Dr. Alex Vasquez on Best Strategies Using Botanicals for Battling Obesity
Research over the last two decades suggests that the microbiome is the epicenter of health, and that supporting the gut microbiome is foundational in healing a variety of chronic conditions.
Studies also show that a healthy microbiome is pivotal in addressing weight loss resistance and in promoting healthy weight maintenance.
Dr. Alex Vasquez is a naturopathic doctor and the author of numerous textbooks and papers on topics including Integrative orthopedics, functional inflammology, antiviral strategies, mitochondrial nutrition, and functional medicine rheumatology.
As the director of the Medical Board of Advisors for Biotics Research, he helped formulate Biotics Research newest product Metabolic Biome. Today he talks with Dr. Fitzgerald about optimizing microbiome health and supporting healthy weight loss and weight maintenance.
In this episode of New Frontiers, you’ll learn about:
- Why and how weight management is just one application of the new product from Biotics Research called Metabolic Biome
- How people with fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, and autoimmune conditions might benefit from Metabolic Biome
- How natural antimicrobials like berberine and oregano not only kill off bad bugs but help reshape the microbiome in a beneficial way
- The link between neuro-inflammation and increased appetite
- The microbiome as a syncytium
- The benefits of seed powder and other less common fibers (like fenugreek fiber, bamboo fiber, and apple pectin) on the gut microbiome
- The importance of cruciferous vegetables to improve the gut mucosal immunity, and the diverse phytonutrient blend that is built into Metabolic Biome
- The benefits omega-3 fatty acids on the gut lining and microbial ecosystem
- Biotics Research new product GlucoResolve, a multi-vitamin, multi-mineral targeted for people obesity ancillary resistance
- The importance of protein for building gut immunity
- The value in making changes slowly in the gut ecosystem (with low-dose antimicrobials, for example)
- Optimizing gut health for short-chain fatty-acid production
- The importance of not overwhelming people with a lot of flavors when they are trying to regain dietary control
- The importance of building diversity in the gut microbial ecosystem
- The role of the gut microbiome and dysbiosis in fueling yo-yo dieting
- Uses and dosing for Biotics Research new product Metabolic Biome
Dr. Alex Vasquez holds three doctoral degrees from accredited American Universities, including Doctor of Chiropractic from the University of Western States, Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University, and Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine from the University of North Texas Health Science Center.
He is the author of numerous textbooks, including Integrative Orthopedics, Functional Inflammology, Antiviral Strategies, Mitochondrial Nutrition, and Functional Medicine Rheumatology.
Dr. Vasquez has also written more than 100 letters and articles for various professional magazines and medical journals such as the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, Journal of the American Medical Association, British Medical Journal, Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, and Arthritis and Rheumatism (the official Journal of the American College of Rheumatology).
As the Director of the Medical Board of Advisors for Biotics Research, Dr. Vasquez has worked closely with Biotics Research for over 15 years in order to formulate new products and clinically study their efficacy in order to verify their beneficial use in clinical practices around the world.
- Inflammation Mastery Diet (PDF)
- Bamboo shoot fiber prevents obesity in mice by modulating the gut microbiota
- Biological plausibility of the gut-brain axis in autism (PDF) (Click for URL)
- Concerns About The Integrity of The Scientific Research Process (PDF)
- Translating Microbiome (Microbiota) and Dysbiosis Research into Clinical Practice(PDF)
- Reducing Pain and Inflammation Naturally (PDF)
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Hi everybody. Welcome to New Frontiers in Functional Medicine where we are interviewing the best minds in functional medicine, and of course, today is no exception. I am so excited to be talking to Dr. Alex Vasquez. You know him. He’s just one of the brilliant pioneer humans that teaches all of us lots of good information, so I’m thrilled to have his brain to pick with today.
Anyway, background on Alex. He’s got three doctoral degrees from American universities, including a doctor of chiropractic from University of Western State, a doctor of naturopathic medicine from Bastyr and a doctor of osteopathic medicine from the University of North Texas Health Science Center.
He’s the author of many textbooks. In fact, if I glance to my right where my main workforce bookshelves are, I have at least three of your textbooks over there Alex. I can see them. What has he written about? Integrative orthopedics, functional inflammology, antiviral strategies, mitochondrial nutrition, and functional medicine rheumatology.
He’s written loads of articles for peer reviewed journals. He’s published in the American Osteopathic Association Journal. He’s published in JAMA, British Medical Journal, Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, Arthritis and Rheumatism. As the director of the Medical Board of Advisors for Biotics Research, Dr. Vasquez has worked closely with Biotics for over 15 years to formulate new products and clinically study their efficacy in order to verify their beneficial use in clinical practices around the world. Alex, welcome to New Frontiers.
Dr. Alex Vasquez: Thank you for the introduction, Kara.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Yeah. Absolutely. You’ve done a lot. You’ve written a lot and you’re a pretty prolific guy. And, you’re involved in product design, so I’m pretty excited to talk about this product today because it just seems kind of left field for you, but we’ll do a drill down on it.
Biotics is releasing something pretty interesting. It’s called Metabolic Biome and it’s a healthy weight management powder and as I said to you before I hit record, I’m surprised to be having this conversation on this particular product with you, just knowing your teaching, having lectured with you. Something this specific for weight management seems a little bit out of left field, but it wasn’t as you began to tell me the story. So, tell me about it.
Dr. Alex Vasquez: Sure. So, I agree with the way that you’re looking at it and the way this product kit’s being marketed, we are looking at it, we’re trying to address the weight management niche so to speak, people who need to lose weight, and that’s obviously a huge segment of the international population right now.
However, also segueing with what you had just started to suggest about my own interest in this topic and my own history with it, in my mind, it’s mostly a product designed to help optimize the gut microbiome, and as a result of optimizing the gut microbiome, and balancing hormones like insulin and glucagon, we do expect effective weight loss or at least promoting proper weight management.
But, that’s just one application of the product. The true core target of this product is to optimize the gut microbiome which again, as you know and as a lot of people know has been a topic that I’ve been working on now for at least, let’s just say 25 years.
Twenty-five years ago, so right now we’re in 2020, so this would’ve been, yeah, so this was 1995 is when all this started for me. In 1994, I relocated so I could be closer, actually so I could be closer to Jeff Bland and all the intense work that was happening at that time in the Pacific Northwest.
1994 is when I can say I really started studying functional medicine, and that’s when functional medicine began was approximately 1994. So, of course I had no idea at the time, but in 1995, is when I got sick with a functional gastrointestinal disorder. So of course, I had no idea at the time that I was going to be studying the exact condition that I had, but that is what happened.
Very clearly in 1995, I got sick. I had no idea what was going on. I think I saw 17 different doctors in three different states and I was doing the best I could to get better, but nothing was really working. And, I’m sure you can imagine, because you were from the same time period as well, but back in 1995, we barely knew anything about the gut microbiome.
Gut microbiome wasn’t even a word, wasn’t even a phrase. We were still wrestling with and even justifying the whole idea of gut dysbiosis. I remember for example, when you and I used to lecture together back, let’s say around 2010, even in 2010, we were still justifying the whole concept of dysbiosis.
And now, in 2015 it became really popular and now everybody talks about it, but for some of us, we were working on this for two decades now at least. So, like I was saying, in 1995 I got sick. I was studying Jeffrey Bland’s work. I was going to all of his seminars. I was studying Leo Galland’s work a lot. And for those who don’t know, Leo Galland is the medical internist who coined the phrase leaky gut. So, back in the day, leaky gut, even leaky gut was a radical term back then.
I think anybody who studies this field at all would take increased intestinal permeability for granted. But, these were the first years of functional medicine and the first years of some of these concepts. So, I studied this and suffered with it for a long time, but I studied it because I suffered with it.
I was doing other things. I was graduating from chiropractic college. I was going to naturopathic school. I opened my practice in Seattle, and then later I moved to Houston, Texas and then later went to medical school in Texas. But, during most of that time, I was still pretty sick and I was able to help myself sufficiently to continue performing, but I was still pretty sick.
And in fact, I would say that a lot of that continued up until about 2015. I was still a little bit crippled we might say, from a gastrointestinal standpoint and I was working on a big CME, continuing medical education program in 2015 specific to dysbiosis and gut and that’s when a lot of the research started to shift gears a bit.
Previously, the way that I think we looked at is, when we thought about gut dysbiosis, we were really focusing on individual microbe pathogens. We were looking for Klebsiella pneumoniae. We were looking for unusual critters so to speak like Aeromonas hydrophilla and Blastocystis hominos and Endolimax nana, but we were assuming that the context was okay more or less and then some people had some so-called parasites that we needed to get rid of.
We weren’t really looking at the microbiome in the way that I currently look at it and that is, using a term that I think will be familiar most people who have studied physiology and such, and that is, I look at the microbiome these days as a syncytium.
For those of us who have gone through clinical training and we studied cardiology and heart physiology, I’m sure most of us can remember, even if we have to think about it a little bit, thinking about the way that the heart works, so the heart is obviously this muscular organ comprised of tens of thousands of cells, but those cells function in unison, and that’s why it’s called a syncytium.
That’s part of the definition of a syncytium is when multicellular organisms function as a group. In microbiology terms, call it a quorum. But the point that I’m trying to make as I introduce this topic and how I got into it and how we developed this product, is to say that I think we really have to look at the gut as functioning as a coordinated organ that’s made up of all these different microbes.
Around 2015, as I was working on this program and updating my own materials, and it was a huge quantum leap for me during that time with regard to my own … and I’ve done videos and I’ve done classes on that information, but I haven’t really published that information yet.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Interesting.
Dr. Alex Vasquez: But what happened as a result of that, and some of it was hard work and some of it was just luck, but my girlfriend and I started experimenting with different recipes that would improve gut microbiome but were consistent with the newer level of research as well as my own experience.
I had obviously tried tons of things to get my own situation better. Nothing had really worked, and so the combination of the new research and my ongoing study of it and then some experimentation that we did, we came up with some things that were absolutely … and I don’t want to overstate this, but I want to state it correctly, and so I’m just going to have to say the way I experience it and I’m just going to say it was a remarkable almost miraculous change for me.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Wow.
Dr. Alex Vasquez: Of some things that happened, just within days of changing an otherwise healthy diet. Obviously, my diet’s pretty healthy.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Listen. Let me just ask. Wait, so hold that thought because I totally want to hear about this miracle breakthrough, but you’ve got three doctorates. You’re a naturopath. You’re a chiropractor. You’ve studied under Jeff Bland. You’ve done all this since the ’90s. You’ve tried a lot. You’ve done an elimination diet. You’ve probably done elemental. You’ve probably fasted. You’ve been through all of the anti-microbial pharma and botanicals, etc., etc., and probably again and again, in different permutations and different dosing … so you’ve done, Alex, you’ve done everything.
You’ve rebuilt your gut mucosa probably many times over. So, what you’re saying basically is, what you’re proposing here is extraordinary given your background.
Dr. Alex Vasquez: Yeah. I totally agree with you and I think that you framed that very well in what you just said, because you’re exactly right. I had done everything from the benign to the ridiculous.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: And, it’s very sophisticated. You were thinking through all of it. You were publishing on it and-
Dr. Alex Vasquez: Exactly. And, lecturing on it, even at the post-graduate level. Well, here’s what I do and here’s what either does or doesn’t work for me or my patients. But, I had done everything I could do. Let’s just say it that way and it’s a little bit of an understatement, but it’s the most efficient way to say it.
In 2015, we just tried a few different things and those things worked very quickly. They worked very effectively. They worked objectively. It’s not like I just said, “Oh, well I think I’m feeling a little better.” I was definitively better.
It’s maintained … that improvement is maintained now for the five years I’ve been doing that. So, around that time, as you mentioned, being involved with product development at Biotics, I started corresponding with the rest of the team saying, “Hey, we’ve all been doing 95% of this perfectly, but there’s another five percent that we haven’t looked at and now I have at least some personal experience with this. Why don’t we look into making a product out of this.”
That’s how eventually we came around with this new line of products that we’ve got going on right now that you just mentioned, the metabolic biome products. So, one of the things that really changed the game for me was incorporating … this is going to sound simple and that’s okay, because it’s the truth whether it sounds simple or not, but one of the things that really changed the game for me was switching from grain fibers like oat bran and wheat bran for example, not that I used them that much, but I did use them, because that’s what anybody would do if they’re trying to improve their guts, at least experiment with the so-called insoluble fiber and soluble fiber.
And, as you may know, some people do know, because I used to eat a lot of carrots. I used to eat carrots by the bag.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Yeah, yeah, that’s right. I saw you.
Dr. Alex Vasquez: Because carrots are anti-microbial and it’s a default in the naturopathic world to, a carrot soup or carrot diet for gut problems. So anyway, I had done everything I could, basically, but then when I switched to these seed fibers, that was really what changed the game for me. And so, I encouraged the people at Biotics to look into us developing a product, it wasn’t exclusively seeds of course, because we could always do better than only seeds, but that at least had a good seed fiber foundation to it.
Again, that is what changed the game for me, and it’s been a change that I have continued to benefit from now for the past five years, after having been sick for 20 years with this constant gut problem. So, that was my personal experience with it, and now as you already said, we’ve developed this product line around some of those ideas and I’ll explain some other different aspects of that as we go through the conversation.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: There’s more than just seed fiber. There is –
Dr. Alex Vasquez: So, the seed fiber’s what I use personally to get a lot of benefit, and that was a huge change, a huge improvement for me. But as you just said, we could certainly do more than that, even though I benefited from doing only that. We could certainly do more than that.
Also, around that same time, so now I’m going to go back to 2014 when I was doing lectures throughout the US with Mike Ash and the last one we did was actually in London in 2015. We were doing a series of post-graduate presentations on specific to the gut microbiome.
I’ll credit Mike with this, Mike Ash, because I did learn it from him and back in the day, we used to always credit our sources. So, I will credit him, but he was the one who told us as we were attending his presentation, about the importance of cruciferous vegetables to improve the gut mucosal immunity to then help dislodge or defend from dysbiosis.
And so, as you and I were both starting to say, we used more than just see fiber within this product. We also used a lot of cruciferous vegetables, especially organic sprouted vegetables in order to gain some of the benefits from those cruciferous vegetables to stimulate gut immunity.
It’s not simply seed fiber. It’s also the cruciferous vegetables, which hardly anybody gets enough cruciferous vegetables. Most of us … I’m sure we’ve all gone on cruciferous vegetable kicks, right, and say, “Man, I need to eat more broccoli or I need to eat more cabbage or more kale,” and that typically, at least in my experience, that lasts for about three days, and then it’s like, forget it.
We all need to have some way of accessing those benefits of cruciferous vegetables on a more consistent basis and that’s the beauty of using a seed fiber cruciferous vegetable blend that also has some protein, so then it can be used as a so-called meal replacement even though it’s really a meal improvement plan.
But something that people can use on a consistent basis with great convenience, they can mix it up in the morning while they’re brewing their coffee. They can drink their coffee. They can drink the shake. They get protein. They get seed fiber. They get the cruciferous vegetables and they get all of that within a matter of seconds instead of saying, “Oh yeah, well, I’ll try to eat a salad with lunch.” They’ve already got it. They’ve gotten a great start to their day and they’re ready to go.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Well, there’s these other cool fibers too. There is fenugreek fiber, bamboo fiber. There’s pectin. There’s beet fiber.
Dr. Alex Vasquez: Exactly. And all of those are really interesting. I’m looking at my presentation on that product right now, because I want to just focus in on something, and that is what you just mentioned, the bamboo fiber.
Not too many people think of bamboo fiber. I have actually seen one study using bamboo shoots to improve the human gut microbiome. So, this was a clinical trial in humans, but they were eating an entire jar of bamboo shoot, fermented bamboo shoot fiber every day. We’re not advocating that or we’re not providing that.
But another study, it was an animal study, did use bamboo shoot fiber and what they showed in that study, and this is a common design and a common outcome among certain ingredients and that is, they take these animals, they put them on a high fat diet to make them obese, and then they use whatever intervention on top of that to see if they can prevent that diet induced obesity.
In the one study that I’m thinking about, I’m looking at the citation right now, they found exactly that. So here, I just found it. What they found, so the title of this study is Bamboo Shoot Fiber Prevents Obesity in Mice by Modulating Gut Microbiota. This was published in Scientific Reports.
Arguably, or maybe not arguably, but certainly one of the better journals out there for scientific primary research. This was published in September of 2016. So again, bamboo shoot fiber prevents obesity in mice by modulating the gut microbiota. So, that’s one of the ingredients that we included in this product, along with some others that you just mentioned.
Like the fenugreek, for example, anybody who studied Ayurvedic medicine or naturopathic medicine, we all learned that fenugreek has some really good anti-obesity, anti-diabetic effects. So, we have some fenugreek fiber in this as well. And then some of the others like you just mentioned, like the beet fiber, apple fiber, because apples have also been shown to have a really good effect on the gut microbiome.
And some others as well, so chia seed, flaxseed and broccoli and kale sprouts as well. So, we’ve got a good mix there.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Let me just ask you this though Alex. When you created this, you and your girlfriend designed this product, the foundation, the backbone of this product, based on your … yeah.
Dr. Alex Vasquez: I just want to qualify it just to say, the one that we designed in house, literally in house, was a very primitive version of what you’re looking at now. So, with all due respect for my girlfriend, I don’t want to give her credit for this product at all because this is the result … I’m trying to give credit where credit’s due and the credit really goes to the whole Biotics team for putting this together.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Okay. Okay. So, I guess what I’m curious about though is, who do we prescribe this to? Because, you started on it because you had this incredibly refractory gut condition.
Dr. Alex Vasquez: Exactly. Right. Sure, and this goes back to your initial question as well, well why are you of all people focusing on a weight loss program? That’s true. The marketing and I think the biggest market and therefore potentially the biggest benefit for a particular patient group is probably obese and diabetic patients or people who just want to fine tune their health.
This would be applicable for anybody, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, because all the autoimmune conditions, as I’ve said for years, they all have a gut component. Well, I’ve said that but that’s also part of just naturopathic medicine as well.
But again, I’m agreeing with you. I think this product would be relevant for just about anybody. Whether they’ve got health conditions or not, so we’re talking about this … the goal of this product which again, goes back to the whole naturopathic idea of just improving overall health, this is a health improvement formula that we expect will have benefits for helping people lose weight. But, it will certainly also have applications in other conditions.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: That’s really interesting. Now, what about though, this epidemic of pretty severe dysbiosis guts. Pretty much everybody who walks into our clinic these days has some form of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth and a lot of folks come into our practice on these extremely restricted, almost fiber free, microbiome fasting kinds of diets that they’ve prescribed themselves or somebody else has and there’s a lot of damage going on and you start them on fiber and they may or may not tolerate. Yeah, just talk to that and what we do.
Dr. Alex Vasquez: Sure. First of all, I agree with that clinical perspective and perception, because when people are sick, they try everything. And, that’s totally reasonable. But, they often end up boxing themselves into a corner or painting themselves into a corner because especially with certain types of dysbiosis, so I’m glad we’re having this conversation, because it’s inspiring me that I need to go ahead and publish this stuff that I’ve been working on.
With certain types of dysbiosis, for example, like a sulfur-reducing dysbiosis, people get painted into a corner where they can barely eat anything. If they eat carbohydrates, that makes them worse. If they fiber, that makes them worse. They eat protein, that makes them worse. They eat cruciferous vegetables, and that makes them worse too.
Some of these people are really stuck and those are obviously, the more challenging cases and I’ve been that challenging case for a while. And, I can also say, I’m not that challenging case anymore. With the use of this nutritional program with the seed fibers, etc., I’m not that patient anymore and I haven’t been that patient now for a couple of years. I’m happy about that.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: That’s amazing.
Dr. Alex Vasquez: As you were just saying, sometimes when people come in, they know they have gut problems. They’ve painted themselves into a corner. They’ve got very few dietary choices. Maybe they’ve got more allergies and things like that as well as a result of the whole immune overload and the increased permeability, etc.
Those are parts also of the reason that we put this together in a kit. So, I’ve been talking about this and thinking about it in terms of the product and that is the product of the various diverse phytochemicals. It’s kind of a phytochemical blend more so than a fiber blend, even though we could describe it either way.
Dr. Alex Vasquez: The metabolic biome powder is part of a larger kit which is called the metabolic biome plus kit that has, for example, proteolytic enzymes and digestive enzymes. So, just like you were saying, a lot of these patients come in and they’re really sensitive and they get gas and bloating with any dietary change.
Some of that, they’re going to have to weather through a little bit of it. Sometimes we can address their gut dysbiosis more directly by using berberine and oregano oil and other anti-fungal agents, herbal anti-fungals, or drugs for that matter.
Dr. Alex Vasquez: But that’s part of the reason that we put this together in a kit, was to give people some enzyme support so that as they’re making these dietary changes, we’re trying to support their gut digestion and mucosal digestion as much as possible because part of the reason that they have those problems is because of the bacterial overgrowth.
And, I’m quoting this directly from 1995 Leo Galland. This actually comes from 25 years ago. But what I learned from him, is that when people have gut dysbiosis, they get mucosal damage because of the enzymes produced by those bacteria, and some of those enzymes degrade the digestive enzymes within the mucosal wall and that’s why these people become so food intolerant.
You’ve got to calm all of that down. That’s why the kit also has omega-3 fatty acids. You’ve got to calm down that mucosal irritation, so that then those digestive enzymes in the mucosal wall actually function again and people can get out of this vicious cycle that they’re stuck in.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Would you actually, so you might start with an antimicrobial intervention and you might turn the volume up before you introduce this product, or would you … so patients now coming to our practice, granted we’re kind of tertiary care place, so they’ve been through that and so have you.
You’ve been through antimicrobials a zillion times and basically, you’re saying this is the thing that walked you to the other side to health. So, I’m wondering Alex, could this patient that shows up, these really “tough guts,” could you start a low dose of this as your intervention like you did?
Dr. Alex Vasquez: Absolutely. So, back in 2015, I was still, again, I knew enough crutches I could use, to help myself perform even if I’m sick, and that’s just from having studied this through so many different disciplines for a long time. And, that’s great to the extent that it helps me keep going, but it’s not so great in the sense that it wasn’t really addressing the underlying problem.
Even though, as you already said, I had already done every anti-microbial drug and botanical that I could think of. So, to some extent, we always have to watch and wait to see how individual patients respond, but I do think this is something people can start with on day one and if they need additional antimicrobial support, I guess in a sense, you and I in this conversation, we’re assuming that we don’t have stool analysis to look at.
If we don’t have a stool analysis to look at, and we’re not targeting something specific. We could still treat them with an anti-microbial like oregano oil or berberine, something that’s relatively gentle as we’re trying to improve the climate at the same time.
That’s the nice thing about a lot of these herbal antimicrobials and berberine is the perfect example. It actually helps to reshape the gut microbiome in a beneficial way while you’re getting some anti-fungal and anti-parasite benefits from it and the same we could say we could say of oregano oil.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Right. I do want to point out that you give this in the kit with the GlucoResolve which does have berberine. You might want to go a little bit more therapeutic than that amount, but it is in the product, in the kit.
Dr. Alex Vasquez: Let me take a look at that.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: The GlucoResolve.
Dr. Alex Vasquez: Right. Right. Actually, I was pretty excited, I still am pretty excited about that particular product.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Yeah, it’s a nicely designed-
Dr. Alex Vasquez: It’s amazing. So, let me look at it. So, let me tell everybody else what you and I are both looking at. So, the GlucoResolve is basically a multi-vitamin, multi-mineral targeted for people obesity ancillary resistance. And, it’s an incredible formulation. I’m still impressed with it.
As you were just saying, it has 50 milligrams of berberine hydrochloride. Now, in the old days, I’m talking 20 years ago, 20 years ago, at least I was using berberine, what I considered a therapeutic dose back then was maybe 200 milligrams, maybe 400 milligrams, so 50 milligrams is obviously, less than that, but it’s not radically less than that compared to what we would use these days which would be 1500 milligrams, a much higher dose.
I think that possibly this level of berberine that we’re talking about now in the GlucoResolve at 50 milligrams, that might be sufficient to induce a gentle change in the gut microbiome. Jeffrey Bland said many years ago, he said, “You don’t want to use a jackhammer to do watch repair.”
What he was advocating with that idea is that we can start gentle. We don’t have to go in there with 1500 milligrams of berberine. We can go in with 50 and try to initiate some change that’s a little gentle, especially for these sicker clients.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Well, especially in the context of this collection of different fiber and sprouts, etc. Incidentally, so the other things, you can look GlucoResolve up, in fact, on our show notes, we’ll have a link to the components of the kit so you can find them there on the page. But, there’s pomegranate. There’s r-lipoic acid, green tea, skullcap, taurine, carnitine, selenium, biotin, it’s very comprehensive.
Dr. Alex Vasquez: Right. And, if you look at the dose of biotin, for example, the biotin’s at 1500 micrograms. That’s a pretty potent dose. That’s a high dose for a multi. So, I’m very pleased with this product. The formulation is great. Obviously, Biotics has some other multivitamin, multi-minerals like ProMulti-Plus and VasculoSirt, for example, which are also really excellent.
We’ve got a really good combination of different multivitamins available. This one, I think is really good, specific for patients with insulin resistance and diabetes.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: So, this is a gut rebuilding product. That’s where its origin sits, with you, which I think that’s pretty cool especially given your story. I can see this being appropriate for a wide variety of patients, not just the person who comes to me wanting to lose their last 15. In fact, that’s probably almost the last person … I can see we can obviously use it for somebody who wants to lose some weight, but there’s a wide application here.
Dr. Alex Vasquez: Sure. Well, I would say, you just described as a gut healing program and I agree with that, but I would say that the way that we’re trying to heal the gut in this case isn’t going in with an elemental diet and a lot of glutamine. What we’re trying to do here is address the cause of the gut problem which is, in a lot of cases, it’s the dysbiosis.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Yeah, that’s right.
Dr. Alex Vasquez: So, this is mostly … what we’re trying to do, obviously, we’re trying to do many things at once. We’re trying to feed the good microbes with a … we’re trying to mimic, as I’ve said in some of the literature, we’re trying to mimic the effects of a diversified plant-based diet with the use of this product.
Most people do not consume a big organic diverse salad every day, and that’s part of what we’re trying to achieve, we could say, in a way of talking we could say that that’s what we’re trying to achieve with this product. We’re trying to help people achieve the benefits of a diversified-plant based diet through the use of this product.
Now, we can’t just think of seed fibers and phytochemicals. We also have to think of supporting gut immunity and one of the ways we do that is with sufficient protein, and in this case we’ve got organic whey flour. We’ve got whey protein. We’ve got organic pea protein, and we’ve got the collagen peptides, so people can have different options and different choices for their protein intake.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Yeah. Those are actually separate forms of the metabolic biome. So, you could go just whey. You could go collagen or you could go pea if you wanted to. Okay, that’s pretty … yeah.
Dr. Alex Vasquez: For sure. A lot of people, they need more protein to heal their gut and to support gut immunity. So, for example, if we had just put in the phytochemical blend or the fiber blend and we just said, “Okay, now you’ve got phytochemical diversity. You’ve got fiber diversity. That’s not sufficient if people are still protein and mineral deficient, and vitamin deficient for that matter.” We have to replace the other nutrients that are necessary for supporting gut immunity, if we’re going to really get these people out of the cycle that they’re in.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: What about … it almost seems like weight loss would be a byproduct of this. It’s a byproduct of the restoration of balance. What about the gut-brain axis and these compounds actually influencing cravings, and of course, influencing blood sugar as a piece of the craving, but maybe mood, energy. What about some of these?
Dr. Alex Vasquez: Right. For example, let’s talk about the cravings aspect that you just mentioned. So, whey protein isolate has been shown to reduce hunger and to increase satiation which of course, is the exact opposite of the problem that you just spoke to which is the cravings.
Part of getting people to control their diet, and in some cases eat less, is to address their food cravings. So how do we do that with certain minerals like magnesium. Obviously, if you’re going to talk about magnesium, then you’re going to have to talk about vitamin D, because vitamin D helps with magnesium absorption and metabolism.
But, the whey protein for example, has a good dose of tryptophan which then, and this is very simplistic thinking, but it still seems to be somewhat accurate at least. Tryptophan converts into serotonin. Serotonin has a satiating effect. Several studies have shown that when people eat whey protein in the morning, they actually eat less throughout the day because they’re satiated.
Part of the mechanism that was suggested there was the serotonin connection from the tryptophan. So, that’s part of it. Another part that I believe will also help with the cravings, some of those cravings probably come from an imbalanced, short chain fatty acid production, especially excessive acetate.
One study, I believe this was … I have to go back and look at it. I know it’s an animal study, but it may be an animal study then they followed up with a human study, but this was an excellent, amazing study where they showed that administration of acetate, which of course, is one of those short chain fatty acids, potentiates hyper insulinemia, and it also potentiates excess food consumption, food cravings.
They showed that in animals, for example. So, by modulating the gut microbiome in this part of the conversation, and reducing acetate production, we would reasonably expect based on the published research that we would see reduced cravings, and therefore better food control, better food choices, and ultimately less food consumption overall for reduced caloric intake.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: That’s quite interesting. I can just see the application here for a lot of folks, and … yeah, go ahead.
Dr. Alex Vasquez: I was just going to add, probably just reducing systemic inflammation would also help us achieve the same thing. So, a few studies have shown, for example, that in the setting of neuro-inflammation and excess glutaminergic neurotransmission, which accompanies it, at least in experimental models, animals that are neuro-inflamed, tend to eat more. So, if we can reduce dysbiosis and thereby reduce systemic inflammation and thereby reduce brain inflammation, that should be another way by which we can help people control their dietary intake.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Yeah, absolutely. I think that’s been demonstrated. So, basic question here, I haven’t had a chance to try it yet and I did actually bug Paul to send me some samples, so we should have some. And in fact, I have the ideal first patient case, somebody who was eating enormous of grain-based fiber every day for 20 years and on stool test, had a pretty incredible imbalance.
We consulted with Richard Lord, who you know, and he suggested this food forward approach, and basically tweaking this microbiome. The microbiome, at a glance, anybody would be going after with antimicrobials, pharmaceutical or botanicals or both. But Richard said no, and he wanted to do this very fiber-forward approach and food-based approach first starting with stopping these grain-based fibers.
So, I could see him actually using this as his primary intervention, this one case that we just, just discussed in our physician’s rounds meeting. But, how does it taste? Does this taste pretty good? You’ve been involved in that.
Dr. Alex Vasquez: It’s good. So, we had a meeting, we had an internal meeting in I guess it was January of this year. Well, it would have to be January, because it was this year, and we’re now in February and it wasn’t this month, so it was in January. And, we got to try some samples, and the samples, especially … I was surprised.
The beef collagen, the hydrolyzed beef collagen, was actually impressively good. It has little bit of a nutty flavor and it was impressively delicious if I may say so.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Oh, that’s pretty cool.
Dr. Alex Vasquez: And, I traditionally haven’t been a big fan of hydrolyzed collagen even though I’m willing to change my mind on that, but it was really good, to be quite honest with you. The other protein, the other fiber and protein blend has a pretty benign taste to it. It does come in different flavors like the vanilla and the chocolate for example, that would obviously have a stronger flavor.
The one that I tried was basically unflavored are maybe a little bit of vanilla, and it was pretty neutral. And, I would consider that fine. We don’t want to overpower people with a bunch of flavors. We want them to keep their palate clean so to speak especially if they’re trying to gain better dietary control because you don’t want to stimulate those taste buds all the time if people are actually going to recalibrate towards avoiding salt an avoiding excess sugar intake.
I found it quite good and at that time, when we were at the meeting, obviously, we were in a hotel and then after that, I was in another hotel in a different country for another week and I had to mix this product basically in the bathroom of the hotel. Meaning, I didn’t have a blender and all that stuff.
Because, as I’m sure you know, and anybody with any experience with food products, some of these products, they look great. The label looks great, but you can’t mix them and you have to use a blender and that becomes really inconvenient.
Eventually, people burn out on that wash and reuse cycle every day, and then they fall out of compliance. So, if we have something and, in this case, we do have something, if we have something that mixes very easily, then obviously that helps improve compliance which then helps improve effectiveness and helps people get better if they can stay on the program.
One of the things that is unique to this, at least unique in my experience, having used other protein powders, experimentally, is that you can mix this up really easily. For example, living in Europe as I have now for the last couple of years, I have tried some other proteins, experimentally and one is a whey protein concentrate that absolutely refuses to mix with a spoon or a blender.
In terms of actual daily implementation of this, I think people are going to have an easy time with it because it does mix up easily. Even if you’re doing it from a sink and you don’t have a blender and all you’ve got is a spoon and small glasses, it still works.
I have no problem doing it, and I had to do it for 14 days in a hotel. So, it worked out just fine for me.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Yeah, okay. So, you had the full experience and you didn’t burn out on it. You like the flavor. Why did you guys opt for monk fruit as a sweetener?
Dr. Alex Vasquez: Just for variety. Part of what I was trying to emphasize with this product was, I was trying to accomplish two different things, and I think we did accomplish both of these. One is, just diversity. So, we wanted to include some ingredients as much as possible that were unusual or different or things that people might not have already sitting on their counter, because what’s been shown in the literature is that our ultimate goal with viewing the microbiome as I said before, as an interconnected syncytium, what we’re aiming for here is microbiome diversity.
The way that we support microbiome diversity, in addition to other things like good digestion and mucosal immunity, is through phytochemical and fiber diversity. So, we wanted to use as many different and unusual, when possible, and when appropriate, we wanted to use some things that were a little bit less common.
Also, we wanted to use sweeteners, to the extent that we use sweeteners at all, we wanted to use sweeteners that also had phytochemical and the antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, and that’s what we typically get with berries and certain types of fruit like that.
A little bit of sweetness and some more phytochemicals and some different food sources to support microbiome diversity. That was the goal.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Okay. Got it. Yeah, there’s at least 15 different phytochemicals. What about the fats? How did you guys think about fats? What did you do there?
Dr. Alex Vasquez: Partly just trying to … obviously fats have a lot of different physiologic effects, so if we look at it from a physiological gut effect, we’re trying to increase again, as you had asked before, we’re trying to increase satiation. We’re trying to stimulate a good release, a good balance, let’s say, of gut hormones. But, we also want the product to have at least a little bit of mouth feel to it, and that’s what we get with some of these oils in the powdered form.
We don’t want this to go down like it’s a big chunk of sawdust with all the fibers and phytochemicals. Even if the flavor’s acceptable, people are still sensitive to texture. So part of… the fats help to slow digestion a little bit. We get a better balance of gut hormones. We’ll probably get some vagal stimulation out of that, and certainly we get some mouth feel out of it, which I think will help improve compliance as well.
Even for the variations of this product that are relatively flavor neutral, people can add their own flavor to it if they mix it in with a berry juice or a beet juice for example. Then, they get the flavor of whatever it is that they’re using, and the flavor of the product doesn’t dominate the experience.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: I am pretty excited about this. I’ll have some samples before we launch this podcast, so I’m going to try it and then on our show notes, I’m going to put my own experience of tasting it. I can already think … I’m thinking of many different people I want to use it for. In fact, that first little case I gave you is somebody who doesn’t need to lose weight, but the microbiome is in pretty dire need of balancing.
I can see really prescribing this … well, I think all of us do, even healthy folks need it. But, the really, it’s an impressive combination of different fibers Alex, and the fact that it worked for you, your story, makes me think of that application.
And this person doesn’t need to lose weight, but it’ll be fun to also use it. I’m perennially, I could always use too, fine tune my way a little bit. I’ll admit it, and maybe when I get my product, I’ll see if that’s a byproduct of just using this.
I guess because what I’m hearing you say is that it may not be effort driven. The weight loss might be secondary to the rebalance.
Dr. Alex Vasquez: Sure. Well, I think that to the extent that we can promote exactly that, to the extent that we could promote weight optimization, which in a lot of people’s case is obviously weight loss, but to the extent that we can promote optimization or maintenance or achievement of ideal body weight through indirect means, I think that actually gives us a better chance of sustaining it.
If we’re trying to focus too much on weight loss, then that often comes at the neglect of other things, whereas in this case, we’re focusing in on what is now considered to be a chief cause of difficult to treat obesity and recurrent obesity. As we had talked about in some of the notes, a lot of people go on diets, and of course they lose weight, but they bounce back so to speak, and everyone’s heard this a million times, the whole thing about yo-yo dieting.
Well, part of the string, the gut microbiome is the string of yo-yo dieting. That’s part of what draws people back to their original weight in addition to metabolic slow down and all that kind of stuff. I’ve been impressed by the studies in animals and in humans, and some case reports, showing that fecal microbiome transplant can either promote obesity or promote leanness.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Yes, that’s right.
Dr. Alex Vasquez: So very obviously, we have to address what’s going on in the gut, and even more so, in people who have a difficult time losing weight. I remember a long time ago, this was back before anybody even heard of … well except in France, where the term originated, but I’m thinking of a patient that I had when I first opened my practice in Seattle, Washington, after I graduated from naturopathic medical school.
I remember looking at her, again this was before we even knew about gut microbiome affected weight. We were studying dysbiosis in terms of arthritis and things like that, but I remember looking at this patient. This patient, she was obese, she was working out two hours a day with a personal trainer, and I remember looking at her across the desk and saying … what did I say? I said, “You eat less in a day than I eat in a meal.”
She wasn’t overeating, but something in her metabolism and it wasn’t thyroid. It wasn’t cortisol. But, something in her was causing her to keep and gain weight even though she was exercising two hours a day. She was eating less all day than I eat in a meal, and we just couldn’t figure it out.
I think now, here we are 25 years later, I think now we’ve got some … obviously, well, 20 years later, we’ve got some ideas that we didn’t have back then. And, that’s obviously why we’re in the game is to keep progressing our knowledge.
I do think this will help a lot of people. And, I would assume I’m not the first person to say this, but we have to address the gut microbiome in these obese patients, because some of us can put on some extra weight because we’re sitting around looking at research all day and we don’t get enough exercise, but our bodies respond.
In my case, if I’m working on a book or working on a video series or whatever, and I don’t get exercise, yeah, I can put on a few extra pounds or kilos in this case, but I can also lose that weight pretty easily. But some people don’t have that luxury, so to speak.
Their metabolism doesn’t respond and we can’t just throw cortisol-suppressing herbs at them and give them more thyroid like we may have done so many years ago. We’ve got to now look at xenobiotics, pollutants, and also dysbiosis and what’s going on in their gut.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Yeah, that’s right. This is a leading product in that arena. I suspect that … on our differential, when patients with really refractory weight loss come to us, or weight issues come to us, this will probably bump up to number one. We read the case reports. We read those FMT reports and research an animal models, but it’ll just be cool to see what this does. I think yeah, I think that we’re going to see dysbiosis is just a major, major player in this-
Dr. Alex Vasquez: And, like I was trying to differentiate early, this is the new generation of dysbiosis that we’re seeing now. Not like we thought in the past, okay, you’ve got your … when we’d get the stool test results. You’ve got your good probiotics. Everything’s looking good there and you either do or don’t have these potential pathogens and we of course, would target those.
That is what we did, and that’s what people like you and I. That’s what we used to teach. But now, we really do have to look at, okay, yes they’ve got probiotics and they either do or don’t have potential pathogens or parasites or whatever. But, we also have to look at the entire microbiome organ as Jeff Bland initially stated back in 1994.
We have to look at the entire gut organ and address that functionality as well. And, I think that’s where … we’ve had some ideas, but now we’ve got tools that we can actually use and implement, I think with a lot more effectiveness.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Yeah. Well, I’m excited to see this product come forward. I’m actually really excited to try it in some patients.
Dr. Alex Vasquez: Oh, the other thing I wanted to add to that, since we’re segueing a little bit into actual usage, this product can be described in a couple different ways. We can say it’s a meal replacement. We can say it’s meal enhancement for-
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Right. That’s right.
Dr. Alex Vasquez: Another thing, and this goes back to what you had started to talk about with some of the trickier patients, in those patients where we might want to start a little bit slower, what I want to talk about just briefly, very briefly, in three sentences is the fact that patients don’t have to live on these products in order to get benefit from them.
Even using half a serving twice a day, or one serving once a day or twice a day, that should be sufficient. So, we’re not saying that people have to be on this product and this is all they eat for two weeks or whatever. That could happen and that might be a way to implement it, but a little bit of … here’s the point that I’m making.
A little bit of fiber and phytochemical diversity goes a long way towards helping the gut microbiome and getting people out of these bad situations that they’re in with their guts. For example, I recently read a study that really impressed me showing that, what can differentiate the presence of dysbiosis versus not dysbiosis, at least in this particular study, was whether people consumed a handful of nuts and seeds once a week, or once every two weeks.
It’s not like people have to live on this stuff every day. It’s not a quantity issue. It’s a quality issue. And, in this particular case, the quality is dependent on the quality in the diversity. But, again people don’t have to live on this product every day, for two or three meals a day. One serving a day could be the game changer that they need.
That would be easy enough for anybody to implement. Like I said, it mixes up really easily. People mix it up, down it, have their coffee, go on about their lives and of course, hopefully supporting those beneficial changes by not eating a bunch of ultra-processed foods. But again, a little bit of this product should go a long way to help re-fertilize or recondition that gastrointestinal terrain.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Really. That’s really well said. I know that, so it can be a meal replacement, but as you’ve just outlined, it doesn’t need to be. There’s a little booklet to walk patients through their how to, or you can do, as the prescribing clinician, you can do a more precise prescription.
Dr. Alex Vasquez: For sure.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: All right. Well, listen Alex, as always, it was really great to talk to you. I’m excited about it. So, we’ll load our show notes up with lots of information on the product and folks, as you try it, as you bring it into your practice, please, please, please let us know. Just post some comments at the end of the show notes and we’d love to hear your experience with it. All right Dr. Vasquez, thanks for joining me on New Frontiers.
Dr. Alex Vasquez: Sure. Thank you, Kara.