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- 03:16 About Mike Mutzel
- 05:21 Mike’s new book The Belly Fat Effect
- 09:56 Overweight issues and digestive problems
- 12:14 Weight loss and inflammation
- 18:17 Early feeding and antibiotic usage in adult weight issues
- 24:42 Probiotics
- 29:32 Hormones and your waist line
- 33:17 Overcoming the hurdles of being overweight and overly inflamed
- 38:16 Fat bugs vs. skinny bugs
- 41:08 Gut microbiome calorie extraction
- 44:19 High fat diets and gut dysbiosis
- 47:33 How our immune cells are making us fat
- 52:28 The most pressing health issue in the world today
- 53:42 More About Mike
Wendy Myers: Welcome to the Live to 110 Podcast. My name is Wendy Myers and I’m your host. You can find me on Liveto110.com.
Today, we have Mike Mutzel on the podcast of MikeMutzel.com. We’re going to be talking about how your gut bugs are making you fat and preventing you from losing weight. It’s not all about calories and how much you work out, not by a long shot. I know this is going to be a podcast you guys are going to be really, really interested in.
But first, we have to do the disclaimer.
Please keep in mind that this program is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease or health condition and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. The Live to 110 Podcast is solely informational in nature and for your entertainment purposes. Please consult your healthcare practitioner before engaging in any treatment or diet that we suggest on the show.
You guys can sign up for my free Live to 110 by Weighting Less e-guide and five free Modern Paleo Survival Guides that gives you a preview of coming attractions of my upcoming book, the Modern Paleo Survival Guide all about diet, detox and lifestyle to help you survive and thrive to 110.
Mike Mutzel: Right.
Wendy Myers: Yeah, it’s my little slogan.
And so I’m also really excited. I am speaking at the Bulletproof Conference put on by Dave Asprey. I’m really, really excited. I’m going to be talking about infrared saunas. As we know, Dave Asprey loves little biohacking dukiki and technology, so I’m going to be there talking about infrared saunas. You guys hear me talk about that a lot on the show because it’s one of the best ways that you can detox heavy metals and chemicals and improve your health.
I’m very honored to be among the peers who are going to be speaking on the conference like Donna Gates, JJ Virgin and Dave Asprey himself. I’m very thrilled. It’s going to be happening 26th to the 28th at the Pasadena Convention Center right outside of Los Angeles. So definitely go check that out BulletproofConference.com.
Our guest, Mike Mutzel has a BS in biology from Western Washington University and is completing his MS in clinical nutrition from the University of Bridgeport. So am I!
Mike Mutzel: Awesome! How far along are you, Wendy?
Wendy Myers: I just started.
Mike Mutzel: Okay, cool.
Wendy Myers: Not too far along.
He’s also a graduate of the Institute for Functional Medicines, applying functional medicine in clinical practice. He’s an independent consultant for one of the world’s leading professional nutrition companies.
And in April of 2014, Mike launched his first book, which we’re going to be talking about today, The Belly Fat Effect: The Real Secret About How Your Diet, Intestinal Health and Gut Bacteria Help You Burn Fat.
Thank you so much for coming on the show, Mike.
Mike Mutzel: Thanks so much, Wendy. It’s a pleasure to be here. I’m honored. And also, congratulations for speaking at Dave’s conference. I’m a huge fan of Dave’s work. He and I did a webinar together and sold out. You’re going to rock out, I know it. So congratulations.
Wendy Myers: Yeah, I love Dave. He’s so good…
Mike Mutzel: Great guy.
Wendy Myers: He’s so articulate and well-spoken and intelligent. I’ve had him on my podcast too. I love him, he’s great!
Mike Mutzel: Awesome!
Wendy Myers: So let’s talk about you.
Mike Mutzel: Sure!
Wendy Myers: So why don’t you tell the listeners a little bit about yourself and how you became interested in nutrition?
Mike Mutzel: Yeah, absolutely. I’m one of these lifelong students probably like yourself. Actually, when I was 15, I wanted to put on more muscle. I was kind of skinny and starting to play football and went into a GNC and spoke with a gentleman.
He knew everything about nutrition. I asked him about protein and he said, “No, you want this protein because of the amino acid structure and how it is broken down” and I said, “You know what? I want to be like that. I want to be one of these people where…” – it’s like I just want to know for my own health. And then if I can make a career out of it, great!
And so that’s kind of how it started really. I didn’t really study much in school. But outside of school (in highschool, I’m talking about), I would read all these different body building books and fitness magazines.
Once I got to college, I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I took a biology class, fell in love and that’s where it all started.
And then after that, I wanted to go medical school, so I took the MCAT, which is the medical school aptitude test. I was fortunate enough to work with an integrative doctor in Colorado by the name of Gerard Guillory.
I started working with his overweight complex, metabolic syndrome, insulin resistant patients. And what I quickly realized was the calorie meth that I had been reading about and hearing about, it was so pervasive not only in academia, but fitness just didn’t pan out. It didn’t make sense. These overweight individuals had tons of GI issues, tons of autoimmune issues, a lot of inflammatory conditions going on.
So it caused me to go back to the academic medical school research libraries and dive into that and explore these different connections. It’s no coincidence that a lot of overweight individuals have GI issues. They have gut bacterial imbalances. They have imbalances in the intestinal release of different hormones that govern fat-burning and so on.
And so it just opened up a whole can of worms that turned out to be a 7-year book project, which I published, as you’ve mentioned, in April.
Wendy Myers: Well, tell us a little bit about that. What is your book talking about? I mean, it took seven years. Wow! That’s amazing.
Mike Mutzel: Yeah, it was a long time. I mean, it first started as just kind of a diet recipe side. When I call this 2-dimensional metabolism, I’m talking about insulin and cortisol and how stress affect sleep and stress affect fat-burning and belly fat.
And then it morphed into this whole gut connection. And then this connection at I would love to talk about later between the immune system and the metabolic system and how if you eat inflammatory foods or you have an inflammatory lifestyle, you can’t burn fat and we can talk about the reasons why that is.
But there’s a huge chasm between what’s going on in academia and what makes it to the public and even the healthcare practitioners. There’s so much great research out there, but let’s face it, it’s a little complex to understand and interpret. It’s very timely, but I enjoy it.
So the book was like, “Alright! I’m just going to break down all these complex trends and ideas and paradigms that are emerging in the medical literature and look at the different clinical studies and interpret that or translate that to the healthcare practitioners and laymen that want that next level.”
There are so many books out there, Wendy, as you know that it’s all about that there’s a little bit of content and a lot of recipes. You can get recipes anywhere. Food is great. I love to cook. My wife is a good cook. But I think the science is what people are looking for because a lot of people are eating the right foods, but are still not losing weight.
So the book, back to answering your specific question is about our metabolism in general – so insulin, cortisol, blood sugar, all that, fat burning, mitochondria and so forth. But then the involvement with how food interacts with the 100 trillion single-celled microbes that inhabit our intestine (collectively, we call them the gut microbiome) and this organ – it’s really actually in literature, they call it the ‘forgotten organ’ because it has the metabolic activity of one of the most metabolically active organs in the body called the liver. So that’s how active this collective organism is.
The gut microbiome offers us an additional 6,300 different metabolic functions – from detox to your synthesis of lipids to helping you break down healthy foods (chocolates, cocoa polyphenols, blueberries, raspberries, pomegrenate). If you didn’t have your gut microbiome, you couldn’t actually absorb all these healthy foods.
So they’re really necessary. The problem occurs when we veer off our roots and heritage and eat processed commercially-prepared carbohydrates and fats. That’s really where the problem comes from because you tend to fuel bugs that don’t have complex enzymatic capacity.
So without being a microbiologist, you have different phyla, different types of bugs. They’re broadly categorized into the firmicutes, which if you got a stool test would be listed under fat bugs, so to speak.
And then you have this other phyla of different bugs that would fall into that, bifidu bacterium and so forth that are so-called bacteroidetes.
The bacteroidetes actually contain enzyme systems that help to break down polyphenols. So complex compounds found in green tea, curcumin, resveratrol and spinach and so on are called polyphenols. Those healthy bacteria thrive off that.
So just eating a color-rich diet from fruits and vegetables and even nuts and seeds will help to foster the growth of good bacteria while if you stick to the standard American diet, you’re going to selectively down-regulate those healthy bugs and grow bad bugs. That can cause a low-grade inflammation that’s linked with leptin resistance and leaky guts and all these nasty things.
Wendy Myers: Does eating chocolate help grow good bugs?
Mike Mutzel: It does, yeah. Several studies have shown chocolate increases bifidu bacterium. So chocolate, blueberries, any polyphenol. There’s studies, actually, red wine. There’s a caveat. We don’t want our audience to just go out and drink a bottle of red wine. This is between one and two glasses and they looked at cabernet, merlot, pinot noir.
So if you’re going to choose alcohol, which I’ve recently tried to avoid just because cognitively, I notice you kind of get a foggy brain, at least I do when I drink even just one glass of wine so I just keep it on occasional basis…
Wendy Myers: Isn’t that the point though?
Mike Mutzel: Yeah! That’s the point. Yeah, moderation, including moderation.
Wendy Myers: Yeah, yeah. And my gut bugs are definitely eating a lot of chocolate. I just have a little bit every day. I have this raw chocolate that I love that’s really healthy. I try not to feel too guilty about it.
Wendy Myers: So how do overweight issues and digestive problems go hand-in-hand?
Mike Mutzel: First, I used to think that was somewhat happenstance, that maybe overweight individuals are eating literally too much volume of food and now it’s creating sheer stress on the intestine.
But as it turns out, there’s a higher prevalence of what we call functional gastrointestinal disorders with individuals that are overweight and obese. Anything from dyspepsia, gas, bloating, bad breath, foul stool, motility issues and so on.
It really comes down to just the gut ecology and the hormones that are released from the gut and the different neurotransmitters that are innervating the GI tract.
So our nervous system that’s running on autopilot in the background is kind of partitioned into two different types. We have the sympathetic nervous system (which is the drive), the fight or flight response (which your listeners probably know about).
And then the other component of the nervous system is the parasympathetic response. That’s really when we’re rest, digest and procreate. And so when we’re doing our heart math and our mindful-based meditation and so forth, we’re in that calm state.
Well, it turns out that overweight individuals tend to be more in that sympathetic overdrive. There’s many components going on, but the overdrive of the autonomic nervous system may lead to less nerves innervating the GI tract. And so maybe not getting as much central nervous system energy, so therefore digestive products are not going to be released properly. Motility issues are going to be a challenge. Things are sitting there, fermenting creating secondary byproducts.
So that’s just one example of that, but again, it’s kind of a feed-forward cycle. We don’t know what’s the chicken, what’s the egg. Does overweight issues cause GI challenges or do initial GI disturbances? We can talk about things like birthing method and delivery and breast milk, but I think it’s a combination of the two.
The bottomline, there’s a higher prevalence with GI disorders in overweight individuals. When individuals change their diet and embark on these high fiber, high polyphenol diets, they do not only improve their GI issues, but they lose weight.
So the take home message is the fix will improve both.
Wendy Myers: I know inflammation is a big issue in our society today because of our diet and stress and other issues, heavy metals, chemical toxicity and things like that. How does that inflammation play a role on people not being able to lose weight?
Mike Mutzel: That’s a fantastic question. I think you probably heard this on Sean Croxton’s show, but researchers at Harvard have shown that the immune system and the metabolic system are like yin and yang. They really communicate. Immunology tends to scare people because it’s complex and so on, but it’s really actually quite simple.
The bottomline is that when you’re inflamed, your immune system pivots to more of a sugar-burning state. Sugar is a very quick fuel to break down. It creates a lot of instant energy very fast. I like to make the analogy that it’s like a sprinter. It’s short and sweet.
And so when the immune system is being stimulate, it’s going to reprogram the body’s metabolism to foster that sugar-burning state.
Now, in contrast, if you have a healthy inflammatory response, you don’t have inflammation, you’re in a state of ‘hormesis’ so to speak, well your immune system is going to thrive off fat burning. That’s more of like an adaptogenic, a tolerant anti-inflammatory state.
And so what happens is that when we get inflamed, we just pivot our immune system and our metabolic system out of fat-burning mode into sugar-burning mode. That’s why it’s really important. I think a huge missing link when it comes to weight-related issues. People are just so focused on their metabolism so to speak, calories and meal-timing and everything, which is a huge piece of the puzzle, no question, but if you have low-grade inflammation or you’re eating inflammatory foods, which should be anything that comes in my opinion out of a box, a bag or a can, if it’s not real food, then that can create low-grade inflammation.
And the inflammation that I’m talking about is not like when you get a burn, a cut or a laceration. That’s a real acute inflammatory response. We’re talking about the low-grade chronic inflammation. It’s that type of inflammation that is linked with these impairments in fat-burning.
And Wendy, the reason why that is is because the immune system is very smart. It releases these things called cytokines. Your listeners have probably heard of CRP or c-reactive protein. That’s one of these type of immune signaling molecules, but other common ones are TNF alpha, interleukin 6, interferon gamma. we can go on and on down the list.
And what these cytokines are, they’re just communication molecules just like when you get your mail, that’s a way to communicate. That’s what a cytokine is. But these cytokines also augment metabolic physiology. What I mean by that is they induce insulin resistance.
So not only do they recruit more white blood cell and more macrophages and different immune cells to the site of the inflammation, which could be in the gut, it could be in the brain, it could be in a joint tissue in the case of arthritis and autoimmunity, but they also at the same time antagonize insulin signaling.
It’s, again, by design. The immune system has evolved to do this to raise that glucose because they’re looking for that very quick energetic response whereas when you’re not inflamed, your immune cells are thriving off lipids and they’re burning fat.
And so again, it just goes back to don’t just focus on your metabolic system and meal timing and calories and exercise and cardio, but really focus on reducing the inflammation, healing your gut, healing your gut microbiome and healing anti-inflammatory foods so that you can keep your body in a fat-burning state.
Wendy Myers: Yeah, I definitely noticed for myself personally, when people have a slowed metabolism, they naturally gravitate towards eating more sugar and craving more sugar because it gives them that quick energy because our body doesn’t burn fat very efficiently for fuel. It takes a while.
And so that’s one thing I do in my Mineral Power program. I use hair mineral analysis to determine people’s metabolic rate and then slowly try to transition it to a more normal metabolism – hopefully fast.
Mike Mutzel: Perfect! Yeah, I like that.
Wendy Myers: But yeah, that’s a big problem. A lot of people beat themselves up because they’re attracted to sugar or alcohol or things that give them that quick energy, but it’s biology. You’re going to be attracted to those things if you’re not able to burn fat as efficiently for fuel. What do you think about that?
Mike Mutzel: I completely agree with that – and not just about foods, but also mindset too. We talked about that sympathetic and parasympathetic response. You can eat all the right foods, but you can still be inflamed because there’s this whole field of psychoneuroimmunology, psycho + neuro + immune + endocrinology.
And so we know that our thoughts informs both our endocrine system and our immune system. It’s so powerful. Not only that, but there’s this what’s called a parasympathetic reflex response. You actually can stimulate the production of very powerful anti-inflammatory cytokine-like molecules in the body by being in that [inaudible 00:17:22] state.
And when individuals are in a meditative state – I like heart math, I don’t know if you’re familiar with that, but heart rate variability monitoring is an excellent tool to give people real-time feedback. By being in that calm state, you put the breaks on the inflammatory response and you put the gas pedal on the anti-inflammatory response, which will help to pivot you in the fat-burning state. It’ll help to calm any cravings and things you have for junk food.
And also, more importantly, in my opinion is it helps to give that digestive firepower towards the GI tract, so that we have the motility, we have the release of different secondary immune products, we have the release of gut hormones and mobility and so forth.
So I think that’s really an important under-recognized component, modulating the stress response to calm down the immune system.
Wendy Myers: That’s what I’m trying to do when I have a sugar craving. I try to go meditate.
Mike Mutzel: There you go, right. Yeah.
Wendy Myers: Just put it out of my mind.
Wendy Myers: So let’s get back to gut bugs. So where does it all begin? How do early feeding and antibiotic usage cause immune and weight issues later in life?
Mike Mutzel: This, to me is very fascinating, Wendy. When I first discovered this, it was around the time that my daughter was just a little gal and my wife is telling me and so I really dove into this quite heavy.
It turns out we’re born somewhat sterile (although the research has shown that we’re not exactly sterile because the placenta does have some microbes and there’s this complex internal memory recycling in the mother’s milk before the baby’s born changes its microflora composition, but we’ll talk about that in a later time). But anyway, let’s just go with the analogy that we’re pretty much sterile when we’re born.
The first microbes that we’re exposed to really colonize our naïve GI tract because that’s where most of these microbes are living – some, on our skin and some, in our mouth, in our ears, in our nose. But mostly, the large number of these different microbes – and again, at the adult level if you were to quantify all these microbes in the entire body, it’d be a hundred trillion single-celled microorganisms (so quite a few, over a thousand different species and so on).
So the very first – you know, we’re kind of inoculated when we’re born. The birthing method has an impact on shaping or cultivating the types of microbes that end up forming permanent residencies in our body.
So let’s just go with the traditional vaginal delivery. We’re exposed to our mother’s fecal mother. I know it sounds gross, but that actually does provide some good bifidu bacterium and lactobacilli for us. Also, the vaginal canal is loaded with healthy gut bacteria or healthy bacteria. And so that’s getting in the baby’s mouth, in the nose, in the ears, eyes and so forth. That sets up a really nice stable foundation for which as the GI tract begins to develop in the toddler a nice foundation for healthy gut bacteria.
In contrast, individuals that are born via c-section, they’re immediately exposed to the bacteria in the hospital on skin workers and in the ambient air. That’s clostridium difficile (also known as c. diff or staphylococcus aureus). As we know, these are some of the bacteria that are now antibiotic resistance. These are more pathogenic, more pro-inflammatory.
So again, we talked about when the immune system is inflamed, it’s more in the sugar-burning and not in the fat-burning mode. So we’re really priming our children via c-section unfortunately to be in a more low-grade inflammatory states because these microbes are not the nicest ones in the block. You’d much rather have your mother’s poop than the bacteria from the skin of hospital workers unfortunately.
And as such, there’s a higher prevalence of autoimmunity, asthma allergies and obesity in individuals that are born via c-section all throughout life, but they’ve looked at as early as age three. These babies or toddlers at that point have more belly fat and more visceral adipose tissue.
And we know that the more belly fat you have, the more immune cells you have in fat. The more inflamed it is, fat releases leptin and all these pro-inflammatory hormones, so that’s obviously not a good thing.
So the next thing we look at after birthing would be the first six months of life exposure to antimicrobial compounds. Children that are given antibiotics during the first six months of life have a somewhat permanent alternation in their gut microbiome. That’s linked, again, with asthma allergies, autoimmunity and guess what? Obesity.
So this isn’t like weird nutritional journals publishing this. This is JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association. Mainstream researchers are making this connection.
A great book out there by Martin Blaser talks about this. He’s a researcher in New York. He’s huge on really re-evaluating antimicrobial compounds, antibiotics and their impact in our entire world and life. So big no-no even in adults, but particularly, the first six months of life. Studies show that’s really a problem.
And then we’ll talk about food in the infant. Again, the window for food is the first year of life. It’s really important. Breastmilk is so important for developing and cultivating the neonatal GI tract and forming healthy bugs and also cultivating the immune system because our immune system is really kind of immature and not very sophisticated during the first couple years of life.
And the beneficial compounds from breast milk, we’re talking about immunoglobulins, probiotics (which are the fuel for good gut bacteria) and other immune stimulatory compounds found in breast milk.
So that’s why breast fed babies tend to have less of a prevalence of again asthma, allergies, autoimmunity and obesity throughout the life span.
We can also talk about in the first year exposure to gluten and other food sensitivities. I know this is an emerging topic. There are several case studies of this that have emerged out of Europe in the last couple of years. And guess what? Even individuals that don’t have a genetic susceptibility towards Celiac or gluten sensitivity, if they are fed gluten during the first year of life, they tend to have higher prevalences of sensitivities to different food allergens and actually, their gut microbiome has shifted.
Wendy Myers: Wow.
Mike Mutzel: I have a couple of different… to me, it was crazy when I read that. I couldn’t believe it.
Wendy Myers: Wow! Amazing.
Mike Mutzel: So anyway, that’s the gist of it and that’s how we can screw things up whether we know it or not.
So I talk about this in the book quite extensively and wanted to offer this because I think a lot of people can be hard on themselves, “I exercise right, I eat right and I still can’t lose weight.” I think we need to really go back and look at our early life and how those experiences may give us insight into how aggressive we need to work on our GI tract. If you’re eating all the right foods and exercising and you’re still having trouble burning fat, you might need to really go look at your gut microbiome.
And you may need lifelong support or maybe fecal transplantation. Who knows? Heavy probiotics support, prebiotics support. These are quasi-permanent change and this is a huge system that plays a big impact in our metabolic physiology.
Wendy Myers: So what probiotics do you take?
Mike Mutzel: For sure. I love the probiotic yeast actually. It’s called saccharomyces boulardi. A lot of people tend to think of this when they take antiobitics because that’s what it’s been clinically studied to do, but saccharomyces boulardi does so much more.
It increases immunoglobulin-a, which is a healthy immunoglobulin in the GI tract that helps to neutralize pathogens. If you do have leaky gut, it will help to give a little bit more mucosal barrier support. IT also helps to rebuild the barrier. It has what’s called trophic activity, which means that the tight junctions can form tighter bonds.
And also, it’s been shown to neutralize endotoxin. Endotoxin is a component found on bacteria that’s really pro-inflammatory. We all have endotoxin-containing bacteria in our GI tract. Some are good, some are bad. But the problem becomes when we have leaky gut. This endotoxin particle will cross the gut barrier and really fire the alarm bells of the immune system driving inflammation.
And again, not to be repetitive, but inflammation is linked with impaired fat-burning. You don’t want that. And saccharomyces boulardi has been shown to offset endotoxin absorption. So the probiotic…
Wendy Myers: You can get that in Kombucha, right?
Mike Mutzel: It’s on the bottom.
Wendy Myers: Do you get enough?
Mike Mutzel: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. So fermented foods is a great way to get it, Wendy. You can get it in a supplemental form. Just look for one that is dairy-free. It’s [inaudible 00:26:14]. There’s many others now.
And then when it comes to probiotics, I really like bifidu bacterium-based strains. You go to Whole Foods or a retail store and you get a probiotic, there’s oftentimes 27 different strains and so forth, but I really look at the strains specificity.
The analogy that I like to use, Wendy is if you’re walking down the street on New York and you get mugged by a 6”5 white male, you wouldn’t call the police and say a Homo Sapien robbed you. You would be more specific.
Really, when it comes down to probiotic supplementation, lactobacillus acidophilus is not lactobacillus acidophilus. There’s like about 27 different types of lactobacillus acidophilus. There’s LA14, NCFM, DDS1. There’s many different types.
And so just like if you were to describe someone to policemen or something like an eyewitness, you would talk about hair color, height, eye color and build and structure. That’s noted on probiotics now. So you have say like bifidu bacterium lactis HN019. So that’s that hair color, height, weight. That’s going to tell you how that probiotic will affect you. It could be good or it could be bad. And so I really would just keep an eye on that.
Wendy Myers: Yeah, because those are the clinically proven strains that have the number after them.
Mike Mutzel: Exactly! So we know the safety. We know that they’re resistant to stomach acid, resistant to bile, resistant to pepsin and that they have a good adherence to the GI mucosa. With these other just office shelf, cheap lactobacillus acidophilus, you really don’t know exactly.
So I think for the listeners, that’s the biggest thing. Make sure that you’re getting that social security number of that genus and species and then also focus on bifidu bacterium heavy genre.
A recent study (I just wrote a blog post about this) showed that we all know that lactobacillus is so healthy. Everyone talks about that. But actually, individuals with type II diabetes have high levels of lactobacillus in their GI tract. Is that a cause or consequence? I don’t really know, but there’s never been an association to my knowledge that links bifidu bacterium with metabolic challenges.
But with lactobacillus, it’s kind of gray right now, which I know for a lot of people, they’re like shaking their heads like, “No way, that can’t be,” but I’m telling you, I have looked at a lot of this research and lactobacillus again is in that gray area whereas bifidu bacterium, it’s in the green. It’s clear. We know it’s not linked with autoimmunity, asthma, allergies or obesity. So I would say focus on bifidu bacterium-based probiotics.
Wendy Myers: And that’s what’s in your colon, correct? The bifidu?
Mike Mutzel: Exactly! Yeah. Bifidu is in the small intestine as well, but like you mentioned, a larger extent in the colon.
It’s anti-inflammatory. It actually helps you increase the release of these different gut hormones that affect appetite and satiety. It helps to improve gut barrier function. Let’s see, it also increases the level of these l-cells in the intestine, which release these beneficial metabolic hormones that now the drug companies and bariatric surgery is actually increasing, these hormones.
So bifidu bacterium, I think at the end of the day is really where you want to head.
Wendy Myers: Okay, okay.
Wendy Myers: So let’s talk about hormones because hormones are obviously one of the big drivers of weight gain. So how is the gut connected to hormones that regulate blood sugar, insulin and ultimately, our waist line?
Mike Mutzel: Absolutely. Yeah, great point. For a long time, we’ve been focusing on this – again, I call it the 2-dimensional metabolic model. You eat some sort of food and maybe it contain sugar or fat or what-have-you. Your blood lipids and your blood carbohydrates are going to rise. So then the pancreas releases a hormone called insulin and that’s going to open the door on your cells to deposit these different molecules of sugar and help to process lipids. We know that really doesn’t make a whole lot of sense because how is the pancreas going to know that blood sugar is rising? Maybe there’s some feedback with the brain.
But the new model shows that the GI tract is really responsible for sensing the different nutrients that are coming in, but also telling the rest of the body how to partition them and what to do with them when they come in. It makes a lot of sense. It’s kind of like a shipping and receiving department.
I use the analogy of Amazon. They’re getting a lot of incoming new goods whether it’s books or products or what-have-you and they’re not going to accept raw materials and goods at say 2 a.m. They’re opened during nine to five, during business hours and once these things come in, they’re tagged appropriately and partitioned to different places for fulfillment and storage.
That’s what the GI tract really is. It’s a shipping and receiving type center. So the minute you smell, taste, see a food, the GI tract is already beginning to work and tell the rest of the body where it should go, how it should be handled.
And so for individuals, for example, that don’t chew their food properly, that just take big gulps and are eating under stress, their bodies are not partitioning those nutrients appropriately, they’re more insulin-resistant, they generally weight more.
And these are clinical studies. It’s not me making it up. I reference it all in a book, Belly Fat Effect.
So researchers have discovered and they’ve realized this since 1965. This is a long time ago. It still is slowly permeating its way into medicine that the small intestine releases some – and this is their own words, ‘humoral-like substance that tells the body that blood glucose is rising’.
And this humoral-like substance, we now call them ‘incretins. These are the category of hormones that are responsible for really governing 70% (between 50% to 70%) of insulin’s activity, which is so important because we think that we have insulin under control, “Just eat low glycemic foods and you’re going to be okay.” There’s way more to the story than that.
Wendy Myers: It’s always more complicated.
Mike Mutzel: Way more complicated, yeah.
So that’s the short and sweet version of it, Wendy. The GI tract releases all these different hormones that affect insulin, that affect appetite, satiety, inflammatory responses and more. The take home message is everything that we’ve talked about today, having a good, healthy GI tract, healthy GI tract motility, being in that calm parasympathetic state, eating fiber and polyphenols all help to increase the release of these beneficial gut hormones, the so-called ‘incretin’ hormones and that will in turn translate into a healthy insulin response.
Insulin is so important as you know because if you’re insulin-resistant, you really can’t access fat to be burned. You’re really in a sugar-burning state. So again, it comes back to the GI tract and focusing on gut health and these gut hormones.
Wendy Myers: That’s like catch 22. If you’re overweight, you’ll have a more difficult time losign weight. And if you’re thinner, you have a harder time gaining weight. It’s kind of not fair at all.
Mike Mutzel: Right!
Wendy Myers: So how can someone overcome those hurdles of being overweight, being inflamed, releasing too much insulin? There’s a lot of people that hit their 40’s and after, they’re overweight ten to twenty pounds, they’re getting to become insulin-resistant. How can they turn things around?
Mike Mutzel: Yeah, great point. Again, I think the strategy is very simple. Let’s just start throughout the morning of the day and what a day would look like. For example, one thing we haven’t talked about is the circadian clock system.
Just like the gut hormones and the gut bacteria are so important, we have this circadian clock system that governs the control and release of all these different hormones. It oscillates with the rise and fall of the sun. It’s very important to start your day off with getting natural light if you can because that’s going to help to get your hormones in their proper balance.
The reason why that’s important is because a lot of people are circadian mal-aligned. They’re sleeping at odd hours. They’re going to bed at 10 p.m. during the week and then they go to bed at 1 or 2 p.m. on the weekends or they’re eating food late and so forth. It just screws up the whole body’s rhythm.
So I think it’s very important to get a good night’s rest, have the lights out by ten. If you’re on the computer, get flux or something that will block the UV or the blue light and take melatonin, get a good night’s sleep. So that’s starting the day off right.
I’m a big believer in eating the majority of your day’s food in the morning and at lunch. And I know that goes against – there’s the Carb Night program that’s big on the Internet right now, but if we look at the GI tract (I’m just looking at this from a hard science standpoint), if you’re a high-end athlete and the Carb Night is working for you, that’s great, but I think for the majority of people, eating a lot of their carbohydrates at night will be problematic.
And let’s face it, most Americans are doing that anyway, having a big pasta dinner with bread and wine and beer. And 68% of Americans are either overweight or obese.
So I think what we need to do is go back to things like ayurvedic medicine. Supper was derived from the word ‘support’ or ‘soup’. Really, the GI tract is most active in the morning and middle part of the day. And so I think for a people, you mentioned simple strategies, you got to eat breakfast and you got to eat a big lunch.
I see that so commonly when I was working with clients and now, even working with doctors. People take lunch kind of lightly, “Oh, I’ll just have a big dinner because it’s with my family and so on,” and it’s very not uncommon for people just to have a protein shake or a diet coke and a muffin or something like that, but I think that’s really going to set yourself up for not only you’re going to be weaker if you work out (which I highly recommend and we can talk about), but again, that’s when the GI tract is most prime.
You’re most insulin sensitive during the morning and middle part of the day and all the digestive products and pancreatic bicarbonate and all these molecules are higher. So get a good night’s sleep, eat a lot of calories at the middle part of the day and do strength training. I think it’s just a huge mistake that as individuals age, and/or women in general tend to just focus on cardio or I mean, they do cross-fit.
I think cross-fit is really great, but I think you also need to incorporate strength training into cross-fit because cross-fit is kind of a medium intensity – well, it’s high intensity, but it’s a lot of aerobic based. I think even though people are scared of having lean muscle because they feel like they’re going to look like a body builder and that’s really hard to do)…
Wendy Myers: Yeah.
Mike Mutzel: …it takes a lot of effort and even pharmaceutical medication (i.e. steroids) to get really super big. So the importance of doing just these compound movement like squats, dead lifts, clings, military presses, push-ups and so on is you’re going to build that lean muscle.
Muscle is where you burn fat, burn fat in very limited amounts in other tissues in the body, mostly body tissue if you want to burn significant amounts of fats. So by default, the more lean muscle mass you have, the more fat you’re going to burn at rest.
So I think that’s very important, especially for women and as individuals age because it’s going to help reset your metabolism as well, increase testosterone, increase growth hormone, both of which help men and women to burn fat better and balance our metabolism.
So that’s the other strategy I like, three to four days a week minimum. I like five days a week of strength training and breaking up and working out each muscle group to failure, to high intensity to really maintain that lean muscle tissue to fight aging, increase bone mineral density and so forth.
Wendy Myers: Yeah, when I’ve lost weight, that’s how I’ve done it, doing high intensity yoga, weight lifting and things like that. Those have been very, very effective – not the cardio so much.
Wendy Myers: So let’s talk a little bit about what you mentioned in your book. You mentioned ‘fat bugs’ and ‘lean bugs’. I really like that. So what foods exactly fuel the fat guy and which foods fuel the lean guys?
Mike Mutzel: So we’ve kind of touched on it, but the polyphenols, anything with colors. So that’s the biggest thing and when I’m shopping or encouraging people and they go to the grocery store. Some people get so confused when they go to the store like, “What should I buy? I don’t know what to do,” just focus on foods with color, that’s it.
If it has a color whether it’s red, green, yellow, orange, purple, blue, if it has a color and it’s a fruit or vegetable (I’m not talking about colored fruit loops here, but colored fruits and vegetables), they have these compounds called polyphenols.
They’re very big, complex molecules. Their hard to break down and your ‘skinny bugs’, so to speak, your healthy bugs have the enzymes to do something with them to break them down. So just by eating a diet rich in polyphenols, you’re going to help to foster the growth of healthy bacteria in your GI tract.
So that’s my biggest thing when it comes to fat-burning foods, what can you do. A lot of people are focused on stimulants and green tea (which is good) and caffeine and all these different compounds, but I’m not really so much a fan of the stimulant-based approach. Just focus on healthy foods that are going to improve your gut microbiome.
So we’re talking about berries, we’re talking about spinach, kale, chard. Those are easy vegetables to cut up and sauté in a pan with ghee butter or coconut oil. It takes like five minutes and you can eat them any time. I eat them for breakfast for a snack. You can do it for dinner. Kids love it. Mince some onions.
Leeks are another healthy polyphenolic food. But also, leeks and onions, for example, have different probiotic fibers.
Probiotics are the fuel for bacteria basically. They’re the fuel that makes them go and thrive. And so focusing on foods rich on probiotic fiber, which would include, like I said, garlic, onions, leeks. You can do apples, yams, sweet potatoes. That’s another good way to go because not only are they healthy, clean forms of carbohydrates, the sweet potatoes do have some carotenoids, which are a good polyphenolic compound as well, but also the probiotic fiber component is going to help bifidu bacterium grow.
So that’s my thing, just focus on real foods. My wife and I, if you look at our house or our kitchen, when we have friends come over that are kind of not there yet when it comes to nutrition, they’re like, “What do you guys eat?”, we’re like, “What do you mean? We have tons of foods and vegetables, nuts, seeds, lean protein. What do you want?” They’re like, “No. I mean, do you have chips or something like that?” It’s like, “Just get rid of all that stuff.” Just cook your food from scratch. I think that’s the easiest things to do.
Wendy Myers: Yeah.
Wendy Myers: So how does food hanging around in your gut make your gut bacteria extract more calories from what you eat and ultimately, the weight gain?
Mike Mutzel: Yeah, that’s a huge, interesting topic. Studies have shown that individuals that are overweight, their gut bugs or gut bacteria are really efficient at harvesting energy from the food that they eat. So it’s a combination of the composition of the gut microbiome that they have (like do they have imbalances in gut bugs) or is it a combination of the motility, sluggish GI motility?
So I think people need to realize, “Okay, I should be going #2 (pooping) at least twice a day, preferably after meals” and so forth. The majority, in the morning. The GI tract is really active in the morning, so that’s why most people generally go to the bathroom in the morning.
It was not uncommon for me to work with individuals that they would go to the bathroom, they’ll go #2 once a week. And so if we think about, “Well, what does that really mean?” Well, that’s food just sitting there, hanging out in the gut, in the colon and partially, the intestine. But again, the colon is where the majority of your microbes live.
And so they’re sitting there, they’re thriving, they’re fermenting. Think of that like a kombucha factory. They’re sitting there thriving on that food and they can extract and form what are called ‘secondary byproducts’. So we have volatile, organic compounds, which are really nasty. They cause cancer and so forth.
We have sulfur-containing compounds, which are really nasty. The compounds that are actually linked with increased belly fat and obesity would be the short-chained fatty acids.
So these compounds – again, the bacteria act on our food, they ferment it and they create these byproducts. Short chain fatty acids, some of which are healthy (butyrate, for example) is the fuel for coloncytes. It’s very anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and so on. But acetate and propionate can drive the formation of new lipids.
Now, the jury is mixed on what ratio do you want to have. It’s kind of a 70-20-10 type of thing. Whereas butyrate is very healthy, but propionate can drive lipids and acetate can affect neurotransmitter function and so on.
Without getting into the details of all that, you really just want to improve your gut motility. If you have sluggish gut motility, your colonic bacteria are going to really harvest the energy out of that. Even if you are eating a low calorie diet, if you have sluggish GI motility, your gut bugs can extract more calories from that and make you fat.
So I think if people are not pooping regularly, address that. Is it a stress-related issue? Is it how you’re eating? Is it the type of foods you’re eating? Or it could be the type of bugs in your GI tract. We know that small intestinal bacterial overgrowth is linked with constipation and bouts of diarrhea and IBS-like symptoms. So motility is critical.
Motility also comes back, Wendy to the circadian clock. If you’re eating when you shouldn’t be (i.e. at night), you’re going to have motility challenges as well.
Wendy Myers: So let’s talk about fat cells or high fat diets. How are high fat diets an issue when it comes to gut dysbiosis?
Mike Mutzel: So we know fat is in right now – and rightfully so. I think we made a huge mistake in terms of our governmental food programming and dietary recommendations and getting rid of fat and replacing fat with sugar. But the only caveat with that is that endotoxin-containing bacteria (we talked about we all have about five grams of endotoxin in our GI tract), endotoxin is very pro-inflammatory, bacterial particulate. It’s figured out a way to piggyback in dietary fat to make its way into the body.
So even if you have healthy fats (which we would think like butter, we’d like ghee, olive oil), in excessive amounts – which what is excess? It really depends on your gut health and what that food’s combined with. But I would say a “high fat” or a ketogenic diet may fall into that excess category and inadvertently lead to increase of what we call ‘absorption of endotoxin’.
So individuals can inadvertently be creating inflammation even though they’re eating a seemingly healthy paleo type diet. So I’m not saying “avoid eating those fats”, I’m not saying that at all. But we need to include polyphenolic compounds when we eat high fat. So that would include garlic. That would include onions. That would include green tea, red wine. That would include even polyphenols from fruit and vegetables.
So it’s very important. Any time I sauté meat, for example (which could be a lot of bacon and sausages), we always mince onions and garlic and put turmeric or curcumin on that because that’s going to help to offset that endotoxin absorption.
There’s many different studies that have shown that researchers in Europe and in the U.S. have used heavy cream, they’ve used butter, they’ve documented this with olive oil and shown that these different fats – so it’s not a chain length issue or unsaturated versus saturated fat issue. It’s just that fat in general tends to be problematic.
They’ve shown that if an individual has a really high fat meal or a shake or something like that, but they also have a high fat meal with some polyphenol (which would include green tea, resveratrol, curcumin, anything) that the high fat meal plus polyphenol offsets the endotoxin absorption.
So I think the take home message is keep eating your high fat diet if it’s working for you, but include more polyphenols because that’s kind of the missing link. In my opinion, it’s not really being talked about much in the whole Paleo keto world.
Wendy Myers: Yeah, I think people have gone to extremes. Before, it was no fat. And now, it’s super, super high fat. We’ve got to come into the middle, moderation. That’s not either/or. It’s about moderation. Like I said, people with slow metabolism don’t burn fat that efficiently for fuel. So they’re the last people that want to be eating a really high fat diet I think. It’s more about moderation…
Mike Mutzel: Yeah, I agree.
Wendy Myers: …in my opinion.
Wendy Myers: So let’s talk about the immune system and how that affects our waist line. So how exactly are our immune cells making us fat?
Mike Mutzel: We can talk about the fat cells in general. If we pinch our belly fat or pinch our thighs or our buttocks or whatever, we generally think we’re pinching fat. But really, if you were to take a piece of that, cut it up and put it under a microscope, particularly belly fat, not so much peripheral subcutaneous fat, but around the mid-section, the handles and in front of where your abdominal muscle are, if you look on a cellular basis, if you were to break that up under a microscope and you’d see that on a cellular basis particularly compare belly fat from lean individuals compared to overweight or obese individuals, you’d see a huge number of immune cells in the overweight/obese individuals. The reason for that is because fat is really inflammatory.
Fat releases an immune/metabolic hormone called leptin. Leptin is a pleiotropic, what they call a pleiotropic adipocyte cytokine. It’s both a metabolic and immune hormone. It actually perturbs immune sailing in such a way that it enables a kind of a ramp up of the immune system and what’s called ‘immune tolerance’, the ability for the immune system to kind of tolerate different bad guys and put out little fires and fights and raucous. That goes away when leptin is elevated.
So there’s a particular white blood cells (again, I don’t want to get too complicated here because we can dive into this at much depth, but I want to keep it practical). The t-regulatory cells are a very protective type of immune cell. It’s involved in again suppressing autoimmune disease, suppressing cancer, suppressing inflammation. But leptin renders the t-regulatory cell inactive.
And that’s why we see a lot of inflammatory cells in and around fat tissue, in and around the thyroid tissue and higher prevalences of autoimmunity and inflammatory diseases with obesity.
And again, these immune cells, they’re being stimulated by inflammation from the gut or toxins from the environment and what-have-you and we don’t have the t-regulatory cells to calm them down because leptin is wiping out the t-regulatory cells.
And these immune cells, again, as I’ve mentioned in the beginning, they love sugar. When they’re stimulated, they burn sugar, not fat. So they can get in and around fat tissue, reprogram the localized environment and foster a state of sugar-burning. You’re not burning fat until what’s really interesting about overweight individuals and their fat tissue is it’s insulin-resistant. And as we’ve talked about, Wendy, if you’re insulin resistant, you can’t burn fat. Insulin-resistant adipocytes are not releasing and enabling the muscle tissue to burn their stored depots as efficiently.
So it comes back to just really basic insulin resistance and inflammation.
Wendy Myers: So immune system wear out making people overweight and more likely to get gut infections?
Mike Mutzel: Yeah, that’s a really good point. We know that there’s a higher prevalence or an increased susceptibility towards pathogenic like infections (for example, different viruses and so forth) in individuals that are overweight. We know that surgical recovery times are longer and not as good.
So the immune system does experience a state of somewhat of a burn out. There’s chronic low-grade inflammation. I don’t know exactly the mechanism of how, but the immune system basically kind of gets burnt out.
And so when it comes to defending itself from a lethal pathogen (that can be tuberculosis, cholera, that could be even whooping cough or some sort of virus), because it’s chronically being stimulated from leaky gut or over full fat cells and leptin and so on, then the immune system is not able to fully mount a response. And so both the ability to make antibodies and secret cell-mediated responses diminish. So I think it’s very important from just a long-term health standpoint –
I mean, with the ebola thing that’s going on right now in the east coast and in Africa, I think this is a very real concern. So I think for people the motivation to get into the gym, to eat right, to eat real foods, eat more color, eat more fiber, sleep better is huge because these infections and microbes are getting more and more resistant to our treatment modalities and so on. So that’s a great point about that immune system burnout.
Wendy Myers: Well Mike, thank you so much for coming on the podcast. I have one question I like to ask all of my guests. What do you think is the most pressing health issue in the world today?
Mike Mutzel: Sure. Well, I’m going to say it’s the alterations in our microflora both in our food supply – we’re eating so much antibiotics and pesticides and things in our food supply. The almonds are now irradiated so they have no healthy bacteria on them. Thirty-three percent of all births are via c-section, which is up I think 50% from just five years ago. We’re taking antibiotics for anything we can think of. A little ear infection, kids are given antibiotics.
So I think that’s a huge concern because as we’re seeing (and as the book describes in great depth), these microbes really play a huge role not only in our own bodies, but our entire ecosystem. So I think we need to just get back to conventional farming and avoid all these different antibiotics and grow some of our own food and let our kids play in the dirt and not take antibiotics.
Wendy Myers: Absolutely!
Wendy Myers: Well, can you tell the listeners a little bit more about yourself and where they can find you?
Mike Mutzel: Sure, Wendy. I’ll be glad to. My website is MikeMutzel.com. I have a podcast in iTunes similar to yourself there, Wendy, High Intensity Health Radio where I interview experts that I’ve met over the last eight years in functional medicine and fitness.
The book, The Belly Fat Effect is available on Amazon or in Barnes & Noble on the Nook or Kindle. So if people want to dive into this research, they can go there and check that out as well.
Wendy Myers: Yeah. And listeners, I highly recommend you guys and check out his book. I took a peek at it for a few days before we did this interview. It’s such an amazing book. We’ll clue you in to so many reasons why you may be struggling to lose weight even though you’re doing what Mike said, eating a healthy diet, exercising to your dying and living a healthy lifestyle. It’s not enough. There’s so many other factors that you need to look at.
And that’s also one of the things I addressed as well with my Mineral Power program, healing the adrenals and thyroid so that you can correct your metabolism permanently. So there’s many, many things that go into a healthy waist line.
So Mike, thank you so much for coming on the podcast.
Mike Mutzel: Thank you, Wendy. I’m honored and I really appreciate the opportunity.
Wendy Myers: So listeners, if you want to go check out my website, you can find me on Liveto110.com. You can learn all about the Modern Paleo Diet, my version of Paleo and my Mineral Power program using a hair mineral analysis. You can follow me on Facebook and Twitter @iwillliveto110 and thank you so much for listening to the Live to 110 Podcast.