Why Gut Health is The Key to Overall Health


Why Gut Health is The Key to Overall Health

In this episode, we’ll hear from gut health expert, Dr Vincent M. Pedre, author of Happy Gut, and Medical Director of Pedre Integrative Health, a private functional medicine practice in NYC.
We discuss:

  • why gut health is the key to overall health
  • the healthiest way to consume probiotics
  • what you need to know about leaky gut (and why you probably have it)
  • why the key to healing any illness – especially auto-immune disease- starts with the gut
  • why wheat is problematic…for everyone, even if you are not celiac
  • how your favorite foods could be causing your digestive issues or even making you feel depressed

“A lot of chronic disease is connected to inflammation, and the biggest possibility for inflammation is the gut, based on how we eat…”

Food affects way more than our weight. Certain inflammation producing foods can also up our risk for all sorts of chronic illness and disease.

Dr. Vincent Pedre

Dr. Vincent Pedre

Functional Medicine Doctor & Gut Health Specailist

Dr. Pedre is a wealth of information. We met right before his Happy Gut book launch a couple years ago, and he has referred clients to me over the years. If you have digestive issues, I highly recommend you listen, check out his book, or go see him!


Maria Marlowe: [00:00:07] Welcome to the Happier and Healthier Podcast. I’m your host, Maria Marlowe, and this is a place where we don’t rely on good luck or good genes for our health and happiness, but rather we create it with thoughts and our actions each and every single day. Each week I’ll bring you a thought or a guest that will help you live your happiest and healthiest life. Are you ready?

Maria Marlowe: [00:00:33] I’m excited to introduce you guys to the first guest on the Happier and healthier podcast. It’s a friend of mine, Dr.Vincent M. Pedre, who is an amazing medical doctor. He has his own private practice in the Upper East Side in New York City. And he is a gut health specialist. He is a clinical instructor in medicine at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. He’s also certified in yoga and medical acupuncture. He believes that gut is the gateway towards excellent health. And that’s why he wrote his book, Happy Gut: The Cleansing Program To Help You Lose Weight, Gain Energy And Eliminate Pain. He is so knowledgeable about all things health and gut health in particular. So I’m very excited to share his insights with you guys.

Maria Marlowe: [00:01:17] Thanks for being here today. Dr. Pedre, you are the happy gut doctor. And in fact, we met a few years ago right before you published your book, Happy Gut. So I’m just going to jump right in with the questions and start off with why gut health and why is gut health is the first place we should look if we want to improve our overall health.

Dr. Vincent Pedre: [00:01:38] First of all, thank you for having me on their podcast. I love seeing the work that you’re doing and spreading the message of health. So the gut is, if you think about it, it’s our biggest contact with the outside world. It’s our inside outside world with this galaxy of microorganisms. And I say a galaxy because there are 100 trillion of them inside of us and we have about 400 billion stars in the Milky Way. So there’s more bacteria in our gut than it stars in the Milky Way galaxy. That is really, it’s really insane because I tell people, you know, you’re carrying your own personal galaxy inside which I think it’s a beautiful way to think about it because we’re not alone and that microbiome interacts with our body in so many significant ways. It is part of the reason that the gut is so central to our overall health and well-being.

Dr. Vincent Pedre: [00:02:34] Also, the immune system, 70 percent of the immune system is all along the gut lining. So what we find is that a lot of chronic disease that we know as their end organ damage, diabetes, the pancreas, liver disease, fatty liver, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, which is all… Everything is connected to inflammation. And our biggest, biggest root for inflammation or the possibility of inflammation is the gut, based on how we eat the types of foods, toxins, pesticides we encounter on a daily basis. I mean, the surface area is huge. The small intestine is about the size of a doubles tennis court. So little bigger than you know, if you think of that outside lines, not the inside lines of the tennis square, that is a huge surface area of contact with the outside world. And also shows you the potential for developing inflammation anywhere along that surface area based on how we eat.

Dr. Vincent Pedre: [00:03:41] But the remarkable thing is the interaction with the microbiome and all the different nutrients know we get Vitamin B12 from the microbiome creates Vitamin K. But the microbiome also speaks to our immune system and helps keep it in balance. If we have the right type of critters in there and if you have something called a dysbiosis, which honestly most people that I see are suffering from some level this dysbiosis because everyone’s been on antibiotics at some point or another. And more remarkably, to think is that even stress can trigger a dysbiosis, which is again an imbalance between the good and bad bugs in the gut, and that dysbiosis and can lead to inflammation and inflammation that enters through the gut. For example, in the form of endotoxin, which is a molecule on the surface of gram-negative bacteria that live in the large intestine. So as they die, they release this lipopolysaccharide and if your gut barrier is more permeable. So we all talk about leaky gut. I think, you know, it’s a it’s a common term. And I I use it, but I don’t like using it because I think that the visual, on the visual effects of thinking something’s leaky is not quite accurate. It’s more permeability issue.

Dr. Vincent Pedre: [00:05:07] So the gut can control the level of permeability, almost like a dimmer switch on your lights can make your God more permeable or less permeable. Obviously you don’t want an impermeable barrier because we need to let nutrients in, right? We need minerals. We need amino acids, we need fats. But you don’t want it to be too permeable where then partially digested proteins can get in, yeast can get in other micro-organisms or like I said, the lipopolysaccharide which can ride into the bloodstream. And it triggers a really strong immune reaction. And interestingly, they found that they call this endotoximia. If you you can measure endotoximia. And in experimental models endotoximia will proceed in the development of diabetes and obesity. So it’s almost like a predictor. And going beyond that will cause endotoximia is a gut barrier that’s become hyper permeable.

Dr. Vincent Pedre: [00:06:11] And what caused hyper permeability? Well, our modern life, antibiotics, stress, exposure to toxins, medications like non-steroidal anti-inflammatories is which everybody has access to because their over-the-counter aspirin, Advil, ibuprofen. These medications increase the permeability of the gut barrier. And your you know, if you take it one day. That’s fine. But if you’re taking it every single day, then, you know, over time you can cause a problem. Right. And so. Because of this large surface area, because of the incredible presence of the immune system and this interaction with this symbiotic group of organisms that we’ve evolved to live with over thousands of year, years. I think the gut is the foundation of any treatment program for anyone who has a chronic disease, regardless of the chronic disease. If you don’t start with the gut and fix their ability to discern proper nutrients and not absorb things that are bad for them that are inflammatory, you can’t turn off the inflammation that is in the body systemically. So, you know, I like the idea. It starts with the gut. It starts with food. It really does.

Dr. Vincent Pedre: [00:07:38] When I talk about the microbiome and we talk about creating health, it’s not about one thing. And I know we’re gonna talk about probiotics. But it’s really not about one or two or three or four or five strains. It’s about having a diverse representation of a lot of different species of bacteria that together almost like a symphony, create the right melody for your body to be in tune.

Maria Marlowe: [00:08:05] Something that I’ve found so, so interesting about working as a health coach and talking with people on a regular basis is that a lot of people don’t realize that they have digestive issues like you mentioned, you know, a lot of people or majority people. You see how dysbiosis. But you know, I would have people come to me and say, oh, you know, there’s nothing wrong with my digestion. And then talking, you know, here that they’re a gassy, bloated every day or are they haven’t number two in like a week? And, you know, when I ask them who, you know, how come you didn’t mention that to me, it’s because, you know, they say something like, oh, well, you know, I’ve always been like that or, you know, it happens every day. So I thought it was normal. So I break down what actually is normal and when is it time to, you know, see someone like you see a specialist and take a, you know, a deeper look into what’s going on with their digestive health?

Dr. Vincent Pedre: [00:08:56] I am. You can’t see me, but I’m raising my hand. Guilty as charged because I was one of those even as I was going through my health training that suffered from irritable bowel syndrome and a lot of irregularity and unpredictability and intestine was going to behave. But I had grown up that way. So for me, it was my normal. So I thought that that was just the way I knew that wasn’t how everybody’s body was. But I felt that this is just the way my body is gonna be for the rest of my life. And it wasn’t until I really started experimenting with diet and I started to do little by little in medical school because we really didn’t get a lot of health nutrition information. So it was more a kind of trial and error for me, like, for example, taking dairy out and seeing how I felt if I didn’t have as much dairy. But it wasn’t until I got into functional medicine over a decade ago that I realized that what I called my normal was not normal, that it was actually abnormal, and it was because of all the antibiotics I had been on that resulted in dysbiosis leading to hyper permeability and then a sensitivity. You know, I finally figured out a sensitivity to those dairy and gluten.

Dr. Vincent Pedre: [00:10:23] And when I fixed my diet and started rebalancing my microbiome and really changing the way that I had lived my life, I realized that my normal was never normal, that it was a result of everything that I had been through. You know, which as a child on so many antibiotics, you know, with the best intentions of the pediatricians, but unfortunately left me dealing with the sequeala for two decades thereafter. So I understand when people don’t report things because it becomes part of your daily routine that you think that it’s normal.

Maria Marlowe: [00:11:05] Right. And I think the other issue is that there is this stigma around talking about this kind of stuff. Nobody wants to talk about poop or farting.

Dr. Vincent Pedre: [00:11:12] I was gonna I was gonna say that too. You know, it’s not the type of thing like, oh, hey, let me bring this up. Like, hey, by the way, I’m constipated or I get diarrhea every other day. Like, you don’t really want to mention that to someone on the first visit. But I’ve also, for example, had patients who had no gut issues with hunger, but presented with an autoimmune disease. And I go and look at the gods and they have quite a dramatic dysbiosis without reporting any gut symptoms. So just I just wanted to throw that in. There is show that there can be there’s a there will be a huge spectrum. So it could be that people underreport. Sometimes people are less self-aware, so they might be having symptoms, but they’re just not really tuning into them. So sometimes I find out.

Dr. Vincent Pedre: [00:12:05] And then you might have the person who just doesn’t really have symptoms or maybe they’re having so many other body symptoms that they’re not, they’re too distracted by joint pain, mental fogginess, ickiness fatigue. They’re not really tuning into what’s happening in their gut.

Maria Marlowe: [00:12:24] All of those things can be signs, right, that the gut is not in great health.

Dr. Vincent Pedre: [00:12:30] All of these things, joint pains, inflammation, go into the doctor and finding autoimmune markers. All of these are signs that there’s probably something going on with the person’s gut that needs to be managed. So I know I kind of I kind of diverted from the original question because I wanted to talk about, you know, this whole idea of normalcy. And I mean, sometimes and I’m sure you feel this way as a health coach, but a lot of times I feel like for my patients and I’m a body interpreter. So sometimes I’m interpreting for them what their body is telling them. And sometimes they don’t know how to speak that language. And that is you know, that’s part of the gift of what we do, is that we help people become more self aware because that self awareness not only helps them, but it helps us help them better.

Maria Marlowe: [00:13:28] Right. One thing I always say is that we’re never really taught how to take care of ourselves or how to eat and what actually is normal and not normal with our body. Right. And usually we’re getting this information, you know, from the schoolyard or, you know, random Google searches and things like. But no one is really teaching us how to take care of ourselves and what we should be looking for, what’s normal, what’s not. So speaking of this, the question that nobody wants to ask, but everyone wants to know, you know, how often should we be going number two? How long should it take? And, you know, is it normal to be gassy and bloated every day or, you know, look like you’re pregnant every night at 9:00 p.m., even when you’re not? It’s a food baby? You know what’s normal?

Dr. Vincent Pedre: [00:14:14] Well, I would say minimum. And again, understanding that pooping is an essential function of the body that helps it perform a lot of regulatory mechanisms. And one of them is detoxing cause we release toxins through the bile into the poop and then that way they exit the body. It’s also one way for women to get rid of estrogen metabolites. So if you’re constipated, then your poop stays in you for too long. Then those estrogen metabolites can actually be released and recirculated. And then we see a lot of estrogen dominance in women who might be complaining of breast tenderness or just water retention. Feeling puffy a lot of the time. Those are signs of estrogen dominance. And you have to think about going back to are you pooping at least once a day?

Dr. Vincent Pedre: [00:15:08] Someone who has a really strong, they call it gastrocolic reflex where you eat and food in the stomach triggers movement in the valley. You could go up to three times a day with each meal, but I see at least a minimum of once a day is is really, really important. And of course, you know, sometimes depending on what you eat and how it’s been prepared, you might get a little gassy from beans or some other foods. But you shouldn’t feel like you’re pregnant at nighttime at the end of the day and start the day again with your belly flat. And as soon as you eat, you start to feel bloated. That’s a sign that something is going on, whether it’s an issue with the stomach and maybe not producing enough stomach acid or an issue in the small intestine where there might be still growth or bacterial overgrowth in the small bowel would call that sibo or some other type of deciles says even a parasite can cause a lot of bloating and gas and changes in value involvement.

Dr. Vincent Pedre: [00:16:15] So those are all signs that, you know, that’s not normal. That’s something that needs to be looked into to figure out, you know, what is the underlying cause. And of course, are we starting with looking at, you know, how is your diet? Is your diet clean or are you eating too much sugar? Are you eating too much fruit thinking that you’re being healthy, but you’re eating a lot of high fructose fruit that can also trigger a lot of deaths. So there’s there’s different ways to look at it. But, you know, to your question, those symptoms are not normal. And there are signs that, you know, that there’s probably something more going on in the gut than the person may be aware of. The gut. As I said, it’s your personal Galaxy. Gets complex and a lot of things can go on in there.

Maria Marlowe: [00:17:05] Right. You know, I don’t ask these questions because these are questions that I get a lot and I speak a little bit at women’s fitness studios. So, you know, groups of 30, 40 women. And inevitably, the first and the most common question I get is the bloating question. I do feel like there’s really this I don’t know if we can call it an epidemic of bloating. I feel like everyone know a lot of people don’t say everyone. A lot of people experiences. And, you know, as you mentioned, a lot of it is going back to what we’re eating. And, you know, you mentioned for you gluten and dairy. You mentioned sugar just now. What are some things that we’re eating that could be, you know, causing some digestive issues for us?

Dr. Vincent Pedre: [00:17:47] Oh, it could be such a variety of things. But gluten is big there. And the question is, is it gluten, the gliadin protein molecule? For a lot of people, it’s a protein and gluten or is it that gluten is contaminated with glyphosate? A lot of times because it’s sprayed on the wheat plant to help it mature. Is that why people are developing a lot of problems with gluten itself? There’s soy and corn in the US, which 90 percent of it is genetically modified. And there’s different types of modification.

Dr. Vincent Pedre: [00:18:25] Some of them make the plant more resistant to the pesticide glyphosates, which is ending as the. And what we found is that farmers that are using glyphosate resistant crops are going to sprays up to six times as much pesticide on crops than they would otherwise have done because that much pesticide is harmful for a non GMO crop with the GMO crop can take it. So they just douse the crop with, you know, a huge concentration of pesticide. Then you have another type of genetically modified crop that is designed to produce its own toxin, it’s called BT toxin, which is derived from the bacteria in the soil, and it produces a toxin that would kill insects. So they designed the crop. So there’s B.T. Corn and there’s also B.T. potatoes. I think there might be B.T. cotton also.

Dr. Vincent Pedre: [00:19:27] But basically in B.T. corn and every single sound that corn can produce this B.T. toxin in the way it kills insects as it pokes holes in the digestive lining of the insect and was found in an experiment on mammalian cells. And they also do the same thing to millions cells. So just think that if you eat that corn and it’s able to produce B.T. toxin and there’s the ability in our gut with the microbiome to exchange genes. So if by any chance, one of the bacteria in your gut picks up that B.T. toxin producing gene and then starts to replicate. And now you’re auto producing your own B.T. toxin inside your gut that can poke holes and basically increase the permeability of your gut and cause all the problems that we’ve been talking about.

Dr. Vincent Pedre: [00:20:18] Then there are the issues with foods that are high in certain types of sugars like I mentioned, like fructose. So some people are fructose sensitive and can have a lot of fructose rich fruit which can cause a lot of bloating, discomfort, gas. There are people who are lactose intolerant and there are people who are dairy sensitive. So you can be lactose intolerant, which means you you just don’t have enough of the enzyme to break down the sugar lactose. And what happens is so that lactose for dairy makes it into the lower parts of your intestine where it gets fermented by the bacteria, especially in the large intestine, and causes a lot of passengers loading and diarrhea for people. I’m sure people know, like if they have, people, if they have ice cream, they’re running to the bathroom a couple of minutes later. That would be a sign of lactose intolerance. But some people are very sensitive were there they create they they have an immune reaction.

Dr. Vincent Pedre: [00:21:26] And the interesting thing about that is that some people are sensitive to dairy from cows that might be OK with goat or with sheep milk derived products if you’re lactose sensitive, if you’re lactose intolerant. A lot of these people will be OK with an aged cheese because the bacteria in the aging process have broken down the lactose. But what if you have histamine issues if you’re histamine intolerance so people with histamine issues might have a lot of like allergy symptoms and rashes like hives. You might know this if you drink a glass of wine and then you get congested immediately that could be a sign of his intolerance. And these people will not do well with fermented foods because anything that’s fermented or age is going to have more histamine in it. So there’s a lot of there’s a lot of different nuances to consider.

Dr. Vincent Pedre: [00:22:25] And then, of course, women who suffer from yeast infections have to think about how much sugar they’re eating and whether they may be unaware of sugar coming from hidden sources. So like, you know, carbohydrates, refined carbs. So a lot of people asked them, do you eat sugar? And they tell me, no, I don’t eat sugar. And then you start asking them about their diet, do they eat bread, crackers, and they don’t realize that they’re getting a lot of sugar. It’s just not coming in the form that the way that they think of sugar. But it will get metabolized to sugar in the end. And then other foods like legumes sometimes are problematic for people or peanuts, for example. People would realize, you know, legumes. Peanuts are often contaminated with mold. And anybody who is mold sensitive and you might know this, if you have been in a in a moldy basement or in the countryside and you find that you you developed allergies, you start sneezing. That can be a sign that your mold sensitive. So you have to be careful with foods that are high and mold.

Maria Marlowe: [00:23:39] So, yeah, it sounds like, you know, for each of us, it’s different. They’re not really any foods that systematically are, you know, quote unquote, bad for everyone or quote unquote, good for everyone.

Dr. Vincent Pedre: [00:23:49] It depends on an individualized issue by. But what I do see is that there’s been a strong trend here in the US especially, and I’m seeing it also worldwide now towards having issues with gluten. We know that gliadin added molecule by itself increases the permeability of the gut. So overexposure to wheat products might not be the best thing for people forever. Yeah, for everyone, because the wheat that we’re eating today has way more gluten than it used to be. So the gluten load and it’s it’s a protein that’s very difficult to digest. So everybody is at risk to a certain extent. And then it depends on all other factors, like how is your gut microbiome? How’s your lifestyle, you know? So I think, you know, it’s important. Digestion is a relaxed activity. You have to rest to digest and everybody is rushed.

Maria Marlowe: [00:24:57] I love that you said that. We have to rest to digest. It’s so true. I also love that you have an entire chapter devoted to yoga in the Happy Gut book. And you really do talk about all of the lifestyle factors and the importance of really reducing our stress in order to improve our digestive health. But before we talk about any lifestyle stuff, I do want to just kind of go back to this concept or idea of figuring out the foods that do and don’t work for you. And one of the most important things I think that we can do is to keep a food diary so we really know which foods are causing issues for us. And in the food diary, you can track. OK. When I eat this. Am I running to the bathroom or when I eat that? Do I start sneezing a lot? And we can really start drawing the connection between what we eat and how we feel now in terms of the gluten and dairy. Those are two food groups that I find across the board. A lot of people have issues with, myself included.

Maria Marlowe: [00:25:51] Unfortunately, I’m Italian. So there goes my two major food groups. But one of the or one of the first things that I’ll have people do, if I suspect this may be the issue, is to do an elimination diet, to cut out gluten and dairy completely for two full weeks and see what happens to any of their symptoms go away. Do they feel better or do they look better? And then they can slowly start adding the these foods back in one day time and again, seeing taking stock. Are what’s changing their digestive issues coming back or their skin issues coming back? What’s going on? And then that is a really great way for them to see firsthand how these foods are affecting their body. But I’m curious from you. What are some other ways that people can check and see which foods are good for them and which foods maybe aren’t so good for them?

Dr. Vincent Pedre: [00:26:42] In my book, Happy Gut, I have a much broader elimination diet so that it’s much bigger than just gluten and dairy. But, you know, there’s many different ways to do this. And a lot of times I talk about, you know, you have to meet a person where they’re at. And so the type of elimination and the strictness of it is also dependent on what can they manage right now in their lives. You can achieve that. You can achieve results sometimes with just two food group elimination and with the sicker people where you have to probably go a much broader stroke and do a really wide elimination and then slowly bring things back and. And see what they may be reacting to.

Maria Marlowe: [00:27:29] Yeah. And I love your book, Happy Gut. And I want to talk about a couple more things in that. And but first, I kind of want to touch on probiotics. Yeah. Because probiotics are everywhere now. They’re sold as supplements. They’re being added to food products like I’ve seen them in granola, which is kind of funny because there’s also sugar in the granola. Yeah, I’d love to hear your your feelings and your take on probiotics. And do you think that there’s something we should be taking every day? And is it just your supplements or should we be eating things? What should be doing? We be doing the probiotics.

Dr. Vincent Pedre: [00:28:07] This is what I find with my patients. And obviously I see some people who’ve had really disordered guts. And for people with dysbiosis, severe dysbisis, sometimes even also women who suffer from constipation and probiotic can really be the thing that comes in and sense things right. And helps rebalance with what everyone needs to understand about probiotics is that they’re transient residents in the gut. So if you take a probiotic and you stop taking it, the bacteria in the probiotic maybe will last for about another 30 days, maybe Max, 60 days, and then you lose them unless you’re missing them in the first place and you might be able to seed your gut with what was missing.

Dr. Vincent Pedre: [00:28:59] But for the most part, the studies have shown that probiotics don’t seed the gut with permanent residents. But what we do know is that the probiotics somehow, even though it’s not seeding, the gut is speaking with the other bacteria in the gut and creating some sort of balance. But it brings us back to understanding the difference between probiotic and prebiotic. Probiotic is the resident bacteria, the good bacteria that help balance the immune system and create a healthy gut barrier. But ultimately, like I said, diversity is the key to health, and diversity in the gut is key to good health. And that diversity can’t be created just by a probiotic. It is created through our diet, the way that we eat and the way that we live.

Dr. Vincent Pedre: [00:29:49] But ultimately, the types of nutrients that you are taking in, the flavinoids, the polyphenols and those are fancy words, but everybody knows what a pomegranate is and what a blueberry is and what radishes and dark leafy greens. So really covering the spectrum of diversity and colors in the vegetable kingdom, which offers those non digestible fibers that feed our gut bacteria. That’s where a prebiotic is, is basically a carbohydrate that’s non digestible. That’s how you create the diverse microbiome, which creates health. So probiotics have a place in people’s health. And I have some patients who know they’ve been so damaged by antibiotics from decades of having been on antibiotics that they may have to be on probiotics for long term. While we’re working on the diet and promoting through the diet the growth of a diverse microbiome. But take on it can take a while. And we know the microbiome shifts very quickly based on diet changes, a great permanent residency. You really have to be you know, you have to try to maintain this consistency with the diet over time.

Maria Marlowe: [00:31:06] I see some interesting studies and it’s so fascinating how quickly how literally within, you know, hours or days of eating a meal can actually shift that bacteria. It does. Yeah. So, you know, we’ve talked a lot about food. Well, actually, one last question I want to ask you about food before we move on to the other factors and are their top foods. I know you mentioned bone broth a lot. For gut health. What are some your immediate top three foods that we should be eating to nourish our gut?

Dr. Vincent Pedre: [00:31:37] It depends on it depends on the person. But in general, there are spices that are really good for the good and are anti-inflammatory. My favorites are ginger and turmeric, which as curcumin, that’s the active ingredient, which is andTime Cometary Omega 3 Rich Foods also are really important.  They’re inflammatory for the gun and for the body. So things like avocado and for people who can tolerate nuts like almonds, preferably sprouted almonds, which is easier on the digestion or walnuts for example, but also oils.

Dr. Vincent Pedre: [00:32:20] So like olive oil or flaxseed oil, those are also really good sources of omega as you can cook with avocado oil. Also, it has a high heat tolerance. It’s better for sautéing  or coconut oil also is really anti-inflammatory and it’s also has anti candida and anti yeast properties. It’s really, I look at it as a functional food that can be used as part of the go to healing regimen. And I do love the bone broth. I also am a big fan of a really rich vegetable soup because in the soon you’re going to extract all of the minerals and the nutrients from the vegetables. And that’s a good way to help someone heal the gut. If they’re having a lot of, if they’ve had a lot of dysbiosis and inflammation, they might not be able to. You know, this is the person that tells you I can’t eat a salad. I feel really gassy and irritated. That’s the person that you can put them on soups, on really well cooked vegetables. So that makes them easier to digest. But also, you know, as a way to at least get the diversity in through plant. And as you heal their guts, eventually you can get them to eat raw vegetables again.

Maria Marlowe: [00:33:39] Yeah, I love recommending soups. I think they’re just so warming and nourishing and even if you can digest a salad, there’s something so wonderful and nice about a soup because they do, they just make you feel differently.

Dr. Vincent Pedre: [00:33:53] Oh, yeah. I mean, I was telling you, I just went on this four day hike, camping out on the Inca trail and every dinner. They started us with a soup and it was some sort of vegetable soup or Quinoa soup. And after a long day of hygiene, it’s just felt so nourishing to not only hydrate, but just get all the minerals from the soup. It’s just I feel like it. Like you said, it’s one of those things that’s heartwarming. But if you do a soup, you know, it just kind of reminds me of like when your mom makes a soup when you were sick. Like there’s something just really about soups.

Maria Marlowe: [00:34:33] Yeah, they’re very healing. I’ve actually started sometimes I’ll have soup for breakfast recently and increasingly in certain cultures, you know, like even in the Middle East. And I think in even certain Asian countries, they will have soups for for breakfast, which sounds so crazy to us over here who are, you know, grew up on cereal and donuts. But a lot of cultures do actually eat soup for breakfast. And it’s, I find when I do, I’m just so I feel so great and so full and satisfied for hours and hours and hours.

Dr. Vincent Pedre: [00:35:03] I don’t know what it’s called, but when I was in Thailand, there was a dish that they served for breakfast. And it’s it’s kind of like a rice soup, but almost it’s thicker than that. It’s almost like a rice porridge, but liquidy with vegetables. And it was really delicious. And that was kind of like a traditional dish that they eat for breakfast.

Maria Marlowe: [00:35:27] All right. So I know we don’t have too much time, but there were two key things I wanted to touch on with you. One, in your book, Happy Gut, you do touch on the gut brain connection. And one thing that I do here come up a lot with people in both friends circles and clients and in millennial speak in general is depression. And a lot of people feel sad. And, you know, in the book, you touch on how how food and our diet can actually influence our feelings of happiness or unhappiness and and depression. So can you speak a little bit to that? And, you know, maybe if someone is not feeling so, so great, a little blue, like, you know. Are there foods we can maybe add in or take out that might offer a little bit of help?

Dr. Vincent Pedre: [00:36:14] Absolutely. You know, it’s funny. The original title of my book was Happy Gut, Happy Life. And it really is true. You know, if your gut is happy, then your body feels happy. But it’s what the science shows is it’s connected. That gut brain connection. If your gut is on fire, then your brain is on fire. And if your gut barrier is hyper permeable, then your blood brain barrier is going to be hyper permeable, which means a barrier that protects your brain. Your brain has a special situation that is screened to protect them from toxins can come into the body. But once you have a leaky got that blood brain barrier becomes leaky. So all of those inflammatory chemicals that might be produced by your immune system also go to your brain and activate the brain glial cells, which are a form of white blood cells. And so then you get an inflamed brain.

Dr. Vincent Pedre: [00:37:12] And the reason I’m making all these connections is because an inflamed brain is a depressed brain. So you think that it is a mental issue, but it could be coming from your gut and based on the way that you’re eating and a lot of people are depressed, will not be happy with their lives, obviously. And that usually leads to comfort foods, wanting to eat a lot of sugar, mashed potatoes. You know, the typical American comfort foods that. Keep you in that limbo. You’re talking about which foods to take out. Well, sugar is a depressant and it’s a really powerful depressant, but also puts you on a roller coaster and affects your internal hormone balance, which is going to affect your mood. When you’re coming off of a sugar high and you’re craving more sugar, you’re going to feel irritable and you might get moody, you might snap at people after you eat sugar, you’re going to have a crash. And during that crash, you just might not you know, you might feel achy, low sugar. I would say is one of the top moves to avoid someone who’s depressed.

Dr. Vincent Pedre: [00:38:20] Another one that a lot of people use to escape their depression is alcohol. Alcohol is another depressant and affects your liver’s ability to detoxify, which is really important. And so alcohol is another. You know, it’s not really a food, but it’s something that’s so omnipresent in people’s lives that we have to think about that. You know, the sugar in the alcohol is depressants. And then when I was talking about before, the brain is made up of a lot of fat and you need healthy fats in the membranes of neuro cells in order for the brain communicate clearly with itself and be able to transmit signals. So Omega 3s, are so key and important for brain health, whether they are from vegetable sources and if you do eat fish, you eat routine from animal sources. Wild salmon is a really great way to get omega 3s as well or sardines, but there’s also a lot of blowtorches like avocados

Dr. Vincent Pedre: [00:39:29] You can easily and I know you’re a fan of making smoothies. I am to bring in ground flax ground she to this movie or hemp seeds, all related sources of omega 3s which help balance the mood and help the brain communicate better with itself. And all these things are important for handling depression and again it’s you know, it’s going back to the basics, you know, to introduce that diversity in your diet, but also introduce diversity and spontaneity and new things in your life which make life exciting. I think that a lot of people, when they get depressed, it’s because the depression is a symptom of them not really taking care of themselves in some way or not attending to a need, whether it’s a physical need or it’s a mental emotional need. And that’s not getting address that’s allowing them to stay in that depression.

Dr. Vincent Pedre: [00:40:36] So diversity, you know, across the board, I think diversity is so key in the diet, but also in the way that we live our lives and and diversity and newness. For some people, having a pet is important. And I called pets microbiome. Microbiome balancers, because they they bring in their own microbiome and they like you. And they. That’s a way to share the microbiome and improve the diversity of your microbiome.

Maria Marlowe: [00:41:07] And I’m sure they bring a ton of happiness as well. You can’t not be happy when a puppy’s around.

Dr. Vincent Pedre: [00:41:12] That’s been that’s been proven in studies over and over that pets increase happiness. They’ve done this in nursing homes where people get really depressed from the routine and they bring in a dog as a you know, they have these dogs that are trained to be healing dogs and just sad that spontaneity. I mean, a pet presence like brings joy to people’s lives.

Maria Marlowe: [00:41:37] There there’s an organization here in New York City that rescues dogs from all over the country that are going to be euthanized or are just sort of abandoned and left out. And this weekend, I’m actually adopting. We’re not adopting. I’m fostering a puppy for two weeks before it gets adopted. So I’m looking forward to that. It’s called Unleash New York, if anyone’s interested. They’re always looking for people to adopt puppies, and dogs and foster as well. So, yeah, it’s a great organization.

Dr. Vincent Pedre: [00:42:05] I will add, while you have your puppy, let your puppy lick your face and it’s going to enhance the diversity of your microbiome.

Maria Marlowe: [00:42:13] I love it. I want to ask you, so you mentioned that sugar is not great for   really anything. But, you know, a lot of times when people feel sad and they want to feel happier, they want it reach for chocolate. Right. And because chocolate, you know, it as it boost our serotonin, it makes us happier about it has sugar. So what what’s your opinion on that?

Dr. Vincent Pedre: [00:42:35] Well, I mean, there’s so many different varieties of the way that chocolate is prepared now and. I mean, luckily now compared to a decade ago or two decades ago, you can walk into a Whole Foods market or even Amazon and find such a wide variety of organic chocolates that are low in Sugar. I also like raw chocolates and the difference is if a chocolate is preparing raw, what that means is that during the melting and preparation process, the temperature was never raised above one hundred and sixteen degrees Fahrenheit. And what that does is it allows the, it doesn’t destroy all of the anti-oxidants that are present in the cacao bean in the chocolate. So it preserves a lot of the really important nutrients that are found in dark chocolate.

Dr. Vincent Pedre: [00:43:28] So another thing to think about. I tell people, you know, read labels, be careful because there’s a big variety of how how much sugar is in one serving. If it’s one gram in a block and you just eat a block per day or every other day.That’s not a lot of sugar. But again, also think about whether the chocolate does it. Was it prepared raw? Is it a raw chocolate that’s going to have more beneficial nutrients than regular chocolate.

Maria Marlowe: [00:44:02] Yeah, I usually tell people to look for at least 72 percent or above, ideally eighty five percent or above, because that would indicate that it’s a higher percentage of cocoa versus sugar and other ingredients. And then of course, if you can look for better natural sweeteners like for example, a coconut sugar, or sometimes you can find like a date sugar or something, that that may be a little bit better than the refined white sugar. Also, um, stevia. There is stevia. And what Monk Fruit is another one that I’ve been seeing. Yes. I feel if you want to be careful with that, because a lot of times they advertise it as like Stevia and Monk Fruit, but they’re actually using sugar alcohol for the bulk of it, which some people have issues with. Right.

Dr. Vincent Pedre: [00:44:49] Some people develop sugar alcohols like their erythritol can cause dybiosis in some people and cause a lot of gas bloating. So so that’s something to think about. And I was going to say, if if you’re like me, my new discovery in Peru that I had never seen before, and I’m okay with it because I’m not a big bitter taste. So I love all the bitter for instance roasted cacao beans, just dry roasted cacao beans. They are so great, they’re very bitter. So you can eat chocolate, but you’re getting the bitter and no sugar added. But for me, it’s fine because I love bitter.

Dr. Vincent Pedre: [00:45:29] It may not be so great for someone who doesn’t like eating arugula or watercress. They find it too better. If you’re all genetically determined if you’re a low, bitter taster. You know, those people will like the dark, the really dark chocolate, or even if you’re brave enough to roasted cacao bean itself with nothing else added.

Maria Marlowe: [00:45:48] Yeah, I love cacao nibs, which you know, are just the cracked bean. And they are raw, but they are a great top topping and they do give that chocolate flavor. But yeah. Without the sugar. So that’s a great recommendation. Yeah.

Dr. Vincent Pedre: [00:46:02] And there are bitters which is really good in Chinese medicine for the liver gall bladder which is related to agitation and anxiety. So that’s another functional way to use food. If you’re feeling anxious, agitated and like eating bitters can help and energetically balanced.

Maria Marlowe: [00:46:21] All right. Two more questions. Quickly, one first question. So I mentioned before, you’re certified in yoga and you do even devote the majority of one chapter in your book to yoga. As you know, something that aids our digestive health. And, you know, I personal, I’ve actually been doing yoga for a long time. I grew up kind of close to yoga studio, a Bikram yoga. So I used to do that. But I was doing it more as a sport. And because I sweat a lot, I wasn’t doing it for the yoga mindful spiritual part. And it’s taken me a really long time. And tons and tons of teachers and classes, you know, going through to find, you know, for a long time I thought it was boring and I didn’t like it. But to find teachers and classes that I like. So I know a lot of people I hear that a lot of time, like people find yoga is really boring. And I think it’s a matter of finding the right teacher in the right class. But can you speak to a little bit about why is it so important for our health and our digestive health?

Dr. Vincent Pedre: [00:47:17] You know what I think about when when I think of yoga and I think it’s so different from Bikram, because Bikram to me is is kind of like going getting on the treadmill and running, you know. It’s very powerful activating. It doesn’t do the reprogramming that regular yoga can do. And the word yoga means union, and that’s what I think about when I think of yoga as inter-connectedness, yoga is one way for us to really tune in and reconnect with our body. And I think through especially if you find a good teacher, I think the most powerful yoga that doesn’t have to be fast is yoga that is matched rest movement. There is this interconnection between the way you breathe and the way your body moves, which is so important in our time and age where everything is technological. Everything is rushed. We’re losing our connection to our biorhythm, our biological selves.

Dr. Vincent Pedre: [00:48:23] So I think that in our crazy high speed world, I think even more important than ever before is having something that is the counterbalance to that that really helps you slow down and listen and tune into your body. But like I said, digestion is a relaxed activity, so if you can use it, increases your parasympathetic input, the part of the autonomic nervous system that balances out that fight or flight response sympathetic, that’s really important to have a healthy digestive tract. And also just a healthy mental attitude. You know, anybody who has been put through a course of meditation like they find it improves in kids and improves their scores, their exam scores for people. It improves their productivity at work. It’s so fascinating to see that actually slowing down and doing nothing. But you really are doing something. I know some people are quite active there, but you. Meditation is a very active process in the brain and it creates new neuro connections and even increases the length of the telomeres, which is when ages. So meditation is anti-aging.

Maria Marlowe: [00:49:41] You had me at anti-aging. That right there is a reason to do it.

Dr. Vincent Pedre: [00:49:46] So, you know, and I think, like you said, I trained as a yoga teacher then I think for anything and everybody, if you find a teacher that speaks to you, that speaks the language, that really resonates with you. And that also makes a huge difference. So if you go to one place and you don’t like yoga, well, don’t blame it on the yoga. Maybe it’s just the style of the teacher. I with you and you go and you find another teacher. You might find someone who really has a flow and a style that feels good for you.

Maria Marlowe: [00:50:21] No, I totally agree. And I found this a few amazing teachers in L.A. and it’s so good that I’m considering moving to L.A. so I could go to these classes and shop the farmer’s market, of course. But yeah, it’s it’s really something special when you do find a yoga practice and a flow that you like. I literally sometimes walk into this class like feeling high. That’s it. And two hours go by and like, you know, two seconds, it feels like. And it just totally resets me for the entire day. And when I was doing those classes, I never felt never felt better. So I love that you incorporate that into, you know, what you what you teach and preach.

Maria Marlowe: [00:51:01] So last question, and this is a question that I ask everyone who comes on my show. You know, I think, you know, our listeners, we’re always striving right to live healthier lives and happier lives. And we talked about so, so many different things that people can do and implement in our life to to feel better. But, you know, in your opinion, what is we didn’t have to already mentioned it, but what is the one most important tip or habit or action people can take to help them live a healthier and happier life?

Dr. Vincent Pedre: [00:51:31] I have to say, from my experiences of having gone on these trips where I connect with nature to the Grand Canyon in the middle of the summer and now to Peru, is getting out in nature more like because that helps us connect with our own humanity and our biorhythm, which I think is so important. And I know I give so many tips already in this pod so I wanted to say something that was different. And I really just encourage people to get out there and get out in nature in whichever way that you like. I mean, I am one that I am just as happy in the mountains as I can be on the seashore. Those places enrich me. And I gain energy from from the waves on the sea shore, just from the forests out in the mountains. And I think that’s a missing element in our lives, especially for people who live in urban areas and cities of New York City like I do, is remembering that we are biological beings and it’s important for us and the earth and with plants and just beat outdoors. And that’s part of creating health in a holistic fashion.

Maria Marlowe: [00:52:55] I love that you said that, because I do also feel that nature is such an important part of health. I know personally I’d go crazy without it. Here in New York City, I have to get to Central Park on a regular basis or I will literally go insane. But that’s the great thing, that no matter where you live, even in a big city like New York City, you can typically find some grass and some trees somewhere. So I definitely agree with you there. I also will point out that this whole concept of nature bathing is becoming more popular. It’s something that started in Japan and it’s essentially just spending time in nature, not running, not hiking, not meditating, like literally just spending time in nature and, you know, just walking and inhaling the beautiful fresh air and just being calm and peaceful. And signs and research is showing that simply just being in nature is really, first of all, calming. And secondly, it actually does boost our immune system as well. So I’m all with you on that.

Dr. Vincent Pedre: [00:54:01] Absolutely.

Maria Marlowe: [00:54:02] Thank you so much for being here. Dr. Pedre. So Dr. Pedre’s Website is happygutlife.com And he has this amazing three day meal plan to help start healing your gut, which is that happygutlife.com/gutreboot. All one word. And I’m going to link to both of those below.


Maria Marlowe: [00:54:22] Thanks for tuning in this week. If you enjoy it and got value from this episode, I’d be so, so grateful if you can take just one minute to live an honest review on i-Tunes as that will help us reach more people and get incredible guests on the show to say thank you. Email a screenshot of your review to [email protected] and we’ll send you a free three day healthy eating sugar detox meal plan. After each and every episode, I encourage you to come say hi on Instagram at @mariamarlowe. That’s M A R I A M A R L O W E or in the private happier and healthier podcast group on Facebook. In both of these places, we can continue the conversation about today’s episode, so come and share what you think. If you want more you can also head to mariamarlowe.com Or you’ll find tons of healthy recipes. Meal plans and resources to help you live your healthiest and happiest life. Lastly, if there’s someone you know could enjoy this podcast, make their day and mine and send it to them now. Until next time. Don’t forget, health and happiness are a choice. Our thoughts become our reality. So make sure you’re thinking up a masterpiece.

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