[00:00:06.4] ANNOUNCER: Welcome to The Science of Success introducing your host, Matt Bodnar.
[0:00:12.1] MB: Welcome to the science of success, the number one evidence based growth podcast on the internet with more than a million downloads and listeners in over a hundred countries.
In this episode, we discuss how a neurologist’s perspective on your brain, fundamentally ignores the health of the entire system. How your guy biomes roll in depression, mood regulation and how the micro biome controls your behavior and emotions.
We ask why it’s so hard for people to break negative eating habits. We look at the biochemistry of addiction. And, discuss the incredible importance of understanding your micro biome and your gut health and much more with Dr. Kulreet Chaudrhary. I want to give you three quick reasons why you should join our email list today by going to successpodcast.com and signing up right on the home page. First, you’re going to get a curated weekly email from us every single week on Monday.
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In our previous episode, we discuss the darker side of h ow the US military influences human behavior. We touched on brainwashing, reading human body language, creating men sure in candidates.
How this one psychological bias can convince a stranger to murder someone and up to 80% of cases, how to profile someone and search for their weaknesses and much more with Chase Hughes. If you want to get to the darker side of influencing other people, listen to that episode.
Now for the interview.
[0:02:43.7] MB: Today, we have another fascinating guest on the show. Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary. Dr. Chaudhary is a neuroscientist and RU beta expert. She’s participated in over 20 clinical research studies, working with new stem cell therapies for diabetic, neuropathy and drug development for the treatment of ALS.
She also was the author of the Prime, prepare and repair your body for spontaneous weight loss and is a regular guest on the Dr. Oz show. Kulreet, welcome to the science of success.
[0:03:10.2] KC: Thank you so much Mat, pleasure to be here.
[0:03:13.1] MB: Well, we’re very excited to have you on today. I’d love to start out with a story that you share about your migraines and how that helped shape the journey that you’ve gone on to really dig into gut bacteria and how all that impacts our wellbeing and our neurology as well?
[0:03:31.6] KC: Sure, kind of like many stories of doctors who have gone into integrative medicine, it often takes a personal experience to kind of bypass all of the biases that you’ve been trained with and my story is no different, I was trained as a neurologist and shortly after I started practice, I developed migraine headaches which you know, for a neurologist seem like no big deal because I have all of the treatments that I could use to control them.
The doctor became the patient and I started myself on the different medications that I give to my patients and I was just absolutely horrified by the side effects, how off like, I could not figure out if the migraines were worse or the side effects from the medications were worse.
That really forced me to go back to my childhood and I turned to my mom as all good neurologist do when they can’t figure out what’s wrong with them, they go to mom.
I said, you know, I can’t seem to get this under control, I remember growing up, we were always exposed to different Ayurvedic remedies and she was the one who referred me to an ayurvedic practitioner.
You know, just as I kind of mentioned in the book, it was a bit of a culture shock at first because you know, I walk in this practitioner, is feeling my pulse to get an estimate of where my health was and the first thing he starts talking about is my digestion.
For me, I felt like you know, this is just some total quack, they don’t know anything about the nervous system because all he asked me was about my digestion. Since I had absolutely nowhere to go from there, I took his recommendations, everything I had done had failed.
So, at this point you know, what did I have to lose? I started working on my digestion and lo and behold within two months, my headaches were completely gone and so that forced me as a neurologist and neuroscientist, I had to take this seriously and look into this.
It forced me to take Ayurveda more seriously and take their perception of the nervous system as an extension of your gut health, that the health of the brain is highly dependent on the health of the GI tract and I started to study it and so that was kind of the beginning of this entire journey.
[0:05:52.7] MB: I want to dig in to a lot of those different concepts. Let’s start with, I’m sure I’m going to completely botch the pronunciation of this but ayurvedic medicine, what is that and how does it approach the human body and as a scientist and a doctor, how do you think about –
You know, as you said, you had some sort of biases about that, how do you think about the perception or the belief that a lot of people have that it might be sort of woo-woo or out there or not really rooted in science?
[0:06:21.3] KC: Sure, we’ll start kind of with the one thing at a time so yes, first of all, what is it? The way I describe ayurvedic medicine is it’s really kind of the original lifestyle medicine on planet earth, it’s the oldest recorded medical system, originally located or originated I should say in India.
But, as we look at indigenous cultures all over the world, they had a very similar medical concept towards balance and health. I almost hesitate to even call it medical because it was really just a way of living. The basic principles of ayurvedic medicine is that food is medicine, that he way that you live will dictate whether you are sick or whether you are healthy and that there are certain imbalances that result to disease that can be reversed by changing certain habits.
If you look at really the fundamental aspects of ayurvedic medicine, it’s really not that different from a lot of the newer lifestyle medicine coming out today like functional medicine. In fact, functional medicine actually look heavily towards the history of ayurvedic medicine to help come up with some of the formulations and some of the protocols that they use. In terms of you know, how I look at it, what struck me the most, especially as a neurologist because we tend to look at the brain as this protected system in this hard scull.
That is somehow separate from the rest of the body and the biggest shift for me was realizing that the health of any one organ really depends on the health of the entire organism meaning us. You can’t look at disease in any particular area in isolation. When somebody’s sick, there’s a particular story to how the y got there and involves a lot of different systems. If you do not understand that story, you can never really get rid of the underlying disease process.
You bring up a really great question because if you would have asked me 20 years ago if I would be doing what I’m doing, I would have just laughed because I was this very hardcore scientist and people who go into neurology in particular like it because of how black and white it is.
It’s something that can be easily studied, it’s got all of these wonderful tracts and it’s a seemingly knowable system and so I would have said I would have been one of the last people to have immersed myself as deeply as I have but what is amazing really to me about ayurvedic medicine is how it sees the body and the whole person as a dynamic unit and how the environment impacts your body.
How emotions impact your body, it’s just such an unbelievably holistic way of looking at it and because it’s so holistic, there are so many different ways that you can approach an issue that takes into consideration rather than the myriad of symptoms like odd patients coming in with 10 symptoms and I see it as just one simple problem.
The last point you make is really fantastic about, well how is a scientist do you not look at this as kind of woo-woo and what’s been fascinating Mat and I wish I could have taken credit for knowing this and foresight when I first started.
But ayurvedic medicine is so scientific, it is so unbelievably comprehensive and science now is starting to catch up with it. A couple of really simple examples is just looking at the study of the spice turmeric.
I mean, it’s being studied for how many countless different diseases and it’s just a spice, it’s something that people just put in their food every single day. You know, another example is the microbiome. You know, looking at how the bacteria, particularly the bacteria in your gut affects so many different conditions particularly neurological conditions.
The funny thing is as a western scientist and seeing that we are just starting to catch up with the knowledge that was present 5,000 years ago.
[0:10:29.9] MB: That’s fascinating and I think the point that the western approach, in many ways is so dialed in to each specific component and the brain and just how it works with in many ways to the detriment of the understanding of the system at large is why some of these integrative approaches like ayurvedic medicine have really come back recently and started to be more studied and people are starting to understand.
Hey, these ancient cultures are actually on to something and there’s science behind why these herbal remedies, things like turmeric were so effective?
[0:11:05.9] KC: What’s particularly interesting for me Mat, you know, as a neurologist, expecting to see the types of shifts that I saw. What was particularly shocking was, how many psychological conditions that we’d have diagnosed people with were just simply related to their gut health.
Particularly the colony of bacteria that resided in your colon. I would have patients who would come in with you know, 20 year history of depression and I would say, you’re not depressed, you just have the wrong colonization of bacteria and it was so hard for them to believe that it could be that simple.
Sure enough, as we started implementing changes that would shift their bacteria from one population to a healthier population, the depression would simply resolve. Again, we’re just starting to find that out that 90% of the serotonin actually comes from your gut. I never learn that as a neurologist.
If 90% of your serotonin is coming from your gut and you have the wrong people, the wrong organisms growing in your gut and they’re no longer providing that serotonin, of course you’re going to have things like depression.
That was really kind of interesting to me is how deeply connected the mind is, not just when we’re talking about brain health like multiple chlorosis or Parkinson's but our mind, our mental health is directly related to our gut health.
[0:12:26.4] MB: That’s a great point and I think that’s a good segway to dig deeper into a lot of the conclusions from the prime and from your work around how gut health underpins so much more of our broader health.
I’d love to start with – before we dig into it, I absolutely want to get into how gut bacteria can impact things like depression and anxiety because those are topics we talk a lot about on the show.
I’d love to start with negative eating habits and you talk about how negative eating habits and changing them isn’t – is it just a question of willpower if I want to eat more healthily? Do I just not have enough willpower if I have an extra donut or don’t eat my kale salad?
[0:13:09.1] KC: Sure, again, this was another big surprise and this was the real advantage of having a scientific background and being involved in so many clinical trials is when I saw this happening in my practice, I immediately started to investigate deeper into this and say, well why is this?
When I first just started incorporating this information into my medical practice, you know, it seemed like the easiest thing that hey, I’ve got all of this new behaviors that reverse neurological conditions, just implement these dietary changes and you will feel better.
The result was that 15% of people couldn’t do it. 15% of people could not – only 15% could do it, 85% could not change the way that they were eating. I looked at this and you know, these were people who were extremely successful in other areas of their life.
I couldn’t say, well, it’s a lack of willpower, it’s a lack of discipline because they were so disciplined in other areas. Why would you be so disciplined in one area and unable to make a change in another?
The big difference here is the neural chemistry or the biochemistry that was underpinning why they were eating the foods that they were eating. These were not unmotivated people, I mean, they were unbelievably motivated to change because you know, they wanted to make these changes to reverse neurological conditions.
This is as motivated as a group as you could get. What I started to look at was what were the actual obstacles to change and I realized that it was a biochemical obstacle. The biochemistry of it was very well-known to the food industry who has taken full advantage of that biochemistry to make sure that people were tied into these food choices.
Really, the main reason for me writing the book was just to level out the playing field so that people understood what the biochemical challenges of changing the way that you eat in particular are.
So that you can overcome them. And a big part of this challenge again is that microbiome which dictates quite a bit of how you actually choose your foods by releasing certain chemicals that give you that high feeling when you eat certain foods that they need to survive.
If you’ve got the wrong guys in your gut, you can see how their response to a donut will suddenly make you feel so wonderful and elated versus you know, the response to vegetables that you passed by.
What happens is that as you begin to shift the bacteria first by changing the underlying biochemistry that determines which guys live in your gut, your choices for food actually begin to change spontaneously.
The worst part of it Matt is you know, the beginning you might say, okay, well the donut makes me feel good so I’m just going to keep eating it. But over time, there’s a process that happens in the brain called neuro adaptation where it’s no longer a pleasure response and you actually have to eat the donut just to feel okay.
It’s no longer a high, it’s that you actually feel low until that donut goes in. It’s a lot of the same thing that happens like with other addictions except this one is with food which for me is the most dangerous addiction because it’s the most widely available substance and it’s the most cheaply available substance and it’s something that we completely allow for the food industry to market towards us without any regulation.
[0:16:52.7] MB: So, tell me about the science behind how those addictions form in our brain and how we go from eating the donut to feel good to just eating the donut to feel okay?
[0:17:05.1] KC: Absolutely. This is the wonderful part is we’ve actually made quite a bit of progress in the biochemistry of addiction which is why we approach addiction so differently but we have not made the connection that food is also acting like an addicting substance.
Much of it has to do with the neurotransmitter dopamine in particular. Now, there’s many other neurotransmitters involved but it’s easiest to talk about the response to dopamine. Dopamine is our feel good neurotransmitter and we need it, if we didn’t have it, we wouldn’t survive.
Let’s say, you know, let’s go back several thousands of years ago. If you were to find a fruit tree in the middle of spring and you aid it and you got that sweet sensation, your brain would send you a signal that hey, this is good, go ahead and eat this now because later on, in the winter, this is not going to be available.
You would get a small response of dopamine in the brain and you would feel good when you ate it. If for example, if sex didn’t feel good, we wouldn’t do it and it’s the same thing. When you have sex, you release dopamine and that’s why it actually is pleasurable.
These things are present, this release of dopamine, this messages in our brain are present to sustain the human race basically. You know, if food didn’t taste good, we wouldn’t consume it, if sex didn’t feel good, we wouldn’t do it and we wouldn’t reproduce.
Now, fast forward to our modern world, and what has happened is that – there’s an actual industry called food scientist. They have figured out what is the most powerful combination of sugar, fat and salt that produces a massive dopamine spike.
Now, you might say, well, gosh that sounds fantastic because if a little dopamine feels good, imagine how wonderful a huge spike of dopamine would feel? The problem is, whenever your brain experiences something new, so out of balance, it sees it as a stress.
Even though dopamine is supposed to make you feel good, your brain sees this massive overstimulation as a problem and it is a problem because it’s basically overstimulating your dopamine receptors.
The brain, which is an incredibly intelligent organ, looks for a way to counteract this response. You’re eating the food and going, my god, this feels so good, I never had anything taste better than this glazed donut.
Every time you eat it, your brain is now dampening your dopamine response to the stimuli. Now, what happens over time Mat is now, the foods that would naturally cause that dopamine to rise a little bit to make you feel good, they’re not doing anything.
Now, when you have like just a fruit for example, it’s not even giving you a little bit of pleasure or now, and this happens and often times in relationships, now, even being with a partner or having sex is n to giving you that same dopamine.
Now you have to eat more and more of that particular substance to get the same response, except it’s not a response of pleasure, it’s a response to just feel normal.
We see this process happen with multiple different addictions but what our studies are starting to show and what our images of the brain are starting to show is that when you have somebody who is obese, they respond to sugar the same way that a cocaine addict would respond to cocaine.
We’re talking about brain chemistry here. When you start to look at the underlying neuro chemistry of why we are actually eating the way we are and you look at what’s happening in the brain, what’s happening in the gut, you realize, this is not just some simple process of hey, just shift how you’re eating.
If it was that easy, we would have figured it out but instead, people are spending billions of dollars to try to reverse this but they’re doing it by doing the hardest part first which is trying to change behaviors rather than just simply changing your biochemistry.
[0:21:28.7] MB: Before we dig in to more of the interventions to potentially remap the gut and help change this biochemistry, I want to bring in the other component of this which are toxins. Tell me a little bit about toxins in our environment and how they impact us?
[0:21:45.7] KC: This is becoming one of my favorite topics because it’s becoming such a huge issue and now, what’s interesting though Mat, it’s not just the toxins in our environment, although they play a huge part but it’s also the toxins inside of our body that we’re creating by simply eating the wrong foods.
There’s a general term for toxins in ayurvedic medicine called ama. We don’t have exactly anything that corresponds to that in the western world but I kind of summarize it as toxic inflammation.
Ama, or these toxins, they come from undigested products and one of the greatest things about ayurvedic Matt is it looks not only at physical body but how these toxins accumulate both and the mind as well as in your emotions.
You can have mental ama, you can have emotional ama, it’s basically anything that has been undigested. Let’s say you went through a very stressful time, maybe experience a loss or went through a divorce or something like that.
If there was something unprocessed from that, that would actually turn into ama that gets stuck in your body. One of the main premises in Ayurveda is that it’s the accumulation of these toxins or this ama that eventually becomes the night for disease as it accumulate into the different organ systems, they start to trigger autoimmunity.
Now, take just kind of life in the modern world, you know, let’s separate that just from the environmental toxins, we’re already under a lot of stress. Let’s say you lived in a perfectly pristine environment, you would still have a toxic accumulation just because of the amount of stress that we go through and how quickly people are eating your food.
The lack of connection really with cooking anymore but now add on top of that, all of the environmental toxins that we are simply being bombarded by and the bodies having a very difficult time just simply moving these toxins out.
There’s a process that happens in the body, particularly in the lyrical bio transformation and when there is a traffic jam, meaning there’s more toxins that need to be processed than availability within the lyric to remove them, what happens is these toxins just start to float around freely in the body and this is a tremendous trigger as I mentioned before for auto immunity and just damage to the organs.
[0:24:19.7] MB: How does that tie back in with dumb gut and leaky gut syndrome and all of t hose kind of symptoms or problems?
[0:24:29.2] KC: That’s a great question. One of the organ systems that gets damaged as these toxins start to bio-accumulate. When they can’t be bio transformed, they get accumulated in the body, is the GI tract. Because remember, your gut is where a lot of the external toxins that are present in your food.
For example, if you’re eating a lot of foods that have chemicals, our pesticides and a lot of people make the assumption that the chemicals placed in our food have been tested for safety and that’s not the case at all.
A lot of the chemicals that are sprayed on our foods is the same scenario, they’re not tested for safety. Your gut is actually seeing these toxins firsthand and it directly damages the gut mucosa and the gut mucosa is where all of the magic happens from your digestion.
It’s where the enzymes are secreted, it’s where food is actually transformed into nutrients, it’s where absorption occurs and so, over time, you start to damage this invaluable membrane and this is also the home of all your healthy bacteria that want to support you.
As it becomes damaged, you have more pathogens that begin to grow there but in addition to the toxins that you ingest that impact the gut, now your liver is trying to get rid of all the toxins that you’re breathing in from the air, that you’re putting on your skin from your skincare products.
A lot of people are shocked to find out that you actually absorb 80% of the things that go on your skin. My general advice is if you can’t eat it, don’t put it on your skin but your body’s absorbing all these toxins and it’s getting processed with liver and whatever the liver can’t process is also getting dumped into the GI tract.
The GI tract becomes kind of this common final pathway where a lot of these toxins get thrown into and then your GI tract can’t remove it either. It becomes this horrific cycle and so if you are accumulating what we would call ama in the GI tract, you start to build up a bio film and this is this thick mucosal layer where all of the pathogens begin to grow and it becomes very difficult to absorb nutrients from your food.
You’re getting a shutdown of one of the most important systems that provides nutrients to the entire body but it’s actually now starting to become a source of toxic exposure both directly from the actual toxins you’re absorbing but also the toxins being released now by these pathogenic bacteria that are now inhabiting your gut.
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[0:28:37.3] MB: I think this is a good opportunity to tie in gut health back up to both sort of mental health and more broadly, general health. Tell me about, actually, before we do that, tell me about one of the key components of that which is you talk about the concept of the brain in your gut or the ENS. Tell me what that is and how that plays into this interaction?
[0:28:59.5] KC: Absolutely, so the ENS is the enteric nervous system and for some reason in neurology we don’t really study it very much but it is very much a part of the nervous system and it’s an incredibly important part and it basically is the brain inside of your gut and it helps to coordinate the production of different digestive enzymes, the functioning of different vales. If the enteric nervous system is not functioning properly there are certain valves that prevent gut bacteria from going into your small intestine for example that begin to dysfunction.
So this enteric nervous system is this relay communication between your gut and your brain. Now the assumption was that the brain was doing most of the talking and the gut was doing most of the hearing but what our studies are showing is it’s the exact opposite that the gut is actually doing most of the talking and the brain is doing most of the hearing and so the next question should be well who’s doing all of the talking then?
Who is dictating the content of what is being sent up through the enteric nervous system and what we’re finding is that micro biome or the host of bacteria and other microorganism that live in your gut are actually giving the content for the messages going to the brain and they do it in multiple different ways but there is a lot of neurotransmitters that are released from your gut and the neurotransmitters, you can look at them as the vocabulary words that are sent up to the brain.
So you’re gut bacteria is actually sending 90% of the messages via the enteric nervous system to your brain. So you should start asking them, “Well how smart is your gut and that’s really the whole purpose and the prime is to make your gut a smart gut because if you have a dumb gut think about what messages are going up to the brain and it’s absolutely amazing even the studies that we have seen with animals, when you change the gut bacteria you can take a mouse that has been genetically bred to be confident and turn it into a timid mouse.
Just simply by changing the gut bacteria through a fecal transplant from a mouse that has been genetically engineered to be timid. So there’s this personality traits that we have that we consider to be just part of us that we’re somehow inherently in control of it through willpower and it has more to do with the type of bacteria living in your GI track.
[0:31:49.3] MB: The study about the mice I find really fascinating and I love to know more, I heard the fringes of bio hacking and other health once people talk about fecal matter transplants in humans. Is that something that you think is an intervention people should look at or do you think that they are still unproven? What is the science behind those and what do you think about them?
[0:32:17.3] KC: Well I think it is something to consider in very, very extreme circumstances but what people don’t appreciate is how quickly your micro biome changes just simply to your own behavior. So for example, we’ve seen in studies that if you have a very stressful event your micro biome changes within 24 hours. Same thing is you start to introduce a very healthy habit your micro biome again changes within 24 hours.
So that your micro biome is this unbelievably dynamic – it’s really like an organ, it’s like an organ with consciousness. It really is like having a second brain working with you but it very, very dynamic organism that changes and so most people who go for the fecal transplants and I know I have patients come into my office ready to do it, I said, “Okay but what have you done with your diet? What have you done to manage your stress? What have you actually done to change your micro biome?”
And they did absolutely nothing. So those are interventions that I reserve when there’s a really severe pathogen that has completely colonize the colon and nothing else worked but that is not the case for the majority of people. For the majority of the people all you have to do is make some really very simple interventions and that’s essentially the entire program in the book. It’s just simple interventions that spontaneously change your micro biome.
But it always amazes me that people are more willing to look into getting a fecal sample from another human being and importing that into your body before looking at simple changes they can make that will simple spontaneously change your micro biome.
[0:33:59.0] MB: And I think the challenge is even from my own perspective thinking about there is so much out there about gut health, gut bacteria, your micro biome, probiotics, prebiotics, all of these information. It’s hard to distill or determine what are the right interventions, what are the wrong interventions and what actually produces the right results? So I love to hear your thoughts about how you delineate between those and maybe talk a little bit about some of the interventions that you found through research to be the most effective.
[0:34:31.8] KC: So that’s a great question and one of the gifts of Ayurvedic medicine is it gives very, very clear guidance for this. So what we are starting to find we are just in the infancy of understanding the micro biome and so people are in this discovery stage and what they are discovering is, “Hey I found out this works. I wonder if this works for everyone” and so they’ll make the assumption that if it works for one person, it works for absolutely everyone.
And the beauty of Ayurvedic medicine is it’s extremely personalized, it’s extremely individualized. Even in the program in the Prime, I have suggestions for people who have more of this tendency they should do this or people who have more of that tendency should refrain from doing this intervention and so when we were talking about what is best for your micro biome, the first question that comes up is what are you talking about, which person are talking about?
What are their tendencies and so Ayurvedic medicine makes recommendations for the micro biome that extremely individualized and there is a tremendous amount of confidence in a system that has lasted for so long. You know it’s been around just from a written standpoint for 5,000 years but even around much, much longer as an oral tradition and so a lot of the things that we are now just discovering about the micro biome has been written in Ayurvedic medicine for so long.
But with the caveat that they explained who to give it to, when to give it to them and when not to give it to them. So instead of having to do all of these guest work and I totally agree with you and people are often times surprised when I say, “Whoa, no you should not be on any fermented food. Your gut is not in a state to tolerate any fermented foods” or I’ll have patients come in and I’ll look at some of the supplements they’ve started.
And I’ll say, “You’re not even at a point where you can absorb or digest this” or you’ve added a supplementation for detoxification before you even entered the nutrients into your body to support the detoxification process. So there is this intelligence towards how you approach changing the micro biome, approaching detoxification and Ayurvedic medicine just has so many guidelines for that because it’s an extremely mature system.
So as we’re starting to grapple with who should be eating what type of diet, in Ayurvedic medicine it’s already set there based on what’s your constitution, what season is it, what is your current imbalance, what were their genetic tendencies from birth and we take all of that into consideration and so what I put into the prime is basically a very, very, very foundational program that has worked for the majority of my patients which I then further personalized in the clinic.
But it is such a foundational program for the micro biome that the majority of people can do it and again, it’s something that is done step by step by step and you don’t ever take the next step until your body is ready to do so.
[0:37:47.2] MB: So what are some of the – I know it is very individualized but what are some of the basic steps or interventions that you recommend as a starting place to implement some of these ideas and improve people’s gut health?
[0:38:02.9] KC: Absolutely. So the absolute most foundational steps are what the entire program in the Prime are and people are usually shocked by how simple the steps are and yet how profound the results are and so one of the steps in stage one is an herb called Triphala and I am almost even hesitant to call it an herb because it is really a combination of three berries and it is something that is often times is found in the Indian diet and so we wouldn’t even consider it as a supplement per say.
But it’s an herb called Triphala and it literary translates into three berries or three fruits and each one of these berries in it of itself has such a profound yet gentle impact on the body. Just an example is Amla or Amalaki is one of the berries and it is just one of the most powerful antioxidants on the planet. It has been shown to help to treat diabetes, it helps maintain blood sugar regulation, reduces inflammation. So just Amla on its own is so powerful but that’s just one of the three berries in Triphala.
But when you take all three together, it just becomes this very, very powerful again but gentle tonic for the GI track and for removing all of these accumulated toxins. So that’s one of the things that we add into stage one. Another example is just a simple tea. Again, very easy to make, very gentle. It is a combination of cumin, coriander and fennel and you just take the seeds about a teaspoon of each, boil it in about four to five cups of water for about five to 10 minutes.
Depending on how strong you like it, strain out the seeds and you just sip that all throughout the day but these three seeds, these three ingredients are amazing for healing the gut rekindling what we call Ugni or digestive fire in the GI track. So you can naturally begin to burn up the toxins in your gut and so there’s all of these simple types of interventions throughout the book that help you to essentially raise the IQ of your gut from a dumb gut to a smart gut.
[0:40:24.7] MB: And you know I can hear a listener now thinking or saying to themselves, “How is that something as simple as coriander and fennel seeds can have such a positive impact on my micro biome?” so how do you think about that or how would you address a listener who might be thinking something like that?
[0:40:44.8] KC: One thing that I have found in life and especially as I have gotten deeper and deeper into Ayurveda is that these simplest interventions are usually the most powerful and the more complicated we get with things, I mean if you look at just the complexity of our food sourcing now, what are often times recommendations people give when they want to get their health? They say, “Go back to eating really simple foods”. Go back to practicing really simple habits.
So simplicity is quite powerful and given the way that we live can often times be very difficult. So even when it comes to relationships for example just the power of something like forgiveness can be so unbelievably transformative but it’s not necessarily and easy thing to do. So why would something so simple should have a great benefit? Well this is one of the things we’re asking even as a scientific community. So take turmeric for example.
Scientists in America are starting to identify turmeric as potentially being one of the main spices in Indian cooking that has helped reduced Alzheimer’s disease in the Indian population by 75% compared to the US population. So why are these individual foods essentially so powerful? The reason is unlike our medications that have only one effect, so they go in and they have a single unilateral effect. So they will effect one particular bio chemical reaction and only in one direction.
With these food and with these spices have the capacity to do is to change hundreds if not thousands of different biochemical reactions but not in a unilateral way. In other words, you can look at it as a scripted intelligence in food that goes in and actually interacts with your biochemistry, interacts with your DNA and describe it as have a conversation with your body to determine where is it most needed. So if we could create a pill that did that it would be unbelievably powerful.
Another example is just simply looking at a study done with a particular type of mice that is genetically developed to have diabetes, have high cholesterol, have heart disease and all they did was feed the pregnant mice B12. That’s it, just a B12 vitamin and what they found is that the babies even though they still have the genetic mutation for all of those things didn’t have any of the disorders. So why are these simple interventions so powerful?
Because they actually go in and interact and communicate with your body and then set forth a chain reaction that has the ability to benefit so many different cells through your body rather than just simply going in like our medications do and in fact, one particular reaction always in a unidirectional way.
[0:44:01.2] MB: In many ways that almost mirrors the highly focused approach of western medicine to intervene and solve one particular thing as oppose to the broader holistically integrated approach that you are describing.
[0:44:15.5] KC: Very much so and it’s interesting because as we start to study these Ayurvedic supplementations from the western standpoint like we are starting to study turmeric, Ashwagandha, Boswellia, so many of the different herbs it makes me laugh just a little bit because you know they’re finding all of these benefits but as an Ayurvedic practitioner, we would never give just a single herb. We’re always giving multiple different recommendations at the same time.
So even though the scientists are absolutely amazed by the results, in terms of an Ayurvedic protocol it would be considered a very, very weak protocol because we always give multiple interventions at the same time that are all synergistic making it even a more powerful response.
[0:45:02.9] MB: So one of the pieces from the book that I struggled to grasp and understand and I am curious to get your take on it, I totally follow the parts about the micro biome and how it impacts our mental health and the vital importance of really cultivating a really healthy micro biome but the part of the Doshas, that to me was the part that I really struggled with. Tell me a little bit about that and how you reconcile that piece of it with sort of science?
[0:45:33.3] KC: Absolutely. So we’re starting to find out even in science through the field of epigenetics is that genes can be altered by the environment. In other words, you come with a certain percentage of genetic expression that would have a certain typical expression. So a certain type of physical expression but that the environment can interact with your genes to change that expression. So I look at the Doshas as essentially ways in which the ancient Ayurvedic practitioners were able to describe this process of a genetic predisposition interacting with the environment resulting in certain characteristics.
So it’s really looking at the mind, body and emotional types as they interact with different stresses in the environment, different elements in the environment and again, what was so amazing about this and especially as I started going deeper and deeper into the field of epigenetics and again, I really look at Ayurvedic medicine as the original lifestyle medicine and so even the way that they described epigenetic changes, we see that in the different Doshas when they’re exposed to different environmental factors.
The way that I really saw it in my own practice was even just how the seasonal changes would cause certain neurological conditions to be worst. So in certain seasons I always saw migraine headaches would suddenly become much more aggravated. In other seasons, we would see peripheral neuropathies get much more aggravated and this explains again how the Doshas were interacting with the environment to bring about certain imbalances.
And so we actually started to proactively in our clinic send out emails to people who had migraine headaches one season prior just reminding them that this season has this impact. So it’s really nothing more, how I see the Doshas is it’s really nothing more than looking at how your genes are interacting with the environment including what you’re eating to create a certain physical, mental and emotional outcome.
[0:47:55.5] MB: So for me, I struggled with placing myself within a Dosha. I feel like my answers were very mixed with some of the different segments and so maybe that is part of the reason I struggled with as a framework because I felt that some of the answers were like spot on describing the way I felt about something but then the same answer for that Dosha for another one would be completely the opposite of the way that I think or feel.
[0:48:20.1] KC: Part of it is most people have more than one dominant Dosha but you can also have a Dosha out of balance that it’s not your original genetic makeup and so those quizzes are really there to give you just a general introduction into the Doshas but the way that you actually answer this question is through an evaluation with an Ayurvedic practitioner. So the quizzes are just a little glimpse into that window but when you sit down with an Ayurvedic practitioner they do a full examination.
They do a full history and then they also do what we call pulse diagnosis and through that process, that’s actually how we determine which Dosha is out of balance and which one we need to work on the most. So that’s explains why a lot of people when they take the test they’ll feel a little bit confused but again, it’s meant to be just kind of an example of how they Doshas may be expressed in your life but the true diagnostic tool is always sitting down with an actual practitioner to determine it.
[0:49:24.2] MB: And just for listeners who have been listening to us for the last five minutes wondering what we are talking about, I’ll give my brief description but essentially my understanding is that Doshas are an Ayurvedic method that looks at different body types based on your weight and are you hot, are you cold, etcetera and prescribe specific diets around how to balance that depending on sort of different types of your body. Is that an accurate description or how would you describe that?
[0:49:53.6] KC: That’s a partial description but the Doshas are actually tendencies in nature and because we’re seen as a part of nature, we have those particular tendencies as well but you can describe the different seasons in terms of different Doshas. You can describe different plants in terms of the different Doshas. So it goes beyond just a description of the human experience to more of a general description of nature like even the ocean has certain tendencies like being around the ocean.
Your body will change in a certain way so it’s described in a way to have more than one particular Dosha than another. So the Doshas are really just an aspect of nature but what we attempt to do in Ayurvedic medicine is to determine which Doshas are out of balance and bringing them back into balance using different lifestyle recommendations.
[0:50:47.3] MB: You know one of the last conclusions that I just wanted to touch on because we haven’t really directly stated this which I found fascinating about your work, you embarked on this path of Ayurvedic medicine first to discover sort of the under pining cause of many different mental health problems and neurological problems and yet one of the biggest side effects of that, the interventions that you recommended was that people actually had a huge amount of weight loss as well. Can you just talk about that then describe that for a moment?
[0:51:18.2] KC: Sure, so I would have never guessed as a neurologist I would write a book that on the cover is advertising weight loss but what I found is my goal and the whole reason I created this program was for my neurological patients and the goal was really to change the micro biome, to remove these toxins from the body so that neurological disease can begin to heal and through the process what so many of my patients would say and these are patients that had weight to loss.
I often get the question of, “I don’t have to lose weight. If I do this will I lose weight?” I’m like, “No, this is only if you have weight to lose that would it make you lose weight. If you don’t have weight to lose, it will just help to increase your energy and improve mental clarity and get all the other benefits” but one of the things that my patients would routinely come back and say is, “You know I started this and I lost 20” 30, 40 pounds. “If you would have told me this in the beginning, I would have jumped on even faster”.
And so even though it’s a program for neurological repair, it was the weight loss that got people most excited and so there was a point in the process for many years I just kind of pushed it aside and just said, “Okay yeah that’s fine so you lost weight but that is really not what the program is about” and there was a point where I finally realized that if I just told people that up front just simply because of the way our culture tends to really focus on physical beauty.
That if I told people that upfront they were even more motivated to begin. So I just decided instead of try to fight the current just to jump in and say, “Yes this will help you to lose weight” and that became one of the main reasons that people then became so compliant with it and the weight loss was not – I should say this, it’s not that it was unintended. It was just spontaneous. They weren’t trying to lose weight, it’s simply that as your body detoxes, as your micro biome changes weight comes off.
[0:53:23.1] MB: So what would be a starting piece of homework that you would give for a listener who wants to implement some of the things that we’ve talked about today? Kind of a first piece of homework for them to begin down this path?
[0:53:35.5] KC: Well the reason I wrote the book was it really contains all of the fundamental principles to understand why you need to do this and then gives you a tremendous amount of guidance of how to approach a program. So the book is a really starting point but for those who say, “Even the book would be too big of a step first” I would simply say start with the Triphala. It is very easily available. The brand that I use is from Mapi it’s called Digest Tone.
It’s just Triphala and just start with that. Start with one tablet in the evening and then start with two tablets in the evening if you feel like you need to go up to two and just start with the tea recipe. Just those two simple interventions have such a profound healing effect and I think for most people once they start that, they say, “Hey this is actually working and I am not working hard at it. It’s taking me a total of a few minutes a day to implement this. I want to learn more”.
[0:54:39.9] MB: And where can listeners find you and the book and all of these resources online?
[0:54:45.5] KC: The book is very readily available on Amazon and I have a website, drkulreetchaudhary.com and I usually post all of my information there and I do consultations at the Chopra center and I will be there from now until next May and so you can call the Chopra center in Carlsbad California to schedule an appointment and then starting next May, I will actually be moving to India to head up an international team of physicians and scientists and ayurvedic wellness center where we’re going to be doing even deeper research into how to repair the nervous system using some of these even more ancient techniques from ayurvedic medicines.
I’m very excited about that and I’ll continue to write but from now until next May, I will be available at the Chopra center.
[0:55:41.4] MB: Well, Kulreet, thank you so much for coming on the show and sharing all of this wisdom, there are some really interesting takeaways and I think the fundamental conclusion that our gut impacts our brain health and our mental health.
So much more than we know or realize is really powerful. Thank you for coming on here and sharing all of this.
[0:56:04.0] KC: It was my pleasure and Matt, I have to thank you. You asked really intelligent questions and I always appreciate it when somebody comes in armed with these very well-thought out questions. It really made this quite a bit of fun for me.
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