have you seen or heard about that my to swab before? Have you seen anybody send you those?
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I have, I’ve ran up. Fulham, it’s kind of a binary test. It gives you a result my the issue I have it’s not a lot of actionable information. It’s like OK, you know there’s some issues there, but then now what’s, what’s the remedy that you’re going to plug in from a diet lifestyle supplement? Toxin reduction execution right? What’s the next step on it? So that’s the problem with some. Of those tests, I always. Look and I always ask well what’s the corrective action based on the test showing uses a concern.
Evan Brand: Yeah, yeah
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: That makes sense.
Evan Brand: That’s the problem with a lot of them like I’ve seen a lot of these stool testing companies. Same thing there’s like so much data. Well, this percent of this bacteria and this percent of that. It’s like, what do I do with that? Is that an infection? Is that not an infection? So you and I’ve seen the same problem in other categories of health tests do.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: 100%. I want to show a couple things on screen here? Just so it’s crystal. Where the mitochondria is and how all these different energy pathways plug in, I think it’s important I’m going to pull it up here on screen in just a second so people can see it.
Evan Brand: Yeah, people listening on audio, they’re going to be lost. So just look up Doctor Justin YouTube page and you’ll be able to view some of this stuff. Some stuff, like mitochondria, gets a bit geeky. The the main thing here is toxins are a big factor in damaging this cycle and you gotta get toxins out. Reduce exposure where you can and we can run actually chemical test on your current too so we could talk about that in a minute.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Absolutely, and so if you look here right. Do you have the mitochondria right here. Some middle part, the mitochondri. The outer part is the cytosol. So, from what I understand, like creatine is going to plug more into the cytosol and glycolysis, OK, but then you’re going to see you get about two ATP which is adenosine triphosphate. And this gets broken down into ADP and you get energy right? And so, you have glycolysis which generates a little bit of ATP 2. And creatine to plug more on the outside then that goes into your mitochondria. Now you have the Krebs cycle and the electron transport chain electron transport chains part of also the beta fatty acid oxidation. That’s how you burn fat for fuel. OK, so Krebs cycle that churns around twice, and essentially what you’re doing is you’re gathering NAD and FADH2. NAD&FADH are grabbing hydrogen so and a design to grab a hydrogen making NAD. HFADH is going to grab a hydrogen, making FADH2, so I think you’re going to grab it’s like two or three. NADH is, and then one FADH2. And all those hydrogens then go into the electron transport chain here and this is where you generate most of your ATP. And again, what comes out, oxygen comes and this is why, if you’re like anemic right? And you’re not carrying oxygen. Well, that’s why you’re going to get tired and this is going to have an effect on your thyroid and your adrenals because the mitochondria is important for energy at all levels. And so if we have anemic issues or were inflamed because inflammation is going to make it harder to carry oxygen all. And also nutrition, because this electron transport chain, when we run the organic acid test, we can look at citrate, malate, fumarate, succinate. These are important metabolic essentially inputs into the Krebs cycle that correlate with certain nutrients like amino acids, alpha-lipoic acid, magnesium B vitamins, and so we can get a window on how this. Krebs Cycle was functioning based on the organic acid testing at some of those compounds and then all sister connotate citrate, right? These are really important, and then electron transport chain we can get a window into things like carnitine and Co Q10 ’cause they also play a major role in the electron transport chain. So we get a good window with how the mitochondrial function functioning by looking at the B vitamins and looking at a lot of these nutrients and so essentially things that can impair this. As you mentioned, pesticides. Heavy metals, mold toxins, antibiotics, and all these things have a negative impact. But that’s kind of how things look, so we have. Glycolysis is the first part that then goes into the mitochondria, and then we have Krebs cycle and electron transport chains. These are the big three. If you can kind of zoom out and see how it looks and how it makes sense. That should hopefully make more sense, so on that front. Any question that, Evan?
Evan Brand: Well people listening to that. They’re going to be like wow, this sounds like a really crazy rare problem, right? This must be just rare. This must be like a one in million case and I would say. Not going to say 99. I would say 90% of the people we work with. I see some level of mitochondrial dysfunction or damage either on the chemical profile test, so that’s something I alluded to earlier. We can run chemicals so we can look at gasoline. We can look at xylene. We can look at phthalates, all sorts of organophosphates. 24D is a major herbicide. I still see people at Lowe’s and Home Depot in the Garden Isle buying grass seed. That’s called weed and feed, weed and feed is a grass seed mixed with three different types of herbicides. It’s 24D, I believe it’s dicamba and glyphosate. Wait, I could have mixed one of those up, but either way, it’s three different chemicals, very toxic substances mixed with grass seed, and that’s like people just buy it and they don’t think anything of the term weed and feed. That means you’re going to be killing all the good stuff in your soil and poisoning yourself at the same time. It’s just not smart. So this mitochondrial thing. My point was, this is not rare, like when you show that image and people see that like. Oh no, that’s not happening to me. It’s like it happens every day, all day. I had mitochondrial damage, my latest test shows our mitochondria are much, much better, but I had significant mitochondrial damage from my mold exposure.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Very interesting, I want to highlight one thing here so you can see creatine does primarily exist here in the cytosol, right? So if we zoom out, right cytosol is outside of the mitochondria, right? Right glucose, pyruvate here, so just so you guys can highlight here, creatine does go from the cytosol and it can go into the mitochondria. So, we did talk about creatine. It does primarily happen more in the cytosol outside the mitochondria, and it can go in via this. Mi-CRT kind of transport. Compound, so yeah, so creatine is a compound that we talked about that goes outside but can also go inside the mitochondria. To yeah Doctor Neil Nathan.
Evan Brand: That’s awesome! Doctor Neil Nathan did a huge thing for 155-page slide show that people can look up just called the Cell Danger Response. It’s very complex stuff. There’s going to be maybe a few geeky on that. People want to dive into that, but for your average person there’s not much takeaways built into that. But if you want to look into more of like the biochemistry side of it, then then you could look at it. But I think the big summary is it’s all. It’s all the Chemicals, and this is a relatively new problem I mean we face now over 80,000 chemicals are in the environment. Depending on what number you read, there’s only a small amount of those that are even tested. You’ll see stuff in Europe like oh Europe has banned these chemicals and makeup and personal care products, but the US was very far behind. And if you look at the environmental working group, they have a water testing report. You can look at and you can plug in your zip code. I mean just the amount of trihalomethanes’s pesticide herbicide residue pharmaceutical drugs that are in the municipal tap supply in your city are massive and you’re getting hit with this all the time. If you go to a restaurant and you eat rice, what do you think they make that rice with? They make it with tap water so you’re getting exposed to it that way too, which is why if I go out to eat, I don’t really do rice that often anyway. But if I do it, It’s going to be at home with good, clean filtered water.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I like it. Anything else you want to say on that, so obviously get the toxin exposure. Super important hydration obviously really important to anything else you want to say on that?
Evan Brand: Yeah, you hit you hit the the Co Q10. You mentioned some of the markers we’re going to look at on the oak test, so we will use those. We have a formula. I believe you’ve got 1/2 mines called my to boost. It’s essentially like a multi for the mitochondria with all the Co Q10, ribose, carnitine B vitamins. So, when we see mitochondrial dysfunction, we can supplement that and we tell people this is a band-aid for your mitochondria. This is not some of it is the root cause, right? If you just are simply low and depleted in Co Q10, one could argue supplementing Co Q 10 is the root cause, but in reality it was usually. Oh here we go. Let me see if I can share this slide with you. Mainly it was the the toxins that led to this so let. Me share my screen really quick.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: And there is going to be because we do make Co Q10 on our own via the mevalonic acid pathway. And of course, as you get older, just like stomach acid, you’re gonna make less of it and so there there could just be a depletion based on age as well.
Evan Brand: Does that show up at all on your side? The video is that screen share show.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Try again.
There’s like a little bell there. Let me let me pop it up again. How about that, yes? Oh yeah, let me let.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Me highlight it, go ahead.
Evan Brand: Yeah, there we go. So, this is this is kind of what I was alluding to, and many many other people may have different ways to look at this, but this is from Neil Nathan. He had a great paper on this cell danger response and it just shows at the top here. Basically, everything I already mentioned like a flame. Heavy metals, pesticides, infection, so that would include viral issues as well. Mass cells, NK killer cells, cytokines, the microbiome. All these issues here are what really breaks this role. You know, the one of these is the final straw that breaks the camel’s back and then you end up in this what’s called the cell danger response phase. And then that’s where you get the issues with the mitochondria down regular. So there’s more in that. Like I said, it’s 155 pages. It’s like you got to be, you got to be, you know, have your bulletproof coffee before you look through that.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: No, that makes a lot of sense, so your kind of really focusing on the toxicity and how that negatively impacts it. I want to just kind of tie in the dietary component. Why is food so important to enhancing the mitochondria? Let me let me break that down for a second here. This is important. OK, so this is really important. We talked about like Kreb cycle right? And so like this is our zoom out right? What’s happening here? We have glycolysis, Krebs cycle, electron transport chain outside of the mitochondria with the cytosol inside. Now check this out. This is a good one. This is from textbook of functional medicine, so. We have fats, carbs and proteins. These are our primary nutrients where everything comes from right. Fast could be coconut oil, grass fed butter could be fats from. Uhm, grass fed meat right? Our carbs can be vegetables, fruit, starch and our proteins could be protein powder or it could be animal protein, right? All of these essentially shuttled downstream. Fats get carried into the mitochondria via carnitine, so if you go into any biochemistry textbook, it’s called the carnitine. Shuttle right. Every medical doctor, doctorate level person would studied this at a graduate level. I studied as well now in the textbook of I think that guidance Physiology, but there’s another textbook of biochemistry that’s common at the graduate level. You know what the rate limiting amino acids to make carnitine are. It’s methionine and lysine and so really important.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Guess what some of the rate limiting amino acids are in a vegetarian diet.
Evan Brand: Oh yeah, well.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Medallion Leisinger actually very deficient in vegetarian diets, and so this whole process of a carnitine shuttle here that helps bring carnitine converts it into acetyl Co A. So then the actual it can get inside the mitochondria. And run through the citric acid cycle again. That’s the same thing as Krebs Cycle. They have multiple names. In medicine for the same thing, it’s just meant to confuse people. So citric acid cycle or the Krebs cycle. This is how we get fat inside the mitochondria is via carnitine. So very important, right so if we zoom out. Here, we have energy out here, fat. We get it inside via the carnitine shuttle. Super important there and then you see carbs. Right glucose, other sugars. We go pyruvate to lactate and we need guess what B vitamin? So if we’re putting in lots and lots of refined processed sugar and we’re insulin resistant, we can actually deplete B vitamins. And we can actually deplete a lot of magnesium and other nutrients downstream. So, this is really important. Too much carbs, too much sugar, especially if you’re insulin resistance and you’re putting on weight due to too much carbs. That’s going to be a problem, and you’re going to deplete nutrients now. Then we have proteins, amino acids. These all get converted downstream. We also need B itamin to support that now the difference is if you’re eating high quality protein. Guess what? You’re getting good quality B vitamins in that. Protein if you’re doing a lot of refined processed sugar, guess what? You’re not getting vitamins and nutrients with it. So carbohydrates, it’s possible to eat a lot of empty carbs that are actually going to deplete your nutrient levels. Protein not as much if it’s grass fed and organic right now, really, you’re taking all these nutrients, fats, carbs and proteins. You’re converting them into acetyl Co A. OK, you’re converting it to acetyl Co A and again we spit off beta-hydroxybutyrate what’s that? That’s a ketone now this is important. If we keep our carbs in check we can use ketones for fuel, so this is a really important fuel source or people that are going to be lower carb because we’re going to be more keto adapted. We’re going to be able to use that and then you can see here that acetyl Co A. Runs around the Krebs cycle. Twice we go 2 turns. Guess what, we need cysteine amino acid iron really important. So if you’re a female you have heavy bleeding your estrogen dominant you heavy bleeding that’s in effect energy magnesium manganese B vitamins lipoic acid magnesium B vitamins B vitamins tyrosine phenylalanine aspartate, glycine, histidine, arginine, proline. Glycine, valine methionine, right? These are all amino acids over here. So, we need amino acids to run these systems. We need B vitamins. We need magnesium and then of course, once we pump these things around, here’s our NADH and then our FADH should be there somewhere as well. So here NADH, it may not. They may just be oversimplifying it not showing it. But we have NADH here. We should have an FADH2 coming in. This all goes right into. Guess what? This is the electron transport chain and base. Yeah, fatty acid oxidation right there, right? This is now now hydroxymethyl Glutarate. This is Co Q10. This is where Co Q10 comes in and this is where it runs through the electron transport chain and burning fat for fuel and we generate our 36 to 38 ATP from all these three sources 1-2 and three and so that’s what’s happening in your mitochondria. So just to kind of highlight macro nutrients, fats, protein, carbs, very important two, don’t junk it up with all the toxins that you mentioned. And then of course, making sure we. Can breakdown protein. Make sure we’re getting enough iron making. Sure, we’re not. Anemic right? All of those things kind of flow into allowing all these pathways to to work optimally.
Evan Brand: That’s amazing, I love the breakdown to that. The visual super helpful. So just to clarify a little bit. So for women out there, you’re saying that if having heavy ministration, they have low iron. It’s not just the the low iron that we assume is creating like a low oxygenation, you’re you’re showing here. The low iron is literally creating a mitochondrial deficit.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Correct. You’re not getting the oxygen in right? If we go back to here, right? Mitochondria, what do we need to get into the mitochondria? Oxygen, what’s one of the big carrying capacities for oxygen in the body? Hemoglobin and then iron affects hemoglobin in red blood cells, right? Hemoglobin is part of the red blood cell carrying capacity and we need the iron to really keep the hemoglobin levels up so we can carry enough oxygen.
Evan Brand: Wow, so there’s why you’re tired.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Could be. Yet, one and then of course all of the other nutrients play a role. Not enough of the amino acids. The only issue with this graph, any biochemists that are looking on? I think the only thing that’s missing is really the FADH2, so it should. So, all these things, they’re just reducing compounds. Really, the whole goal of this Kreb cycle to run is just grabbing hydrogens. And then once we grab these hydrogens, Uhm, these things get cleaved off, and then it generates ATP. What’s happening there? And all these things like hydroxymethyl iterate. These are right. These are all driven through Co, Q10, right? We need Co Q10 to make that happen.
Evan Brand: Now for people like supplementing ketones, if you go back up to the top there, you can basically kind of inject your own spark plug into the cycle, I guess right? If you’re taking exogenous ketones, what is that doing in relationship to this whole cycle?
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: It’s giving you more beta hydroxybutyrate. The problem is your body is going to primarily want to use that when insulin levels are lower, so you have to keep your insulin levels and check. If not, you’re not setting your Physiology up to want to burn that. If you’re probably, gonna pee it out more like more than likely versus burn it. Cause typically, your body has an enzyme called hormone sensitive light pace where it wants to break down fat and convert more of these ketones. Hormone-sensitive light base is inverse with insulin. So hire your hormone-sensitive light pace is you need lower insulin to make that happen.
Evan Brand: So the lady who eats the donut and then goes to the store and buys her exogenous ketones, she’s wasting her.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Probably not as good. There may be some mild benefits that you get cognitively just ’cause your brain has some additional fuel to run on. If people brains are insulin resistant, they may have a lot of sugar from that doughnut, but the cells in their brain maybe so numb. To it that they may not be able to access it so some ketones could be helpful, but in the end, you want to fix the insulin resistance if you’re going to do it. Try doing both. Don’t just do the ketones. Try to do both that you can.
Evan Brand: And you can make your own ketones too. For free.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, yeah, that’s how you’re doing that you keep in your insulin in check. And you’re going to start. Making your own. 100%.
Evan Brand: Yeah, cool.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Cool, that was awesome. Very cool guys. I hope you guys enjoyed today’s podcast. We’re trying to be a little bit more visual; you know. Go into some hard hard science Y stuff, but you know just kind of zoom out. Like what’s the take home right? The take home is don’t put junkie toxins and that screw up your mitochondria right? Antibiotics, I mean antibiotics? You know if if you have an acute infection that’s not resolving, you know you gotta do what you gotta do, right? You have an acute pneumonia. You gotta do what you gotta do. Talk to your doctor about it. Just don’t go to antibiotics all the time as your first line defense. Try to do some. More natural things to fix it #2 you know, try to be aware of mold in your environment. Make sure you’re not. Getting exposed to pesticides. Chemicals heavy metals. Make sure you’re doing your best to hydrate right. We need water to make this whole thing work too. I would say after that make sure you have your macronutrient style, then good quality protein fats and carbohydrates. Organic sources dial in your carbs so you’re not insulin resistant and make sure your inflammation is good. Inflammation helps with oxygenation and blood flow. Then after that we can look at using supplemental nutrients in my line and Evans line we have mito supports products mine is mito synergy. Evans is my toe. Boots will put links down below. Those products have a lot of these nutrients. It’s going to have the ribose to creatine the carnitine, the B vitamin. Since it’s going to have the Co Q10, it’s going to have actually Kreb cycle intermediary compounds like fumarate malate, succinate. All those different nutrients or run those pathways better. Of course, that all sits on top of a solid diet. Don’t take supplements if you’re going to eat crap, eat really great and then say OK now I’m going to work on enhancing it. And again, we can run testing on organic. Message to look at some of these intermediary nutrients, like citrate to connotate succinate bloomer, a mallet we can actually test them, which is pretty cool.
Evan Brand: Yeah, the testing is the best part because you you know if you actually need it. I can tell you the average person has mitochondrial problem, so in general, could you just take this? I kind of call it a multi for the mitochondria. Could you just take that test? You know like a guess and check you could, but we like to see the data and obviously my biggest thing is looking for mold colonization. Candida overgrowth clostridia. Some of these gut infections and how that affects your brain chemistry too. So when you do the oh, you really are getting the best bang for your buck in terms of testing. Like if you could only do one test out there, I think the oh it would. Probably be the number one most.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Important 110%. Anything else you want to say?
Evan Brand: If people need help, they can reach out to you worldwide or me worldwide. Doctor J at justinhealthcom me Evan at evanbrand.com and we would love to chat with you about your symptoms, your goals and we’ll tell you for your good fit for care, so please feel free to reach out. Look forward to helping you.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Foot and get adjusted. Help calm here and then you guys have any questions, comments or concerns. Put him down below. Let us know. Kind of what you’re doing. What’s working that really helps us out as well. Very cool. Alright guys, well you guys have a phenomenal day here and we’ll. Be in touch. Take care of y’all.
Evan Brand: Sounds good.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Alright Bye bye.
Genova NutrEval FMV
The Gut Lung Connection – Your Gut Health Can Affect Your Breathing | Podcast #348
In this podcast, Dr. J and Evan talk about the connection between the gut and respiratory system. You might not immediately associate gastrointestinal problems with lung disease, but the two frequently coexist. The tissue and glands in your lungs and intestines are the same and react to the same triggers.
At first look, the operations of your digestive and respiratory systems appear to be somewhat dissimilar. Though, the systems are connected in a variety of ways. The digestive tract can function because of the outcomes of respiratory action and vice versa. In addition, the systems collaborate to deliver energy to the body’s cells.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani
In this episode, we cover:
3:08: Key factors of lung inflammation
7:48: Probiotics as regulator of immune response
11:56: Foods major role in gut-breathing connection
20:17: Available Testing and Herbs
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: And we are live. It’s Dr. J here in the house with Evan Brand. Today, we’re gonna be talking about the gut, lung connection. This is really important. Lung health today, it is very important. We have to get good oxygenation. We have to make sure that inflammation from different microbes in the environment, whether it’s allergen or infections, we have to make sure that we’re able to still breath and transfer oxygen even with those stressors in the environment. We’re gonna talk about how the gut is connected to that, how inflammation in the gut can be bi-directional and can affect the lungs as well. So, let’s dive in. Evan, how are we doing today man?
Evan Brand: Hey. Doing really well. Starting this thing off, I was looking at some papers this morning. I told you this was just too important for us not to cover so in the journal of immunology from this year 2021, I’m just gonna read you one, really, really big thing here which is the fact that intestinal dysbiosis is associated with increased mortality in respiratory infections due to an exacerbated inflammation and decreased regulatory or anti-inflammatory mechanisms in the lungs and the gut and they say here, pointing to this important relationship. So, this was actually the first time I’ve heard. You and I have been talking about stuff for years, I mean, we’ve done between us both close to, you know, thousand podcasts and we’ve been talking about gut-brain axis, we’ve talked about the gut-thyroid axis, we’ve talked about the gut-skin axis but I don’t think we’ve ever hit on the gut-lung axis and so this paper is just really reviewing the literature on this and it’s absolutely incredible because guess what, the beneficial bacteria helps respiratory infections and there’s 30 pages, if not more, I haven’t even had a chance to review all the papers on this but there are countless, countless papers now and pages of papers showing that the probiotics actually can reduce the inflammation in the lungs, however, if you’re in the hospital or if you were in the unfortunate situation of being in a critical care unit, an ICU, you’re gonna be getting antibiotics more than likely and you’re not gonna be getting probiotics. And, we could go into the mechanisms but I think the mechanisms will probably bore people but long story short, there’s an increase natural killer cells and obviously decreases in inflammatory cytokines and there’s many, many other mechanisms but long story short, probiotics are absolutely amazing and we know that the antibiotics that you’re gonna get in these situations are gonna do the exact opposite.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Absolutely. Here’s a great study here. I know, we’re kind of referring to some of it. I’m going to share my screen here with the audience so everyone can see it, all right. Let me know if you guys can see this here. I’m gonna pull this up here so you guys can see it. All right. Can you see my screen there? All right. Awesome. All right. So, off the bat right, one of the key driving factors of lung inflammation is gonna be dysbiosis, right? Why is this? A lot of this has to do with the fact that bacteria, 80% of the immune system is in the intestinal tract, right? You have some in the GALT, which is gonna be the gastric associated lymphoid tissue, that’s in the stomach, right here. And then, you have the MALT, which is the mucosal associated lymphoid tissue. So, the mucosal, uh, that’d be the intestine. So, the small intestines in the middle here and then the peripheral on the outside is the large intestine. And so, a couple of the big things that you’re gonna see is when the immune system is overactive. One of the first things the immune system does is when it’s overactive, it actually creates inflammation, right? Part of inflammation is vasodilation so it can bring the immune system, the immune cells there to help fight it off. Think if you get bumped in the eye. What happens to the eye? It gets swollen, right? And so, you create this low-grade inflammation which is part of how the immune system works. The problem is, you know, most that inflammation that we’re seeing in people, it’s not an oops, I broke my elbow, it’s gone in a day or two, it’s a chronic low-grade inflammation and so you can see, um, when we add in things like probiotics over here, right, probiotics do a bunch of different things, they regulate the Th1, the Th2 immune cells, right? So, Th1, Th2, right, so that’s gonna be the natural killer cells on the Th1 side versus the antibodies on the other side and so, we have this balance between helper natural killer on the one and we have the antibodies on the two. So, we have this good balance and if they have it out of killer, like, let’s say we have higher Th2, you may see more allergies and things like that which can obviously stress out the lungs and obviously if we have some kind of infection in the lungs, we want good Th1 modulation because if the Th2 is really high, the Th1, those natural killer cells are gonna be lower. And so, you can see, obviously, it’s gonna express several viral defense genes. It inhibits various cytokines and chemokines so the chance of you having, um, what’s that, what’s the expression they call it here, it’s the inflammation after a virus kind of comes in and ravages the lungs
Evan Brand: Like the cytokine storm
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah. Cytokine storm and so this really helps modulate the imbalance in cytokines after the fact, right? And obviously, it’s gonna modulate immunoglobulins, that’s your antibodies, your IgG, IgA, IgM, IgG and then to modulate your innate and adaptive immune system and obviously it’s gonna help with the allergenic anti-allergenic property, so that’s gonna be a Th2 stimulator. So, you can see, it’s gonna really help modulate this here. And again, this article doesn’t even really address it but if we don’t have good gut absorption of let’s say of vitamin A or vitamin C or vitamin D, right, if we don’t have good absorption in the gut then obviously all those nutrients play a major role in modulating the immune system too. Any comments on that, Evan?
Evan Brand: Yeah. Well said. So, I’ll take it a step further. We see all sorts of dysbiosis, bacterial overgrowth, Candida, parasites, worms, gut inflammation coming from the diet. You alluded to the malabsorption. So, let’s say, you’re giving someone X amount of zinc, let’s say you’re giving someone X amount of quercetin and vitamin D and vitamin C and you’re thinking that you’ve got a good protocol, well, we talk about this all the time. It’s not really about what you eat or what you take, it’s about what do you actually digest, what do you absorb and what do you assimilate from that so the problem is I have first-hand experience now with some really, really intense medical cases, we’ll just leave it at that for now. And, this particular person has been getting vitamin C in a crushed-up tablet form where in reality, we should be getting IV vitamin C. So, it’s not just about what you get, it’s how you get it, it’s how much you get it, it’s how much what you get from what you’re taking. And, there’s a lot of issues and if you say you’re getting 2 grams orally in a crushed-up low-quality form, we know that Vitamin C. In general, we see it low all the time on organic acids testing. Maybe, you’re getting a tenth of that so you’re really just gonna get the therapeutic amount so a lot of people I find are either being fairy dusted or fairy dusting themselves because they’re putting so much hope into the products they’re taking and they’re just not getting much from that due to these underlying issues with the gut. And, you and I have beat the drum on the gut for freaking 10 plus years and we’re still having to beat the drum on the gut but I hope that you feel as good as I do about all the work we’ve done because we know that everything, we’re doing with the gut is improving people’s responses so that if they do get exposed to something, they gonna have a much, much healthier, better response to it.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: 100%. I want to show one more article up here if you don’t mind. We’re trying to incorporate some of these new systems here so people can kind of see what’s happening with some of the articles that we’re looking at while we go live. I think it should be helpful. All right, there’s one thing I wanted to post here. So, we’re looking at different infectious stress on the lungs and what’s happening but look at what’s happening with probiotics, right? Probiotics are having an effect on modulating TNF alpha, Interleukin-6, it’s having also effects on modulating over here, your CD4 cells, these are your natural helper cells. Probiotics, actually, have a major role in modulating this whole immune response and so, you know, I think one of the best things you can do if you have poor gut health out of the gates here is potentially adding in some probiotics, uh, maybe adding in some fermented foods as long as you are getting bloated or gassy. Now, some people that have SIBO, these things may make it worse and so if you’re one of those people that probably won’t be the best thing but if you’re trying to be more in preventative mode, we probably want to get some of this dysbiosis under control and work on building up good bacteria after the fact, kind of my general analogy is you get your car washed before you get it waxed. You go and throw down seeds only after you’ve done the weeding in your lawn. Anything else you wanna add, Evan?
Evan Brand: Yeah. Except for like in acute situation, you might have to change the order of operations, you might have to go hardcore in it maybe some bloating, some burping, some gas, some kind of reaction, you know, you gotta make a pros and a cons list, right? There’s always a risk benefit analysis and those short-term effects from a probiotic if it were in the wrong order per se are not gonna be a huge deal, long-term.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah. Absolutely. Let me just kind of, all right, good, so I think that’s really good. So, first thing I wanted to add on top of that is we know gut permeability is a major stress on the immune system because you’re allowing undigested food particulate potentially or potentially like endotoxins which are like the outer shell of the bad bacteria, potentially even mycotoxins from fungus or mold, right? These things affect gut permeability. When the gut is more permeable, that allows more foreign antigens, think of antigens as like foreign proteins, right, so you could put bacteria, viruses, food, all in that kind of anagen category. It exposes more things to the immune system and the more you expose bigger chunks of things to the immune system, the more responsive the immune system will be. And so, ideally, we don’t want to poke the bear, right? Think of it like, gut permeability is poking that sleeping bear and we don’t want to over stimulate that and create immune responses unless we really need to.
Evan Brand: Yeah. You know, what’s crazy too, this, I mean, we’ve seen so many things with obesity and you know worse outcomes and diseases and you know. I went to the restaurant yesterday, I got some delicious chicken wings, some grilled chicken wings and I look around and everyone, this is on a Sunday, everyone’s drinking mimosas and bloody Mary’s and whatever else and the majority of the people are obese and they’re getting pretzels and nacho cheese and then they get donut holes delivered to their table and then they get a sandwich with like six pieces of bread and the cheese is going off the sandwich and then they go and get chocolate cake afterwards. It’s like, my goodness, just imagine how much better we could be if people just had chicken wings like me for lunch. I didn’t have donuts, I didn’t have queso, I didn’t have freaking pretzel, I didn’t have bloody Mary, like, come on. People, it’s like, they don’t care about their health until they are forced to care about their health but by the time you get to that point it’s already too late so I guess my little rant here is just, I really want people to start taking their health seriously now. Stop waiting until you’re at rock bottom before you decide you wanna change things. Use this information that Dr. J and I are providing and implement it now, like, people listen, listen, listen and then the implementation is just not there. I really hope people implement the stuff you and I talked about.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani:100%. So, I mean, out of the gate, I mean, of course, you know, you have caught people on a bad day, maybe they’re 90%, you know good and 10% off and you caught them on their cheat day, right? But odds are that’s probably not the case but we have patients who are really good and may have a bad day every now and then. And so, hey fine, if you’re doing great and you’re on point and you’re in great health and you want to cheat every now and then, I always recommend trying to choose the least damaging cheat possible, right? That probably isn’t the best example of that but in general, food plays a major role, right? Because food’s gonna have nutrients to run your immune system, right? Our fat-soluble vitamins, our antioxidants, you know zinc, magnesium, selenium, all play major roles with the immune system. Our antibodies are made from proteins so if you’re not getting and digesting good protein, you’re not gonna be able to make good antibodies for your Th2 immune response and then obviously, if you’re eating inflammatory food, the more omega-6, the more you stimulate your prostaglandin E2, that’s more the side inflammatory side, the more you’re gonna have unprovoked immune responses and you’re just gonna be chronically inflamed and then you may have this cytokine storm we talked about because you don’t have good balance to your immune system and so, also, on top of that, right, we know how much carbohydrates, especially refined processed carbohydrate. It feeds a lot of bad bugs. So, if you have a lot of fungus overgrowth, yeast overgrowth, bacterial overgrowth, these bugs prefer refined processed foods, right? It’s gonna just be easier to digest, easier to feed them and so you’re gonna create overgrowths like that. And these bad bugs, obviously, produce other types of toxins in your body, right? Bad bugs eat your nutrients and poop. And then, instead, versus eating your poop and producing nutrients, right? Bad bugs take the nutrients you’re eating and they’ll produce more toxins and endotoxins and different metabolites, lithocholic acid, etc., versus producing B vitamins, producing vitamin K, producing different beneficial acids that prevent the colon from overgrowing, right? Probiotics, acidophilus, literally, translates to acid loving and so good probiotics actually produce and lower the pH in the intestinal tract which actually makes it harder for bad bugs to grow, right? Bugs tend to prefer an alkaline type of environment to actually grow in the lower intestines.
Evan Brand: That’s a great point. I don’t think many people know that about acidophilus. I’m glad you broke that simply for people that you actually want lower pH environment because that’s not really a place for these pathogens to thrive versus when you’re on proton pump inhibitors, for example, acid blocking medications or if you’ve got an H. pylori infection, you’re gonna have that higher pH, you’re gonna have that more alkaline gut and then that’s where things really get into trouble, I mean you and I, I think we’ve done a whole podcast on this but the brief spark notes are lower stomach acid, age, stress, not chewing your food, that’s gonna increase malabsorption and feed the bugs too. So, this once again goes back to the same thing and we’ve said 100 times you get your gut tested. Figure out if you’ve got this overgrowth going on. Don’t wait until you’re in a critical situation. We got to get your gut fix now. Think of working on your gut as preventative medicine. How revolutionary is that?
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Absolutely. And then also, when you consume too much carbohydrate, we talked about how you’re gonna feed the bad bug. We talked about what the bad bugs do in regards to impeding nutrients, adding more toxins, pooping poop, right? There was one more thing I wanted to kind of highlight on that realm, we talked about the gut permeability and the overstimulating immune system. Also, high levels of carbohydrates, glucose looks very similar molecularly to vitamin C and so you have these macrophages, little Pac men and Pac women that go along in the lymphatic system and in your bloodstream. They gobble up bacteria, gobble up viruses, gobble up crud.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Also, high levels of carbohydrates, glucose look very similar molecularly to vitamin C, and so you have these macrophages. These little pacmen and pacwomen that go along in the lymphatic system and in your bloodstream. They gobble up bacteria, gobble up viruses, gobble up crud. Vitamin C kind of docks on that macrophage and and kind of supercharges the macrophage so it can gobble things up more. Guess what glucose can actually come in there, and docks on that macrophage, and it can decrease the macrophages’ ability to gobble things up. Now in literature, the literature logs to make things confusing, so there’s kind of like two sets of language. There’s like the lay language right where we’re kind of communicating it in a way that everyone gets it. In the literature, they’ll call it the phagocyte index, right P-H-A-G-O-C-Y-T-E-S, so phagocyte with a P-H, right? So go on PubMed, type in phagocyte index and you’ll see, that’s the macrophage. The ability to gobble critters and bacteria up, and so if we decrease the phagocyte index, it’s going to be just they’re not going to be able to gobble things up as much, and so this is really important and so high levels of glucose, high levels of insulin, which, again, glucose and fructose stimulate insulin production, right? And so, you’re going to have. Less gobbling of your pacman and pacwomen in your bloodstream to be able to control these critters.
Evan Brand: That’s crazy. Ok, so you’re saying if I’m in the hospital and the nurse or whoever brings me my lunch, which I saw when my grandmother was in the hospital couple years ago for heart issues. You know what they brought her for lunch? It was this little like packet of peanut butter which was corn syrup and like peanuts. And then I think it was probably a piece or two of bread and then it was a little Jelly packet. And guess what that was? Corn syrup and like fake artificial flavor and purple dye and whatever else. So, you’re saying that’s not the optimal diet for good macrophage. I guess you would call it bug eating per southeast.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: No. One, it’s going to feed a lot of despotic bacteria. Two, it’s going to decrease the phagocyte index, so your body’s ability to gobble up the bacteria and such. And then I would say on top of that, the more insulin resistance you have, ’cause, how, how It works is right? You take in glucose, you take in fructose, right? When there’s fiber attached to it, it actually decreases; glucose and fructose is damage. I.e. like if I consume some fructose from blueberries 1, there’s a bunch of antioxidants with the blueberries. Bunch of different course. It ends and bioflavonoids and vitamin C on that. There’s also fiber so fiber kind of blunts the effects that you may get from fructose when you consume things like blueberries or strawberries. But when you consume fructose without the fiber, i.e., high fructose corn syrup, right or table sugar, which is sucrose to gross is fructose and glucose. High fructose corn. Syrup is just like 55-45 fructose to glucose. Where table sugars, half and half right? When you consume it without the fiber and out the nutrients. What happens is the body says ok, we gotta go store it in the liver. So, in the 1st place it goes to to dump that fructose is stored In the liver. Once the the fructose sources are done. There can’t store it anymore. It starts to convert it. With that, and then once the liver starts getting fatty, all this fructose just hangs around in the bloodstream and it’s creating all this oxidative stress. It’s like putting a barbecue sauce right on your chicken before you barbecue it. It creates this browning effect. And so when you have all this high level to fructose in your bloodstream because your liver saturated, your liver is now fatty. It can’t store anywhere else. You have high levels of insulin now you start browning all the arteries. And then what does that do? It creates inflammation and makes your platelets and your blood cells just more sticky. So you have increased chances of clotting. What’s going to happen when you have clotting in the lungs? It’s going to create a whole bunch of lung stress, right? Obviously hard issues if it’s in the heart. Brain issue is in the brain. And so if we can get the fructose and the high levels of insulin down, one, that’s going to help blood flow. It’s gonna decrease your oxidative stress reserves and so when you have high levels of oxidative stress, what does that? Due to your needs of vitamin E and vitamin A and vitamin C? It increases it, because your body is having to put out these fires and think of these antioxidants is like the fire extinguisher. So, it’s wanting to use all these antioxidants. And of course the fuel that feeds a lot of this stuff is going to be high sugar and crap that also feeds the bacteria, which then makes the immune response worse so you can see all these things, they kind of compound on each other one after another.
Evan Brand: Yeah, yeah, that was a great way to put it out so I was kind of picture in my head. This snowball effect that gifts. You and it gets nasty quickly.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: It does. It really gets nasty.
Evan Brand: And then if you’re really, really bad and then you’re on the feeding tube, I mean we’ve seen, and I know you’ve talked about this before with your some of your work in the medical industry years ago. I mean, you’ve talked about some of this stuff they feed people. It’s it’s bad. These feeding type solutions. I mean, I’m pretty sure it’s just straight garbage. I don’t have an ingredient list in front of me, but I know it is not good.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, 100% and uhm… You know sugar is used, it hits that opiate receptor, right? It’s, it’s people use it to kind of modulate pain, modulate all the bad stuff that’s happening so it’s you know it’s very addicting. You know, once you’re stuck on it. We had a question come in, “How do you test for some of these things with the bacterial overgrowth?” So you can do a SIBO breath test Lactulose breath test. We can do one of the different organic acid tests that we’ll look at some of the bad bacteria metabolites like benzoate, hiparate 2, fat 2 3 phenylacetate, Indicam; These are different organic acid or bile acid markers that we can look at. Will also run good, comprehensive DNA stool tests that will look at some of these bacteria, and if they’re overgrown right, some of the common bacteria will see, or Klebsiella, citrobacter, prevotella, morganella, Pseudomonas, right? There are some of the common ones that we’ll see, and there will be elevated way outside the reference range when this happening.
Evan Brand: Yeah, you’ve got strep. You’ve got staff. We’ll look at Candida on the stool, even though it’s not as accurate as the urine will look at. The parasites too. What about like blasto and crypto and Giardia? What about H. Pylori infections? All these things add up against you, so our goal is really trying to get everything on paper and figure out what all you’re up against and the. Cool thing is. A lot of times, you and I are knocking out infections that maybe we didn’t even know were there because we can’t test for everything like we have really, really good testing. But I’m sure there are still different pathogens that we don’t even know, but the cool thing is with these herbs and with these synergistic formulas that we’re using clinically with people is that you may have some antiviral, antifungal, antimicrobial antiparasitic properties all to these same compounds. So you may knockout 4 different infections with the same nutrient as opposed to, let’s say a specific drug designed to target a specific pathogen, like an anti-giardia antiparasitic medication. Whereas herbs we may come in and knockout, giardia plus crypto, you know. Plus the H. Pylori all in one fell swoop, so that’s the benefit and not to mention. Let’s say it’s berberine, that we’re using for antimicrobial support. We may help support glucose there. We may, with some of these.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, yeah, there’s some of that.
Evan Brand: We may. We may lower inflammation at the same time as we’re eradicating the infection, so that’s just really beauty. Once you get the data, the beauty is that you can work on multiple mechanisms at the same time getting someone to the finish line fast.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, and also when you take some of these herbs, these herbs are going to have antioxidants in it so the oxidative stress that you kind of create with the killing of these microbes. These herbs are going to have some antioxidants present in them just due to their their phyto signature. Obviously when you take in an antibiotic, right, you’re not going to have a lot of nutrients or antioxidants present with that. They actually they can create more oxidative stress. Just going to PubMed type in antibiotics and oxidative stress or antibiotics and mitochondrial stress. There is a study supporting this, so the part of the benefits with the herbs is that you’re going to get some antioxidant nutritive properties ’cause based on their phyto signature and again, this is all going to be dependent upon. These herbs being higher quality right, not cheap ones, and if they’re grown in soils that have high levels of lead or mercury then that could obviously be a negative impact. So we want to make sure we’re sourcing out high quality herbs. That’s why we want to have a professional grade where we have third party testing on them to make sure they’re adequate. The next thing on top of that is there’s synergy between some of these herbs. So, for instance, you talked about berberine’s right very helpful. Barbarians also help modulate lipids, right, triglycerides, cholesterol, right. They also help with blood sugar and guess what? Berberine’s combined with warm wood our shown actually have antiviral qualities which is very helpful. So if you have any kind of lingering viral stress that can also be very helpful. I see people when we do gut killing, they, they may start to flare their herpes because their immune systems going after it. Sometimes that can happen too. Or there may be very helpful with their EBV or something else going on in their bodies. So we gotta keep an eye on all those things.
Evan Brand: That’s cool. Yeah, that’s really fascinating. Oregano 2, right? We love oregano will use that as a broad spectrum too. That has a lot of cool different antiviral into microbe properties olive leaf is another great one. That we use and…
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yep, olive liters of antiviral properties to anti inflammatory for sure.
Evan Brand: Sure, and it’s gentle. You know some of these things are just so gentle that even in young children that were seeing with these issues, I mean, I know with you and. I you know. I’ve actually had couple clients, they they’ve really tooted you and eyes horn. They say you know that you and doctor J or kind of the only guys out there with young kids that actually are doing functional medicine because so many people are doing like, functional medicine theory you know? Or maybe they’re clinician and they’re older. Maybe they don’t have kids, so I wanted to pass that feedback on to you that are our clients. They they really love that about us that we’ve got young kids, ’cause we’re implementing this stuff with our kids too. I know you and I have both done antimicrobial nutrients and other supportive stuff for our children, and it’s been really great because there’s so much fear and I, I guess you would just call it misinformation when it comes to to kids. Kids are so resilient, but they do sometimes need help and you know, you’ll often get the recommendation or the the comment that, Oh well, the pediatrician doesn’t know anything about that. For the kids, I will tell you, personally herbs are great for kids and we use protocols and kids all the time. There’s so much to be done with kids.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: 100%. So, just kind of out of here just if we kind of re summarize what we’re trying to, you know, make sure you. Guys extract from here. Is number 1, beneficial bacteria is going to help modulate the immune system, decreased permeability, immune permeability, which or gut barrier permeability, which takes stress off the immune system. it’s going to modulate the cytokines the interleukins. So, when your immune system comes in there you’re not going to create more damage from the immune system, so it’s kind of like the firefight is coming in and you have a small fire and instead of putting it out with one of those portable little fire extinguishers they bring the whole big ladder and truck in there and spray so much water they knock down all your walls. It’s kind of like, well, that’s kind of an inappropriate response to that kind of fire. Same thing with your immune system. We don’t want your immune system to be creating stress and inflammation because the response is inappropriate, right? We could see this with other stress infection. We see it with allergies, right? And so we want to make sure we have good immune stress. We want to make sure that your gut is healthy where it’s extracting all of the nutrients we’re putting foods in there that aren’t feeding the bad bugs, but also providing lots of good beneficial healthy fiber and healthy full spectrum antioxidants and nutrients that help the gut in the immune system as well. Any comments on that Evan?
Evan Brand: Well, you know that just kind of spurred the five and we could do a whole Part 2 on this, but I mean there is a role of some leaky gut support outside of probiotics. During this, you and I have our own custom professional formulas that we use with various nutrients like Aloan, Muk and cama meal and other things that you can use to actually support the gut lining. So this would be another great thing to. Implement if you’re in these situations, maybe you’re unable to get testing because you know it takes. You know, couple weeks, turn around time or a little more, depending on what you’re doing. So if you’re kind of in a more acute situation, I think not knowing what you’re up against, you still could bring in some of these leaky gut supports now. And then if you’re in a situation like I’m telling you to wait before you hit rock bottom, wait before you know, don’t wait before you hit rock bottom. Don’t wait before you have to go. To the hospital work on your gut now. If we have all the data we can work you through these steps here and then we may have already gotten you to the gut healing point to where you’re not coming into this infection with a leaky gut. I would much rather someone come in with a healthy gut. We know we’re gonna, they’re gonna do far better and with this discussion you and I talked about today of the gut-lung axis, now is the time to focus on your gut, so you don’t have to focus on your lungs.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: 100% and it gets great. Makes a lot of sense. So you guys listening to you enjoy today’s content here, we’ll put a list of some of the products that we use. Some of the probiotics that we that we specifically like in use with our patients. I’ll put some of the the immuno-nutrients that we’d like to kind of modulate the breathing pathways- quercetin stinging nettle-all excellent. I love ginger tea as well, we’ll put that in the links down below those are all excellent things. And of course some of the herbs that we like as well will put some of the clearing herbs that we like for the dysbiosis and such in the comments or in the comments, ah description below. And if you want to support us, you can purchase some of those things there. If you also want to reach out, we’re available for functional medicine consultation support all around the world. Will put that link down below as well; evanbrand.com to reach out with Evan. Doctor J, justinhealth.com to reach out with myself. Thanks so much. Evan, any last things you want to highlight?
Evan Brand: No. That’s it. If people need help, feel free to reach out. We’re here for you. We’d love to help you do, do an overhaul. You know what I mean? If we got to look at your system, let’s look at your system. Please reach out if you need help. Doctor J at justinhealth.com me, Evan, evanbrand.com. Would love to help you and we’re here for you.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Awesome! Alright. Have a good one everyone! Take care. Bye now.
Evan Brand: Take care. Bye, bye.
How Your Iron Levels Are Negatively Affecting Your Health | Podcast #346
Iron is a mineral part of hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that transports oxygen from the lungs and throughout the body.
Dr. J and Evan also discuss identifying underlying issues to deal with them effectively. You could be having digestive problems, menstruating for women, or you’re not eating the right foods to source iron or adequately absorb it. So if your body doesn’t have enough iron, it won’t get enough oxygen, and your cells (powered by oxygen) won’t function efficiently. Suppose you’re experiencing symptoms of iron deficiency.
In that case, Dr. J and Evan suggest consuming vitamin C to help increase iron absorption, eat iron-rich plant foods, and have yourself tested to have comprehensive test results and fix your health issues.
In this episode, we cover:
1:19: What is iron deficiency and how to test it?
5:36: Iron-rich food template
10:04: Other issues to consider when dealing with iron deficiency
17:09: Iron deficiency in men
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: And we are are live! It’s Dr. J here in the house with Evan Brand. Today we’re going to talk about about iron levels and how can they negatively impact your health. Of course, we have two sides of the same coin here. We have high iron and low iron. And then, high irons going to be a bigger issue, right? Men don’t menstruate and women potentially, low iron is going to be a bigger issue because women menstruate every month at cycling; it’s a cycling age. Menopausal women, when their cycle tends to cease, then there could be more issues there. But out of the gates, women iron is going to be an issue. Most of the time if it’s hormonal issues and men’s going to be the opposite. We’re going to dive in and give you guys a crush course on both sides of the fence. Evan, how are you doing today, man?
Evan Brand: Doing well! Let’s jump right in. So looking at blood work. If you’re looking at a female, you and I test ferritin which we find conventional medical doctors rarely test ferritin. Ferritin being the iron storage protein and I did a whole video on Youtube. Those are my most popular videos ever on low ferritin and hair loss. We’ve seen how if your ferritin is let’s say 20, that’s far too low. You’re going to experience maybe some shortness of breath, major hair loss. If we can get the ferritine to 70, 80, or 90, women feel much better. Their hair stops falling out and they can catch their breath. So do you mind like, teasing a part when you’re looking at these labs, like total iron versus a ferritin. If you see a female with low total iron, are you really prioritizing that or are you after ferritin or are you going after both? How do you approach it?
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Well the first thing that we look at with iron, we have to see how low it is.Okay? There’s func- I consider functionally low levels of iron. And um, and there could be um, you know more, I just say more acute levels of iron that are are more low. Right? We could have functional imbalances versus the more anemic that conventional medical doctors would say you’re low in iron. We have both side of the fence, right? We have the functional issues, and we have the pathological issues. So the first thing we look at is going to be a CBC, right? On the CBC we’re going to look at red blood cells, hemoglobin, and hematocrit. If we see those start to get low, especially red blood cells you’re going below 4, hemoglobin into the 11, hematocrit below 30s, we have problems. Danger will rob– the red blood cell size is dropping which is the hallmark of low iron. Because we need iron that attaches to hemoglobin that help us carry oxygen. So we have hypochromic microcytic anemia. These are going to be smaller red blood cells, right? Smaller blood cells are going to be on the iron side. On the B12 side, it’s actually the opposite; they’re actually bigger. It’s called megaloblastic anemia. They’re actually too big. The red blood cells are opposite. We think of humans, we start off as babies and as we get bigger right? Red blood cells, they start off bigger and they actually get smaller as they get older. And so, B12 is needed to mature. Red blood cells, and so if we don’t have enough B12, you’re stock in this more immature state which is bigger, and you don’t have enough B12 than you can’t get smaller. Now with the iron, it’s actually the opposite. You actually get too small when the iron is too low. And of course, you can’t carry oxygen which is really important because aerobic metabolism which is how we mostly generate energy requires oxygen. And so that’s like, you know partly the kreb cycle, the electron transport chain, and all that stuff um, requires oxygen. So on that front, just kind of out of the gates there, we’re looking at um, iron from that perspective. Red blood cells, CBC, hemoglobin, and then we can dive deeper into an actual iron panel. And that’s we’re going to look at serum iron, that’s going to look at iron in the blood. Then we can look at ferritin. It’d going to look at our storage form of iron. So iron serum and ferritin are two different things. So think of, You’re driving a car, right? You have your check engine,Or should say you have your gas gate, right, for your fuel, right. Your fuel gauge that’s kind of your ferritin. Are you on full are you an empty? The iron serum, that’s the fuel that’s in the– ready to be, ready to be um, combusted to generate energy. Think of iron serum, that’s what’s in the engine, that’s what’s in the blood right away. Ferritin is going to be what’s in the gas tank. So you know of course If you see iron low on the serum side, you wanna look deeper but it’s not beol or endol. You have to look deeper on what’s in the gas tank. That’s where iron serum um, sorry, that’s where ferritin will be more helpful and other markers like Iron saturation can be helpful too. Because that tells you how saturated the cells are, and also things like binding proteins. Um those tend to do the opposite, those tend to go up When iron goes um, goes down. So think about it, thinking about iron binding proteins is like fingers right. The more or hands right, the more hungry you are the more hands reaching out to grab stuff right. And so your body creates this protein and will try to reach out and grab these extra irons to create more binding proteins when iron is lower. It’s trying to get that much iron into the cells as possible. Does that make sense out of the gates?
Evan Brand: Yeah it’s a great breakdown. The analogy is super helpful. Because you know some of the blood chemistry training that you and I have looked at, some of the doctors, they will talk about the importance of ferritin. But that visualization of the gas tank Makes a whole lot of sense because you have doctors, if they do recognize low iron, they’ll treat that. But then if you see low ferritin, The woman still doesn’t have the results she’s looking for with regards to hair loss and catching her breath and all that. So once you get the ferritin levels up, Which typically I go for lactoferrin. What are you doing in terms of trying to get the ferritin back up? I know optimizing the gut is some of it, we can talk about that. But what about just straight supplements?
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: So first thing is you may see higher levels of iron in women that may have low iron. So you have to look at all the markers that I’ve mentioned because if they are inflamed, iron is also a reactive oxygen species right? Think of it as like It’s kind of inflammable if you will and so, and so when you are in inflamed because of poor food, poor diet issues, or toxicity issues, you may have higher levels of iron ferritin because of inflammation. If you’re really inflamed i always I like to make sure that it calm the inflammation down a little bit first before throw iron in there, it’s like gasoline in the fire. So you really want to make sure you know if iron’s really high or looks really high and then we see some inflammation markers like CRP also high, we see a lot of symptoms, right? Brain fog, joint pain, energy issues; Maybe we wait a little bit before we jump on that iron train right away. Maybe we just chew some iron rich foods, you know on the animal side and work on getting the inflammation down. So it depends upon where they’re at.
Evan Brand: That’s smart, let me comment on that real quick. That’s really smart and really wise to say, because people would just jump on that iron train right? Those doctors who prescribe iron probably low-quality form which is going create constipation and other problems. And if they are already having high iron Information due to some toxicity, that makes them worse. I had one high iron when I was first exposed to mold. I actually look back on some of my olde levels. My ferritin was high, my iron was high. And i did some pretty high potent seed turmeric extract, and i was able to get the iron back down. And i’m sure the blood donations may have helped too. But it was interesting to see that on paper, how my exposure to toxicity cranked that up a little bit.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Exactly and then There is a marker called Seruplasman Which is a marker for copper So sometimes copper and also affect iron as well. Again i’m not too worried of copper If you’re like Paleo and you’re eating high quality organic meat and high quality animal products. close your typically going to see the zinc and iron products cause you also have copper in there. So i don’t typically get worried about copper unless we’re really I don’t know, eating a lot of plant-based products. And we’re kind of deficient and some of those minerals, and so eating good quality animal products may not be that big of a deal. And also it’s good to look at if we’re doing iron, If someone is vegan or vegetarian, you know there’s different kinds of iron that we use right? So in my line, i have a product called vegan supreme which is an iron disglycente which is found in the glycine, which is good. It it’s better like conventional medicine which is ferrous sulfate which will be more constipating, leaving the stool black-er and darker. Glycinate tend to be pretty well absorbed so i like that in the glycine Which is same kind of amino acid and collagen and bone broth so i like that. Also, i would say depending on vegan vegetarian you may want to add some grass fed liver. Something like that that’s going to have some other nutrients like B12, vitamin A in there as well. Just depends upon how good or bad someone’s diet is too, if they can eat animal products. And so…
Evan Brand: How about lactoferrin? Do you use lactoferrin?
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I mean lactoferrin it’s like it’s like a protein right? It’s gonna also… Yeah, it’s like a milk protein like it increases iron levels, kind of vitamin C in a senseWhere it increases that binding in absorption of iron, is that correct?
Evan Brand: Yeah, yeah. I’ve seen like a couple of iron lactoferrin combos that we’ve used. Man, it’s like rocketfield to get women back up really quickly.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah for me i don’t typically use lactoferrin in general. I’ll do my iron supreme which is the bisglycinate, And then i’ll throw in some potential iron granular Is there a not eating enough animal products (Evan: like a liver) Yeah, like a liver glandular and a little bit vitamin C on top of that. But um, don’t you know, I see a lot of guys out there. I see people say “Don’t eat vitamin c, it’s going to increase your iron.” No, if you’re a guy, eat vitamin C it’s not a problem. It’s in every leafy green vegetable, every high quality fruit that’s out there, it’s too Important. Guys the solution to iron is just give blood. Get a comprehensive blood test once or twice a year. Maybe give blood once a year um, twice a year depending on how many blood tests you get, just give blood is the solution. Don’t avoid nutrient dense food that have vitamin c that would increase your iron. Just give blood and do some testing. Keep it simple.
Evan Brand: Yeah. That’s the fun part. When you do comprehensive panels like we’re doing. I just donated a blood, got blood work this morning. I gave a lot of tubes. It was probably not much as a donation, it wasn’t a pint but for me, it was a good slow drip out of my system If i’m running some blood panels throughout the year. And you get data. You get data out of it too.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I think it’s fun for sure So we talk about you know how to assess these are patterns right? We have our general cbc, we have Iron panel that will include Iron serum, ferritin, Iron saturation um, TIBC, UIBC, which are your similar binding proteins. You can also look up reticulocytes for baby red blood cells you’re losing blood. You’re gonna see a lot more red blood cells because the babies are being formed to kind of filling the gap of the older adult cells that were losing it; it there’s an ulcer or some kind of tummy bleed, IB you know, Irritable bowel disease kind of bleed in the intestines or colon or wherever. So that’s helpful to look at. And in general, you know, if you’re vegan, vegetarian, and you have a history of not getting iron in your body, you gotta fix that. That’s whole different podcast conversation about animal products. We’ll, you guys can go back to our channel, search for that, we had conversations, just on those topics. The second issue for women Is just to get rid of the hormonal Imbalances that are causing you to bleed too much. So if you are bleeding four more tampons, 4-2 days or more, probably just menstruating too much, you know classic cases of hemorrhagic if you will. And there’s probably a lot of estrogen dominance, way higher estrogen, lower levels of progesterone. Maybe progesterone is falling out soon in the cycle and some of the things are diving just excess bleeding and that’s possible too, and you gotta get to the root cause of why that is. Estrogen dominance usually some adrenal stress that affects some underlying issue that is causing that. And of course if you have a lot of digestive inflammation, whether in the stomach area or intestines, or lack of stomach acid, or enzyme you may not be able to break down the high-quality animal products that you’re consuming that could also create a bottleneck of absorption.
Evan Brand: Yeah when somebody here’s that, they might not realize how big of an impact that could be, right? When somebody here’s what you’re saying. It’s like “oh this gut Ingestion, digestion blah blah blah” But we’ve seen it on paper and clinically Where you have women that are eating paleo, doing breastfed meet, doing a great job with diet, and they’re still very low. Some of it like you said high you know, the excess menstruation but, i’ll tell you personally i’ve seen big changes with my wife’s energy levels after clearing her gut infections out. And we knew that she was having malabsorption. So, and so I mean when your 40 50 or 60 and beyond, you are making Left stomach acid due to age even if you’re eating that grass fed steak, and that liver capsule, who knows how much you’re getting from that. So to me, i think enzymes will be part of a good Iron supporting protocol because you know, people will say you are what you eat. But really, you are what you digest from what you eat. So i think This is a good point to bring up enzymes and acids to make sure that if you have H.Pylori Infection that could be something to address, that will be driving the low iron. Is that a safe statement to say? Is h pylori that big of a smoking gun, that it could drive blow iron due to the malabsorption?
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, i mean there’s always you know. There’s always going to be different degrees of how that infection is causing a stress in your body. If it’s there, it’s chronic, it’s creating a lot of inflammation, digestive wise enzymes have dropped significantly. That may impair your ability to absorb usually there is going to be symptoms that will tell you the severity you know, just things like not having a good bowel movement, having a lot of bloating, or gassing, or flatulence, and gut inflammation, those are pretty good signs there’s stress going on there. Um, looking at your stools, how formed do they look, are you regular, are there undigested stool pieces in your stool? Those are all pretty good ideas that you’re on a bad track. So it’s good to look at that. Of course if you have chronic iron, and you’re fixing menstruation issues, you’re eating meat, you’re adding in Digestive support that’s all great. You probably want to look deeper and get your got tested and see if there are other bugs in your gut like SIBO, or just general dysbiosis, or parasites or h.pylori, or other issues that could be in place. You gotta look at all of it.
Evan Brand: Yeah. And you mention the inflammation I mean. That could be exposure, that could be the diet, it’s simple. It sound simple but It’s still worth mentioning. We still have so many women that are going to the starbucks drive-thru and getting a pastry, a bagel or a muffin, or whenever, and they have their coffee and that’s it. That’s it for their breakfast and they wonder why they are exhausted. I mean nutrient density is just foundational.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, nutrient density is really important and um, to really have good nutrient density You have to be eating some level of animal products. You’re just not going to get same level of nutrient density from an amino acids standpoint. You’re not going to get the iron, the b12. It’s harder to get the fat soluble vitamin A, I mean you can get some from b12, I mean some from beta-carotene but, you won’t get enough. And if you have insulin resistance, you won’t convert b12, you won’t convert beta-carotene well. You also won’t convert a lot of your ALA-based omega 3. It’s like flax and Chia. You won’t convert that to your longer chain EPA and Your DHEA fats which are good for inflammation in your brain. There’s a lot of precursor things that We just assume like “Oh, we’re getting iron from spinach. I’m going to convert that non-heme iron to non-heme based iron right.” No, I’m getting enough bioflavonoids In my vegetables that are vitamin A right? Well, no. That’s beta-carotene you may not convert that. Or same thing with um, i’m trying to think here what other analogies that you can do. So You have the plant-based iron, you have beta-carotene stuff, you have the vitamin, I’m trying to thank you for what else um, zinc and a lot of your minerals may be tied up in antinutrient plants. You might think you’re getting a lot of this vitamins and minerals but you may be having them tied up with a lot of antinutrients – the lectins, fitates, the mineral blockers, the trypsin inhibitors, and so you might think you’re getting some of these things on the nutrient label but, there might be some absorptions because of this nutrient blockers. Proteolytic enzyme blockers.
Evan Brand: That’s a good point. So far vegetarians-vegans listening, if you could get them on liver capsules, you’d say get them on some pastured liver would be a great option. If their opposed to that even, I mean what do you do? I’ve seen women from paper suffered for years, and I honestly just used the labs as justification to push them harder into something like liver capsules if they just absolutely don’t wanna do the meat.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah liver capsules or going to be ideal That’s where i put my iron supreme which is a ferrous-glycinate, and add in some amino acids like collagen and some kind of free form amino acid to get the protein of without antinutrients and carbs in there as well ‘cause a lot of vegan vegetarian proteins, they’re just very carb heavy right? Rice and beans, quinoa, they’re just you know, they’re just 60, 80% carbohydrate for the protein to get in. So it’s hard if you need to keep your carbs down for insulin, For inflammation or fat burning means it’s hard to do that If you try to stick to a vegan vegetarian diet I need you can do that if you’re adding some protein or rice protein but then, you’re heavily reliant on processed food for most of your protein. And that’s not great so we don’t want to have things to be so processed, like we have to be overly reliant. It probably tells us that your diet needs to be tweaked and adjusted if you’re heavily reliant on processed food to get your nutrients up.
Evan Brand: Yep. Well said. So men definitely get your iron tested too I mean females are probably gonna be more symptomatic than men, meaning, the fatigue, the hair loss-that kind of thing with the low iron. But man, you can have symptoms from that. I will tell you i’ve had, when i went to donate blood, I found my hemoglobin was very high. They’ll cut you off by 20 It’s above 20. You have to get a prescription to donate blood, and then back at the therapeutic blood donation but I would like a 19.6. I felt like I was going to be mentally foggy, mentally cloudy and certainly more brain fog, and I would say my energy levels were a little bit less. And I ask some of the donation people like, “What would you think i will experience based on this level of hemoglobin?” They were like “Oh, man you’re high.” And I go like, “Ok, what should I feel like?” And they actually said exactly what I felt. They thought you would feel cloudy and then I would remember this feeling when donating a pint, boom! It was like this release. Like literally almost like an energy drink after I got that excess iron out. So i tell you, it’s very very therapeutic.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, and again iron is going to cause oxidative stress. So if you’re a male, and you are over accumulating iron you know, give blood. Get some therapeutic functional tests doneSo you’re actually losing blood via the testing means. And make sure that you know, taking in a really good high antioxidants you know, through organic vegetables, maybe low sugar fruit. Because at least the antioxidants that you’re getting in will help at least buffer the oxidative stress from the iron right? So at least you want to make sure Antioxidant levels from fruits and vegetables Are dialed in and we’re getting healthy. You know antioxidants and maybe through curcumin or other high quality nutrients that help buffer some of that, help offset some of it.
Even Brand: Yeah yeah cool well If you want to get tested uh, Dr Justin able to run blood work, I’m able to run blood work, we do it around the world which is pretty cool; I guess, technically blood work that we do In the United States. Little tricky internationally for blood work (Dr. J: It’s still better but it’s harder), yeah it is harder but for the other, for the functional testing which you can do functional blood testing and that’s what we do. Our panels are much more comprehensive than what you’re going to get down the street from your doctor. So if you need help you can you can reach out And just please let us know If you have trouble a lot of time people are begging their physicians to run a comprehensive fire oide panel, run the antibody, to run the ferritin, you shouldn’t have to beg someone to get these markers done. This is very simple we can literally get your requisition form the same day. You go straight to the lab, you don’t have to beg somebody to run it. So if you need help, please reach out to Dr. J justinhealth.com or me Evan Brand evanbrand.com. We would love to help you with this and other related things too. Whether it’s gut Infections we need to look for Four sources of inflammation driving this. There’s probably some root cause It’s not just magically going to happen like this. There’s probably a couple others– you know, It’s an entangled spider web If you will. So we’re going to kind of tease that. We love doing that; it’s very rewarding when you see a woman who is buying all these hair loss control shampoos and these special products and their get sucked in into by their hair salon, and they just simply needed to optimize their ferritin levels.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah if your iron levels are low, It can impact your thyroid. If your iron levels are low, it can impact your adrenals because you need high quality you need to carry oxygen to be able to um, you have aerobic metabolism, you need to carry oxygen to have good thyroid function. If you don’t have good thyroid hormones Important for stimulating hair to grow, and of course if you’re not breaking down your protein, and or iron you’re not going to be absorbing all the proteins and facts to build up your hair to make our hair healthy. So all those things can play a major role. So guys get blood, get some testing done. Women, make sure people in general, women especially make sure you’re eating high quality animal products or at least something right. Maybe eat some egg yolk. Maybe eat some liver capsules. Just try to do something that ‘s going to meet the middle of it. And then outside of that, get tested as well, and if you’re female and you’re bleeding, you gotta look at the estrogen dominance, and you gotta look at the progesterone. Conventional medicine is just going to throw birth control pills at you and that’s not going to fix the issue. It’s actually going to compound and make the problem worse because estrogen pills can lower B vitamins-B-12, and Folate, and calcium. It can lower other nutrients and it actually makes your estrogen dominance worse right. It’s giving you more estrogen; giving you a consistent level which is better you know, having the up and down but, it’s not fixing all of the hormonal imbalances; Just covering things up. So If you want to get to the root cause, reach out to Evan Brand evanbrand.com or myself Dr. J at justinhealth.com, we’re here to help.
Evan Brand: Amen! You did a great job. I think we killed it.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Alright. Excellent. By the way, what are my ranges, uh, ferritin 30-40 enough for women, uhm, men you know 60-80sh i think pretty good for that, iron saturation 25 and up. And i think it’s a pretty good kind of starting point there. Maybe binding proteins below 300 that’s a pretty good thing out of the gates.
Evan Brand: Yeah, i had a woman with a ferritin level of 6 She can hardly get up a flight of stairs because she was so short out of breath, her hair was falling out In clumps, her husband is mad at her because she was clogging the shower all the time. Once we got her ferritin back up to the 50s, her hair stopped falling out. She felt so much better. She can run of the stair without passing out. I mean, it was just incredible so don’t underestimate this. I know you guys listen to us on a regular basis. Even some clients they tell us they listen to us while going to sleep. Don’t sleep on this issue. This is something you really got to address.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, it’s an important issue for sure. And for guys, with low iron yeah, vegetarian-vegan, make sure you’re not doing that. Vegetarian vegan, look at the gut. You are probably not absorbing or digesting or breaking It down. Get the gut, look deeper. All right Evan, have a phenomenal day, man! Great chatting with you!
Evan Brand: Take care now you too.
Autophagy: Anti-Aging, Self-Eating Cells!
By Dr. Justin Marchegiani
The word “autophagy” comes from the Greek “auto-phagein” which means “self eating.” Autophagy is a normal process in which compromised cells are cleared away. Even a healthy person must undergo autophagy, it’s one of the body’s natural modes of detoxification. Cellular damage can happen as a result of normal metabolic processes, but the rate at which damage occurs can be increased by things like stress, electromagnetic radiation, and free radicals.
How Does Autophagy Work
“Self-eating cells” sounds scary, but it’s a good thing! By clearing out old, damaged cells, you make room for new cells that are young and healthy. Without autophagy, you would continue to accumulate dead, damaged, and oxidized cell parts which accelerate aging, neurodegenerative disease, and cancer.
Naomi Whittel, autophagy expert, uses the comparison of a kitchen. Imagine cooking dinner, then wiping the counter, throwing away the scraps, and putting the leftovers in the fridge. That is autophagy working correctly.
Now, imagine cooking dinner, and leaving the mess. Grimey counters, pile of dishes in the sink, and smelly food left out. In this scenario, the smell and mess will continue to build up to the point where you will get unwanted consequences such as mold and bugs. When autophagy is compromised, dead and damaged parts linger in the body, which also leads to unwanted consequences like disease.
Autophagy is being touted as one of the best anti-aging hacks. What exactly are the anti-aging benefits of autophagy? Read on to find out!
More Efficient Cellular Recycling
If you thought self-eating cells are weird: apoptosis is cell suicide! This programmed cell death can be useful for getting rid of seriously compromised cells, like those with disease, but in general apoptosis is much more wasteful than autophagy. Apoptosis also causes more inflammation and metabolic waste. Autophagy is a cleaner, more efficient way to keep cells healthy.
While a healthy immune system will turn off a virus making it dormant, it doesn’t actually get rid of them. The virus is still in your body and able to replicate. Cue autophagy, which is how your body can actually rid itself of the infected cells. If you’ve ever experienced nausea when sick with a virus, you know it’s hard to keep down anything (sometimes even water). This is your body’s way of inducing a fast–fasting sets autophagy into motion.
Additional autophagy benefits include:
- Better skin, with less eczema, acne, and signs of aging.
- Stronger and more resilient muscles.
- Better brain function, including mood, memory, and mental processing.
- Preventing neurodegenerative diseases.
- Reducing inflammation.
- Healthier gut; less chance of leaky gut syndrome.
How to Increase Autophagy
Fasting, whether for several days or intermittent fasting, is one of the most powerful ways you can call upon your body to stimulate autophagy.
One or two days of fasting is enough to induce autophagy, though days four and five is when you will reach peak autophagy. A fast-mimicking diet, in which you consume between 800-1100 calories per day, can also induce autophagy.
Intermittent fasting has a ton of benefits:autophagy being one of them! By restricting your eating window to an 8 hour block (or less), you can maintain a healthy level of autophagy daily. A common intermittent fast is skipping breakfast.
A Ketogenic Diet
When we are eating a lot of carbs and sugar, our body is burning glucose for fuel, has sharp blood sugar spikes, and high insulin levels. By getting into ketosis, using fat for fuel, we stabilize our blood sugar, lower insulin, and start producing ketones. Mixing ketosis and intermittent fasting is a great combo: once you’re in ketosis, it’s easy to go longer between meals because you start burning stored fat for energy. Ketosis plus intermittent fasting is an excellent way to mimic fasting and induce autophagy.
Just like fasting, exercise is a ‘body stressor,’ but they are the good kind of stress! At least 30 minutes of exercise has been shown to induce autophagy.
Autophagy and metabolism follow diurnal circadian rhythm–your body’s sleep-wake cycle. By getting good sleep, you boost autophagy. These days, people face a lot of sleep issues, like insomnia. It’s important to practice good sleep hygiene in order to prepare your body for bed time. Blue blocking glasses, turning off electronics, and keeping lighting low at night can all help your body prepare for bed time.
The literal translation of autophagy as ‘self-eating cell’ does not do justice to the importance of the body’s natural process of cleaning compromised parts. Everyone can boost their levels of autophagy, whether by getting into ketosis or partaking in fasting. The anti-aging benefits will keep you looking, feeling, and functioning young!