In this podcast episode, I’m talking with Dr. Will Cole about the, gut brain connection, and how your gut feelings, can affect your brain. Dr. Cole is a world-renowned functional medicine practitioner and health advisor to Gwyneth Paltrow. He is an expert in the field of, cellular health, and inflammation, and he has some amazing insights to share with you about the connection between how you eat and how you feel. If you’re curious about the, gut brain connection, and how your, gut feelings, can affect your overall health, then this podcast episode is for you! Dr. Cole discusses the relationship between your gut and brain in detail and explains how you can use this knowledge to improve your health and well-being.
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The gut-brain connection explained
Dr Will Cole Health advisor to Gwyneth Paltrow top functional medicine practitioner in New York Times best-selling author has dedicated his career to teaching people to apply skepticism to National Trends and instead pay closer attention to their own intuition his new book “Gut Feelings Healing the Shame Fueled Relationship Between What you Eat and What you Feel” and how you feel sorry demystifies the gut brain connection and provides a framework to prepare the relationship between what you eat and how you feel .
Named one of the top 50 functional and integrated doctors in the nation Dr Will Cole provides a functional medicine approach for thyroid issues, autoimmune conditions, hormonal imbalances ,digestive disorders, and brain problems. He’s the host of “Art of the Being Well” podcast and the author of ” Ketotarian the Information Spectrum” and the New York Times bestseller “Intuitive Fasting”
Myrna: I have followed you for years on Instagram and Facebook but a few months ago you know I’m always on YouTube I have a YouTube channel so I saw your Ad about, cellular health, and I thought it was so great that I wanted to sign up for the webinar on autoimmune conditions and cellular inflammation. I signed up for your, health assessment, where they sent me a kit to check my inflammation levels.
Can you introduce yourself by telling our audience um you know how you became to be one of the top 50 functional medicine doctors the doctor of Gwyneth Paltrow and maybe you can introduce us to what you do with helping clients get rid of their, cellular inflammation.
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Functional medicine and Telehealth
Dr Cole: we’ve been in Telehealth for the 13 for 13 plus years like that’s been our day job and my passion and my heart is to really be a part of people’s Health journey and figure out why they’re struggling with their health issues right so that’s our main focus and from that the passion and that sacred responsibility that I hold for our Telehealth patients comes the books in the podcast like all of that Springs from that so thank you for I honor I’m honestly honored that you have to be a part of your health journey and I take that extremely seriously and as I mentioned like we’ve we started within the first functional medicine Telehealth centers 13 plus years ago
We have several ways that we serve Telehealth patients we have our one-on-one Telehealth concierge which is one-on-one private sessions, and then we have the, autoimmune Health reset, that we launched years ago like three years ago at this point to enhance or level up the amount of people we can support. The urine test reveals inflammation which is the commonality between just about every health problem Under the Sun.
Inflammation and insulin resistance
I mean autoimmune problems are inflammatory metabolic issues like trouble losing weight, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, PCOS polycystic ovarian syndrome, which is driven by, insulin resistance, and other hormonal problems to digestive problems you mentioned musculoskeletal inflammation issues to even things like fatigue and anxiety and depression are all inflammatory there’s a whole field of research called the cytokine model of cognitive function cytokines are pro-inflammatory cells.
Researchers exploring in the scientific literature how does inflammation impact how our brain works. How does inflammation impact mental health so what one of the ways we measure inflammation is that urine tests, but we also run blood tests like high sensitivity C-reactive protein homocysteine levels. These are just objective data points to show people their Baseline. What’s driving the inflammation in both physiological and psychological components is underlying, gut health.
75 percent of your, immune system, resides so there’s a lot of gut-centric components to inflammation that could impact your joints, going to impact your mental health it could impact your hormones and impact your blood sugar that we need to calm down so what you embarked on through that group Telehealth model was us to calm down these root causes of inflammation so people can live the life they were created for.
Also natural medicines biohacking different tools mind-body practices trauma work to really deal with what’s causing that dysregulation of their immune system which is what chronic inflammation is. Inflammation is not inherently bad, it’s a product of the immune system.
Gut brain connection and the vagus nerve
Myrna: I’ve always known about the, gut brain connection, and the, leaky gut, but I’ve been learning specifically about you know things getting through the lining and causing inflammation and and I see now where you know the gut is the main resource which is mitochondria and all these different things. Can you talk about the, gut brain connection.
Dr Cole: I mentioned that inflammation is a product of the immune system 75 % to about two-thirds of the immune system resides in the gut or originates in the gut so to understand inflammation you want to look at where the predominance of the immune system resides. But not just from an immune inflammatory standpoint, but also from a, brain health ,standpoint. The gut and brain are actually formed from the same fetal tissue so when babies are growing in their mother’s womb the gut and brain are formed .
Serotonin a neurotransmitter is made in the gut and stored in the gut. Fifty percent of dopamine, the pleasure neurotransmitter is made and stored in the gut. The vagus nerve which is the largest cranial nerve in the body these neurotransmitters as we understand it today are made in the gut don’t pass through the blood-brain barrier but what they do is crosstalk to the brain through the vagus nerve.
Parasympathetic response and the vagus nerve
So when you hear these conversations that are happening more and more around a dysregulated nervous system what we’re actually talking about here is an overactive sympathetic state of that fight, flight or freeze stressed inflamed State and an under active parasympathetic that resting digesting hormone balance date both are important just like inflammation there’s nothing inherently wrong with the sympathetic response it’s meant to protect that us and it does protect us but it’s meant to come up and overact and then calm down when the threat is removed.
Most people are in a state of nervous system dysregulation that it’s just always on the sympathetic response is always on to varying degrees and that as you’re an underactive resting digesting meaning calm anti-anxiety normal, gut health, normal digestive response. This has to do with what’s called the nervous system it’s the neuro-aminoendocrine axis so the intersection between our nervous system the endocrine system.
Myrna: How does the gut influence your hormone production or depression? Can you bridge the gap on inflammation as the commonality between all these health problems?
Dr Cole: But the word there the key word is commonality meaning it’s the common link but something’s causing the inflammation so what’s Upstream to the inflammation because if inflammation’s not inherently bad we’re just talking about dysregulated chronic inflammation, that forest fire that’s burning perpetuity for people that’s impacting their mental health and their physical health and their hormones and their digestion and their pain levels and their energy levels.
We look at what’s causing the inflammation. It’s like the check engine light, so if the check engine light’s on in your car you don’t just keep under driving and cover up the check engine light and act like it’s not on. Let’s do some Diagnostics to see why that check engine light is on, so that’s what we do in functional medicine. So I talk about this in the book at both physiological and psychological drivers of inflammation, so both approaches have to be looked at.
Gut Feelings: The gut brain connection
So underlying gut problems nutrient deficiencies chronic infections like we deal with mold toxicity or chronic lyme disease or environmental toxins those physiological things will impact inflammation, impact our mood and all that stuff it can impact the anxiety depression automate everything on the psychological side. The Chronic infections environmental toxins will can trigger that for some people that have genetic predispositions for autoimmunity, but on a psychological thing side of things.
That’s why in part why I called the book, gut feelings, it’s gut and feelings it’s a physiological and the psychological the physical and the mental emotional spiritual. Those things can trigger the, gut brain connection, things like unresolved trauma and chronic stress and something that I call in the book shame formation. Because our body is a cellular library and our thoughts and our words our emotions our experiences will impact the expression of our biochemistry.
Myrna: I’ve had several um people on the show talk about childhood trauma results in autoimmune conditions so I’m getting the connection now so that’s amazing.
Alcohol and the gut brain connection
Myrna: You say that alcohol affects our, gut brain connection. Are you including red wine as alcohol?
Dr Cole: I’m including red wine in this bucket, so you could make the argument that there’s some Redemptive qualities for wine right because it has it Resveratrol which is like antioxidant yeah so you know and it has like polyphenols like other antioxidants in it because it’s from like the grapes that is true but actually this compelling amount of data that shows you need to drink an obscene amount of wine to get like to a great therapeutic dose.
Now you can make the other argument towards alcohol and say well couldn’t it be alcohol is a hormetic effect in the body it’s like a hormesis is a term that means like a good stressor on the body that makes the cells more resilient so fasting is a harmonic effect high intensity interval training is a hermetic effect cold therapy sauna these are all hormatic effects in the body. Let’s do some high intention interval training, that’s healthier forms of hermesis than this alcohol . Then supplement with Resveratrol or drink some eat some fruits and vegetables.
Myrna: I’ve heard time and time again about the benefits of red wine my husband is an avid Red Wine Drinker and I just picked it up again like a couple weeks ago because because I heard about the benefits of red wine.
Dr Cole: I need to talk to your husband .
Myrna: So you have a 21 day gut feeling plan designed to help your clients heal can you talk to us about that what’s in that plan.
Dr Cole: I adapted the plan in the book based off of different tools that we Implement into our Telehealth patients lives into their protocols so for this book every day of the 21 days there’s a gut and a Feeling tool. So there’s a physiological and a psychological gut day. We could do a little bit of what you did during that autoimmune Health reset, we focus on soups and stews which is a great way to support that ,gut brain access, that microbiome mood axis to also lower inflammations, which is where two-thirds of the immune system resides.
So this is nothing new to our Landscapes humans right you look at any traditional Society they use soups and stews lots of times right I mean just every day let alone when somebody’s sick or therapeutically you know that cliche of chicken noodle soup it’s not the noodles that we’re helping people it was the broths and the vegetables that were cooked down it was the proteins that were cooked and easy to digest so there’s something healing about that on many levels for people.
So it’s born as a protocol that we we modify for patients based on what’s relevant to them we modify what’s called a gaps protocol a it’s an acronym gaps it stands for gut and psychology syndrome or gut and Physiology syndrome which is the gut brain Axis or the gut immune Axis or like chronic autoimmune problems so it’s used clinically with different applications for different purposes. So I give soup recipes and broth recipes in the book to support that, gut brain immune access, over the course of the 21 days.
On the feelings side, my favorite science back tools that I’ve seen really work in patients lives also the research is so exciting so things like breath work and the history of breath work and breath work practices that helps to regulate the nervous system, strengthening the vagal tone. A lot of the plan is actually improving vagal tone, most people have a weak vagus nerve they’re resting digesting the system is weak they have anxiety inflammation and poor digestion.
We’re actually helping to support and strengthen so food on the physiological side on the gut side of that, gut feeling, crosstalk will help to improve vagal tone because the more you lower inflammation the more you support gut from gut health from a nutrition standpoint will improve vagal tone but on a psychological side we need to implement things like breath work to strengthen the vagus nerve to regulate that nervous system.
Strengthening the vagus nerve
Myrna: I do a lot of meditation on the vagus nerve because everything happens when you relax and that is one way I help myself relax and I do you know breath work meditation, I wasn’t aware that you can strengthen the vagus nerve so this is new information for me.
Myrna: Your book Gut Feelings: Healing the Shame-Fueled Relationship Between What You Eat and How You Feel is on Amazon so tell us how people can get in contact with you your website social media
Dr Cole: Everything’s at Drwillcole.com all the links to everything we talked about in today’s conversation are there, so are the links to the Telehealth Center. We have new Telehealth patient options now open a the autoimmune Health reset is one of them but lab information people can run Labs. The links to the books are there Gut Feelings, Intuitive fasting, The inflammation spectrum and Ketotarian the links to the podcast The Art of Being Well. I have a new episode every week. I’m on Instagram @Drwillcole same with Facebook Tic Tock.