Jillian Teta: Digestive Health 2.0

Jonathan: Hey everybody, Jonathan Bailor back with another bonus SANE show and I am very excited about today’s guest because she has a place near and dear to my heart not only because of who she’s related to but also because she attended university at a university that’s very close to my house. It was actually next to a park that my wife and I frequent on a recurring basis, Bastyr University, she’s the author of the brand new book, Natural Solutions for Digestive Health, Dr. Jillian Teta, welcome to the show.

Jillian: Hey, thanks Jonathan, thanks so much for having me, I really appreciate it.

Jonathan: Oh it is my pleasure. You’re out there championing digestive health and other Metabolic Effect goodness and you went to school right in my neck of the woods. So before we get into the book, tell me how you started on this journey.

Jillian: Wow, all right. So I went to Bastyr University, I started there in 2003 and I actually came to find out about naturopathic medicine actually because of a puppy that I had. This is really kind of a long, crazy story but I had this like really special type of puppy and the breeder of the puppy said, Well I have this other lady, she’s thinking about getting a dog for me, would you mind talking to her, and I was like, Sure. And it turned out that the lady who called me that was interested in the puppy was a naturopathic doctor and I had no idea about this branch of medicine, found out about naturopathic medicine, went to school, I went out to Bastyr at St. Ed’s Park and the rest is sort of history. When I finished, I moved to North Carolina to join Keoni and JT [at?? 01:37] their practise and then we’ve just been going ever since.

Jonathan: That’s awesome and folks, if you don’t know obviously Keoni and Jade and Jillian here and also Jade’s wife, Jill — I’m learning all the names, look I just nailed that man, I drink some coffee before the show.

Jillian: Got it, got it.

Jonathan: And they are over at Metabolic Effect if you haven’t checked out Metabolic Effect and the new — I’m totally [buffing?? 02:00] the original book name, Jillian, what is it, The New Me?

Jillian: No, it’s The New ME Diet and then their second printing they called it, like, The Metabolic Effect Diet, so you’re right, I mean it’s — you got it, yeah.

Jonathan: So, that is excellent, check it out if you haven’t already, and then also the newest in the arsenal of Metabolic Effect book offerings is your new book, Natural Solutions for Digestive Health and digestive health seems to be the new hotness.

Jillian: Yes, you know, I’m glad it’s the new hotness because we desperately, desperately need it as the nation, you know. GI complaints have just skyrocketed over the last 50 years and really this book was born because I saw so many people at the clinic that needed help. And so I started developing the program based on good, like, functional medicine and then the book kind of sprang from that.

Jonathan: So Jillian, what is the — because I sometimes I hear from folks, we have this general guidance that is becoming popular, eat like your grandmother ate, something like that. Okay, well, my grandmother sought of existed when my grandmother existed and so did cakes and pies but not everyone had GI problems, so, like, what is it about — what’s happening today that’s causing all of these GI problems?

Jillian: Yeah, it’s a great question. So, I think in a nutshell, even though it’s kind of a complicated, multi-layered answer, that the crux of it really is, it’s our environment. And by environment it’s not just like, you know, the sunshine and the birds and things like that, we’re talking about not just like the food that we eat, the water that we drink, but also the soil that the food was grown in. So our external environment, if we think about what’s been going on there, we have new, thousands and thousands and thousands of new chemicals every year being put in, just at an unprecedented rate. Our grandparents did not eat the amount of processed foods that we eat, even though, you know, they had sugar and flour and soda and all of that stuff, they weren’t eating quite the volume. So I think we eat too much of the wrong foods too often and then we have a ton of internal stressors.

Our grandparents were faced with — they dealt with stress differently than we do, and I think that that’s also an enormous part. So I think that it’s multifocal; I think it has a lot to do with the food, it has a lot to do with the new toxicants that are in our environment and I think it has a lot to do with our internal stressors and the fact that our digestion as a nation has weakened makes us more prone to pathogenic infection and just more functional bowel disorders than we’ve ever had and that’s evidenced by things like Irritable Bowel Syndrome, I mean the rates of that have just been exponentially growing in the last fifty years.

Jonathan: I love this focus on — broader focus on things besides food because I’ll get a little bit personal here for a second. Obviously folks know that I’m very tuned in to what I eat and I try to eat very SANEly and healthily but I have just had a long and drawn out history of digestive problems because I have gastritis and was on a very strong medication to prevent getting ulcers and that was just calling — [05:00] causing all sorts of nonsense, so how much of this is also stress related, medication related, things like that?

Jillian: Yeah, absolutely, so most — about half of the people in this country of all ages are on some type of pharmaceutical drug. So that aspect of our environment is huge as well. But when we think about digestive health as an entity in its entirety, it’s not just about food. It’s also about our ability to digest food, I call that our digestive fire, like the ability to break down protein, carbohydrates and fats with stomach acid and enzymes and bile; so we have to consider that. You could be eating a diet that’s absolutely perfect for you, you know, low allergen and you’re avoiding all your sensitivities and it’s whole foods based and it’s wonderful but if you can’t break down your food because you’ve been on an acid blocker for three years, you’re going to have impaired digestion. Also, we have to consider the health of the microbiome, which is our colony of beneficial bacteria that live in our large intestines.

These guys act like an organ unto themselves. They provide dozens, hundreds of functions for us. We’re still learning what they do for us, not just in terms of digestion but also our blood lipids, even our body composition, our propensity to develop neurodegenerative conditions, our state of mind, those things. Next, I’m just of sort of like moving down the list here, the integrity of the lining of the GI tract is huge, so, gastritis, you know, issues in the stomach we’re going to — issues in the esophagus, the stomach, the small intestine, the large intestine, all the way down, you want that lining to have good integrity. And then you want the enteric nervous system which is the nervous system that lives in the GI tract, you want that to be balanced and healthy too. So there’s a lot of layers there, there’s a lot of consideration there beyond simply diet. Although diet is a big piece of that, it’s not everything.

Jonathan: And so what are some — I can imagine like most things in life, this is very customized, it’s going to be very case-by-case specific, but, I mean, there’s been a lot of talk about probiotics, there’s been a lot of talk about grains, what is — is there an eighty-twenty here in terms of digestive optimization?

Jillian: Yes, so that’s a great question. My gut restoration program, I typically have people doing intervention for four weeks at four week intervals. So every four weeks we kind of reassess symptoms. And the — I do a multi-pronged approach, so that does include an elimination diet of, you know, like the common allergens; so like your gluten, your dairy, your soy, legumes, you know, whole nine yards. I also have people take a probiotic, I also have people take a digestive enzyme if it’s indicated I’ll also have them supplement with acid and I typically have them take some type of leaky gut repair product like GI Revive by Designs for Health or permeability factors or intestinal complex, like there’s a wide variety of those sort of like, quote, leaky gut, but really just small intestine boosting nutrient formulations. And then we work a lot with like lifestyle intervention, like, are you sleeping?

Do you have distance relationships? Like, can you communicate your emotions or your needs to people? Are you overwhelmed? Like okay, you’re overwhelmed, what are we doing for you to help you from feeling that way? So it’s a multifaceted approach. So I don’t know if that answers your question in terms of if it’s an eighty-twenty. I think when — with people with chronic like with — with a [sic] emergent GI issue, like, they’re having symptoms and they need it to be addressed, I tend to do a fairly focused but sort of strict intervention for a set amount of time and then reassess and then go from there.

Jonathan: And what is the —

Jillian: Hopefully along the way —

Jonathan: Go ahead, I’m sorry.

Jillian: Hopefully along the way like helping people figure out like okay, maybe they do have a sensitivity or maybe they do need extra enzymes all the time, so through the process you actually do a lot of detective work about your own body and your own system and so you can meet your needs by yourself, you don’t need a coach or a book or this. So that’s like the ultimate goal of my book and program, it’s to just, you know, help people feel better and then also help them empower themselves to feel better.

Jonathan: And at what point — so there must — I would imagine there’s going to be a spectrum of digestive distress. So take me a little bit along the lines of — because it’s very easy to have sort of psychosomatic, Oh everyone’s got gut problems nowadays and there’s some people that actually do have them, so let’s talk through like what is my life like if I have severe problems, what is my life like if it’s just kind of moderate and what’s my life like if I don’t really have to worry about this?

Jillian: Yeah, so basically if you have zero GI distress, like if you don’t notice your GI system at all, you move your bowels regularly, you don’t have any discomfort in your GI system, you don’t have like excessive gas, you’re not bloated, you don’t have gas that can, like, knock somebody’s socks off, you know, you’re fine, that’s fairly — I mean, you’re great. [10:00] If, however, there are any type of GI symptoms, you know, I’m constantly burping, like I feel noxious in the morning when I wake up, like I never know what the bathroom situation is going to be, you need an intervention, I mean, period.

So if there’s any GI symptoms at all, they likely need an intervention for their GI tracts. And then interestingly, certain other problems that might be ongoing or chronic, things like headaches or acne or joint pain, even those aren’t related to the GI system, they often have their origin there. So a lot of different foods, or a lot of different dysfunctions in the GI system like dysbiosis or pathogenic infection can lead to these extra-gastrointestinal effects, meaning outside of the GI system sort of symptoms. Does that answer your question?

Jonathan: It does, it does and I appreciate earlier how — about you saying this message of empowerment, how people are going to need to be able to customize this for themselves because personally, let me kind of tell you my story here, a little bit you tell me if I accidentally stumbled upon a useful approach here, because I mean I’m thirty one years old and I have been struggling with certain digestive problems for fifteen years, I mean, significant. But recently they’ve kind of gone away, so let me tell you what I started doing recently, and I’m pretty excited about this, I hope it sticks.

Jillian: Yeah.

Jonathan: So, first of all, I went off of the prescription whatever inhibitor thing, so I believe it was called Protonix, [that?? 11:31] I was taking some, so went off that, went on Zantac instead because I needed something, I couldn’t just go off it completely. Then I started eating my non-starchy vegetables and protein in smaller, more frequent doses, rather than in bigger, less frequent doses and then when I ate them I — in my green smoothies, I started adding apple cider vinegar and those three things seemed to have made a big difference, is that in my brain or is there something behind that?

Jillian: Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about, so with the apple cider vinegar, you’re enhancing your own inherent digestive fire. And in going from Protonix to Zantac was a good actual stepping stone down because as you begin to, you know, get several weeks and months of stability under your belt, you’re going to be able to come off that too probably. So you did — you’re — and then by eating smaller, more frequent meals, you are in a sense less burdensome on the GI tract for digestion. So, yes, you have stumbled upon something wonderful for you and that’s exactly what everybody should be trying to find their own unique approach in that way. So yes, I love it.

Jonathan: Thank you, I [want to?? 12:45] really highlight too that taking that holistic view of health because there’s — and the internet, the new — the hotness, digestive health is hotness, so is fasting. And I grew up in the body building world so I was always eating frequently, keeping yourself, you know, protein synthesis, all that good stuff and it worked for a while, worked quite well, then I was like, Oh, fast, so I stopped eating as frequently but I still wanted to keep my vegetable intake up so I was just bombing my digestive system with like eight servings of vegetables at a time.

Jillian: Yeah.

Jonathan: And that didn’t work out so well. So again, you kind of have to balance all these different factors, right?

Jillian: And like you said it’s — you’re going to have different approaches even at different times in your life. So someone like a body builder that has GI complaints is going to probably require a totally different approach than someone who maybe isn’t doing that or someone who is sedentary or someone who’s even a crossfitter, so yes, at the bottom line always is it has to be to the individual, otherwise it’s probably not going to work because they’re not going to stick with it.

Like, you can’t stick a round peg in a square hole or whatever that, you know, whatever that expression is, it’s just not sustainable, so ultimately finding the things that work and are sustainable, that’s the holy grail in medicine. And unfortunately our conventional medical practices have really just sort of taken the art out of medicine, they have taken out that, like, unique finesse of tailoring it to the individual and that’s why I really love, you know, functional and complementary and integrated medicine because there’s still is that space in that room for individualized, tailored medicine.

Jonathan: Jillian, let’s explore that a little bit more because I think a lot of our listeners or viewers may not be familiar with just how true what you said is, meaning that, if standard medical care deviates from standard practise or standard care, even if the physician believes — I know many physicians personally, MDs who believe that a lower carbohydrate lifestyle is the way to go, but they don’t recommend it in their practise because they are afraid they’ll get sued. So talk to us a little bit about that.

Jillian: Yeah, it’s true, you know, unfortunately we’re going more and more towards standard of care and if you deviate [15:00] from that standard, you can leave yourself vulnerable to action, you know, to law suits, to action from whatever hospital or clinic you’re based out of, it can be really problematic and really ultimately the people who suffer the most are the clients, you know, are the patients, because they’re not getting the care that they need, because, you know, it requires no thought now to go in and see your doctor, you say, Okay I have disease X, they’re going to give you drug X. You have disease Y, they’re going to give you drug Y, that’s it, that’s it. There’s no finesse any more. Well, I take that back, I never make blanket statements because there are some really excellent, excellent wonderful doctors out there, but in the general trenches, it’s very difficult to get personalized care.

And also it’s hard because, you know, most doctors, they get twelve minutes max with their patients. You can’t — it doesn’t — it takes a lot longer than twelve minutes to figure out what somebody’s eating and what these docs are mostly doing is trying to put out fires, so they’re reviewing your medications, making sure you’re not going to, like, die in the next three months and then they’re like, All right, see you later, I mean, really it’s — we’re kind of laughing and giggling but it’s the truth. I mean, at our clinic we see — or not see, we have residents from Wake Forest University, we have the third year medical residents come through that are training out of the Baptist hospital and, I mean, all they do is put out fires, they just put out fires. So that’s sort of the direction that our health care is going in unfortunately, but we’ll see.

Jonathan: So, some moving back into the natural solutions for digestive health arena, so in the few minutes remaining we have on the show, there’s a lot going on in the digestive arena, what can we look forward to that is unique and uniquely a Jillian in natural solutions for digestive health?

Jillian: Oh goodness, all right. I guess the thing that’s uniquely me is that I really do try to find those individual, best practices for the unique person, okay, but I use it in the framework of covering all of those bases, all of those facets of digestive health, because there are so many inputs into what makes good digestion. In the future, I’m developing — right now I’m in the process of developing a very specific IBS protocol because I’m very interested in IBS because of the — not just the volume of people with IBS that I see but the overall, exponential rate of diagnosis of that and also because it’s so interesting, there are so many reasons for IBS and so it really lends well to — okay, it’s like a detective case, like what’s causing the IBS. So I’m developing my Banish program now, and we’re going to Banish IBS.

Jonathan: I love it, well certainly —

Jillian: So that’s what’s coming up for me.

Jonathan: That deserves to be banished, so that’s what coming up for you, where can we learn more about natural solutions for digestive health, you in general and the whole Metabolic Effect family?

Jillian: Okay, so the book, we actually sold out of our first printing in six days, that’s pretty awesome. It’s available on Amazon, it’s still in Barnes and Noble and like just little random bookstores sprinkled around. I’m on Facebook, facebook.com/fixyourdigestion, I’m also on Twitter and Instagram, my handle is @JillianTeta. I have a [sic] online, do-it-yourself sort of, like, four week gut restoration program that the book is loosely based on, so I’ve got that going on too and then of course with Metabolic Effect we’re on Facebook and Twitter, so facebook.com/metaboliceffect and then Twitter is @metaboliceffect, so definitely check us out there

Jonathan: That’s awesome, well Jillian, thank you so much for joining us today and I really appreciate this additional contribution to the wellness universe because I mean honestly and there’s not a lot of families I can say this about but really, anything you Jill, Jade or Keoni touch is like gold in the wellness world, so folks, again, that’s not a small thing to say but honestly Metabolic Effects is solid, they’ve inspired me for many, many years and I hope they’ll inspire you, so Jillian thank you again for joining us today, it’s been a pleasure.

Jillian: Oh Jonathan, thank you, that’s so sweet.

Jonathan: My pleasure, well listeners and viewers, I hope you enjoyed today’s show as much as I did, again, we have the wonderful Jillian Teta with us, she’s the author of Natural Solutions for Digestive Health, she’s part of the Metabolic Effect family, be sure to check out her work and the rest of her family’s work. And remember, this week and every week after, eat smarter, exercise smarter and live better. We’ll chat with you soon, goodbye.

Dr. Jillian Sarno Teta is a graduate of Bastyr University and the creator of the Fix Your Digestion coaching and online programs. Jillian is an expert in complementary digestive and autoimmune care. Jillian is a national and local speaker on a variety of health topics and is a contributing writer to multiple magazines. Prior to her medical training, she received her bachelor’s degree in Biology from Boston University, and her master’s in Environmental Biology from Boston University. In her spare time, Jillian enjoys reading, cooking and going for walks in the woods.