Zach Bush, MD: The Landscape of Chronic Health Conditions and What Now?

Zach Bush, MD | Very, Very, Quite Contrary

Help me welcome Zach Bush, MD to the Very, Very, Quite Contrary podcast today! I know many of you have listened to the mind blowing dialogue shared on the Rich Roll Podcast because I couldn’t shut up about it when it came out, and I’ve been doing my own deep dive into all the information I can gather from Zach including joining his Intrinsic Health Series Biology Basecamp.

If you aren’t familiar with Zach Bush, yet, the last several minutes of today’s podcast he’ll summarize in a nutshell the current state of our health and how it all comes back to the soil and microbiome and how the work with Farmer’s Footprint will be making massive strides to accomplish the goals.

Meanwhile, the meat of this podcast, we chatted about other health specifics like:

  • What comes first, the inflammation or the damaged cells?

  • Is the chronic disease boom stemming from the same thing? Are we all experiencing the same damage and just expressing it differently?

  • How does emotional trauma fit into this picture?

  • The importance of vaginal mucous at birth and how our microbiome changes soon after

  • Oh and how did Zach Bush’s career start?

  • For those familiar with RESTORE, you’ll be happy to know there’s a discount for 20% off your order with the code P9ZM3P7 (expires 7/10/19)

  • For those not familiar, I encourage you to check it out here!

Listen now:

Janny:
Well, welcome Zach Bush, MD. My husband and I had the pleasure of hearing you speak at a gathering recently just a couple of months ago in California. We had to do yoga with your wife, and we all shared a farm-to-table meal together, and we got to hug, which I know that you're big on.

Zach:
That's right.

Janny:
Can you tell everybody why hugging is a big part of communication?

Zach:
Yeah, that's awesome. Yeah, that was actually one of my favorite days of the year so far. It was a beautiful day at The Luminary Farm there outside of San Francisco in Danville there in California. Amazing day that we had, beautiful sunshine, incredible perfect green backdrop on that farm that day as we saw the spring colors coming across those fields and the rolling hills.

Zach:
The hug is really a profound starting point I think for human communication's concept of maybe energetic and emotional vulnerability. A really powerful foundation to build community on and showing a sense of vulnerability, partnership, camaraderie, and even playing field. A handshake often denoted is the closest we come in a business setting or whatever. A handshake can be as dominating or adversarial as a confrontation verbally can be.

Zach:
Whereas a hug, it's kind of impossible to completely screw up. You've got this moment of like, "Okay, we're going to come into this space. We're going to break down our personal bubbles that we hold so holy most of it, and we're going to let those down, and we're going to let our bodies come together here in a moment of vulnerability and trust.

Zach:
So for that reason, I tend to hug everybody I meet just because it helps me be a more efficient community builder and more efficient I think diagnostician really of human relationship. In the clinic, if I walked and hug everything patient walk in the door, I pretty immediately have a very good read without ever doing a lab test, without ever starting a conversation, or knowing their medical history.

Zach:
I can get a quick read on what is their overall energy level. How much energy their body producing with some metabolic state? How much degeneration do they have in their body? What's their emotional state? I can pick up all and all that in 10 to 30-second encounter with a hug in the midst of it. So, it's a very powerful quick experience of another human, and a quick read on where they're at.

Zach:
In business, it's very powerful because frankly, I'm wasting my time at people that are trying to do business with me who are unwilling to be vulnerable and be at the same playing level that I'm willing and able to be at. I think everybody will find that this becomes a really quick discerning tool, a true tool of discernment in life, to speed up your identification of those people you want in your community.

Janny:
Yeah. Good point. It's a full embrace. It's not a side church hug.

Zach:
That's right. People are simultaneously surprised. I think it was slightly awkward and then incredibly blessed by a hug when they realized, "Oh, this guy's actually giving me a hug."

Janny:
Right.

Zach:
Definitely sets off the guys. Oddly, they often will react. Then, within a couple of seconds, they tend to be so glad for it.

Janny:
Loosen up.

Zach:
Some of my most ridiculous hugs I've had are from a guy whose initial knee-jerk as they go and then they're like, "Oh my gosh, I totally want to hug right now," and they'll get into it. It's a great icebreaker as well.

Janny:
Yeah, totally. Zach, you're triple board certified physician. As a child, did you say, "When I grow up, I want to be a doctor," and you just didn't know you're going to do it three times?

Zach:
No. Actually, I didn't do any of that. I decided I was going to be Lego master as a child, and it's going to be Legos most of my life. Then, that got me into the engineering world and decided I was going to go to engineering school University of Colorado. I applied for Robotics Department there and was very excited to join that project, earn that program.

Zach:
Then suddenly, went to a heartbreak event. My only girlfriend in high school managed to destroy my young and naïve emotionality. So, I was devastated and thought, "I just need to put myself back together." It's kind of funny to look back on your 19-year-old self and be like, "Seriously, that was devastating? You got to be kidding me."

Zach:
Anyway, this is all of that. It was kind of devastated my life and it was enough to just make me want to pause, and it turned out to be a major turning point in my life. I had to decide to take a year off of college. Within a few seconds literally of making that decision, the phone rang and there was an aunt of mine that I vaguely knew who lived in the Philippines and was running a midwifery clinic there of international midwives and said, "You want to come help? We could use some help for six months in our clinic." I was like, "Wow, that sounds totally outside the box and interesting."

Zach:
So, I said yes. I worked, busting tires in the tire shop for six months to raise the money for the trip and got my purse in shape and then took a flight over to the Philippines, and within a few hours was dumped in my first neonatal care clinic. I thought I was just going to be like maybe wash dishes or something. They had me holding these little 14-day-old babies doing hip dysplasia exams and doing these newborn screenings. I was just like, "What the heck? I have no training. You shouldn't trust me with these little things."

Janny:
Right, because you had no medical training at this point?

Zach:
None. None. It was daunting. It was a little overwhelming at first, but 14 days in or two weeks into my trip, that woman who was the head of the newborn screens and midwife was called away to a family emergency back in Canada, so she rushed off. Everybody was like, "Well, you've had two weeks on the job. You should just take this over." I was like, "Exactly, I have two weeks of medical experience. So, I shouldn't be taking over nothing."

Zach:
The bizarre situation with these third world countries was at that moment I was the most experienced people in the room to be doing what I was doing. So, took that on and by the end of six months, I had really seen some of the most extraordinary experiences that to this day continue to shape me. The first baby that I birthed was in the back of a rushing van at about 3:00 in the morning to the streets of Manila, Philippines.

Zach:
Our doorbell was ringing at the house at 3:00 in the morning and this woman was bleeding out. We'd never seen her before. She has severe developmental delays, non-verbal, neurologic injuries herself. She was probably in her 20s, had been raped and pregnant. She didn't understand she was pregnant. She didn't know why she was bleeding, but somebody had dropped her off at our doorstep and rang the doorbell and ran off.

Zach:
So, we stuck her in the van and we're on the way to the hospital. Suddenly, there was a baby coming out into my hands and none of us were expecting that. It was the tiniest baby I've ever seen, this little like two and a half pound premature infant born into my hands, just blue as a blue bottle can be and not breathing. I was overwhelmed. I was stressed to a high degree just masked with adrenalin rush. I'm overwhelmed by the moment.

Zach:
The woman's distressed and crying, not even understanding that there's a baby in the room or anything. Suddenly, that little baby pinked up and started crying in tiniest little cry you've ever heard, and just like a little mouse. It was just so tiny. That remains one of the loudest voices in my life. That little experience and just the injustice of so many layers of poverty, and abuse, and heartbreak, and loneliness.

Zach:
The human level like zero expectation to this little two-pound infant had any shot in life, born into the squats of the Philippines, no mom, no dad, no family, no support system like just doomed. Yet, this child had to strive for life and that has really stuck with me that we have a fundamental drive for life, and we can overcome the most extreme odds because our biology demands it. Our biology demands that we push towards life, that we push towards consciousness. We push towards breath and that's helpful to me.

Janny:
Yeah. What a powerful moment. So, did you decide you wanted to pursue medicine at that point because of that experience in the Philippines?

Zach:
Yeah, I did. I mean, I think I came from that with options deciding to go open. It had been really meaningful to be overseas. I decided just go into a degree with Spanish and learn a foreign language and make that my focus. Then, I really decided I really want to be in developing worlds and all that. Then, push away through the first year, I realized I was having a hard time integrating into the concepts of engineering and all of this because it just didn't have the life within it.

Zach:
So, I had been infected with this kind of experience of life and decided maybe I could be a nurse because I actually hated school, hated taking tests, and so certainly going to college and premed. I certainly did not realize I would spend the next 17 years after that taking tests and doing the triple board certified stuff and everything else just because I didn't realize I was going to hit my stride. I did in medical school some four or five years later.

Zach:
When I hit medical school, it was like a whole new world and found out that I was really born with a purpose. When you're in flow, things that seem insurmountable get so simple and everything starts to make sense. That certainly happened to me through medical school, and that's been a really exciting and fun ride since.

Janny:
So, you're trained in allopathic medicine, correct?

Zach:
Yeah. Allopathic, very western-minded, pharmaceutically-trained, very inside the box thinking that drove me down to those specialties. Internal medicine was my first specialty. That's like general adult care, hospital care, primary care. So, I was running a primary clinic and then doing a lot of hospital care running everything from the cardiology floor, to the pulmonary, to the GI suites, to the bone marrow transplant unit, cycling in and out every month from a different ward through that internal medicine experience.

Zach:
Went on to a teaching a year on faculty there in internal medicine residency, chief resident, and then went on to endocrinology metabolism which is a study of hormones and how they regulate the human body into a cohesive system of cooperative biology and metabolism, was the study of these little guys called mitochondria that live inside of our cells and that was unknowingly at the time what was my introduction into this extraordinary world of what we call the microbiome. These little bugs that live in and around us to care for and drive human biology.

Zach:
So, the mitochondria are little bacteria-like organelles that live inside of our cells. They proliferate in our cells. There's some 200 to 2,000 of these guys live inside of our cells. They produce energy famously, and we're always told the mitochondria is the power plant within the human cell. It's important to realize they're bacteria with a viral DNA, and they're actually more like bacteria that are just digesting food in their environment, and in their digestive process they do make fuel but more importantly perhaps they make their communication networks that coordinates inside the cell repair systems, and replacement systems, and cell suicide if the damage is too severe in the cell and things like that.

Zach:
So, really cool education that dove me into this world of cooperative biology between the microbiome and human cells, and that got me into cancer research. So, I end up developing some chemotherapy protocols and then chemotherapy drugs in the area of vitamin A compounds and nutritional compounds. So, I was doing cancer research lab. I was doing endocrinology, diabetes, autoimmune care and stuff in the clinic, and teaching aggressively.

Zach:
So, I loved it. I loved academia. I thought I was going to stay there the whole life. Then, the universe had other plans again and sent me in 2010 in a different direction again.

Janny:
Yeah, and I remember you speaking about doing cancer research and the cells doing something that you then associated with something else. I think it was like a diabetes patient that you saw some similarities there.

Zach:
Yes. Yeah, that was definitely one of the blinders off moments. I think we all go through life stumbling from one aha moment to the next. This was a big one for me. I was looking under the microscope at a bunch of cancer cells and their infiltration to healthy tissue in my lab. Then I realized I was running late for clinic, ran over to the clinic.

Zach:
Within five minutes, those images still on my mind. I jumped into this exam room and this patient had a diabetic ulcer in their ankle that was infected and early on, so I was debriding this ulcer in clinic and taking out all this dead tissue, and suddenly there was a moment where the tissue sitting in front of me in this person's ankle looked exactly like the infiltration of cancer cells moving in to healthy tissue. These infected inflammatory cells were infiltrating healthy cells in the same pattern, and it was a sudden moment of recognition of singularity of what if there's not really such thing as cancer? What if there's not such a thing as diabetic ulcer which is a bunch of lexicon?

Zach:
What if there's only one thing which is a loss of structure and function due to this acidic inflammatory loss of communication that happens in tissue as it becomes diseased or as health collapses? So, that was one of those aha moments of what if we don't have a million diseases, and we just have a lack of health?

Janny:
Right. So that loss of communication, is that on the cell level? I know you've mentioned where these cells get isolated, and they're lonely, and they replicate. Is that where the inflammation starts? Is inflammation at the root, or is it the cell health, or are they one and the same?

Zach:
Yeah, that's a great question. I'm assuming this kind of famous chicken or the egg things in some ways. The inflammatory process begins I think in an injury typically, and so it can be an acute injury that turns them into a chronic injury. Injury can come in many different shapes and forms. It's bizarre to remember that only 0.001% of human tissue is actually solid. We're made of atoms that are 99.999% vacuum space.

Zach:
So, when you come to terms the fact that the human body is mostly vacuum space and you start to let go of your mechanical Newtonian belief about here's this solid structure of the liver and it's touching the solid liver of the vascular system or whatever, you start to realize there's a much more ethereal reality that starts to paint a backdrop or a canvas on which you can start to understand the many types of injury that we can achieve at a tissue level, and one of these is emotional injury.

Zach:
I would say by large, my current world view is that every significant biologic dysfunction and disorder at the chronic state begins I believe with a major emotional trauma, and those emotional traumas screw up the electromagnetic field in and around the solid portions of the atomic structure. That then as that changes, will modify the interactions of the electrons and the protons, which are the solid portions of the atoms such that their relationships change. We start to get dysfunction at that molecular/atomic level, and that starts to lead to this lack of cohesive communication or flow of energy through a system.

Zach:
A good way of thinking of this in some ways is for those of you old enough to remember rabbit ear antennas on the television, and we actually could change the channel from CBS to NBC. You would go and adjust those rabbit ears almost every time you change the channel. What you were doing in that situation is you're asking the TV antenna to just pay attention to a narrow bandwidth, or a narrow wavelength of information coming through the air to that analog antenna on top of your house.

Zach:
The rabbit ears were used to fine tune that wavelength at each station signal. If they were slightly off, if they were a little bit beyond, or too narrow for the wavelength that you were trying to hit, you got static. That static is exactly what happens at the energetic level of our tissue. So, if you're slightly out of phase of the proper wavelength, if you're starting to get some atomic stretch if you will, from a dysfunction or disruption of the electromagnetic field, you start to create this static-like disruptions in the energetic information flow between systems.

Zach:
Ancient technologies proved this dating back thousands and thousands of years. Before that we had the steel needle, HoShin which was the technology that preceded acupuncture, used the bee stinger to initially map out these electrical patterns in the body which would become acupuncture today. Acupuncture would then proceed with this steel needle to take on a lot of different forms, but I sent a lot of my patients still HoShin because I think there's a lot of interesting medicinal qualities to this. Nonetheless, what the bee stinger or the needle is doing, ends up being a tuning device for those energetic pathways in the body, and so many people over the thousands of years have had such dramatic improvement in health and longevity from this technology that's persisted.

Zach:
Can you imagine a chemotherapy that would survive 4,000 years of technological advances and still be around 4,000 years? There's no way.

Janny:
Right.

Zach:
There's no way. Our drugs don't last more than a decade or two, because we get better. They perfected acupuncture since the day. It hasn't had the need to improve for 4,000 years. It's such an effective tool because it functions down at this energetic level of biology, down at this atomic electromagnetic field flow of information. So, that's where cancer often it begins is with this big disruption and emotional trauma.

Zach:
I think a physical trauma can probably predispose as well, but I think typically that trauma is then has to be followed by the adjacent emotion that would come with it, with fear, sense of loss of function, and hopelessness. You reconsolidate that acute injury with then an emotion trauma that's stored in our tissues and has I think a much more detrimental effect than the physical trauma had at the beginning of this process.

Janny:
So with the emotional trauma, you said that it can store in the muscles. So, could a physical trauma be a trigger for that, that storage, that memory?

Zach:
For sure, and I think many of you have probably experienced this during a good deep tissue massage, or my favorite therapy in this world of bodywork is actually myofascial release therapy or MRT. It's so typical that you'll be in the mix of MRT and they'll be pushing on this little focal point on your back, or on the back of your leg, or on the front of your thigh wherever it is, and suddenly you're having this huge emotional detox. You're just bawling and you don't even know where that's coming from.

Zach:
You don't have a specific memory that you can recall tied to that emotion, but you're suddenly releasing this huge emotional burden that's been carried in this tiny little spot in your body causing severe inflammatory dysfunction downstream of that stuck emotion. A profound experience in one that we need to really pay attention to when it comes to our discussions on how do we prevent cancer, often we need to release negative emotion.

Janny:
Yeah. That your thoughts have that power. What you're choosing to manifest in your mind?

Zach:
That's right. That's exactly right, and the way that you acknowledge self-care. A lot of us are like, "Oh, I need to do self-care. I need to go to the gym, or I need go do my yoga. I got get in my 40 minutes of exercise," but we don't often sit down silently, go to a quite space within us and start to just let go of the emotional things that got logged today. I had this moment of sense of abandonment from my team today.

Zach:
We were on track and then suddenly I was like, "No. They just left me out to hang," and that frustrated me, like acknowledge that and just be, "Okay because that was an event. Now, I have an option. I've got an emotion tied to that event." I can either store that in my body for the rest of my life and it can accumulate with all the other emotions, or I can acknowledge, "Okay, the event happened. I had appropriate emotional response to that, and I'm now going to let go of that because that event is over, and I don't want to carry that in my body anymore."

Zach:
So, that simple exercise of releasing today's emotions and just being that quiet space until we reach some sort of sense of groundedness and sense of, "I'm free again." I'm not carrying a thousand at all emotional reactions with me until tomorrow.

Janny:
I was part of your Base Camp. We get assigned to coach that we have our weekly calls with. So, she gave me the option if I wanted to have some mindful time with her and do some breathing. The second time we did it, she's like, "I can sense that you're tense and you're stressed." She walked me through like nobody has ever done before, just basically coaching me how to quiet my mind and just do some basic breathing, and I started to cry.

Janny:
I'm like, "This is the first time that I can remember in the history of my life, actually having stillness in my brain." Just from what she was coaching me and walking me through, just to be still, and there was a complete emotional release in that moment. It was really powerful.

Zach:
Wow, we did our job there. That's it. I mean, I think that's our calling as humans in relationship let alone and the healing relationship. Healing never comes from somebody else. Healing always come from within, and that's why we call Biology Base Camp or the Intrinsic Health Series. We have this intrinsic health within us. What we can do is unleash that by this moment of silence.

Zach:
The thing that gets me a little weirded out on some level and excited simultaneously is the realization that in that moment that there was complete silence in your mind, and you had that emotional release, that may have been the first time in 40 generations that a woman was given the space to not be in her head for a moment and to let go of all of her care for the world around her.

Zach:
I think that our maternal lines for 40 generations are beyond health and so burdened with do, do, do, do, damage control, damage control, damage control, prevention, prevention, prevention. In that moment, you may have broken a pattern that had existed, and we know epigenetically at that moment when you break that cycle, you just change it for the 40 generations to follow you.

Janny:
You know, the first thing I wanted to do was teach my daughter how to do it. Just like quieting and-

Zach:
Yes.

Janny:
... she does the self-hug or she does, "You're wanted, you're loved." She does it to her dog too. She wants to pass it on as well. It really was really helpful and just hoping quiet my mind and shut it off because I can't. It's hard. I feel the weight of humanity on my shoulders.

Janny:
So just back to the cells though, because we've heard that inflammation is at the root of would you say all or most disease?

Zach:
Yes. Inflammation is at the root of chronic disease for sure, early on in the pathophysiology. I think, first it's this loss of communication where you start to deteriorate in your cell response. The first thing that tends to happen is we start to accumulate inflammatory information or inflammatory damage in the cells. Uncorrected, this ultimately leads to cancers or cancer is just the endpoint of that chronic accumulation of cellular injury that's not repairing anymore because the body's lost or that cell has lost the communication within it that would inspire the repair, where ultimately the program cell suicide or a replacement with a healthy stem cell.

Zach:
So, when you lose that natural regenerative and apparently infinitely regenerative capacity of human cellular structures with their stem cells at task, we start to realize, "Wow, this is really the fundamentals and not just disease, but actually the aging process itself." The aging process is 50% due to a loss of cellular communication and another 50% due to dehydration. Really, that is the human condition in a nutshell is this loss of communication.

Zach:
As the loss of communication accumulates, if the damage gets to a certain point, then we tip into this chronic inflammatory state now that we then breathe the disease.

Janny:
So these chronic conditions, do you think people are just genetically predisposed to expressing them differently? I have PCOS, maybe somebody else is diabetic or ADHD. Are we all essentially having the same issue, but our bodies are presenting it differently?

Zach:
Yeah. I think you're right. I think it's the only way we can explain the fact that at same time in history, autoimmune disease, metabolic collapse with PCOS, prediabetes, diabetes, precocious puberty, lipodystrophy disorders, you go on and on, it's just the metabolics, the cancers, childhood cancers, adult cancers, the autoimmune conditions that I have mentioned out like Hashimoto's with the thyroid, type-1 diabetes, the autoimmune disease of wheat intolerance and things like this. We've got all these inflammatory things that all happen at the same time. Between 1996 and 2011, we saw this explosive rate autism in our children, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's in our adults, all at the same trajectory.

Zach:
So clearly, all of those have much different pathophysiologies in the western medicine training, and yet they all happened at once. So, we have to recognize that there was a single environmental perfect storm that happened over the last 20 years to trigger all of these desperate-seeming conditions in the human population across all genetics. Remember, it's like across all developed nations no matter what of the genomics and everything else. It's not the genes that predisposed us. What's making us vulnerable and why to what, and this is bizarrely ties us back to the microbiome.

Zach:
By 2005-2008, we were starting to decode the human microbiome genetically. So, we are learning genetic analysis on the types of DNA in the human intestines. What we're finding bizarrely, very quickly in groups out of UCSF and other areas throughout the country, we're starting to recognize that there was a correlation between a loss of microbiome ecosystem elements and disease prevalence. It got to the point very quickly where they could say, "Whoa, if the human gut is missing these species, that person is really at high risk for breast cancer. Whereas if they're missing these species over here, it's a risk for diabetes."

Zach:
So, this is really become a whole new world of revelation that human vulnerability to disease is not actually a human cell problem. It has to do with the vulnerabilities in the micro-ecosystem that would support those cellular systems. It's bizarre to realize this, but it turns out that your microecosystem, the microbiome of bacteria, fungi, parasites, viruses that team in and around your body are not at all is limited to your intestines.

Zach:
Doctors, when they think about a microbiome immediately think of the colon or I mean the small intestine.

Janny:
Right.

Zach:
Maybe the skin, but that's about it. The reality is we now know that breasts, the healthy human breast has huge microecosystem that takes care of it. In a healthy breast, we find that again and again, the dominant species is something called Sphingomonas. In contrast, once a cancer cell starts to develop which you have long enough, long standing inflammation and lack of oxygen in a breast tissue, that would then allow a cancer to grow in that tissue. It's Methylobacterium that grows as the dominant species.

Zach:
So, it's just fascinating to realize that our bodies are teeming with microbiome, and the more vulnerable it becomes from microbiome level, i.e., the more antibiotic that you're exposed to, the more sterile you become, the more prone to this collapse of disorder and disease you get.

Janny:
So with the sterile environment, it feels like our kids are being born into more sterile environment by the day from the moment they come out in a hospital. The first thing they want to do is cut the cord and wash the baby. A lot of these are C-sections where they don't even get the vaginal bacteria. Then they get their vaccines, and they're ... Essentially I guess, the goal is to prevent them from being exposed to certain viral loads. What are we seeing now in kids because they are isolated in this "clean" environment? Is this affecting things as well?

Zach:
100%. We now recognize that that C-section birth is the highest vulnerability that you're going to do that kid's immune system over the first year of life. Mom's vaginal flora really sets the whole foundation for the microecosystem for the rest of the life. So for all of you listening, if there's one thing you were to take away from this talk, I would ask that you would remember that if a C-section occurs, make sure that mom and dad are prepared to do a vaginal swab and cover that baby in vaginal mucus.

Zach:
I'm talking about covering that baby. I want all the skin covered. I want the eyes, ears, nares of the nostrils, of the nose, the lips. You can hit the mouth if you want. You got the rectum, get the butt covered, get their toes covered. Just cover that baby with vaginal mucus and probably do that every couple hours for the first day of life because if not born by C-section, that child would have spent many hours within the birth canal.

Janny:
Yeah.

Zach:
There would have been time for that bacterial flora to really set up shop before the baby was exposed to the hospital floor. So imagine, a C-section born sterilely through a sterile incision of the abdomen, no transit down the mom's birth canal, and suddenly that child is put on a hospital bed or on a hospital scale and immediately it starts to inherit just a few species of the highly drug-resistant bacteria that tend to be bred in these hospital settings.

Zach:
So suddenly, that kid has a completely abnormal biome. What happens to that kid? They're very likely to start having colic within the first six to eight weeks. They're kind of inconsolable at night and have irritable bowel syndrome, bloating and discomfort after meals and nursings. That kid then goes on to start to have ear infections by the time they're three, six months old, which immediately get some hit with antibiotics-

Janny:
Antibiotics, yeah.

Zach:
... which of course is so bizarre because the vast majority are viral. So, they get him with an antibiotic and suddenly they're even more deficient of microbiome. Now, by the time they're one and a half, two years old, they're starting to get strep throat because they have all these very few species left to strep and Staph. It's on in the nasopharynx and in the back of the throat, on the skin that can actually survive all this denuding of the antibiotic world.

Zach:
So, they start to get these invasive strep infections, and they get their tonsils cut out, which of course the tonsils are the biggest reservoir of immune and microbiome data in the entire upper respiratory and gut systems only to be reinforced to the appendix at the lower. So, the tonsils and the appendix have long been cut out for many decades of generations saying, "Oh these are just useless chunks of tissue."

Zach:
Now, we realize that is the immune system. That's the entire library of the microbiome for the body, so that if a viral infection occurs, or if antibiotic exposure happens, your body can recover quickly. In matter of weeks, you can go back to the same microecosystem as long as your tonsils and appendix are intact. With those removed, you're much slower in the recovery because you don't have that same data bank stored in these safe havens within the tonsils and the appendix.

Zach:
So, that kid goes on to have a deficient immune system with the tonsils cut out and that kid's going to have very high risk for major depression, anxieties, sleep disorders in college, and then fertility issues as they move into life after that. There's just this steady cascade of inflammatory changes happening over the course of life.

Zach:
After the infertility, and the risk, and it happens the metabolic and stuff, prediabetes, polycystic ovarian syndrome, that whole spectrum there moving into later in life. We get at risk for the neurodegenerative conditions as adults. We got a risk for cancers, heart disease, vas deferens syndrome, all of this. It's just a steady scope of decline if we don't begin at that fundamental foundation of mom's vaginal flora. We should be born vaginally.

Janny:
Yeah. That's one of my biggest regrets about my daughter is I had my holistic birth plan that had a ... If there in event of emergency C-section which is not going to happen, but it did. I wasn't prepared for that. I definitely advocate for people to be prepared in that event because I was over here talking to a girlfriend on a podcast earlier and we're like, "You know, they can do the vaginal swabbing." I'm like "At what age can we stop that? Can I do it to my six-year-old?"

Janny:
What do you do if that didn't happen and you didn't know, and now my child is missing a big chunk of this, the microbiome that was owed to them?

Zach:
The reassurance is that we can move back towards a normal state for age-appropriate microbiome. That vaginal mucus is really supposed to be with microbiome for those first few months, but after that it's supposed to be reinforced and transformed by breastfeeding, and touching the mom's, skin and the skin of the animals around us, and the humans around us, and being held by many adults, and kids alike.

Zach:
So, in contact with all these other beings that we start to really modify and mature our micro ecosystems, the microbiome of a one year old should dramatically different than a newborn. I would say no role in doing any microbiome transplant from mom's vaginal mucus after about probably maybe even a week of age starts to become less relevant. I'd seen that week to three months, if you just at a C-section, I think I'd be tempted to go and deal on that baby. Anyway, I'll take three to six-month time frame. After that, not much sense in that end.

Zach:
The other reason you really need to catch early on is because mom's microbiome changes very rapidly after pregnancy. Your microbiome is really shaped by the progesterone estrogen environment of pregnancy and you'll start to lose that quickly. If you stop breastfeeding, then there's little rationale in doing any vaginal swabbing because your microbiome has shifted away from the appropriate combinations.

Janny:
Right.

Zach:
So after that ... Go ahead.

Janny:
Oh, I was going to say that the mother is also passing through some immunity too through-

Zach:
That's right.

Janny:
... may be what we have been exposed to our immune too. There's a temporary immunity pass through at that stage. Is it through the birth canal? I know there's some through the breastfeeding too.

Zach:
Yeah, from the breastfeeding itself. So, that's where you'll get that antibody transfer through the breast milk. It's interesting though because I know a lot of babies that are not breastfed. They're formula fed and what not. I was amazed that they survived those first six month of life because we've learned a lot about the innate immunity system, and the immune system is so immature anything under six months of age, and yet these kids thrive.

Zach:
So, I have a hunch that we've way underestimated the power of the micro ecosystem to be the majority of our immune system. This whole T cell, B cell, innate immunity that gets all of the credit and all of the NIH funding and everything else. It can't be the main player or else, we'd nearly be dead or dead by the time we're two months old.

Zach:
So, the fact that we have any immune system function there without phase, even if we're being not giving the benefit of breastfeeding, we still survive that time and time again. So, the microbiome is powerful. So, if you're past that couple of hours to a couple of weeks after birth, then the whole microbiome needs to be adopted by that kiddo especially at your six-year-old, perfect example.

Zach:
Her microbiome should look like the trails that are running through ancient ferns and pines in your California neighborhoods. That girl should have the microecosystem of the giant birds that are in the air around her. She has the microecosystem of the lizards that she would pick up in the forest. Their microecosystem should be that of a pine cone that she's sitting there smelling in the woods. So, we now know that the power of diversity is the whole story of microbiome and immune system function in adults, as well as children.

Zach:
So, it's exciting that you didn't completely missed the opportunity to great health in that child because we can make that anew. We can reconnect to nature to get a much deeper. Perhaps the best microbiome she's ever had is just about to happen in the next few months. I'm really bullish on the fact that what I think is incredibly important for those first couple years of life, we haven't missed the opportunity for real microbiome strength and diversity as we move through all stages of life.

Janny:
Yeah, definitely. I grew up running around barefoot all over the place, and she does as well. We got our garden here, and she's getting her hands dirty. So, that makes me happy. We also mentioned in talking about chronic issues. You mentioned precocious puberty, which I didn't know that that was actually a term. Is that early onset?

Zach:
Yup. Some medical term for early onset puberty that's become really, really common in young girls especially, and it's the first signs of insulin resistance in metabolic patterns that can lead to infertility like PCOS and diabetes and the like.

Janny:
Ever since I had my daughter, I had said that this is my goal and I always got strange looks with that. I would be really proud of my daughter's health if she made it to 14 or 15 before her period started. What is early onset and what would be considered normal at this point because I know I've read studies of five, six, seven-year olds starting with their period that early.

Zach:
That's right. That's the official precocious puberty before age 10, I think your diagnostic cut off. You're nine, 10, eight, nine-year olds having periods is obviously extreme abnormal. I would argue that is probably abnormal under the age 12, but in that 12 to 15 zone is kind of the normal bell curve. A few girls get it by age 12. Most of them start to kick in 13 to 14, and then there'll be some stragglers on the 15 to 16 range there, would be the typical bell curve.

Zach:
Yeah, we're seeing fewer and fewer women making it out that 14, 15, years of age and that the ovary is developing its reproductive capacity too quick under the influence of insulin. In this case, high insulin levels due to environmental injuries, the liver, and gut, and everything else are speeding up this processes in young girls.

Janny:
So during your Base Camp, you were talking about ... It was the gut-brain hormone connection. Because I got my formal diagnosis of PCOS about seven years ago and I went into this data collecting phase, researching, experimenting with myself with foods and supplements, and piecing together this puzzle of this condition just for myself, my own experience of how I respond to different things. What are my hormones look like when I do this?

Janny:
Then enter you into this research, I started to see some of your information fall seamlessly into some gaps in my puzzle. Then you completely blow off my nice tidy end pieces and expand my picture completely. You were talking about just the breakfast. Can you talk about how we eat and the timing of how we eat? I had to pause and I was like, "I just got taken to church because I thought it was special, but apparently this is where it starts."

Zach:
Yeah, it's pretty fascinating. I think you're referring to the endocrine system there as far as the hormone patterns that decide what we're going to do with food that we consume. This stress pattern emanate from there. So, it's a fascinating journey. So, this is some research that I got down at the University of Virginia and a couple other universities collaborating on this back in the late '90s and early 2000s with the discovery of a new hormone called ghrelin.

Zach:
Ghrelin sounds like gremlin or growling. That's what a lot of my patients call it because it actually is the hormone that makes your stomach growl. So, this is your appetite rumbling hunger tummy. Appetite signal that's secreted by some cells within the intestinal lining of the stomach there. As the ghrelin level start to rise in the bloodstream, your brain, your autonomic nervous system, your pancreas, your gallbladder, your whole GI tract, your acid production center of the stomach, all start to get revved up and ready for dealing with that first meal.

Zach:
Ghrelin turns on everything morning at a very predictable timeframe. It's right around 4:00. It will vary a little bit based on the time of dawn yesterdays. So in winter, it will be a little later and summer would be a little earlier, but nonetheless we're tagging on to that process of the initiation of hormones. As the hormones start to rise in the bloodstream, they start to signal preparations of meal.

Zach:
As the ghrelin goes past the hunger threshold and the body starts to realize that there's a lack of calories coming in, it starts to make some adjustments. It turns on a counterregulatory surge of growth hormone, which is inflammatory in itself but it starts to prepare the body for this stress response to the environment. Subsequently, that happens typically around 7:00 or 8:00 AM if we haven't eaten anything. By 10:00 AM if we haven't eaten anything, we've turned on our whole adrenalin stress systems. So we get epinephrine and norepinephrine surging. Now, we're in a full autonomic sympathetic nervous system state.

Zach:
I think a lot of people do this to themselves subconsciously because they feel the need for this big adrenalin surge in the morning to get themselves going, get through the work meetings, tackle the emails and not feel completely deflated. So, I think we've been using this fight or flight state to get ourselves through overly scheduled or over the busy days, and we're missing the opportunity to go into these meals with silence.

Zach:
When you subsequently eat every single meal on the tail-end of these ghrelin surges and growth hormone surges, norepinephrine, epinephrine surges, we start to really believe that our body is in a chronic famine. We start to store fat because there's lots of calories coming in, but we've put a bottleneck on their usage. We're trying to store them instead of burn them.

Zach:
So, we start to feel fatigued, and we start to feel like we're running on fumes because our body is not letting those calories that you just ate into the cells. Instead, it's storing in those fat cells in the liver and periabdominal space primarily, and that drives inflammation, drives insulin levels up. It drives that metabolic process, everything else.

Zach:
So, if your children are missing breakfast consistently and not eating until they snack on some junk food or something like that at 10:00 AM, the chance of them having a normal metabolic and inflammatory cascade through their early life is near zero because they're storing everything as fat. So this realization that eating breakfast, eat early, eat healthy.

Zach:
If you're not going to eat early, then be very conscientious about your pattern. You need to think about waiting until noon instead of cutting things short at 8:00 or 10:00 AM, eating this late breakfast. Think about that noon as your first meal perhaps, so that you can get your full intermittent 18-hour fasting per cycle that can help your body get into ketosis more effectively, insulin levels again starts to drop by that time. So, waiting until that full 18-hour pattern is gone by will improve the outcomes.

Janny:
Yeah. I think just that information in of itself gave me a little bit more ability to have some consciousness around when I was choosing to eat and if I missed it, then I wait. I wait until like you said the noontime. So, I'm giving myself that digestive rest, I didn't know that until three months ago, and it's amazing.

Zach:
It's a powerful tool. To tie all that together, it's important to go back to that quiet space that we started the podcast with. I think every spiritual practice in history has always said stop and be grateful for your food, say a prayer over your food. It turns out there's a lot of biology behind that. If you just rush into that meal without taking a conscious moment to go silent, you steam into that calorie intake with this high pressure, high energy state of thousand thoughts a second in your brain, you're not going to digest that peacefully. You're going to put that into this fight or flight state. You're more likely to store the fat in the liver.

Zach:
We have many, many thin women have polycystic ovarian syndrome today. You do not have to be obese to have fat storage disorders in the liver and have high insulin levels. We used to think that that was in our way condition, not at all. Thought that maybe 40 to 50% of women with PCOS now are lean variants where they don't look like they have fat storage, but if we look at their liver, indeed loaded with fat cells due to these improper eating patterns and overload of stress pattern eating.

Janny:
So that's the how in terms of when you eat and going into it mindfully, but there's a lot of discussion about what we eat. Are you able to talk a little bit about just how we choose what we eat?

Zach:
The picture looks like eating low on the food chain and eating as clean as possible. We now recognize that fatty liver, the story we just told is being driven not just by stress eating patterns but by the chemicals in our food.

Zach:
Glyphosate or Roundup is the number chemical worldwide now in the herbicide pesticide world. My lab has become experts in this area of study of how Roundup is affecting our body's ability to deal with calories, and it turns out that roundup is recognized now as a major cost of fatty liver. One of the main sources of that is actually fruits and vegetables.

Zach:
So it turns out that kale, the health-conscious women going after that kale salad. Kale that is not grown organically or regeneratively which would be ideal for everything would be regenerative, we wouldn't have disease on the planet. So, this organic regenerative kale, great, but if you put a chemical in there like Roundup, then that chemical opens up the gut lining through a leaky gut injury and all the fiber in that kale is a noxious injury to the immune system and you have this inflammatory reaction.

Zach:
You have bloating. You've got slow digestion. You just feel miserable for three or four hours later. You're like, "I'm great today. I just had a kale salad. I did yoga, and why do I feel like crap?" It's because that kale is on the dirty dozen list. It's usually on the top three or four most contaminated crops out there. So, we have to be very careful.

Zach:
EWG, Environmental Working Group, great website, EWG Dirty Dozen. Type that in your Google search bar, EWG will pop up with the dirty dozen, the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables out there. Strawberries always number one. Apples always high in the list. It's always surprising to start to think about your day and be like, "Oh my gosh, I walked by a plate of strawberries at the hotel, at the restaurant, or at the buffet," and I grabbed the strawberry thinking, "Oh how benign."

Zach:
It's a freaking bomb of chemicals that got sprayed on that strawberry just minutes before it was picked. This toxic load looks so benign. It's like chocolate covered strawberry and yet it's the worst thing you could put in your mouth in many ways. So, that dirty dozen is a critical piece of your knowledge base.

Zach:
Ultimately, what is the answer? The answer is ultimate. We have to get in touch with the soil again. We have to get in touch with our farmers again. We need to empower our farmers to grow real food again. So, this is where farmers' markets are a good start. CSA is very good start, but don't forget to grow some food in your backyard, even if this is just one plant. If you're terrible at growing plants, you kill everything, you're a brown thumb. You know this. Then go for mint plant.

Zach:
Grow one mint plant. They're unbeatable. They can't be beaten and killed. They're going to thrive in your backyard, in a little pot, or in the corner of the little sunny spot. Plant a mint and go out there, and regularly pick that mint and put it right in your mouth. You get extra credit if you bend down and bite the mint right off the plant directly. So, just eat some mint.

Zach:
Remember, oh my gosh, this is what real flavor tastes like and sit there and meditate for a few minutes with that mint in your mouth and realize you are missing the essence of food. The food that we eat these days, does not have flavor. It just has fat, sugar, and salt pounded in it to give our brain the belief of flavor, but we're just lacking the essence of what food should be tasting like because we no longer grow nutrient-dense foods.

Zach:
So, we have taken our science away from the clinic now and into the farmland. We started a nonprofit this year called Farmer's Footprint and it's been my biggest joy to life so far from a professional standpoint. Nothing has been more exciting to see an entire world. We have Australia, Canada, Mexico, North America at large, coming on to this project to say, "We are going to stop chemical farming and we are going to start to support our farmers to grow regenerative soils that actually grow soil, pull carbon dioxide, methane out of the atmosphere, reverse global warming." All of this can be done, just some very, very simple methodologies around this regenerative farming technique.

Zach:
So, I invite you guys all to become a part of this revolution. We're really needing your support. Farmersfootprint.us or farmersfootprint.us, and together we're going to really change this industry. Over the next five years, our goal is to regenerate five million acres, not just for the sake of those acres, but more to demonstrate that there's an economic benefit that is 5X or 10X the profit for the farmers which will get them out of their co-dependent relationship with the banks, and the loans that just about break their bank every year.

Zach:
We are losing around 6,000 to 8,000 farms a year in the United States alone. Now, family farms are going bankrupt because their soil is dead. They cannot grow crops effectively anymore, and the artificial economy that's been put around them with the farm build, crop insurance which works as a welfare system. All this is how the banks decide who to lend money to, which means that farmers don't even have a choice to grow real food anymore. They are forced to grow genetically modified corn, soy bean, and chemically farm those things because it's the only thing the welfare system will pay out for.

Zach:
So, the banks will not lend against regenerative 13 species, 20 species farms because they don't have any crop insurance to back those regenerative organic processes. So, there's an opportunity here to really change that. So, we're going after the regulatory environment. We're going after private equity so that farmers can get and the assets they need to build these vibrant farms without the abusive relationship with the banks and the regulatory systems.

Zach:
So, join us at Farmer's Footprint. I think that together, we can really create a new environment where your six-year-old and all of our children among us can have a very promising future, and the hope of have being far healthier than we were in our 20s and 30s.

Janny:
Yeah, absolutely. Well, thank you for wrapping that all up and bringing it full circle with Farmer's Footprint. I'm really excited to see what is coming into, join that movement as well. So thank you again, Zach. I know you got to run and keep talking and spreading the message.

Zach:
I appreciate you having me on. Thank you for spreading the word. All of you in the audience, just recognize that you're in this moment and you joined humanity at this extraordinary tipping point. You came in with seven billion other people to be a force of change, and you've got a great purpose in that end. So, if you don't feel you're on purpose right now and you're floating, and you're kind of in a morass of confusion of what you're supposed to do, start to take those quiet moments, start to recognize within yourself that you are here on purpose, and it's got something to do with everything we talked about today because every single person in the planet has to be interested to be a part of this solution at some level.

Zach:
Are you an educator? Are you just a consumer making smart decisions? Are you a parent? Are you a child? Are you an aunt? Are you an uncle? What are you? Those titles are only a smidgen of what you're capable of becoming. Because when you drop the titles and just become you, you will realize a new state of consciousness as a species, let alone a new trajectory for consumer behavior and beyond.

Janny:
Yeah, absolutely. All right. Thanks Zach.

Zach:
You are so welcome. Thank you Janny for having me on. Blessings on all of you.

Janny:
Yeah, absolutely. You too.

Zach:
Take care.