3 Novel Gut Health Secrets For Superhuman Energy with Steve Wright

Content By: Ari Whitten & Steve Wright

In this podcast, I am speaking with Steve Wright, who is a medical engineer, Kalish Functional Institute graduate, and gut health specialist. We will talk about three novel gut health secrets for superhuman energy levels.

Table of Contents

In this podcast, Steve and I discuss:

  • Why the gut is at the core of energy 
  • The most common symptoms of low stomach acid 
  • How to test for low stomach acid 
  • How digestive enzymes play into gut health (and how to find the best enzyme for you)
  • The role of Short Chain Fatty Acids

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Ari: Hi there. Welcome back to the Energy Blueprint Podcast. With me now is my friend Steven Wright, who is a medical engineer, Kalish Functional Institute graduate, and gut health specialist. He spent close to $400,000 overcoming his own health challenges, using everything from Western medicine to shamans. He lives in Boulder, Colorado, with his partner, Shay, and is a self-proclaimed snacks-pert and poops-pert. And in this video, in this talk, he’s going to be talking to us about three gut aging secrets for superhuman energy. And I know he’s got a lot of really novel stuff around gut health. So, I’m very excited to get into this. Welcome, Steven, such a pleasure.

Steve: Thank you, Ari. Thanks for having me here.

Ari: Yeah. So, what do you got for us? Let’s get into it.

The gut’s role in energy levels

Steve: Yeah, so we are talking about superhuman energy, and in my world, if you want to have this superhuman energy, your engine is actually in your gut. But for most people, a lot of them anyways, who want more energy, it can be turned off or at least turned down and not firing correctly. So this would be the reason why like superfoods don’t deliver on their miracle promises, reasons why your mitochondria might not improve, even though you’re doing like cold thermogenesis or lots of working out, the reasons why you keep getting infections, whatever those might be, whether they’re parasites or else. And then reasons why like the super supplements, the energy supplements, don’t always deliver on their promises. And to me, the reason why is because your gut, which I’m going to break it out into three main parts today, but these organs are amazing. And, of course, I’m coming from that world, and I’ve been talking about gut health for ten years.

So I’m a little partial here, but if they’re not working correctly, you’re not going to get protein absorption, which means amino acids. So most people are familiar with those, the building blocks for muscle, neurotransmitters, things like that. You can get low to no B12 absorption. Iron, which is a super important for energy, can be low. Mineral deficiencies, you can get fermentation and toxic byproducts of like that really amazing food you’re buying and eating.

Then you can end up with food intolerances, immune system issues, gut dysbiosis, and then colons that really don’t produce the energy that they need to produce. And so, I really like starting here because it’s at the core, it’s literally the core of your being and all of these superfoods, the organic foods, the non-GMO stuff, and the powerful supplements, they all are filtered basically unless you’re taking them via IVs or some other method through these organs. And so, if they’re sluggish, if they’re broken, if they’re inflamed, it’s really going to diminish your returns on whatever therapy you choose.

Ari: If I could make one comment on this, this is definitely something that I’ve seen over and over and over again, where there’s just some people who respond in very weird ways and even totally opposite ways with taking certain foods or certain supplements from how most people respond. And gut dysbiosis and leaky gut seem to be massive factors in my experience of why certain people, especially, don’t respond positively to certain foods and supplements and maybe have negative reactions to ingredients that have just proven benefits. So I think gut health is a huge factor for that. And I think this way you frame that and pointed it out is great.

Steve: Yeah. I always like to say, it’s not what you eat, even if you spend so much like kind of even maybe farming and hunting your own food, it’s what you absorb. And so, like you said, if you have leaky gut, if it’s going in the wrong ways, or it’s feeding a population of bugs inside of you, that really isn’t the right mixture of population. Like it is weird. People can be reacting to beef or kale or pick whatever the superfood of the week is. And you’re like clinically, this shouldn’t be happening, and it does.

And so, yeah, I hope that at the end of this talk, people will at least be able to understand some of the mechanical architecture that underlies these issues. Because again, there’s a lot of talk about leaky gut. We used to have one of the first leaky gut programs six years ago. I was talking about it. I still think it’s a huge issue. But I’m less concerned as trying to find the right supplement to “seal” the gut, as I am concerned about like does the gut work, but if it can’t, you’ll never seal it off correctly, you’ll never get the inflammation down, and you will keep having these odd food intolerances or whatever immune reactions that are your body’s issue.

The most common underlying factors of gut issues

Ari: Yeah. Why do so many people have these gut issues? What are the factors underlying this?

Steve: Well, I’m going to break down into three sections, and the good news is that there’s super well-documented ways that these organs can repair themselves, and then you can get the energy, you can get the nutrients, you can seal the gut up, you can remake your microbiome, all that stuff. And so, the source number one of either your energy or low energy, in my opinion, is starting in the stomach and it’s low stomach acid. And if you’re not familiar with the stomach, I think it might be one of the most amazing organs we have. Like it literally gets down to 0.5 pH. It’s been measured in several studies to get down that low. Battery acid is like around 1.0 or so. And so, it’s amazing that this organ in the middle of us can get that acidic and it doesn’t do anything else.

And so, why does it do that? Well, one of the big things that the acid does is it unfolds proteins. So we’re starting to talk more and more about protein folding and unfolding. And the truth is if you think about eating foods, whether it’s beef steak or a Walnut, I mean, I’ve been talking to this for a long time, and I’m just as guilty as everybody of eating too fast or not chewing my food 30 times or whatever the optimal thing is. And now it’s up to the stomach. The stomach’s got to use that acid, and it’s got to use these grinding and contractions to basically break a Walnut down, which I’m not strong enough to crack in my hands. So stomach acid basically fills up your stomach. It lowers the pH. Pepsin is an enzyme inside of stomach acid. And intrinsic factor is basically like a bouncer for B12.

So the stomach acid unfolds the proteins, the pepsin comes in and starts to break them all up, out pops B12, iron minerals. When the B12 pops out, it’s kind of important, and it can be broken down real fast. And intrinsic factor grabs it like a bouncer, and it’s going to like shepherd it into the body, lower in the GI, in the small intestine. And so this is kind of how the process is supposed to work. But if you have low stomach acid, which naturally seems to be decline with age. There’s some new research that maybe if you’re like absolutely healthy, and you’ve got it all figured out, you haven’t had chronic issues, your stomach acid might not decline, but definitely, if you’re complaining of any digestive condition, if you’re autoimmune, basically if you’ve had any infection and especially burping, farting, bloating, those types of things, it’s highly likely that you have low stomach acid.

And so, that’s going to basically make everything from your stomach to your small intestine, to your large intestine to the toilet; it’s going to make that off. And so, my big thing is let’s go in there and let’s try to support this because actually, you can go to the doctor; you can pay like $350 to $550 for a test if you can find one. The Heidelberg test is the best stomach acid test, but there’s not that many providers——

Ari: Is that the one where they like actually stick a tube down there and measure pH? Or am I my mixing? I know there’s two different ones.

Steve: Yeah, no, this one is a capsule on a string.

Ari: It measures pH, right?

Steve: Yeah. Super granular detail. I can send you some studies or some cool stuff about what happens.

Ari: Yeah, cool. Yeah. I was thinking too, but it’s a string.

Steve: Yeah. So it’s a super cheap test for about $50, and anybody can do this at the comfort of their own home. And it’s essentially called an HCL challenge test. And so Betaine HCl is the active compound in the supplement, and it’s essentially simulated to stomach acid in a capsule. And so, if you take one, and you don’t feel anything, that’s pretty much a sign that your stomach acid isn’t perfect. If you can take multiple pills, you’re definitely low. Somebody who has normal acid or high acid will have a heart burn-like sensation.

Ari: Oh, really? And even with one capsule? Somebody with normal pH would feel that from just a single capsule?

Steve: Correct. Or the other thing is this is not something to do with active Barrett’s esophagus or active ulcers. So any sort of a condition where the mucosal barrier of your esophagus or your stomach lining is like gone like an ulceration, this is not a good idea, but they would feel it very intensely as well. And that one won’t be good. So yeah, anyways like just taking the right HCL supplement, I’ve had probably, I would say, like 20% to 30% of people who try this notice more energy by the end of the week. Like it’s literally like a light switch because they’re not getting in the amino acids or the minerals that they need to feel good. And like, if you just turn that on for somebody, they’re going to feel more alive like right away.

Ari: It’s a great, simple tool to use. I’ve never actually heard this before. This is excellent.

Steve: Yeah. It’s kind of forgotten because it’s boring and it’s a little weird because I can’t tell you, oh, you definitely have this issue. The signs of low stomach and high stomach acid are actually the same. Now, Dr. P Mentel or not Dr. P Mentel, excuse me. Dr. Steven Sandberg Lewis and Dr. Jonathan Wright, two gastro-specific docs suggest about 80% of people who complain of IBS when they test them with that Heidelberg test they’re low. And so, again, it’s not going to work for everybody, but for that population, who’s not getting the amino acids or the minerals they need, this will change the game in a very short time.

Ari: Excellent. So do you have specific recommendations on which are Betaine HCl supplement to take? Does it matter or the opposite?

Steve: Yeah, no, it definitely does. So there’s a lot of them out there because the actual acid part, the Betaine HCl, is pretty cheap stuff. And again, this is not new science. This is like naturopathy back in like the sixties and seventies style science. And so, really what you want to be doing is you want to make sure that your HCL has pepsin in it because like we talked about, pepsin is important for those amino acids. If you can find one that has intrinsic factor, that’s basically why I created the supplement I created because it couldn’t find one, but a foreign——

Ari: I’ve never even seen one that has intrinsic factor in it. I didn’t even know you could take intrinsic factor in supplement.

Steve: Yes. There’s only one source in the world. It comes out of Argentina, and it comes from cows. And so, it took a while to find a source and kind of get this supplement all packaged up for people, which is why it’s not done. It’s a pretty rare ingredient. And it costs quite a bit to stuff into a supplement. So nobody had really done it before. And so that’s why I created HCL Guard+ was I was just annoyed that as someone who had low stomach acid for a long time, that I couldn’t get the actual components of stomach acid together in one pill. And so, that was the genesis of HCL Guard. But if you happen to be somebody who’s a vegetarian or vegan, HCL Guard is not for you. The only HCL that I’m aware of on the market that’s friendly to that is NOW brand makes one. And then, of course, if you don’t think that intrinsic factor or the ginger or the DGL that I put in my supplement is good enough, Thorne makes a really highquality HCL product as well.

But the big key is people cut costs on the pepsin. You want to get a 3000 to one strength mixture. And so, those are the big details. Like if you get a strong enough supplement, you can take less capsules. If you Google this online, you’ll see people taking like sometimes up to 15 capsules per meal. And if your entire life is destroyed by this condition, and you take 15, and you feel amazing, you’re willing to do that. But for most of us, our entire lives are not completely destroyed by low stomach acids. So taking ten capsules or something is more than we desire probably around meals.

The role of the small intestine in energy levels

Ari: Yeah. Got you. So that’s factor one as far as how the gastrointestinal system can dysfunction in a way that causes fatigue, low energy levels. What else is going on?

Steve: Yeah, so let’s just move anatomy wise right into the next organ, which is the small intestine. And so, small intestine is where you’re going to get basically the absorption of 90-ish percent of all of your nutrition. So your minerals, your fats, your carbohydrates, your amino acids, all of these things. And so, the big key to the small intestine of working correctly is enzyme function. There’s two types of enzymes. There’s pancreatic enzymes, and then there’s brush border enzymes. And so, the biggest source of low energy, as well as energy-boosting that I find in small intestine, comes around supporting these enzymes. Now, sadly, basically, we’re not totally sure. Like there’s no double-blind placebo-controlled trial on this, but the theory is that we are born with a pancreatic reserve of enzymes, almost like stem cells.

And over our life, we basically burn through our pancreatic enzyme reserve. And then, of course, if we have extra inflammation, extra infections, chronic health issues, we could burn through that faster. So that could be why you have low enzymes. Also, if you have, like we talked about earlier, if you have any gut inflammation around leaky gut or anything like that, the small intestine is coated in these hairs. They’re called villi. And you can see this if you Google like celiac disease, but one of the reasons or one of the ways that we actually diagnose celiac disease is the brush borders like all mangled up. The hairs are just sliced off and crushed like a steamroller. Well, those hairs are your brush border. And they give off enzymes that break down basically all the rest of the nutrients. And so, if you have any chronic gut issues, your brush borders probably are not going to be working all that out.

And again, this is another one of those conditions where you could be taking all the best food or the best supplements, but if you don’t have the enzymes to actually separate the nutrients from your organic greens powder, you’re just going to be basically feeding bacteria. And what I mean by that, or it could be other things in bacteria, but your microbiome. And the way that I say that is like if you took a spoonful of peanut butter and just threw it on a sidewalk right now, we have no idea what’s going to happen, but there’s probably going to be like ants and dogs and maybe a child to come by, like, who knows. But the wildlife will show up because there’s food there, and it will create a new microenvironment.

And so, if your enzymes are off and especially if you have low stomach acid as well, this will cause the enzymes to be off as well, you’re essentially just throwing more food down your digestive tract, and there will be things that’ll just overgrow or come up from your colon and start to feed on this because normally that energy source wouldn’t be there, but because it’s just like nature, it’s going to grow, and it’s going to eat that up. And so, that causes all kinds of low energy. That’s where we get a bunch of fermenting gas, bloating, digestive complaints, further immune issues around leaky gut, and things like that.

How to find out if you have gut issues

Ari: Yeah. Very interesting. How does one figure out if they have this issue?

Steve: Well, there are some tests like a fecal elastase—is a stool test marker that can kind of give you some indications. There are some invasive tests where they actually like they can biopsy you, but it’s even, in my opinion, it’s much harder to gauge even stomach acid. There’s just not a good way for us to measure enzyme function. It’s in the middle of your body, literally. And there’s a lot of different enzymes. And if you don’t know what enzymes are, it’s not a big deal. I didn’t necessarily know what they were either. They’re basically like catalysts. So they come together with an electron donor, a mineral donor, which is called a co-factor, and then they speed up reactions. And if they don’t have any, if they don’t have a mineral co-factor, or if they don’t have anything to work on, they just kind of hang out. They don’t really do much.

But when they get in the right environment, the right pH environment, and then they get turned on, they just continually like speed up reactions. And so, the best way that I found to kind of gauge whether or not you have this is a lot of times it’s bloating, gas, and food intolerances. So, of course, anybody with an autoimmune condition is of high likelihood as well, but those are your biggest signs or symptoms, in my opinion. And the reason why is food—— If your immune system is reacting to food, normally it’s a protein molecule. And if your protein molecules are properly separated into small molecules, they will get absorbed like amino acids. And they will be used by the body for energy. But if they’re not properly broken down, then they look like some mutant protein, and they end up in the blood through a leaky gut or some other mechanism, and the immune system just going to go crazy and try to take that out. And so, that’s typically the best sign that something’s going on.

Ari: Got you. And so, if you have some of those issues, then basically experiment with some of the enzyme supplements and see if you notice an effect. Is there a reasonable timeline to see that effect? Is it immediately after the first meal you take them, or you got to take them for a few days and see if you’ve noticed a difference?

Steve: Yeah, no, it’s usually immediately. So that’s the thing. Like I’m a medical engineer. And so, I really don’t like waiting for results. Like either I want it to work or not. I hate supplements like vitamin D. I don’t know if they do anything. They tell me I should take it, but I like the ones that just like work or they don’t work.

Ari: I mean, it’s the case that—— I mean, I hear you. I think we all have that desire for instant gratification, but I think it’s like probably 90% of supplements and even most drugs maybe other than painkillers and things like that don’t necessarily have immediate effects. Also, lifestyle stuff in general, with some exceptions, like maybe you put on blue blockers, and you notice a big difference immediately the first night, but then there are other things that’s it’s like, hey, you don’t grow like significant muscles from one day or one week of workouts. It’s like you got to do it for years to really build a body. You know what I mean? So I hear it. I also like instant gratification, but it’s also just the case that we rarely have that luxury.

Steve: Yeah, totally. I hate. Do your blue blockers. Do your sleep optimization, work out every day, take your vitamin D3. You do not get absolved. Listening to me does not absolve you of those issues. But I just happen to—— I call them light switch supplements. Like there are certain supplements that at the right dosage for the right people, it feels like someone turned on the light, and you’re like, whoa, I’ve been living in the dark. And I didn’t even know it this whole time. And I just happened to try to talk about those because I like instant gratification—cool stuff like that.

So if you get the right enzyme again at the right dosage, and you have these issues, you can literally feel it the first meal, if not, by the end of a few days. And so, again, dosage is key. If you’re someone who has been listening to this talk and you’re like, I’ve tried enzymes in the past. They didn’t do anything. I meet all the criteria. Every time I Google this, I listened to this talk. This is definitely me. I have an enzyme issue, but when I take them, nothing happens.

Number one, it’s probably the brand you’re taking or number two, it’s the dosage. And you can really load these things up. So there’s actually a cancer division. This talk is not about cancer, but just to give you some idea, there’s a lineage of alternative cancer therapy, where they use like 180 capsules on an empty stomach throughout the day of enzymes.

Ari: Wobenzyme or something like that.

Steve: Yeah. They’re more of a systemic enzyme blend. And so, you taking four or six or eight of your digestive enzymes with a meal is nothing and should be encouraged to attempt these things because you’re not going to do any damage. And in case you overdose on enzymes, you’ll just actually absorb them, and they will become systemic as Wobenzyme and some of these other amazing systemic enzymes.

Ari: Yeah. Quick side note. I’ve been reading about and taking enzymes since I was like, geez, for over 20 years now, since I started experimenting with that stuff when I was a teenager and first getting into health like taking digestive enzymes to optimize your digestion. Probably my digestion was already so good that it didn’t do anything significant for me at that time. But one thing I learned recently that’s pretty cool, even after 20 years of sort of hearing about, reading about enzymes. And I had never heard this before. I learned from Dr. Michael Murray, who is a friend of mine, maybe also a friend of yours. He’s another speaker in the summit, like a legend in natural health. The guy who wrote the Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine has been around for—— He’s written like a billion books.

He said that the use of proteolytic enzymes and things like—— There’s some specific ones for this. And then there’s a variety of other proteolytic enzymes, bromelain and Serratiopeptidase, and things like that used on an empty stomach to go systemic. Actually, it has a profound effect on breaking down mucus and helping your mucus membranes work optimally as far as immune function. And I had never heard that tip before, and I started experimenting with it, and it’s absolutely noticeable. I mean, like I used to wake up every morning with like a little bit of stuffiness. Like it’s really common for people to wake up just kind of stuffy. That stopped. And I can really feel like easier breathing from taking them. So I’m now a big believer in the power of enzymes, in general, and especially like the systemic enzymes, but I think they’re for people who need them. They’re just magic.

Steve: Yeah. I can’t echo that enough. They do so many cool things systematically. They balance the immune system. They take out these things called circulating immune complexes, which are elevated in almost every autoimmune condition, but definitely lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Fibrin or the mucus thing is what cancer cells lay down like eight times more of, and that’s how they basically cloak away from the immune system. So like I am so jazzed about enzymes. Like literally, I think everybody should be on them. I mean, I can safely say it’s kind of like vitamin D3 to me or vitamin C. Like you’re not going to be doing any damage, and you could really be doing some powerful things.

Ari: Yeah. 100 %. So what’s next? What’s number three?

Steve: Well, let’s, let’s talk about picking the enzyme first. So again, there’s a million options out there in the enzyme market. If you’re going systemic, Wobenzym enzyme has already been mentioned. That’s the most studied one in the world. I have produced what I think is the best enzyme in the world because I’m totally biased, and it’s called Wholezyme, and that’s for a healthy gut, but Wholezyme is the first enzyme in the world that’s backed by a patented activation blend. So I mentioned earlier you need specific minerals to donate electrons to turn on these enzymes.

And so, if you happen to be low energy, if you happen to be in a chronically ill state, you essentially have to rob your food of these minerals, or you have to rob your body to donate to these. So Wholezyme is the first blend that has this patented activation strategy where I literally found a Ph.D. guy who spent time in a lab like dropping every different type of magnesium in with a specific mineral to see which one made it go crazy. And so, I’m a huge fan. I’ll get you a couple of bottles to see how to stack up.

Ari: Just to be clear, crazy, like crazy awesome. Crazy like a fox, not crazy in a bad way.

Steve: No, crazy like a fox. Like who is like on it so much that they spend time in a lab going, wow. Calcium acerbate does better than a different form of calcium—just that level of genius where you’re trying to figure out like the most optimal ways to be healthy.

Ari: Yeah. That’s awesome. One thing I have to say that I really like about the work you’re doing is you’re actually developing unique supplements that you’re really putting in the work and the effort and the expense and time and money to develop the best supplements in the category. And I’m doing the same in the supplements that I’m developing, my mitochondrial formula. And now I have two more formulas coming out very soon. I just want to say on a personal note; there’s a ton of people out there just selling the same old stuff like they develop a magnesium supplement, they develop a vitamin B supplement, they develop this or that. And it’s the same generic stuff that a billion other people are selling the same thing. And I definitely did not want to do that. I didn’t want to be another person selling the same kinds of supplements. I wanted to develop the best in category supplements. And I can tell you, you think the same, and I really appreciate that about you.

Steve: Yeah. Thanks, Ari. Yeah, totally. I mean, look, I’ve been taking supplements for over 20—— I found supplements on like the bodybuilding.com days and the dark webs when I was like 13, and I was ordering Creatine, and my mom was like, you’re going to kill yourself.

Ari: You and I have a similar story. We’re probably similar age, too. Yeah, I think we had a—— It’s funny that——That’s how I got my start is just fitness bodybuilding. And it’s a great start. I mean, you learn a lot about nutrition and exercise and health more broadly when you’re obsessed about bodybuilding for a decade. I don’t think there’s any better way to have a background in health than that.

Steve: Yeah, and I think the one thing that the bodybuilding community gets more than many other communities is that there are very specific dosage levels in which compounds make human performance happen, or it’s just like not really happening and not doing much. Bodybuilding people who are like really at the edge of that sport really get that. And they know that like 500 milligrams less, and you don’t really get much benefit, but 500 milligrams more and like, man, whatever your desired result is, is coming way easier.

Ari: I would also add there’s one more, a couple more really important benefits of it. One is if your background is like—— Your only background in health is let’s say biochemistry or conventional medicine or something, you go to medical school, and you have this very little education in nutrition or lifestyle, but lots of education in pharmacology, your understanding of health is like when somebody has these symptoms, I prescribe this drug because this drug interrupts this pathological biochemistry of this disease and makes them better. And that’s the paradigm. That’s the thought process. When you have a background and years and years of training for athletics and bodybuilding, you understand that like there’s all these pieces that have to come together in the right way.

You have to consistently put in really hard work and push yourself to the limit, but even just doing that, it’s really important. But by itself, doesn’t get you there because you also have to have your nutrition dialed in. And even those two things don’t get you there because if you’re stressed out all the time, then you’re completely ruining all the progress. Or if you’re overtraining, you’re ruining all the progress, or if you’re not sleeping enough, you’re ruining all the progress. Or if you’re eating too much, you just put on fat instead of muscle, and then you, again, look bad. And so, you have this experience of years and years and years of practical experience of realizing that the body is a system, and you have to have multiple different factors all come together in the right way to reach an objective, as opposed to just, oh, I have these symptoms. So I take this pill, and this pill fixes my symptoms. It’s a totally different level. And I would argue vastly superior kind of thinking and background in health when you really understand that deeply.

Steve: Yeah. Amen. Couple that with an engineering background like mine, and you get lost in the systems, but yeah, that practical application. And I think the one thing that bodybuilding and athletic performance teaches you is just to keep testing. So if you take a little bit and it doesn’t really do what everybody else is getting the same result, you’re like, well, shoot, I’ll try double. I’ll try triple. And I wish in the health world, it’s not applicable for every supplement or every drug or every type of indication, but it’s clear we’re going to have a point in time in the next 10 to 15, 20 years where you’re going to get your epigenetics run, and you’re going to get a specific dosage of this brain compound versus the other 80% they give the other one. And so, your genetics, your microbiome dictate how you respond to these supplements and this food and your experience, you might need twice or three times what I need or even less than what I need.

Ari: Yeah. They were the original bio-hackers. Probably three, four decades before anybody coined the term bio-hacking, there were these group of hardcore bodybuilders who were injecting themselves with all kinds of nasty stuff. And we were like, I wonder what this does, but the reality is they learned a lot from it. And that tinkering ends up. You accumulate a lot of knowledge from that. Not that I ever played with any of the injecting of steroids or anything like that. I certainly thought about it many times as a teenager and in my early twenties but had some mentors who were wise enough to talk me out of it, thankfully. But anyway, do you want to wrap up? Do you have anything more to say on——

Steve: Yeah. I mean, I highly recommend you try Wholezyme. It’s both pancreatic. And so, if you’re going to pick an enzyme, pick one that is a pancreatic and brush border specific because there’s a lot of them that are either one or the other, but who knows which issue you have. So buy one that has both in it. There’s no real good mineral solution other than Wholezyme on the market. So if you do grab a brand, please supplement with a mineral supplement so because you’re going to be robbing yourself of that stuff anyway. So I do like transformation enzymes, Transformation Nutrition makes super high-quality stuff as well. But yeah, that’s the big thing with enzymes is make sure they’re both pancreatic and brush border.

And take some minerals with it if you’re not going to use Wholezyme. Wholezyme can be taken on an empty stomach and used systemically. We have a pilot clinical trial showing they’re absorbed. So there are some cool stuff there, but yeah, let’s move on.

Ari: Nice. So what’s number three?

How the colon affects your energy levels

Steve: So number three is moving right down the chain, going into the colon here, the large intestine. So this is where your microbiome is. This is where all the bugs should be. We don’t want them in the small intestine. And when this microbiome is working really well, we get things called short-chain fatty acids. And short-chain fatty acids are super important for energy. They are important for brain energy, just overall body energy, and mitochondrial energy. So there’s some new studies coming out around lowering brain inflammation, increasing mitochondrial function. They’re starting to study them about lowering body fat levels, maybe some SIBO or nonalcoholic fatty liver disease stuff. So short-chain fatty acids are like where it’s at if you’re talking about the colon.

And there’s three of them. There’s butyrate, acetate, and propionate, and butyrate gets all the attention. It’s got the most research behind it, and it seems to be more powerful than the other two, but you don’t have to just focus on that. I think the best thing to do is to try to boost your short-chain fatty acids by boosting or basically, by feeding the microbiome, which produces these short-chain fatty acids. And so, it seems to be that if you don’t have any gut issues, you should just increase your vegetable intake. And if you want to supplement things like inulin or something like that, is a great thing to add into your smoothie, into whatever your routines are like, but for those of us like myself, who’ve had lifelong digestive issues. We got way too many antibiotics. We were a little, or we have autoimmune conditions; basically, your microbiome is now off.

And you can do some tests to try to figure out how often it is. Does it not have enough diversity? Are the levels way off? Regardless, the practical application of this is if you eat too much of certain vegetables, you probably feel it bloated. You smell really bad. You don’t feel very good. You could be suffering these issues like brain fog, cravings, body fat, style stuff. These are all good indications something’s going on with your microbiome. And so, if we don’t know—— I think science is not there yet. I think that the microbiome tests are not there yet. I don’t think we can reliably say you’re definitely off. So you should take some probiotics, and this will change things. I think that’s all kind of a myth at this point. And so, I would suggest starting with partially hydrolyzed guar gum.

It seems to be the most well-tolerated for somebody who could have really bad bloating or gas. It also helps if you have SIBO. It helps in your killing protocols. We’ve studies showing that it does better than just rifaximin alone. So I usually point people to start there. And then as your microbiome begins to maybe level off or bloom up to the right spot, then add in more prebiotics like inulin. There’s some blended stuff on the market. There’s all kinds of ones. I didn’t want to go like super deep because this could be a whole hour in and of itself.

Ari: Just to connect the dots for listeners. We have two other talks in the summit relevant to this. One is Kiran Krishnan on the gut mitochondria access. And then, in the Datis Kharrazian’s talk, he also talks about how short-chain fatty acids are critical for brain function as well as the gut-brain access. So just wanted to make sure listeners are connecting the dots of what’s being discussed with those two other talks. This is a really important topic when it comes to gut health, but also brain health, mitochondrial health. These short-chain fatty acids are critically important.

Steve: Yeah, you’re going to see like just how leaky gut was like the big thing and still kind of is a big thing a little bit, but it’s kind of going down in popularity. I think the next “big thing” in the gut will be in the next two years.

Everybody’s going to be talking about butyrate and short-chain fatty acids. Some people are labeling them post-biotics. I mean, whatever, it’s a marketing term, but the point is you want a lot of these things, and if you’re chronically ill, if you’re low energy, if you’re just not the way you want to be with your health, I would really look here. This is really big. And if just eating more vegetables or taking your greens powders or your red’s or your whatever’s isn’t working, that’s when the research appears to show that you should just step up to a butyrate supplement.

And so, the most well-established research is on try tributyrin, which is a type of a butyric acid compound. It’s pure butyrate. Basically, it’s not cut with any sort of powders or caking agents, things like that. And they’re doing autism studies. They’re doing like I said, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease studies. They’re doing mitochondrial studies. They are doing some really cool stuff with this tributyrin. Now, the problem with tributyrin is it’s the worst smelling thing in the entire universe. Seriously, if you’ve ever bought a butyric supplement, and you’ve gotten a company that doesn’t take their quality of their capsules and things very—— If they’re not into it, you’ll smell it. And it’s terrible. It’s so bad.

And so, what companies do because liquid tributyrin is so hard to work with is they will powder it, or they’ll cut it with things. They’ll try to bind it to things to make it more stable. That’s where you get something like sodium butyrate, excuse me, which is on the market. And it’s a little cheaper. It’s about half the cost actually. It’s tributyrin supplements because of this. So most of the research, I would say, like 70%, is on the tributyrin. There’s about

30% on sodium butyrate. So try either one. If you’re going to go with tributyrin, I definitely believe it gets way better results than the powdered stuff because you’ve got pure, and now you have to take much higher dosage of the powdered stuff.

Ari: Do you think that they’re fundamentally different or just that you have to take higher doses of the sodium butyrate?

Steve: Well, you have to take higher doses, and you have to cleave the sodium off, right? So you have to process these compounds. Any sort of powdered compound is now stuck to something. So it’s like the difference between MCT powder and MCT oil, and they definitely do different things if you’ve ever played with both of those. And so, the question is, can it damage gut? Can it disrupt the microbiome, fully cleave or process these powdered butyrate supplements? And I think the answer is partially true. Yes, but not ideal.

Ari: Got you.

Steve: But the cool thing is Pure Encapsulations came out with an amazing SunButyrate or SunButyrin, I think, is the name of it. And that’s a great version. It’s a liposomal liquid tributyrin, and then we are bringing to market, I believe the first in the US here this summer, a tributyrin in a liquid soft-gel cap from Spain. It’ll be like a liquid Advil basically, but it’s not that. It’s tributyrin, and so we’re super stoked about that. The other thing is you want to shoot for 1000 to 2000 milligrams. There is weird dosing, and it’s not as well established yet about where you should end up. So you’ll want to play with that. And if you go with the powdered versions, you’ll need to increase that window because it’s just not as pure.

Ari: Got you. Excellent. So what benefits can one expect from using butyric acid in one of these supplemental forms?

Steve: Tributyrin’s research shows leaky gut is gone. Like it’s amazing at healing leaky gut. So that’s the thing that got me the most excited about it was just what it can do to the gut wall. Beyond that, people, like I said, cravings are like—— If you struggle with addiction and cravings, I can’t say that this is going to be the end all be all for you, but it does seem to really help people with that. If you’re someone who has regulation issues around too fast, too slow and enzymes and HCL, don’t do it for you. Again, any sort of butyric acid supplement seems to be like a big win for those types of people.

Ari: Nice. This is awesome. So we got three points. So we have the number one, let me go back. Number one was low stomach acid. Number two was the enzymes. And number three is optimize your gut for short-chain fatty acids using some of these prebiotic fibers and-or, probably and, unless you react to the prebiotic fibers, and use the butyrate supplements. Is that an accurate summary?

Steve: You got it, man. That’s a three-step plan to have like an amazing gut in 90 days.

Ari: Awesome. I love it. What do you want to say to wrap up? What do you want to leave people with?

Steve: I mean, look, I bet going through a summit like this, you’re going to have an overwhelming number of options to test and try. So my big thing is just pick one. I think the number one thing that holds people back is they don’t execute when they listen to a talk like this or listen to 10 talks in a day. So just pick one that resonates with you. There’s no wrong answer here. 

And like I said, test everything for a couple of weeks. You should know in a couple of weeks, whether or not it’s helping or hurting, depending on what the presenter—whether it’s me or somebody else—told you should happen. And so, I really want people to just keep trying buying things. Like, don’t give up. Whatever it is you’re working on, you can get through this.

Ari: Awesome. Well, this was awesome, my friend. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge with our audience. I really appreciate it. This was a lot of fun. And most importantly, I think these were really novel tips, not the typical stuff that people have heard a million times before. And it’s really specific, practical tips, like three killer tips that people can walk away from this with. Potentially, any one of these could be life-changing for people. So really thank you. This was awesome. For people who are interested in getting some of your supplements or following your work, where’s the best place to do that?

Steve: Over at Healthygut.com.

Ari: Oh, that’s a good domain, Healthygut.com.

Steve: We got gut health before. Gut health is cool, man.

Ari: Nice. You guys have been doing it for what? Ten years or more?

Steve: Yeah. We first launched our first blog, which some people might know as SCD Lifestyle. Back in August 2009, it went live.

Ari: Oh, wow. I wish I got started online that early. Well done. Awesome, my friend. Well, thank you so much. Again, this was a lot of fun. I really appreciate it. And I’m sure the listeners loved it and are excited to start experimenting.

Steve: Yeah. Thanks for having me on, Ari.

Show Notes

The gut’s role in energy levels (07:07)
The most common underlying factors of gut issues (11:38)
The role of the small intestine in energy levels (20:45)
How to find out if you have gut issues (24:14)
How the colon affects your energy levels (41:10)


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