Experience, embrace, and discover how our simple every day choices affect our biology, mood, energy, creativity, and well-being. Each week host Dr. Sharon Bergquist talks with renowned researchers, physicians, nutritionists and wellness experts exploring the science behind true health and living to your fullest physical, emotional, and spiritual potential.
Tackling Pathogens By Building Your Immune Defenses
Robynne Chutkan, MD, FASGE, has spent three decades as an integrative gastroenterologist. She is a faculty member at Georgetown Hospital, founder of the Digestive Center for Wellness in Washington, D.C., and the author of four books surrounding the topic of the microbiome and gut health. In this episode, we discuss constructing a healthier microbiome, the concept of the “Goldilocks” immune balance, and the crucial link between the gut and the immune system.
“I think it’s so eye opening for people to realize that when something is in their GI tract, it's not in their body, it's in this hollow tube… And then, of course, we have this highly selective gut membrane that is razor thin, one cell thick, and that is what is protecting us from the outside world.”
Robynne describes the role of microbes in this “immune surveillance,” as well as the consequences that can arise if our immune system is unable to properly recognize and respond to pathogens. Fortunately, the microbial richness that helps train our immune response is within our control – by eating a diverse range of plant foods, we can work to build immune defenses through our diet.
“We have a brilliant study from the folks at the American Gut Project in 2018 where they looked at over 10,000 people globally, and they looked at [the] dietary markers for a healthy microbiome. And they found that it was a magic number of 30 or more different plant foods per week. So people who ate 30 or more different plant foods per week had a much healthier microbiome than those who ate ten or fewer.”
Here are the details of our conversation:
[00:01:50] Robynne’s journey in gastroenterology and the microbiome
[00:18:52] Interactions between the gut and the immune system
[00:23:34] Autoimmune diseases and the “Goldilocks” immune balance
[00:29:24] The innate and adaptive immune systems
[00:31:19] Top 5 habits to build immune defenses
[00:42:47] Improving resilience through lifestyle
Protecting Your Brain Health Using the Power of Nutrition
In this solocast episode, I share how you can take control of your brain health through diet. Drawing from my work on the NIH-supported Emory Healthy Brain Study, I list the top seven foods that should be consumed daily to maintain optimal cognitive function, as well as which foods to avoid and why.
"Leafy greens, as well as other vegetables, citrus fruits, nuts, red wine, berries, and olive oil, all provide large amounts of vitamins that can build your antioxidant defenses and repair the damage caused by free radicals.”
Practicing healthy nutrition habits may also be effective in preventing Alzheimer's disease. Chemical changes found in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients suggest that Alzheimer’s may be a form of diabetes of the brain; however, the onset of symptoms, like memory loss, can be counteracted through early dietary changes.
“Amazingly, not all people with these hallmark changes are going to develop Alzheimer’s, so lifestyle and other ways our body interacts with our environment significantly affect the way we age. Since there are decades from the first signs of these changes in the brain until the symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s, we have a long time window for making changes.”
Here is a breakdown of the topics discussed in this episode:
[00:02:02] What happens in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients?
[00:02:55] Diet’s impact on the brain
[00:03:37] The importance of overall dietary patterns
[00:05:48] “The Daily Seven” foods for brain health
[00:15:43] Four food categories to avoid
Leaning into relationships in your life and career with Dr. Dan Pino
While we all seek to create sustainable, healthy habits in our daily lives, knowing where to begin and how to practice these habits consistently is challenging. Having support in every area of your life, from personal to professional, can build behavioral change that promotes your physical health just as much as your mental and emotional well-being.
Dr. Dan Pino, Chief Physician Executive at Eskenazi Health Center, West 38th Street and Medical Director of Lifestyle, Health, and Wellness, joins The Whole Health Cure podcast to discuss health-promoting relationships and the importance of personal connection in the patient-doctor relationship specifically.
In this episode, Dan shares how his interests in community and belonging complement his career as a physician, as well as how these principles have become an integral part of his program at Eskenazi. Rather than advise his patients from a purely clinical perspective, Dan seeks to form more meaningful connections and gain a holistic understanding of their unique stressors, priorities, and motivators.
“When we look at behavior change, we acknowledge that each of us have individual beliefs and understandings, and if we don't pay attention to it, people may not be heard.”
Dan recognizes that building relationships takes effort. Mutual trust, communication, and vulnerability are key components of any human connection, and this “give-and-take” mentality must extend to the medical space. In his experience, simply expressing a willingness to listen has built strong foundational connections between him and his patients and has resulted in positive behavior changes, like improved compliance with blood pressure and cholesterol medication.
“I feel like it opens the door, and it probably better is, it brings down walls... I bring down what I think is true about myself in that moment, and I present as Dan the person and the story, and some of that also can feel the same way that the person in front of me does.”
Here are some of the details of our conversation:
[00:02:19] Developing an interest in relationships and healthcare
[00:05:35] Key elements of relationships
[00:06:36] Incorporating connection into the medical space
[00:08:27] Eskenazi lifestyle group visits
[00:12:49] Bringing down walls
[00:14:56] Building trust through “give-and-take”
[00:18:23] The impact of relationships in Dan’s practice and life
[00:24:53] Practicing awareness and vulnerability
[00:29:30] Building supportive relationships
[00:30:52] Eskenazi programs
[00:35:55] Intentionality as a process
Integrating Lifestyle Into Breast Cancer Management with Dr. Dawn Mussallem
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in American women, except for skin cancers. The silver lining is that much of breast cancer can be prevented by how women live.
“We know that that number is at least 33%,” Dr. Dawn Mussallem shares in this episode.
As a diagnostic breast and lifestyle medicine specialist at the Mayo Clinic, Dr. Mussallem works with women with their newly diagnosed breast cancer to help them with lifestyle in their most vulnerable time. Her passion is to be able to be there for them and to help empower them through lifestyle to keep them well during the breast cancer journey, as well as health outcomes after the breast cancer journey.
While it’s not about just one food, she highlights excited research “that in breast cancer, patients who have just merely two servings of berries a week, that there was a 25% improved breast cancer specific survival.” She encourages her patients to get a half a cup of berries each day and lets them know that frozen are just as good as fresh.
She also shared data from the Nurse’s Health Study “that women who ate a Western diet before their breast cancer and decided to change after their breast cancer had a 23% breast cancer specific improved survival.”
We also talk about how beans, the gut microbiome, soy, and overnight fast can improve breast cancer outcomes.
“The take home message for my patients is, listen, it's never too late. We can use cancer as a springboard to lifestyle change.”
Here are some of the details of our conversation:
[00:14:37] - Talking about nutrition
[00:15:49] - Changing how we eat
[00:20:13] - Research on plant-based milk
[00:24:24] - The importance of protein
[00:27:32] - Diverse gut microbiomes
[00:31:15] - What do you recommend around soy
[00:35:19] - Fasting for breast cancer
[00:37:08] - Social connectedness
Managing Irritable Bowel Syndrome Through the Brain-Gut Connection with Desiree Nielsen, RD
Desiree is a registered dietitian with a focus on plant-based nutrition and gut health, host of The Allsorts Podcast, and author of Good For Your Gut a bestselling cookbook on digestive health. Her practice focus is complex, chronic digestive and inflammatory disease and plant-based approaches to optimal health.
In this episode, we talk about irritable bowel syndrome—what it is, its symptoms and severity, how we diagnose it, and how you can manage it through the brain-gut connection. She talks about patient-centered care and the need to personalize a nutrition plan for patients, meeting them where they are at and figuring out a course of treatment that works for each individual. Desiree also breaks down the FODMAPs diet, explaining the types of carbohydrates behind the acronym. We discuss the challenge of identifying low FODMAPs foods and combining single low FODMAPs ingredients into a meal. Resources she recommends include the app produced by Monash University to find low FODMAPs foods (https://www.fodmapeveryday.com/resources/monash-university-the-low-fodmap-diet/), and low FODMAP recipes on her website and in her book. Listen to learn other mind-gut approaches and the importance of feeding the gut microbiome because of its influences on the gut’s enteric nervous system.
"Protecting Your Baby’s Microbiome,” with Meenal Lele
Meenal Lele is the author of "The Baby and the Biome. She is also the founder & CEO of Lil Mixins, an early allergen introduction solution. Meenal has been a medical researcher for 20 years, and has a chemical engineering and business degree from the University of Pennsylvania. Meenal is focused on bringing an end to the food allergies that affect 40 million Americans, like her son. In this conversation, Meenal Lele discusses the relationship between early life and the human microbiome. In the process of writing her book, Meenal found difficulty in parsing the conclusions of research papers; We talk about how this is an issue even for medical professionals in the field. Meenal explains how autoimmune conditions are not necessarily related to genetic predispositions. For example, feeding children properly early on in life can help prevent food allergies later in life. Meenal elaborates on how the microbiome starts to form in infants and how to strengthen the infant’s biome. Meenal shares her personal experience of working on her son’s microbiome and turning around his entire personal perception and behavior. Tune in for more essential tips for the very beginning days of childrearing.
Very much worth listening to
I browsed based on my interests and started listening to this show. I enjoy health podcasts a lot. This one stands out though in that there are no ads, no pushing of supplements, no fellow podcasters as guests, and no people pushing their latest book. This is an open minded lifestyle centric doctor who has like minded doctors and other professionals on to discuss their specialties and knowledge. Great and succinct interviews and the host really let’s the guest shine. I thank you so much for doing this podcast. It is a gift to hear this information:)
I found this podcast from her being a guest on Dr. Yami’s podcast. I am plant based and I thought she was too. Several minutes into the first episode, the doctor she interviewed was talking about how we should eat lean meat. I was not expecting this! Disappointed. I am an advocate of a whole food plant based diet. The first episode disappointed me so badly at that point, I had to turn it off! Don’t know if I’ll continue listening to any other episodes.
Super Informative Show
I love this show - great topics, easy to listen to and just plan good content