Dr. William Davis joins us today in a conversation around the negative impact of wheat, grains, and sugar, his new book Super Gut, the real implications of cholesterol, and much more! Dr. Davis was a cardiologist that started to notice the healthcare system wasn’t about health after his mother died of sudden cardiac arrest, the disease that he tried to manage every day. This conversation shows us how much control we have over our health and don’t have to rely on modern medicine as the only preventative measure!
Dr. Davis 20 Year Quest to Find Better Answers Around Health
I started to think “If I had my mom back how could I have identified her potential for that 2-10 years before anything happened?” Back then, the only method to do that would be a CT heart scan to obtain a coronary calcium score. There were very few devices in the United States so I put together a project, we got one, and started scanning people left and right. And when you look for hidden coronary disease, you find it everywhere. But what do you do back then? Do you let people die or wait until they have symptoms and need stints or bypass surgery? Or is there something more you could do?
My colleagues say to take a cholesterol drug, a baby aspirin, a low-fat diet, and start an exercise program. We helped publish this data and if you did this, your score would go up 25% a year (a normal score is 0); if you did nothing, your score would increase the same amount. It has no impact whatsoever and yet to this day, my colleagues continue to call that optimal medical therapy.
So 20 years ago I tried to find better answers and all of the dead ends and mistakes led to very important lessons such as: adding Vitamin D to your diet. It was the first time I saw coronary calcium scores plummet. Scores of 700 could become 322 within a year. But I also rejected the notion that cholesterol is a cause of heart disease. It’s not, it’s only a crude marker for the particles that cause heart disease. The real cause is an excess of small LDL particles and only a few groups of food cause that, wheat, grains & sugar.
So I asked people to take those out of their diet, I measured the small LDL particles using a method called NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance). And they dropped from terrible numbers like 2,000 nanometers per litre to 0. I saw their heart scan scores stop progressing and even started to regress. And when I had people remove wheat and grains they started saying:
- I lost 50 pounds and didn't even try
- I'm no longer a type 2 diabetic
- My blood pressure is so much better and I'm off my medication
- My psoriasis is gone
It also became clear that while they made huge advances in their health, they were sometimes still left with health problems such as food intolerances. They would say “I'm skinny now but I still am intolerant to legumes, tomatoes, and lentils.” So I started looking at the microbiome and there were a ton of answers. That was the solution to a lot of those residual problems.
How Wheat & Grains Impact Our Health
If you were to look for a wheat field in North America you would see that wheat is not the 5-foot tall plant it used to be, it's a short stocky plant created in a laboratory in Mexico in the 1960s. There were people trying to solve world hunger and they came up with high-yield dwarf wheat. Farmers like to select strains that are rich in phytate and wheat germ agglutinin because they are helpful for resistance against pests. They chose those not realizing that wheat germ agglutinin is a very potent bowel toxin. And phytates are great for binding minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc.
For example: if you have a sandwich, the phytates in that much wheat flour are enough to bind to the minerals, and then you poop them out. That's why there are so many deficiencies in these minerals. We are told that we must have wheat for B vitamins and fibre, not being told that it causes deficiencies in minerals. The glidden protein in the plant has been changed and when you change a plant that dramatically you change the way it looks and its characteristics on humans. Humans cannot fully digest the seeds in grasses, and the glidden protein is broken down into 5 fragments of amino acids, unlike a single amino acid in other protein sources. Those fragments act like opiates on the brain and they stimulate appetite. That's why wheat flour is so popular in the food industry. It makes people have a really hard time regulating their appetite because they are constantly hungry.
Glyphosate is also another issue with wheat. It's an herbicide and antibiotic. We have this perfect storm of garbage ingredients coming at us. Wheat and grains are the food we are all told must dominate diet, but it's a horrible way to eat.
I couldn’t agree more with all of those statements. The transitions of the earlier types of wheat and other crops moved towards selective breeding and to an extent even genetic modification to increase the yield of certain crops. But we don’t know the full impact of changing something that was ancient in nature towards a modern variety and strains.- Kriben Govender
The problem with wheat, grains, and grasses, is they are very promiscuous. For instance, rye had its origin as a weed in wheat fields. Rye might look and taste different, but it’s almost identical to wheat. Barely is very similar and corn is a grain as well. A large cob of corn is a genetic mutation of the teosinte plant, which looks like grass. There are a lot of shared characteristics between them.
But the worst of all are the grains that have a prolamin protein:
- The glidden in wheat
- The secalin in rye
- The hordein in barley
- The zein in corn
Those are all indigestible proteins. And when you can't digest them they have peculiar effects. Then there are grains that aren’t detrimental but you can still have problems like mullet, sorghum, and rice. The issue with rice is that it has very little protein and it’s almost all sugar. And there are very high quantities of arsenic in rice.
The point is, when we try to make grains healthy there is always a problem with them. People say what about older forms of wheat and corn? What happened to the first humans that consume those grains? Before the entry of wheat and grains into the human diet there was almost no tooth decay. So prior to agriculture and the harvesting of wheat and grains, there was no toothpaste, dentist, floss, and almost no tooth decay. 1-3% of all teeth recovered prior to the consumption of grains show tooth decay and when grains entered the human diet, 16-49% of all teeth recovered show cavity formation, tooth loss, abscess, and misalignment. There was also a doubling of arthritis and nutrient deficiencies, especially iron.
It’s testimony to the cleverness of ancient humans who saw grasses and thought they saw food. It’s not easy to turn grasses into food, you have to isolate the seed, dry it, remove the husk, pulverize it with stones, and turn it into porridge with water. When you do this, you live for a few more days or weeks with the calories but then your teeth rot, and you develop autoimmune diseases & gastrointestinal disturbances. When we eat grains we trade calories for health.
For the absolute purist that is removing all grains, that is fine. But for others that are potentially finding it difficult, you can use ancient techniques of sprouting soaking & fermenting to lessen the impact of the grains. -Kriben Govender
How Sugar Impacts Our Health
Sugar is one of the things that drive the small LDL particles and is a cause of coronary disease, heart attack, and the need for bypass surgery. Sugar:
- Contributes to type 2 diabetes
- Causes an accumulation of visceral fat ( the inflammatory fat that encircles the abdominal organs)
- Changes your bowel flora
- Rots your teeth
I can't think of a reason to consume sugar especially since we have natural noncaloric sweeteners. People say that they can’t do this because they will miss pizza and desserts but all of these things are easily re-creatable with things that won't rot your teeth, won't give you a heart attack, and won't cause a disruption to your microbiome. You will have to make them but that is a better option. When food manufacturers make foods they add stuff you don't really need. Simple preservatives like potassium sorbate or sodium benzoate are antibacterial and they disrupt your microbiome. It's a good thing to not rely on processed foods.
Completely agree. My old stomping ground is food product development and it's all about working towards a cost target and you try to make it as cheaply and profitable as possible. Then you overcooked the preservatives because you don't want them to go bad on the shelf. This creates a lot of pain for the food manufacturer with recalls or food poisoning. I agree with you, it all comes down to cleaning up your diet if you want to improve your health. - Kriben Govender
Brainwashing Around Cholesterol
When Doctors William Friedewald and Fredrickson at the national institute of Health in the 1950s were trying to devise ways to quantify the fat-carrying particles of lipoproteins in the bloodstream, they devised a workaround which was to measure the lipoproteins. They devised a crude equation called the Friedewald Equation, to calculate the LDL cholesterol. That outdated technology still persists 60 years later only because it makes money.
The statin cholesterol drug is a prime example of how far wrong conventional health care can go when money is at stake. We hear things like “Your cholesterol is high, you can drop dead tomorrow” which doesn't have any predictive value at all. The real tragedy of cholesterol is that it takes everyone's attention off the real causes of heart disease such as inflammation, insulin resistance, vitamin D deficiency, hypothyroidism, dysbiosis of bowel flora, and SIBO which causes endotoxemia.
There are real causes that we have control over but we are not given the information. We need to have our vitamin D assessed, our thyroid status assessed and look at NMR lipoproteins. There are no drugs involved and you can correct all of these things easily, inexpensively, and effectively while eradicating the cardiovascular risk. The last person that asks how to do this is the doctor because they are focused on conventional ideas of cholesterol and statins and how to drive revenue for their system. The level of health that you are capable of achieving is superior to the cheap excuse for health that the doctor provides.
The Impact of Reducing Cholesterol
Cholesterol is a necessary and essential component of all your body's cells from the brain to the prostate. It’s hard to prove conclusively because we don’t say things like “I want you to join this clinical trial we are going to reduce your cholesterol and see if there’s more suicide” It’s hard to do those studies so we have to look at the widespread data and what we found is that people who reduced their Cholesterol have all kinds of health problems including suicide and the reduction in essential hormones.
Let's get away from the idea of treating health conditions and instead, let's think about identifying factors that allow the disease to emerge in the first place. Regardless of whether it was labeled hypertension, high cholesterol, coronary disease, rheumatoid arthritis, headaches, etc, If you identify the common causes of all those conditions, more often than not those conditions just go away and you don’t have to worry about medication.
Saturated Fat and Cholesterol
There is so much wrong with the dietary guidelines including the recommendation to cut your fat and eat more healthy whole grains. If people said “I follow the dietary guidelines and I’m slender, I don’t have diabetes or autoimmune conditions, and I’m clear headed”, then there wouldn’t be a problem and we wouldn’t have anything to do. There have been 60 years of mistakes that have gotten us here.
The American Heart Association recently re-emphasized the guidelines that use the science that came out of Harvard School of Public Health and stated “The clinical studies published in the late 1950s and early 1960s that suggested that total fat and saturated fat was a cardiovascular risk factor still hold true today”.
Indigenous populations like the ones in the south pacific or Brazilian rainforest don’t chop up a gazelle eat the stomach and intestines and say “We overdid our saturated fat”. We need to return to that in a more modern way. When you start to cut your saturated fat or eat more healthy whole grains, there starts to become a massive deficiency of collagen, hyaluronic acid, phosphatidylserine, omega-3 fatty acids, and other numerous nutrients. People think that omega-3 fatty acids only come from fish but it also comes from the collagen you're supposed to get from bone broth with tendons and ligaments. The brains of animals also have a lot of hyaluronic acids. People say we don’t have a need for collagen but yes you do because if you don’t get enough of it you have skin aging, joint deterioration, brain problems, and hypertension. I’m grateful for the mistakes made by dietary guidelines because it really highlights how not to eat.
The Impact of Salt
Salt is highly vilified when it comes to hypertension. People have forgotten that iodine deficiency was a major problem throughout history. Having an enlarged thyroid gland on the front of your neck called goiter was a major health problem when people moved away from the coast and stopped eating all parts of the animal. If you go to museums and look at the statues a lot of them have goiter and many died from suffocation, heart failure, or a coma. It took til the 1920s for people to figure out it was a lack of iodine. In the United States, the FDA told salt manufacturers to put iodine in their salt. Then they launched public health campaign letting people know to salt their food.
Then dietary guidelines came along and said to cut your fat and eat more grains which leads to insulin resistance which causes salt retention. Then they said “Stop using the salt” but forgot about the iodine. Grains are causing salt retention and salt is an essential food. It makes food taste great and reduces insulin resistance. A reminder that if you go grain-free, you need to salt your food and water. If not, you can pass out. That’s how essential salt is.
Another option is to add fermented foods like miso or sauerkraut, kefir, because they are naturally loaded with salt because of the process. Consuming salt is also very important for athletes after working out and going in the sauna. - Kriben Govender
Dr. William's Realization of the Limitations of Traditional Medicine
When I became a vegetarian 30 years ago, I was eating super low fat, jogging, and playing tennis, and I became a type 2 diabetic with triglycerides of 390. I was a metabolic disaster while I was active and eating low-fat. Between that, the lessons I learned with heart scanning, and my mom dying, I started to look into things more.
Five years ago I was thinking about oxytocin, the hormone of love and empathy, and I stumbled across a series of studies out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. They published these studies between 2013-2017 where they were giving mice this microbe lactobacillus reuteri. They noticed that within a week their fur became” rich and luxuriant”. They ended up doing an entire series of very detailed studies that showed that when the mice were given reuteri, they not only had thicker fur but there was an explosion of dermal collagen and an acceleration of healing.
The mice that didn't get reuteri but instead were fed a poor diet: were fat, diabetic, stopped mating, and lost their hair. The mice that got reuteri stayed slender, mated, played with each other, and stayed young until they died. Then both animal and human studies showed a number of other effects like preservation of bone density and restoration of youthful muscle.
Making Yoghurt at Home
I got the microbe they used in these studies BioGaia Gastrus and I started making yoghurt at home. You can use this kit to make your own. Ferment for 36 hours at 37-28 degrees Celcius with the microbe. I did quantify the number of microbes we get and it was around 250 billion microbes per half-cup serving. I have thousands of people consuming this lactobacillus reuteri yogurt and they are seeing:
- Restoration youthful muscle
- Increase in libido
- Skin is smoother
- People also have better connections with others
- It tends to turn the clock back 10-20 years
And that is only one strain so it was an illustration of how powerful the restoration of this one microbe could be. Lactobacillus reuteri is unusually susceptible to common antibiotics like amoxicillin and ampicillin so if you took one of those antibiotics years ago, you've more than likely lost reuteri. That's part of the modern dilemma, we've lost many important species that did important things for our health. In this case, it boosts oxytocin. So the restoration of that microbe was life-changing and then led to discovering more of them.
Being Mindful of Bacterial Strain
We do to be mindful of bacterial strain, this seems excessively tedious but it's really important. Sometimes the effects of microbial species are unique to a strain. For example: everyone has E coli but what if you ate lettuce that has E coli? You could die. So the same species E coli, but a different strain. So we need to be mindful of strains. There are almost 200 strains of reuteri and the first strains I used were DSM-17938 and the ATCC PTA 6475 strains. I have gotten the same effects with seven other strains that I have tried as well
To prove this, I have a mouse trial starting where we are going to compare five different reuteri strains over time. Our first human trial for skin purposes is about the launch too. One of the things I want to do is figure out which reuteri strain is best for which benefits. I do not have the exact data on that yet but I think it may be a species-specific effect. The only reuteri strain I wouldn’t get is the 30242 strain. This takes up residence in the upper GI tract not just the colon, and it's a great producer of bacteriocins, natural antibiotics effective against the species of stool microbes like E coli and Klebsiella.
In America, we have this epidemic that I estimate affects at least 100 million people where microbes mostly stool microbes have proliferated then ascended into the 24 feet of small bowel adding up to 30 feet of trillions of microbes that turn over rapidly. They only live for minutes to hours and when they die their breakdown products enter the bloodstream. This process is called endotoxemia and it tells us how microbes in the GI tract can be experienced as:
- A skin rash like rosacea or psoriasis
- In the brain as depression, Alzheimer's, Dementia, or Parkinson's disease
- In the joints and muscles as fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis
In other words, we have to rethink all human diseases in light of the fact that microbes in the GI tract can be experienced in virtually every organ in our bodies.
With Hexa LPS, they can even pass the blood-brain barrier and cause inflammation throughout the body. Kriben Govender
What is Super Gut?
Super Gut is based on two things we mentioned: replacing microbes that we've lost and addressing the overgrowth of unhealthy species. When it comes to replacing microbes, you can say things like “If I want smoother skin and deeper sleep, I'm going to ferment bacillus coagulans. If I want to shrink my waist and lose visceral fat I'm going to ferment lactobacillus gasseri.”
You can pick and choose the microbe for the effect you want and then ferment it. Then you are reintroducing these amazing microbial species but then you have to consider that you might have an overgrowth of unhealthy microbes. Which is why I use the AIRE device.
Using The AIRE Device to Map Out Where Microbes Are in the GI Tract
With the AIRE device, you blow into it and it maps where microbes are in your GI tract. The inventor Dr. Angus Short, invented it because his wife had irritable bowel syndrome and was told to go on the low FODMAPs diet. He saw how awful it was for her when she slipped up so he invented this device to measure hydrogen gas from inadvertent exposure to FODMAPs. He released that as a device for IBS and low FODMAPs but I told him that this is a device to map out where in the GI tract microbes are living in.
The instructions that come with the device don’t tell you how to use it like that, it tells you how to use it for FODMAPs and IBS. I have seven pages in the Super Gut book to map out how to use it. If you identify microbes in the upper GI tract you have to do something about it because if you don't, you’ll end up with SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), obesity, type 2 diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, or autoimmune disease. Your doctor may not help you with this so you have to take control of it yourself.
If you do have microbes living in your upper GI tract because you tested by the AIRE device or you have telltale signs like: seeing fat droplets in the toilet or food intolerances (like not being able to have nightshades, nuts, or legumes, they are all forms of SIBO). The solution is not to avoid the foods but to address the SIBO. There are conditions that are so highly associated with SIBO like:
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Restless leg syndrome
- Any neurodegenerative or autoimmune disease
- Ulcerous colitis
- Crohn's disease
- Fatty liver
And the conventional way of dealing with SIBO is to take an antibiotic. The antibiotic they use typically is rifaximin and xifaxan which is only about 40% effective. And of course, the gastroenterologist or other doctor says “I don't know why you have it don't bother me”. There are herbal regimens: the Candibactin regimen and the Dysbiocide + FC-Cida regimen that have been shown to be successful.
If you take a commercial probiotic for SIBO it has no effect on it and you’re left with 30 feet of proliferated microbes. So I thought, what if we chose microbial species that take up residency upper GI tract where SIBO occurs? So I chose three:
Lactobacillus gasseri: which takes up residence in the small bowel and has seven bacteriocins
Lactobacillus reuteri: takes up residence in the small GI tract. Produces up to four bacteriocins
Bacillus coagulans: which has one bacteriocin
We fermented as yogurt for an extended period of 36 hours and so far about 90% of people who've consumed this yogurt have gone from H2 positive to H2 negative. This is informal but so far it's harmless to use. You do have to take it longer than an antibiotic, we do it for four weeks and the only complicating factor here is because reuteri produces hydrogen gas, you do have to stop it for 2 weeks before you test it. You have to give it some time for the reuteri to go away.
Recipes in Super Gut
There are a bunch of recipes in my book, Super Gut, but one of my new favorite recipes that aren’t in the book is using saccharomyces boulardii to make sparkling juices. You take apple cider with the mother, coconut juice, pineapple, or any type of juice that doesn’t have: preservatives, potassium sorbate, or sodium benzoate. Then take a capsule of saccharomyces boulardii into any volume of juice. cap it very lightly and within 24 hours you're going to see it bubbling. The fermentation process is so vigorous depending on which kind of juice you use and then by 48 hours, you've got very high counts of saccharomyces boulardii.
If you ever take an antibiotic, it screws up your microbiome massively and saccharomyces boulardii helps maintain your microbiome through that course of antibiotics. Even if you aren’t taking an antibiotic, it acts like a traffic cop and suppressed pathogens and encouraged health microbes. So make this sparkling juice and drink a quarter of a cup a day. When you ferment, you reduce the sugar content as well. It’s a very useful addition to any kind of effort to restore a healthy microbiome.
I've seen people play around with different capsules of probiotic products and make fermented foods out of them but I love that you've put everything into one book where people can get some ideas to play around with. It’s almost like an extension of fermented food. So rather than just popping a capsule, you start to ferment with it and potentially even boost up the numbers of these organisms so that they're much more potent than say a pill preparation. - Kriben Govender
The most important thing you can do for your microbiome is to have fermented foods. This is much better than a commercially made probiotic.
Things You Can Do to Foster a Healthy Gut Microbiome
People might think that fermenting foods is overwhelming but it’s not! Think about your microbiome as a garden, With a garden you lay out a plot, pick out the weeds and rocks, plant seeds, and water & fertilize it. With the microbiome, you prepare the soil by:
- Filtering your water
- Eating organic foods
- Getting rid of sugars and grains
- Avoiding foods with long lists of ingredients
Then we plant the seeds which is eating fermented foods. Probiotics will be getting better and there are groups of microbes that are called guilds or consortia that work together for this. A product called Sugar Shift has these microbes that work together to reduce blood sugar. We gave it to 20 people in our program to reduce blood sugar by about 10 milligrams per deciliter (which is on par with a prescription drug) but until all probiotics are like this, they aren’t entirely helpful and fermented foods are more impactful.
Then the water and fertilizer would be eating prebiotic fibres, polysaccharides, and polyphenols such as onions, garlic, shallots, legumes, black beans, white beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils, dandelion greens, and mushrooms.
What is One Thing You Can Do For Your Gut Health Today?
Eliminate wheat and grains. People don't recognize how disruptive those things are until they stop them and they realize just how bad they felt before. They realize that their skin rashes, joint pain, and depression go away. Another thing would be to eat fermented foods. Make sure to take your health into your own hands with this information and check out Dr. Davis's website here. Share this post with a friend that could improve their health with Dr. Davis’s lessons and research!