Episode #111: Dr. Josh Axe – Diets, Natural Remedies, Ancient Practices, Managing Stress
My guest is Dr. Josh Axe. Dr. Axe is the co-founder of the incredible brand Ancient Nutrition, and authored books such as Keto Diet, The Collagen Diet, Ancient Remedies, and hosts a weekly podcast The Dr. Axe Show.
Dr. Axe is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to nutrition and our microbiomes. He delivers easy-to-understand information that can be implemented in our daily routines. For example, did you know there is the best time of the year to eat fermented foods or more cinnamon?
He also shows his human side by discussing managing stress and even navigating business challenges.
Listen to the episode here:
- Purpose and Calling [00:13:34]
- Leadership Principles [00:18:27]
- Ancient Remedies [00:23:59]
- Balancing Health, Medications, and Lifestyle [00:33:01]
- Food For Every Season [00:44:30]
- More than Food [00:49:11]
- Getting a Health Snapshot [00:58:48]
- Hydration [01:04:40]
Dr. Josh Axe – Diets, Natural Remedies, Ancient Practices, Managing Stress
My guest is Dr. Josh Axe. He’s written books such as Ancient Remedies, Keto Diet. He’s also the co-founder of a brand that I have a lot of respect for called Ancient Nutrition. You’re probably familiar with that. I’ve had Dr. Axe on the show and we talked a lot about gut health. This time, the interview was a little more personal. It was also diving into his actual practice. There’s something to be said for people who have all this information. They can tell you what to do but I always find a different inspiration when you hear how they’re dealing with it.
Even with things like fermented foods, we all know that we need more of it in our diets and I learned something that I didn’t know about when you should be eating fermented foods. The Chinese have a clear practice on when is it good to have spicy or when is it good to have you no more mild cinnamon or fermented foods. It’s at specific times of the year. Dr. Axe gives us a ton of useful information but he also shares what he does in his day-to-day life and even dealing with stress, family, or things that we’re all navigating. I hope you enjoy it.
There aren’t great schools. That’s where my husband grew up. This is what she wanted. We homeschool the others more but they’re big and they all have different routes. You’ll be there some time. It’s not soon but it’s tomorrow somehow.
That’s what I’ve heard so I can see it. Every month, you see it.
Dr. Axe, I want to start there. Thank you for coming back to my show. I always feel so honored to talk to you and I appreciate the work that you’re doing. I will direct people to our first podcast. What I appreciated is, you find a lot of people who get into the field of healing from a past experience or from something maybe personal. Your mom was a big impetus for you to see if you can help people so I appreciate that but I want to get into some things with you. I want to start with you because I’m always fascinated by the people who are the resources for others to figure some things out and it’s who you are you leaning on and what are your practices.
We were talking about your daughter, your dad, and being a husband, you work a ton. Maybe we could talk a little bit about how you navigate it. Sometimes, in different ways, it’s almost harder when you have a lot of information because you think, “I must be doing it because I think about it all day long and I hope other people.” Let’s start with you, the human being, your personal care. How did you shift that because it’s like fitting it in? What was your way of figuring out the way to try to fit moving around and getting time to move in your own practice?
One, for myself, it does all start with priorities. You know this well. I could work 100 hours a week. Especially when you’re an entrepreneur, you can do more and more. Research shows this too. If you’re working over 50 hours a week, you’re not being more productive. It’s also knowing my purpose in life. Some of the stuff might get a little deeper, but for me, my purpose is to love God, love people, and make the earth a heavenly place. I’m aware that’s what I’m called to do. With that, I especially spend my mornings with God. I spend it in prayer, meditation, reading my Bible, going deep on things like leadership and spiritual growth.
Do you get up earlier to make that window? Has that time gotten earlier because of your daughter?
My daughter gets up at 7:30. It’s not too late. If she starts getting up at 7:00 or earlier, I might get up a little earlier. For me, it’s from 6:30 to 7:30. I’ll have a smoothie and my matcha green tea. I’ll read, pray and do that. I’ll spend a little time with her and Chelsea for maybe 30 minutes and I’ll go get a workout in for about an hour then I’ll jump into my workday there at 9:00 typically. That’s what it looks like for me. I try to do first things first, these big priorities. For me, it’s spending time with God, family, and taking care of my physical health. For me, it’s never been that much of a challenge.
[bctt tweet=”Don’t major on minors. Major on majors.”]
It’s because you live what one would call a disciplined life. You’re not forgoing partying, drinking, going out, and doing all that. You’re probably getting to bed pretty early. You’re probably doing family and maybe buttoning up some work stuff and getting to bed. Sometimes I think about this with meditation or breathing in the morning. Is it something you look forward to or is it something like, “I need to do this because I know in the long run this is good for me.” Sometimes I have these practices myself where I don’t always necessarily feel like doing it but I know that it is the better practice in the long run.
I want to share that it’s definitely a combination. Let me give an example. There are some workouts that I look forward to. For me, I swam a lot growing up. I like swimming. Doing back for me is so easy because I’m pretty strong there but I do rehab stuff because I injured a disc in my back years ago doing CrossFit. It is this stuff that I know I’m better in the long term doing but it’s boring. I’m not getting bigger muscles or better lung capacity doing it but I’m like, “Okay.”
I do not like doing it but I do it anyway because I’m so reflective. I want to be 80 and maybe surfing or paddleboarding, running and cycling. I want to be doing those things so it depends on the day. I try to do both. I try to get fun workouts in and I’m like, “This is easy.” It’s like doing a Peloton. I love jumping on my Peloton for twenty minutes. I love doing that but there are other things I don’t love doing so it depends.
The other thing is getting to bed. I’ve noticed this and this is so huge for so many people. The time you go to bed, the discipline at night when you go to bed affects your morning so much. If you can go to bed at 9:30, 10:00, or whatever it is, let’s say it’s 10:00 PM and you’re in bed then and you’ve got to get up at 6:00. That’s not so bad. If you’re going to bed at 11:30 and trying to get up at 5:30 and work out, a month from now you won’t be doing it. It’s not enough sleep. This is crazy.
I read in this study that the average person used to get close to ten hours of sleep a night before we had light. It was before we had lightbulbs and everything else. If you have a candle going, you’re waking up with the sun and there’s no alarm, most people need even more sleep than they probably think they do. That’s a side note.
Plus, we joke anytime we lose power. We didn’t have power during one Thanksgiving here because we had a big fire years ago and they said it was from the power company. When the winds picked up, it blew 88 miles per hour at my house, the power company was like, “Forget it. Shut the power off for 38 hours.” That was during Thanksgiving but you also realize that unless you’re going to read to artificial light, there’s nothing to do or maybe if you sneak away with your partner, but pretty much it’s like, “One more board game and let’s go to bed.” Now we have all these artificial stimuli.
When you have people and you’re trying to help them organize this strategy in their own life, what types of things do you share with them about either making different food choices or figuring out a way to incorporate? A lot of people don’t even have a regular practice of movement in their life. The older they get, it becomes daunting, or they don’t know how to do it. If there’s any level of hand-holding going on, do you help create a blueprint for them so they can start to manage it themselves?
For sure. Let me use my mom as an example. My mom is over 68 years old and doesn’t like working out but she will work out. My dad, on the other hand, loves working out. He water skis. He loves lifting weights. He’s different but with my mom, I try to tell my mom, “What do you like to do?” She loves to walk. I’ll say, “Perfect.” She now walks 30 minutes a day. She either walks with my dad or she has a friend that she goes on walks with and she’s become so consistent with that.
I say, “Mom, at least if you do that, great, fantastic. Can you do this for me, as soon as you walk in the door, spend five minutes with weights? That’s it. You don’t have to do 30 minutes or 1 hour. I want to help you with your bone density and your strength. Here’s all that you’ve got to do. You’re going to these arm curls. You’re going to sit down and do this one little arm press here and you do this one other exercise. If you do five, and all of sudden you’re feeling motivated, then go another 5 and do 10. If you can do ten, you’ve crushed the day.” It’s that mentality.
You’ve done this too, before, Gabby. Have you ever been in a workout when you start and you’re like, “This is brutal. I do not feel like being here right now,” but sometimes you get 30 minutes into a workout, you’re like, “I feel like I could go all day.” It’s momentum. If you can use that momentum, you get the blood flow going, you get some of the dopamine, the runner’s high hormone, and everything else, use that to your advantage. Sometimes I have people start with the easy thing and you can even do this with habits.
If you want to go and run, step one is to get out your running shoes and water bottle and put them on a counter. Have your alarm across the room and you’re running shorts there. Step one is you’ve got to go turn your alarm off. Step two is putting on running shorts or whatever. They’re already sitting there. You don’t run at first. You know, “At the very least I’m going to walk one mile.” If you feel like running, once you get one mile of walk in, then you run. You go home and you get to celebrate. You reward yourself with maybe a healthier dessert that night. It’s trying to build momentum. That works for me, at least. It works for my mom and it works with some patients I’ve worked with for sure.
People have to realize that for anyone who trains on a regular basis you’re always going to have a little bit of aches and pains. My shoulders are sore because I overdid something. The other side of this is anyone will tell you that you’re more sore when you do nothing. Your body starts to break down. Your back and knees never hurt more. The other thing is, getting going, in the end, everything does feel better and people don’t realize. What about you transitioning because, for me, I see that you as a person is a good example of somebody who’s trying to keep things calibrated.
It’s impossible to think things are balanced. I don’t know that that exists in life. I don’t even know why we started trying to think, “We can have it all. How do you stay balanced?” That’s an unfair setup for all of us. Let’s say that you’re calibrating things all the time and you seem to have a grasp on it. Being a husband, what are the things in your day-to-day practices or things that you didn’t know when you came into the relationship that now you realize, “If I do some of this or if I handle a conflict like that…” It makes things a lot more fluid and it’s a way to take some resistance out of our life.
This goes back to purpose. I believe I’m called to do three things. Love God, love people, and make the earth a heavenly place. What does that mean? What does love mean to me? Love doesn’t mean this lustful romantic thing. Love is sacrificing maybe even some of the things I want now in order to serve you, make your dreams come true, and fulfill your desires. I’m putting you first. I’m second. Chelsea and I have a great marriage. I love my wife so much. I have the best wife in the world. She’s amazing. We both feel our most fulfilled when we’re both trying to help serve each other and fulfilling that person’s dreams.
I’ll give you an example of some of the stuff I don’t love. We went and did lights. There’s this place in Nashville called Cheekwood. Our daughter loves looking at Christmas lights. It’s 1.5 hours and it was pretty. It was twenty degrees out. We went and did this whole Christmas light walk and everything else. We went and got a Christmas tree together, got the thing cut down and we decorated it.
My wife loves holidays so much. I’m not like Mr. Scrooge. I like holidays but she loves them. For me, around the holidays, I’m like, “What does Chelsea want to do? She’s going to want to go to Opryland hotel in Nashville and walk around and see the lights. She’s going to want to get the Christmas tree, she’s going to want to do dinner with her family. She loves playing board games.”
I’m consciously thinking about, “What does Chelsea love? How can I set it up? This is like her week, her month, her day.” If spouses do that and do not think about, “You’re not fulfilling my needs.” “You’re not fulfilling my wants.” It’s not to say you shouldn’t think about that but the right time to address that is you’re serving and loving that person.
You’re on your date night and you say, “I want to let you know that I want to continue to be open in our communication. One, I want to let you know that I love you so much. I’m so grateful for how you are constantly doing this, this, and this.” “I want to let you know that I’ve had a hard time emotionally lately because I feel like we’ve had no quality time. Your parents have been in town and we have all these friends. Life is so busy. Can we schedule more time?” You’re not attacking that person. You’re letting them know, “I’m missing this.” It’s the two things. I’m serving you. I’m helping fulfill your dreams and open communication. Those helped create a great relationship.
I want to extend on that because I’m the female in my dynamic. There are always exceptions and certainly, people are in different types of relationships. I find that sometimes women get a lot of fulfillment from a lot of different things like friendships and those types of things. I’m not oversimplifying things, but it does feel that biologically, and there’s probably a lot of science on this, that men have a different type of connection through intimacy. I remember having to understand and learn this early in my marriage. If someone is reading this, you can flip it on your head and their partner says, “I would like more alone time and romantic time.”
To be totally blunt, it has to be sex. It can’t be like, “We went to dinner.” That’s good, too but if I have an hour, I would go. I would be like, “Dinner. Whatever. Let’s connect.” People have to realize that their partner is saying, “I would like to be with you,” instead of taking it like, “I’m not giving them what they want or need.” It’s that reminder that they’re saying, “I want to keep cultivating this relationship.” If people are ever in that, if you could hear it that way, it’s a great thing. Can we be together more often? It’s hard when you have young children and all of that. It’s definitely something to work out.
Finally, you have to be a boss. I know you’re a nice person, whatever that means. That word is vague. I know you’re trying to be a good person, a leader, and what have you. How do you create the environment where you empower people to do their job, but there’s an understanding of like, “We’re all going to show up and we’re going to conduct ourselves and work at a certain level without having to walk around with a hammer.” Do you have any tricks to how you do that? Because managing people is a dance.
Here’s what I do. These are principles that I didn’t come up with but these are principles that are taught and examined in the Bible. They’re examined by great leaders, sacrificial leaders whether it’s Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Teresa, Abraham Lincoln. Here’s what I try to do. Number one, I try to keep our eye on our core values. It’s not about me, it’s not about them necessarily. One of our principles at Ancient Nutrition is healing the planet. We want to heal people and heal the planet through regenerative agriculture in creating the world’s healthiest supplements that are made of superfood. That’s our focus.
With that, we also have core values to achieve that. Our number one principle is committed to constant growth. That’s personal and that’s in our product formulation and marketing. We are committed to constant growth. I could get into all that but that’s one example. With that, when I’m on a call with a team member, or anytime I’m communicating with a team member, there are two key components to leadership. It’s this combination of nourishing and encouragement and challenging somebody to a certain standard that we have that we’ve all agreed to in the business.
For instance, with one of my team members who I love who’s a total rock star. I’ve got these amazing team members like Lindsey, Millie, and Katie. I’ll try and say, “We crushed this. Way to go here. I love that we did this but one thing though, this right here is not up to our standard. This isn’t right. What can we do together to achieve that?” It’s this combination of, “I’m encouraging you and I want to point out, praise, and recognize all the great things you’re doing but also, we have standards.”
“I want to help call you and inspire you to greatness. You’ve been operating here. You should be operating up here instead and letting them know. I know you can do this. You did this project in the past. That was perfection. Let’s go and replicate that again. How can we do that? How can I serve you in doing that?” It’s that thing. When I think about leadership and working with a team, you keep your eye on the vision and you have this combination of mostly encouragement, but also challenging people to a higher standard.
Have you had to fire people?
Yeah. For me, I have a lot of candor so I try to be as kind as possible but I have candor as almost anybody out there. When I’ve had to let somebody go in the past, which is hard. I don’t have a hard time with this like most people do because I truly believe that everyone else if somebody is not pulling their weight and isn’t in alignment with our core values, it’s unfair to the rest of the team. It’s unfair to the consumers out there.
For this person, I’m going to do everything I can to bless them on their way out and say, “Janine, we have this standard of performance and it could be a performance from an actual performance standpoint, in terms of a skill, or it could be in terms of character. I mentioned this to you 90 days ago. We’re still not there and I’m so sorry but we can’t work together.” I don’t do it anymore. I haven’t done it in years and that way. I don’t try to go on for an hour. It’s a five-minute conversation.
[bctt tweet=”Eat a lot of fruits, vegetables, and drink half your body weight of water.”]
That pre-conversation makes the second conversation clear. Let’s dive into Ancient Remedies. You created this company and have Ancient Nutrition. You have a lot of beautiful products. I direct people to your websites and podcast, The Dr. Axe Show, and your social media because you have a lot of free information. For example, you talk about gut disruptors. I feel like I’m talking about the gut all the time on this show. You said sugar, GMOs, medications, vegetable oils, stress, sugar alcohol, cleaners, and fluoride.
My husband gets on me. He’s intense about his toothpaste. A raw diet is disruptive for certain people right to their gut and dairy and wheat. Maybe from your point of view, because you guys have beautiful collagen products, greens, things to support your gut, inflammation, and things like that. Health is holistic and we can have something going on in our health for one person, it’s expressed as diabetes for another it might show up as cancer. Sometimes, whatever the issue is, it may have various symptoms. When you were looking at this, what were you thinking? Were you like, “I could build this business around, seeing if we can support people in these specific areas of health.”
One of the terms that we use a lot within our company is regenerative and regeneration. We do this with our practices with agriculture. Jordan Rubin, my cofounder, and I own about 4,000 acres of certified organic land in Missouri and in Tennessee. We have water buffalos, yaks, gazelles, sheep, and goats. We raised animals and livestock. We grow Schisandra Berry, Black Turmeric, and all kinds of superfoods that we’ll put many on our products. We’re all about regeneration. It’s the same thing about the body. In the future of medicine, we’re going to see a lot more with stem cells. How do we continue to support our stem cells and create tissue regeneration, which is going to also allow you to feel younger and look younger?
When we were creating our products, it was first and foremost that and gut health. Those were the two things we’re both focused on. That’s one of the things I love about collagen. Whether it’s a multi-collagen protein or collagen peptides, it’s a building block for your body to use to generate itself, especially the tissues that people will notice when they age the most. When you’re aging, people tend to feel their joints and skin is affected. Those two areas are made up of over 90% collagen.
Here’s one other area. Our gut lining. Everybody reading probably heard of conditions like leaky gut syndrome or knowing about absorbing nutrients. Here’s the other thing. People haven’t talked about this much, but 90% of your gut lining is made up of collagen as well. Collagen is so huge for so many people. It’s probably the biggest micronutrient deficiency that people have after that it might be Omega-3s or something but collagen is even a bigger deficiency. That being said, collagen and getting quality collagen is important for that. For gut health, after that, it’s probiotics.
Soil-based probiotics are some of the best. I’m such a fan if somebody asked me personally, the number one type of supplement I’ve taken over the past couple of years, it’s not even close. Collagen or bone broth powder. Collagen-based supplements are by far number one. Probiotics are probably number two. There are other things I love like turmeric, ashwagandha, and a lot of adaptogens, greens, or grain, but the top two have definitely been collagen/bone broth, and after that probably soil-based probiotics.
You guys have some collagen powders and even bone broth powders. You make it easy to put it in things to get it in there. If someone’s reading this and they say, “I like to make my own bone broth,” help me out with my vegan and vegetarians, where are we supporting them to get high-quality collagen to help support their skin bones and gut lining?
Let’s talk about the people who do eat meat and people that are vegans. For somebody who is a meat-eater, you want to get bone broth, and you want to get collagen peptides or multi-collagen protein. In Ancient Nutrition, a company that I co-founded, we offer it. Also, egg fermented eggshell membrane. It’s when you crack an egg, there’s a little thin film inside. That’s a unique form of collagen. As clinical studies, we put in our product. We’ve got it on AncientNutrition.com, Target, Whole Foods Market, Sprouts, and health food stores nationwide. People could check out Ancient Nutrition College. They can even go to Amazon. We have it there.
The other thing is for vegans, and this is big. One of the top five questions I get is collagen for vegans or vegetarians, I get it all the time. There are two solutions. One we are coming out with the first-ever vegetarian collagen and it’s made of a combination of plants and eggshell membrane. We’re partnering with somebody who’s a well-known vegetarian who’s doing that. That’ll be released in late March of 2022 where that’ll be sold at Target, Whole Foods, Sprouts, and online. You can sign up for the Ancient Nutrition newsletter to learn more about that.
The other thing though, is if you are in the position now and you want to build collagen, there are certain things that support it. I like things that are going to support stem cells because if you support stem cells, it will create more collagen. Some things that are critical are Zinc and Vitamin C. That mineral and that vitamin are the most critical for the regeneration of collagen. Adaptogenic herbs are going to help build bone marrow. There’s an ancient one that’s used in Chinese medicine called Fo-Ti or He Shou Wu. Fo-Ti and ashwagandha are great.
Rehmannia is another one used in Chinese medicine, but anything that’s going to build it’s called Kidney Qi or adrenals. Anything that’s going to support the adrenals is probably going to be the best. Green leafy vegetables, berries, Omega-3s, and things that are rich in bone broth. It’s green leafy vegetables, berries, and certain herbs as well that are going to reduce inflammation. Here’s an interesting one about turmeric. Turmeric boosts stem cells. It doesn’t necessarily boost collagen directly but it boosts stem cells but here’s the thing it does, it’s been shown in studies to reduce collagen degradation which means you lose collagen.
One of the things that people are not talking about enough is not only you building and creating more collagen yourself but protecting your body from losing it. That’s where the berries come in certain polyphenols and antioxidants and superfruits like goji berry are good for this and also things like turmeric, rosemary, galangal, certain herbs also keep you from losing collagen.
I have your products and I use them. They’re easy to use. You’ve made them enjoyable and because it comes from you, I have a certain amount of confidence. To be honest, a lot of that stuff is sketchy, and as you know I’m in the food business and I even know the conversations with our food scientists about making things shelf-stable and what that requires. I know that it’s almost like a landmine that you have to navigate. People don’t understand that they’re buying something to support their health and it’s healthy but a lot of the time the ingredients are not great. I appreciate Ancient Nutrition for that reason.
It’s a challenge. We’ve used your coffee creamers and we love them. You guys do such a great job with the product that you’ve created. My mother-in-law’s a raving fan so she’s used the product too. You guys do such an amazing job. You guys have the mushroom blend, which by the way, is a great one. I know that I’ve used it in our coffee too.
We have a rule and it stems from Laird. I always appreciated this. He said, “If you’re going to do something every day, try to make that habit good for you.” He’s Captain Caveman walking around without a shirt on but he has a good pillow. His toothpaste and his soap are good. It’s all these things that you’re doing every day, that accumulation can be for good. I interviewed the gentleman who created the Goldenthread Drinks and he talks about a whisper to your health. If you can do these positive little habits each day, they are positive whispers to your health.
If someone’s reading this and they go, “I heard that the gut disruptors are on medications.” There are a lot of things people could do with their lifestyles and they probably need to get off their medications but let’s say they’re not there yet or they’re taking something they don’t have a choice. They put sugar alcohols into a lot of candy, healthy candy, and bars. They slip that stuff in there and you think, “That’s not too bad.” It’s about avoiding the things that we can like sugar alcohol, vegetable oils, and sugars when you can, but having better cleaning products in our home and having the right toothpaste. I feel like all these other things we can manage but for the medication, what do we do to say to people? Do we say, “Ramp it up because you need to support yourself more.”
Here’s the thing, to be real honest, ramping it up is typically not the solution. There’s such a healthy balance of doing things for your health and not doing things that hurt your health. I see this a lot, by the way, a lot. There are a lot of people that say, “I want to keep this bad habit or this bad thing but I’m going to do all of these other things and do 100 things that are good for my health.” The truth is, you don’t need to do 100 things that are good for your health. You need to eat some real food, spend some time out in nature being active and do some fun stuff. That’s what you need to do. Eat real food, have great emotions, spend time with community and family. Connect and be active. You’re going to be great.
Don’t feel like, “I’ve got to do an infrared sauna and a hyperbaric chamber. I’ve got to do red light therapy, colonics, and all of this stuff.” You don’t. The major stuff is those things I mentioned. When we’re talking about medication, I’ve always got to be sensitive to this but say this, medications are hard on your health long term. Remember that they are typically not bringing you health. They’re a band-aid temporarily. If it were myself, I would do everything in my personal power to get off of medication long-term. Let’s say, for instance, I had heart disease, high blood pressure, and cholesterol. I would do everything in my power to plan. That’s a big thing. A lot of people don’t have a plan. They may hear 1 or 2 things and they’ll say, “I’m going to try taking fish oil now.” “I’m going to try and cut the sugar a little bit.”
Have a plan of what the ideal training plan is for you. It’s writing it down. “For breakfast, I’m going to do this collagen smoothie with coconut milk, berries, and some collagen protein. For lunch, I’m going to do hummus, green leafy vegetables and this wild-caught salmon filet. I want dessert but I’m going to stop eating the vanilla ice cream and I’m going to start doing dark chocolate.” Have a food plan for yourself, an ideal meal plan of generally what you’re going to try and do. If you fall off one day, it’s okay. Have a supplement plan. Have an activity plan that’s doable and pretty easy but at least you’re getting out and getting active even if it’s just walking.
Have that plan in place. If you have a doctor who is unwilling to work with you on lowering medications, here’s the great news. There are hundreds of thousands of doctors so find one who’s more cutting edge. Here’s the thing, if you have a doctor that cares for you and is up on the science, they’re not trying to get you on medications and leave you and up your dose because they know that 99% of conditions are lifestyle-related and they will work with you on it. There are great functional medicine doctors, everything from Dr. Oz to Dr. Mark Hyman to Dr. Will Cole and all kinds of people I’m friends with who do this.
It’s a dance, because what’s interesting is people have been raised a certain way, and they believe in science, and a lot of times the medication is connected to this “science” so they have turned over the power of their health to somebody. They haven’t experienced or maybe they haven’t had enough space and time to have this plan in action to see and experience the change for themselves. People think you’re crazy when you go, “No. If you make certain choices, you can impact how much medicine you need or if at all.” I find that interesting.
Going back to the gut, can you tell me about fermented foods and apple cider vinegar? People write to me all the time and they want to talk about apple cider vinegar and the importance of fiber. That goes to your green leafy vegetables so we know that fiber is incredibly important. I did talk to somebody who made a great point, Simon Hill, who is a vegan that a lot of people get an upset stomach, and it’s like, “Your gut microbiome is not ready yet to eat a bunch of beans.” I want to remind people, if they say, “I’m going to add more of this stuff,” that you might want to do it slowly because your body can get the chance to learn how to digest it. They’re little tricks. Is it fermented food? Where does apple cider vinegar play in the grand scheme of weekly habits in your mind?
Here’s how I would think about this. One, you put this perfectly in terms of sometimes our bodies aren’t ready for it. It depends on where you are on the health spectrum. That’s the number one thing. It’s a self-diagnosis. It’s this level of awareness of, “I’ve got an autoimmune disease.” “I’ve got inflammatory bowel disease.” “I’ve got this issue with my gut.” If your body is bad off, here’s how you want to eat. You want to eat a baby. You want to be as easy on your body as possible. This is the principle. If you can grasp this, this is important to understand. Foods don’t heal you. Turmeric doesn’t heal you. Collagen doesn’t heal you. The body heals itself.
That’s why fasting is so powerful and has been used since the beginning of time for healing in a lot of cases because what happens is now your body isn’t working so it heals itself. Imagine if you get a cut on your hand, that cut will heal itself unless you keep rubbing it and rubbing it over and over again. You have cuts and burns and things like that in your digestive tract that inflammation so you want to leave it alone. Certain foods will leave it alone. If you have a weak system, think about baby food.
We feed our daughter, Arwyn sweet potatoes. She has these food packs now. They’re mashed avocado, green beans, and pears. That’s the perfect diet for you if you want to know. If you eat like a baby the ideal foods are probably cooked vegetables, fruit, and some wild organic meat like bone broth, salmon, or chicken. Those are the easiest. Also, certain things like coconut oil, some of the healthy fats, some of the meat, the cooked vegetables, and some fruit. Those are the easiest foods to digest.
Notice how I didn’t say grains, nuts and seeds, and beans. It’s those foods I mentioned. Eat like a baby to start. The grain that’s probably the easiest to digest is if you make rice into congee. You take rice, you put it in a slow cooker and you cook it to mush. The second easiest grain is probably oatmeal that’s a mush. Those are the foods you want to be eating. You’re getting fiber there but it’s easier to digest because of the type of food and some of it’s cooked and everything else. That’s what you want to eat.
[bctt tweet=”Foods don’t heal you. The body heals itself.”]
The next step is once it gets a little stronger do a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar. Apple cider vinegar is not necessary. Some things are superfood for some people and they’re not for others. What apple cider vinegar does is it’s going to increase the acid in your stomach. If somebody doesn’t have a high enough stomach acidity, it’s good for those people. If somebody’s liver is not active enough, it’s good for those people but it’s not this superfood miracle liquid for your gut. For some people who have low stomach acid, yes, it is.
Dr. Axe, one of my favorite things I learned was when someone goes to the doctor, and they go, “I’ve got heartburn,” and they go, “We’re going to give you an antacid.” You don’t already probably have enough acid in your stomach and now they’re giving you an antacid. I had a friend once and I was like, “I’m not a doctor but it might be worth trying adding some apple cider vinegar to your daily life and see before you start going onto medication,” and it helped him quite a bit.
It depends on the person. More than half of people who have reflux have low stomach acid. In that case, try it but start with a teaspoon, not a tablespoon. Mix a little bit in water and eat your meal right then. Don’t let it sit there for twenty minutes or whatever. It’s doing it and eating soon after. That’s how you want to do apple cider vinegar and maybe you work your way up to a tablespoon a day or maybe it’s a teaspoon. Sometimes people overdo it but if you are doing apple cider vinegar, and you notice that you’re getting even more burning even after doing it for a week, you may produce too much stomach acid. In Chinese medicine, they say that if somebody’s liver-dominant and what element they can do too much and, in that case, they may want to get a little bit more things that are a little bit more Alkalyn like baking soda. A little bit, not a lot.
Baking powder will also send you to the restroom.
I’m talking about how you want to do just a pinch.
In our house, if Laird traveled or whatever he’ll do a baking soda drink and it’s for real.
If you don’t get them out of it, it’s going to flush.
It’s pretty amazing. Fermented foods, is this for you? Are you doing fermented foods as part of your everyday? Do you position it strategically in your meal?
For myself, I follow what I’m going to call a Chinese medicine diet and it’s so ultra-personalized. This is a hard one for me to say, “For this person or this person.”
I’m interested in you.
For me, I start eating fermented foods in spring, most of the time. Late February, or as soon as spring hits, and I want to get my liver active because that’s what it does. Sour foods and some bitter foods cause your liver to start going and your liver is the strongest in spring. Maybe it’s even late winter, spring, through early summer when I’ll do fermented foods.
In the fall and early winter, I will not do it because you want to let your liver be calm and chill. I’ll do a lot more things to strengthen my pancreas like fall foods. Think about what’s ripened. It’s going to be pumpkin, butternut squash, turkey, cinnamon, and ginger. I’m doing a lot more of those foods. It’s seasonal eating. The fermented foods will be late winter at the earliest and throughout spring is how I will tend to do those.
What about summer? Maybe we can do an overview? You’ve already talked about the pancreas and the liver but are there other things during different seasons where you have a nutritional focal point?
Fall foods are sweet foods. When I say sweet, it’s not sugar. It’s cinnamon, butternut squash, and sweet potato. The fall is the time of sweetness and those are the foods that you want to activate those organs. In the winter, it’s umami. It’s chicken bone broth, miso soup, ginger, garlic, and onion. It’s a lot of those things that have that umami flavor because those boost the immune system like ginger and chicken broth. For spring, it’s sour. It’s a lot of green vegetables, sauerkraut, granny smith apples that are sour, and apple cider vinegar so that’s all spring. The summer is bitter. Coffee, beets, and green leafy vegetables are going to help in stimulating.
What is the sour? If there was an organ, what does that focus on?
Liver, gallbladder, and part of your lymphatic system.
What if somebody comes to you, and they genetically have pretty high non-oxidative cholesterol? Cholesterol has been made to be such an interesting story. It’s like, “Your heart and cardiovascular health…” but then there are plenty of reports that say that they’re not connected. Dr. Robert Lustig, an endocrinologist is like, “There isn’t a direct correlation.” People wrestle with this a lot, especially if they get their blood work done. How do you encourage them to read that? Is there something to incorporate into what they’re doing to support that part of their health?
I’m always focusing on what the true root cause is because you always go back to why is your body laying down cholesterol. It’s something that Elon Musk talks about, the five whys. First off, what are your cholesterol levels exactly? What is your HDL and LDL? What’s the ratio? Why is the LDL high and why is the HDL low? It’s because there’s inflammation. First off, why are cholesterol and plaque happening and all that stuff? That’s because there’s inflammation in your arteries. Why is there inflammation in your arteries? It’s because you’re consuming too much sugar and the stress levels are too high. Why is that? It’s because you’ve been eating this and this anytime. You eat the sugar to deal with your emotional stress. It’s figuring that out and saying, “How do we reverse it? What can you eat to reverse the process?”
It’s berries, green tea, turmeric, and Omega-3s. It’s all these things. That’s where I always start and let people know that there are side effects of statin drugs. They damage your liver, they damage your nervous system, they deplete your body of Coenzyme Q10, which is crazy. You’re taking Coenzyme Q10 for a heart condition but it increases your risk of another heart condition like a heart attack or congestive heart failure.
With all that being said, I want to let people know all of those truths and I want to say, “If you want to get to the root cause, here’s what you need to do. Here’s the food, here are the supplements, and here are the types of activities.” I put the ball in their court letting them know that I truly believe this is going to help address it. If somebody naturally genetically has higher levels, I’m not concerned about that. If somebody wants to look at the numbers, I will have them focus more on the ratio than I would on the total cholesterol. If the research supports anything, it’s looking more at a ratio or even what shows can be C reactive protein. It’s looking at inflammation in your body. Total cholesterol is the worst way to look at your actual cholesterol.
Do you think that there are people out there who are eating pretty good and they’re moving and their lifestyles good, but their stress and especially now COVID there’s been a lot of extra things people are navigating the last couple of years? Is that enough to kick off inflammation in your system when you’re probably stressed out especially if maybe you’re not getting good sleep? Sometimes, we don’t give enough credit on how much that can impact us.
Gabby, it’s more important and I’m not saying this because of, “This is a question and this is the answer I’m giving now.” No, your stress, the negative emotions of fear, worry anxiety, anger, grief, depression from the past things you have not let go of are these the five channels in Chinese medicine that they look at and categorize. Those things affect your health even more than the food you eat, even more than lack of exercise.
Exercise and food are important but now it is an absolute that they affect your body equally or more. The emotion of fear we know causes your adrenals to start spinning and producing all these adrenaline and stress hormones. If that happens too much your body’s in that fight or flight state, your body can’t heal and regenerate because it’s in a protective mode.
People should be ultra-conscious of their emotional well-being and what are the emotions they are experiencing. I’m going to go deep here for one minute. There are two main worldviews today. You have a traditional worldview and by the way, this is all the conflict in politics and you also have a modern worldview. Traditional worldview says that you sacrifice your own being for the community. Think about the movie Braveheart or Lord of the Rings. Somebody is sacrificing themselves for the community, the greater good, and everything else.
For traditional, it’s Donald Trump, the Republican Party, and all that. It’s all about traditional values, traditional mentality. You also have a modern worldview, which it’s all about you. Find your shining star. That’s the Democrat party and stuff. My whole point here is one, ignore your emotions. Traditional is like, “Shove them under a rug. You want your dream. Sacrificed for the community.”
The other one is, letting your emotions rule you and guide you, “If you don’t feel like being in this marriage, get rid of the person.” Feelings rule your life. Both of those are wrong. Those mentalities about emotions. The emotions that are talked about in the Bible are if you’ve got fear, ask the question. Why am I feeling fearful right now? I feel fear because I’m afraid of failure because I’m afraid my parents are going to judge me. Is that right-thinking versus letting that fear control you one way or the other? It’s, “No. I’m reflecting on how I shouldn’t be letting that control me. I should have a conversation with my parents. I shouldn’t be afraid of that.”
With all that being said, we have not been taught properly how to evaluate our emotions and use our emotions as warning signals and signs on how to live our life to the fullest. We are completely trained in 1 or 2 arenas. I didn’t mean to get all this politics and everything else but emotions are probably the most important thing that people don’t understand and they’re not talking about in regards to our health, for sure but a lot of other things too.
I know that you have things in place. You have spiritual life, a prayer practice, and a relationship but for example, when you started Ancient Nutrition, there’s stress. No matter who you are, there’s worry. It’s human. You lay your head on the pillow at night and you’re thinking about, “I was doing this one job, and now I’ve taken this big thing on. I am going to have a family. What if I don’t pull it?” How do you identify, “I’m mind grinding. I’m worrying,” which is not productive. It doesn’t change anything. Where do you identify it? What do you do to get yourself to a place where you can understand your feeling that way but also, move out of that into a more productive place? How do you do that?
I’m not trying to keep going back to my own spiritual belief system but it’s the only answer I can give in this. If you’re asking me personally, I’m not without stress. My biggest stress is that I get frustrated and I’m impatient. Traffic jams drive me crazy and my wife is like, “We’ll be home in five.” Who cares if it’s in 5 minutes or 10 minutes? We all have our personal battles.
We can use worry, for example. If I have worry and I start finding myself worrying about, for instance, supply chain issues, right now we don’t have enough lids for our protein powder. It’s like, “What’s not going to do?” We’re this in the business. If I start feeling worried, in sharing what I shared, I start reflecting on why I am worrying. Worry is connected to control and Chinese medicine. When things get out of your control and you feel like you can’t control this, that’s what causes worry.
For me, I need to reflect on can I control this at all? No. Who can? I’ll go back and I’ll read Matthew chapter six which is the sermon on the mount that Jesus gave or I’ll read some of the Psalms. Jesus says, “This is how God feels about us. God clothes the lilies of the field and the birds of the air. If he does that for the birds, you’re his children, he loves you even more. Don’t worry for a single moment.”
For me, I’ll go in the Psalms and Matthew. I’ll go and read that. I’ll ground myself and realize that I can’t control the weather like I can’t control lids being shipped to us from Asia. I can’t control any of that but God can. Knowing that he works out all things for my good, I know that all I’m called to do is love people, love God, make earth heavenly and have strong meaningful relationships, inspire people, encourage people. I’m going to do the best I can with that and focus on a solution rather than a problem. That’s the other thing. You don’t focus on the problem. You focus on what you can do. I can pray and relax. The big thing is shifting to the solution and also being realistic. Is it within your control? What’s the worst that can happen?
I had somebody asking about COVID mandates and things like that. They said, “What would you do if they forced you?” I said, “I have some land about 1.5 hours south of here. It wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if I went and became a farmer and learned how to garden and had some sheep. That sounds pretty good.” That’s probably one of the worst things. It’s putting those things in that big picture perspective help, too.
The reason I asked you this is because you talk about health and you can drill down but sometimes, we get so drilled down. Can you talk to me about my gut line or my blood pressure? We are missing these large contributors to our overall health. As someone who seems to be navigating a lot of things, that’s why I asked you and I hope it’s okay that we went a little more personal. Your perspective is important.
That’s such a good point you made. I want to bring this up because I’ve talked to patients about this in the past. I’m like, “Don’t major on minors. Major on majors.” It’s healthy emotions and mindset. It’s diet and movement. The infrared and that stuff aren’t the biggest deal. If you can do these big pictures, have good relationships. That’s a big deal.
I have a friend who’s Thai and he’s like, “I have all these fancy clients and they get all this blood work and they’re worried about this and that. When I eat something, I bless it.”
There you go.
You talk about the signs of gut issues like fatigue, sugar cravings, brain fog, and skin issues. Is that eczema?
Eczema, psoriasis, and acne.
Also, a weak immune system so if people are getting colds, common colds, flu, joint pain, and anxiety. If somebody goes, “Maybe I have to get a little bit more in touch with what’s going on with my gut.” What does a person ask for? What type of test because there’s nothing worse than you going to certain naturopaths and they go, “By the way, now you’re allergic to everything. Don’t touch the garlic.” It’s like, “Are you serious?” What would be a good starting point for people to start to even get a snapshot of what that’s looking like and what are those indications? If it’s inflammation, how do we want to heal it? What’s your take on this?
My favorite test is probably micronutrient tests. I like them a lot. They’re also known as Organic Acids Tests. They’ll basically tell you which vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and even certain fatty acids you’re deficient in. I was doing triathlons years ago and I was having this issue where I was training for a half Ironman and I kept standing up and getting lightheaded. I’m like, “Gosh.” I went and got this micronutrient test done. I was low on Vitamin B2. I’m like, “Okay.” I started supplementing with B2 and it went completely away. That’s just an example. For a lot of people, it could be Vitamin D, Zinc, or Iron. If you’re deficient in one single nutrient, it can impact your health.
That’s why I like micronutrient tests. There’s the Great Plains Laboratory, SpectraCell, and Spectrum. They do at-home tests or you can go to a local lab and pop in. They typically take two little vials of blood, and they can and they can test that. It’s probably anywhere from $250 to $500 for a test but it tells you a lot. My wife and I have done that and that’s a good one. That’s probably my favorite. You can do a stool test that looks at your gut microbiome. IgG Test or IgE Food Sensitivities are okay.
For the micronutrient, if there’s one that I like, I would put that pretty high up on the list. It’s also looking at your blood sugar. There are companies now where you can get patches. Le-Vel is one of the companies and you can do a patch. Knowing which foods affect your blood sugar is big. I’ve noticed that it’s different with different people. Some people can eat fruit and they’re good. Some people eat fruit and it is a big blood sugar spike.
That’s a great suggestion. I love when people are like, “I’m not eating bananas.” I’m like, “Oh my gosh.”
If I had to say three that I love that I personally have done, I’m going to say, an Oura Ring. Have you seen an Oura Ring? I use that every night and sleep is such a huge deal. The fact that I can see my REM and I can see my deep and all those things. I’ve slept better than ever because now I’m so conscious about my sleep. I would put buying an Oura Ring in number one. Being able to tell the blood sugar or the levels is big and I would say a micronutrient test. If you’re going to invest in three, those are probably my top three.
I was reading something that you had written about where you were talking about detoxifying the liver and the relationship with Vitamin B. Is this ringing a bell to you?
Are we talking about methylation?
Yes. I want to break that down a little because people hear all about methylation and a lot of us are like, “What does that mean?”
I’m going to use a big picture here on this. How well is your body breaking down and utilizing B vitamins? A simpler term would be absorption. Genetically, there are people who have all these and there are a million different things. Some people don’t break down and absorb B vitamins, while there are other people who are like that with Iron. Some of it is genetic and sometimes you’ve triggered a gene.
All that being said, here’s the thing. One, methylation, to a degree, could be overplayed a little bit sometimes, but it is a real thing that does affect some people. One, you want to get B vitamins from food. Beef liver and organ meats are so high in B vitamins. If you want to take the best B vitamin supplement ever either make liver at home or you can buy capsules of organ meats and do that. That would be my number one suggestion for B vitamins.
Number two would be you can buy a methylated B vitamin supplement. Try and buy one that also has foods in it and things like that. We sell those at Ancient Nutrition B-Complex and things like that have liver in them too. You can do that. That’s what they’re talking about. Your liver needs a lot of B vitamins to run it and that supports detoxification. There are books on methylation and everything else. If you want to know what to do, eat organ meats, number one, or get those in your diet. Number two, you can take a methylated B vitamin supplement.
I’m going to wrap it up with one question. I’m more interested in your practice for you or if someone comes in because drink more water and be hydrated but it’s imperative for everything like elimination, cognitive function, mitochondria, your sleep, and your flexibility. Let’s say people are drinking water and they’re doing half their body weight and everything that you’re supposed to do. Why are they still not hydrated?
With hydration, it’s important to remember that there are a lot of factors but one is hydration isn’t the amount of water you’re drinking. It’s the amount of water plus electrolytes in your system and also the degree to which all these fluids are moving through the different tissues in your body too. A lot of things affect those. For instance, women more than men, based on their menstrual cycle, change the amount of water you’re keeping. There’s a lot that goes into it.
For hydration, there’s how much you sweat and so many things. For most people, if you are drinking to that rule half your body weight and eight ounces of water a day, and you’re eating a lot of vegetables and fruits, you’re going to stay pretty hydrated. It’s natural electrolytes. If you want one that’s got a little bit more sodium than potassium, celery juice is good. If you want one that’s more potassium-rich, but also generally balanced, coconut water and watermelon water. Cactus water is a new one that’s out there today too. Eat a lot of fruits, vegetables, and drink half your body weight of water for the most part.
Do you have anything in Ancient Nutrition coming out that or has come out that’s new and you feel that is a product that you’re personally excited about?
A few things. One, we launched a new collagen peptides line. We use these amazing ingredients. That eggshell membrane, we ferment that so it’s highly absorbable. That’s a new product we launched called The Collagen Peptides. It’s also cost-effective. If you go into Target, you’ll see Ancient Nutrition Collagen Peptides. It’s the best collagen out there on the market. That’s at Target, Whole Foods, Sprouts, or you can go to Amazon and look up Ancient Nutrition Collagen Peptides. That’s what I am super stoked about. In March 2022, we’ll be launching vegetarian collagen peptides. That’s high on the list.
A few other things we haven’t even told people about. We’re going to be launching a glandular line with all of these glands and organs and things like that, which is going to be pretty cool. Our organic super greens have a new formula coming out. We’re always working on things but those are some of the big ones. People can also go to AncientNutrition.com or Amazon and search for Ancient Nutrition. You can go to New and see the new things we’ve released.
I’m curious how you educate. It’s different when you’re on your site to educate the consumer. How do you guys find a way to educate? Because the products are until it’s a little more sophisticated, how do you educate the consumer that sits in Target in that way because that’s the dance?
We’re getting into business here. A target consumer versus a health food store consumer, somebody is going into a mom and pop health food store, they sometimes have a little bit different goals and also somebody that’s in a health food store or someone reading tends to be a little bit more educated. They’ve spent more time learning about all these nutrition principles. In Target, even on packaging maybe you’re focusing more on clinical studies in the broad strokes of the benefits like skin, hair, nails, gut, and that sort of thing.
A lot of the deeper small health food store nutrition consumers who are reading and those kinds of things are curious a little bit more about the ingredients, the sourcing, and the story of, “Where does this thing come from?” Even some of the science behind it. When I’m looking at my site, in the natural health food store consumer, I’m telling the story and getting into the sourcing. Also, the growing, and all of those details, versus somebody at Target who’s typically focused a little bit more on now, “I want to have better skin, hair, and nails.” The other thing is cost, 100%.
I do appreciate it because it is a sophisticated product to have in some of these markets so I’m glad to see that’s happening. Dr. Axe, it’s always a real pleasure to talk to you. I want to direct people to Ancient Remedies, your book. There’s a ton of information in there and your brand Ancient Nutrition. Maybe you could direct people to all the places if they want to go on a deeper dive.
My social media channels are @DrJoshAxe and I do a lot of posts on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. My website is DrAxe.com. If you want to learn about turmeric, chia seeds, micronutrient tests, or any of this stuff, you can go on there and search or you can google search. Type in Dr. Axe Turmeric and I’ve written articles on all these topics.
For products, you can go to AncientNutrition.com. You can go to a local health food store or a search engine and search Ancient Nutrition probiotics or Ancient Nutrition, collagen, and find things by searching online as well. Gabby, I always love our interviews and being able to talk to you because you ask a lot of different questions. I love being able to talk about what I do personally because I love to know that stuff. I love to know what people personally do because it says a lot. I enjoyed our time connecting.
It shows on you. You must be happy that all of this has become popular because I’m sure years ago they were like, “You’re totally out of your mind.”
Ashwagandha. Nobody had heard of some of these adaptogens and other things, things that you put in your products we put in ours. I am encouraged. We’ve come a long way in a couple of years for sure.
Thanks. It’s so great seeing you and I’ll try to think of something different for the next time that we get to communicate.
Sounds good. Thanks so much, Gabby for having me on. I’m a big fan of all that you do and I’m looking forward to next time.
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About Dr. Josh Axe
Dr. Josh Axe, DC, DNM, CNS, is a doctor of chiropractic, certified doctor of natural medicine, and clinical nutritionist with a passion to help people eat healthily and live a healthy lifestyle. In 2008, he started a functional medicine center in Nashville, which grew to become one of the most renowned clinics in the world.
Dr. Axe founded the website DrAxe.com, which is one of the top natural health websites in the world today. Its main topics include nutrition, natural medicine, fitness, healthy recipes, home DIY remedies, and trending health news. His website includes a group of credentialed editors, writers, and a Medical Review Board.