How To Manage The Gut Shame Feeling Connection with Dr. Will Cole [Episode #769]
This week’s topic is: How To Manage The Gut Shame Feeling Connection with Dr. Will Cole
I am so excited to have my very special guest, Dr. Will Cole, who isa bestselling author, health advisor and functional-medicine expert and the host of The Art of Being Well podcast. Listen in as Will shares why food alone is not the cause of weight problems, the dangers of perfectionism in the world of health, Shameflammation and what it means, and so much more!
The either or approach regarding mental health and physical health…
Why food alone is not the only cause of weight problems…
Shameflammation and what it means…
Dangers of perfectionism in the world of health…
Competitiveness and comparison and the effects on your nervous system…
The commonality between all of these health problems…
About Dr. Will Cole
Dr. Will Cole is a leading functional medicine expert who consults people around the globe, starting one of the first functional medicine telehealth centers in the world over a decade ago. He specializes in clinically investigating underlying factors of chronic disease and customizing a functional medicine approach for thyroid issues, autoimmune conditions, hormonal imbalances, digestive disorders, and brain problems. He is also the host of the popular The Art Of Being Wellpodcast.
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Kimberly: 00:02 Namaste loves and welcome back to our Monday interview show where I am so excited to have one of my favorite repeat guests back. Dr. Will Cole, who is a leading functional medicine practitioner and an author, and he has a new book out called Gut Feelings Healing, the Shame Fueled Relationship Between What You Eat and How you Feel. So I absolutely love this concept. I love this book. I love Dr. Cole. But in this new book, he’s actually correlating showing the relationship with research and teachings around two of our cornerstones, body and emotional wellbeing and food and spiritual, um, growth. All of them are interconnected, but here we’re really showing how our guts and our feelings are truly interconnected. And I will say, as Dr. Cole mentioned in the interview, my interview on his podcast around when you are more than you think you are, came out actually inspired a Vick Yoic yogic philosophy section in this new book. So I’m really excited about this holistic approach to gut health, to feeling good in your life and what part of that shame, guilt, heaviness, actually plays in our wellness across the board, in our physical wellbeing and our gut wellbeing and beyond. So it’s a pretty profound conversation. I’m very excited to share it with you. But before we get in.
Fan of the Week
01:11 So before we dive in, I wanna give a shout out to our fan of the week, and her name is Pei’sgirl12, and she writes, getting me Through Postpartum. I found Kimberly before I had my baby, but I didn’t delve deep into her stuff until I had my baby. I love listening to her podcast on walks with a stroller. We also had a big move to a different state and her podcast has been keeping me grounded ever since this difficult time. Thank you so much. Well, Pei’sgirl12, thank you so much for being part of our community. This makes me so excited and honored that I can be part of your journey, especially in this beautiful part of motherhood.
Please leave a review on iTunes and Subscribe
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Get Your Copy Of YOU ARE MORE
05:01 We’re here to support one another. And finally, be sure to pick up a copy of our latest book, baby, You Are More More Than You Think You Are – Practical Enlightenment For Everyday Life, which is out in Paper book now. So this is my practical guide with teachings and actionable steps and tips for getting past these blocks. Fear grief, I just gifted the book to my friend who just recently lost her mom. And in the book I share about how I was able to get past this big transition in my life, losing my mom, and also getting past a lot of self-doubt and how do we get to that place where we create our best stuff. We are creators. We are meant to live in vitality and abundance. So that’s what this book is really teaching about and I can’t wait for you to read it and benefit from it in your own life. So again, please check it out wherever books are sold. All right, all that being said, let’s get into our interview today with the wonderful Dr. Will Cole.
Interview with Dr. Will Cole
Kimberly: 01:31 We have the amazing Dr. Will Cole back with us today. Welcome back. Will. I’m so excited to chat with you.
Will : 01:47 <laugh>, nice to see you. I know it’s always great to, to catch up. It takes a podcast to catch up sometimes with the French, so I’m glad that we’re doing it today.
Kimberly: 01:55 I know. And then we have this dedicated time. I feel very excited and honored. Get to pick your brain with questions I know many of our listeners share. And I was chatting with you before the podcast and I said, sincerely from my heart, of all your books, of anything you’ve put out, this one is the most exciting one, I think.
Will : 02:17 <laugh>. Thank you. I feel the same way about it actually. And I like all, I love all the books, right? They’re all like my book, book babies. But as a writer and an educator with, for my patients, this is also my favorite book. So thank you for letting me talk about it.
Kimberly: 02:31 And it’s out here today. We’ll be linking to it in the show notes. The title is Gut Feeling, Healing the Shame Fueled Relationship between What You Eat and How You Feel. So this is so intimately tied to everything, I believe. Well, you know, I’ve been, start, started as a nutritionist, but then started really going into meditation and spiritual offerings because I realized that there was only so much I could help people with food. And there was, as you talk about in the book, we can have really great diets, but then there’s still so much chaos that can happen in the bodies when we start to consider mental health and stress and all these other factors that weren’t really talked about in the past.
We discuss the either or approach regarding mental health and physical health
Will : 03:14 Yeah, no, it’s definitely, you’re right. And it’s a, it’s a intimately part of my job as a functional medicine doctor with my patients is that we had to deal with both sides of that coin. And I think we fall short when it’s like an, when it’s an either or approach when it’s like mental health and then physical health. But the reality is mental health is physical health. And it’s something that I really get to talk about in the book. And it’s title, gut Feelings. It’s the gut and the feelings. It’s the physiological and then the psychological, the mental, emotional, spiritual stuff. And both sides are important, you know, and I see people that have underlying gut problems or have chronic Lyme disease or mold talks and something like that, or environmental toxicity that’s going to impact how their brain works, right? It’s gonna impact things like anxiety and depression and fatigue. So if I’m one of those people where that’s an issue that I have to deal with something underlying physiological that’s driving inflammation, that’s impacting how minor neurotransmitters are signaling, I could be, you know, doing all the mental, emotional work, therapy, et cetera, but it’s not gonna get rid of high toxic load or underlying gut problems in my body. But then conversely, there’s so many people that eat, like you said, eat the perfect food. They’re like, they’re, they’re, they’re living in whole foods in a one and like going to
Kimberly: 04:32 All, they’re spending all their money on doing all this organic food
Will : 04:34 <laugh>. Yeah. Right. Taking all the supplements. Right. And maybe better off than they would be, right. Than they if they weren’t doing it, but they’re still kind of stuck at something’s missing here. Yes. And that’s the feeling side, like dealing with chronic stress and unresolved trauma. And I, what I talk about in the book, even the research around intergenerational trauma, which says mind blowing stuff of how things are even passed on through generations and showing up physiologically, it’s actually showing up in inflammation and autoimmunity and hypervigilance. And so both sides of the coin are needed. The physiological and the psychological, the gut and the feelings. And that’s why I’m so excited to, for people to read this book because I know it’s so important. And when both sides are dealt with, I get to see on an hourly ba, pa basis with my patients that people are able to overcome the seemingly insurmountable because of this approach.
Kimberly: 05:29 And what I love about the book as well is it’s very grounded in research. And I feel like a lot of this research wasn’t talked about, wasn’t seen. You’ve really great. Done a great job. Well, of compiling it. So we say, oh my gosh. And there’s this part in the book, which I’ve intuitively felt for years and years working with people, seeing them, as you said, eat well, um, eat a plant-based diet or, you know, cleanse or do all these different things and still have weight problems. But there’s a part in the book where you talk about you sometimes these weight problems are because of chronic stress at work and toxic relationships constantly putting us in fight or flight. So it’s not about the food alone, it will never just be about the food.
Why food alone is not the only cause of weight problems
Will : 06:09 No, I mean, and the studies are very clear on this. It’s not just me saying it in a book or, and certainly I have a lot of clinical experience with this, but it’s very much researched that when your body’s in a state of stress, I mean stress, chronic stress is associated with a lot of different health problems. But one of them is the impact it has on hormonal signaling, how it impacts insulin, how it impact cortisol levels, how it impact leptin levels. And these are things that we can quantify on labs and see things like insulin resistance and leptin resistance and cortisol dysregulation, right? And how it really kind of puts the body in that sort of protection mode. And it’s, it’s sort of an evolutionary mechanism, but it’s not sustainable for long-term health. It’s not sustainable for feeling great, you know, having optimal energy and just having healthy metabolism. So as I said in the book, chronic stress is the ultimate junk food, right? Mm-hmm. And you, if you’re eating the, like a beautiful salad and chugging back smoothies and kombuchas and, but serving your body a big slice of stress every day, that’s raising inflammation levels just as much as that food that doesn’t love you back. Hmm.
Kimberly: 07:20 Well you, you used a really interesting term in your subtitle, shame, and then also this term you use in the book shame, inflammation. Can you talk a little bit about that specifically?
Will breaks down what shameflammation is
Will : 07:32 Yeah. So it’s shame formation is my term for pat two patients about how the mental, emotional, spiritual stuff symbolized by shame, right? And we talk about the research around shame, which is really fascinating, but how sh things, negative emotions or emotions that are sabotaging to the human body, like shame and stress and trauma, how that impacts our physical body, i e the inflammation part of sha inflammation and raises inflammation markers like high sensitivity C-reactive protein or homocystine levels, another inflammatory marker that we measure for patients. And, and other ones like other immune markers in the gut. Like, uh, calprotectin is one that we see a lot, um, really spiked high because of this hypervigilant immune response in the form of chronic inflammation, which is a product of the immune system. And it’s, again, it’s the people that cleaned up their diet, they’re super clean, they’re doing all the things they’re quote unquote supposed to do as far as nutrition is concerned, but are re either reliving a past trauma that’s not resolved or, and or dealing with in a current stressful circumstance in their life. Whether it’s unhealthy boundaries at work, unhealthy boundaries with certain relationships. And it’s sort of, it’s feeding that, as you said, that sympathetic fight or flight stressed state, which really disregulates a lot of things in their body internally. But then the ripple effect is a lot of dysregulation in their life externally with the relationships, et cetera.
Kimberly: 09:05 Hmm. So this word trauma, it’s, you know, I read it’s, it’s in your book as well and, um, other books I’ve been reading about and now we’re starting to understand how pervasive it is. I think some researchers have said there’s 75% of Americans have, you know, beyond covid, which was a stressor trauma for all of us, but things like neglect in our childhood. And so I, you know, you read this stuff well and you’re like, oh gosh, I definitely have trauma. Am I screwed? Am I gonna, I mean, I’m aware of it now. You know, a lot of people say this to themselves. Have you seen patients really heal their childhood things that have happened and their health improves in dramatic ways? I mean, I know it’s not all or nothing, but you know, it’s sometimes we read this stuff and we’re like, oh God, it’s, it’s a little bit discouraging. So maybe you can give us some hopeful news,
Helpful news when there’s so much that is discouraging
Will : 09:56 <laugh>. Yeah. I mean, it is, and it’s heavy stuff, right? And it’s a lot more nebulous in a way because it’s easy Yeah. Or more prescriptive in a way for me to say, oh, these foods are most likely to drive inflammation. Like avoiding those foods will love you back, it’ll calm inflammation levels and it’s a little bit more cut and dried straightforward, A and B, um, it’s a lot more insidious for when you’re talking about things like trauma and chronic stress. Yeah. To, to say to somebody you don’t have trauma, don’t have that anymore, right. Or don’t have stress, then they stress about not stressing and it doesn’t really help anybody. So you always wanna bring context to it and solutions to it. And it’s a lot more, it’s a long, it’s not a quick fix. It’s something that’s gonna be a lot of unpacking from many of us.
10:44 And one of the things that we have for initial consultations, we have every patient fill out a lot of health history stuff, right? It like more in-depth things that we ask in functional medicine. But we all, one of the things, one of the areas that we look at for every patient is something called the adverse childhood experience or ace, their ACE score. And we get really personal about psychological abuse growing up, physical abuse growing up, sexual abuse growing up. Was there alcohol or drugs in the home growing up? What was your parents’ relationship growing up? And we know from the studies, and I talk about it in the book, how people that have higher a scores are more likely later on in life to be, have things like autoimmune conditions and metabolic issues and hormonal problems. So, you’re right, it’s quite sobering and heavy to say, wow, many of us will be like, man, I’m screwed.
11:36 Like what? I didn’t even ask for any of this stuff. And I am, the odds are set stacked against me. Um, and it’s absolutely true to say that some of us have a more arduous journey than others. This’s no way around it. Yes. It’s just the, the, the state of the world. But I see people all day long for the past 13 plus years in telehealth and functional medicine overcome the seemingly insurmountable and ultimately as trauma can be inherited. So can healing. Yes. And I see people healed not just themselves from these things, but their children. And if they choose to have them and their children’s children and generations to come, breaking that cycle of pain, breaking that cycle of dise, breaking that, that cycle of disorder both physiologically and externally too. So they’re bringing about homeostasis balance Hmm. Symmetry and synergy into their life. So the research is very clear that you can calm down these hypervigilant states, these hyper proinflammatory states through the gut and the feelings, the physical, physiological, and the psychological. So again, it’s, it’s, it’s a untangling. It’s not, it’s a process. It’s a deepening. Healing is certainly non-linear. And my patients tell you that. But it’s one, it’s, it’s the path that you have to go on if you want to overcome these things.
Kimberly: 13:03 Well, and at least we’re having this conversation, right? Because in the past if people didn’t even know they had trauma, there was no discussion about it, there’s this building frustration, right? I’m doing all this stuff, why isn’t it working? What’s wrong with me? So for me, well I, you know, I, I didn’t understand a lot of this for a long time. You know, my immigrant parents, my mother’s an immigrant from the Philippines doing their best hustling. There was a level of neglect, a lot of love, but just a lot of, you know, left aloneness. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, which later manifested in perfectionism. Right. And you actually have this line, I wrote it down in my notes, nowhere is perfectionism more dangerous than in the world of health and wellness. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So this really struck me cuz we said, oh, don’t be so hard on yourself, have more self-compassion, but now you’re actually linking it to health. Can you talk a little bit about that connection?
The dangers of perfectionism in the world of health
Will : 13:55 Yeah. So I talk a lot about, in the book about orthorexia, which is a problem within the wellness world, right? It’s like, um, yes. The end stage, right? But then it’s really just like any disordered eating, there’s an orthorexic spectrum where you may not be diagnosable with orthorexia, but you know, intuitively there’s something not yeah, healthy about my relationship with food or exercise or whatever. Anything within wellness. And there’s this sort of shame and obsession and anxiety and dread around wellness. And I see things that are very great tools be abused, things that even make sense for that person. But there’s such a sense of dread and obsession and anxiety around it that it’s really sabotaging any good that it could do. Because yeah, as I say in the book, you can’t heal a body. You hate, you cannot shame your way into wellness. You can’t obsess your way into health.
14:51 And that is true. So the perfectionism can look different ways for different people, but it’s definitely a problem within the health and wellness world. And whether it’s orthorexia or just this sort of hyper perfectionism right around something where they become obsessive about it, I really think it’s the antithesis of sustainable wellness. It’s just, it’s not gonna be sustainable for most people because of that frenetic energy or if it is quote unquote sustainable, it’ll end up being such a source of dread and misery that you will, it’ll really sabotage all the potential good benefits that it could bring you. So we have to start again, this is more complex than me just saying it with my words, but we have to start shifting our paradigm around these things and unpacking our intention and why, of why we’re even doing this. So you read the books that, you know, but like a lot of the conversation that I wanted to have with the reader is just saying like, why are we doing these things and within wellness? And start to shift it towards using self-care and practices within wellness as a form of self-respect. And saying like, can we do these things and get all the amazing benefits that’s in the science, but do it with a way, with a place of from, but do it from a place of grace and lightness. Because uh, I think like the biohacking world’s wonderful, but a lot of lay people,
Kimberly: 16:08 Lot of lack in there. Right? Like, I’m not enough.
Will : 16:11 Yeah. Right. It’s so much. Always more and more is always better. Yes. And sometimes it’s not more, sometimes less is where you need to go. And streamlining and simplifying your life is the most self-care, like loving, nourishing, healthy thing you can do,
Kimberly: 16:25 You know, with the perfection of as well, well this, this drive, this constant pushing. It’s never enough. This competitiveness. I remember I, I lived in New York City and I used to teach yoga Asana classes, even in yoga. Well, there’d be a, you know, a certain percentage of students that would be like, looking around all the time, am I doing it right? Am I doing a better handstand? Really competitive. And you see it, like you said, in health and food in yoga class, which is supposed to be about self connection and breath, but still that you call it hyper vigil. It’s just always looking around and comparing. It really permeates our life. And I imagine our nervous systems and then our gut health and everything just starts to cascade detrimentally.
Competitiveness and comparison and the effects on your nervous system
Will : 17:09 Yeah. Without a doubt. Without a doubt. So it’s like the, to me, where I wrote the book, and I say this in the book actually explicitly, I say this book is for the health aficionado in many ways where it is like, I see cuz those are my people that I see Yeah. In the telehealth center. Like they’re the people that know all the things they know more than most doctors do. And I’m saying like, let’s look at what the research is showing of what we’re doing. Let’s check ourselves in a, in a loving way and like start to shift and simplify some things to, to really come about this with the intention of nourishment, but it’s also for the health beginner so they can actually get off in the right foot and stay there <laugh>. Because many of us lose our way within wellness and we become this sort of obsessive type a orthorexic person.
17:56 And you’re like, you look back in five years, 10 years, 15 years, and you’re like, where the heck am I? Like why I’m eating five foods? And I, and I, I, I have, I’m so restricted and I ha still have digestive problems and their north is like lost. They have, they have no idea how to get out of this. And that’s typically when I’m meeting people is they’re dealing with the physiological things and then the mental emotional things. And then sometimes trauma around food because we know that food sensitivities are a real problem. Yeah. So sometimes the orthorexia can be triggered from real food reactions and that’s the other side of the coin that you have to deal with both sides to start to get out of those woods, so to speak.
Kimberly: 18:33 Well, I like how you talk about in the book medical gaslighting a bit where someone knows there’s something wrong with them and the doctors are saying, well, there’s no test and then there’s a certain percentage of people, as you know, well they don’t ever really figure it out. So they get, oh, I know general autoimmune, it’s undiagnosed Lyme disease. Or, you know, it gets put into these sort of, you know, labels from, in your opinion, you know, you’re talking about gut feelings. You’re talking about this connection between gut and the emotional mental health. Is it, um, is a lot of this stuff like just this general dysbiosis, or is it really like subdivided Lyme disease, this kind of autoimmune? Or is it much more of a general thing? Do you, do you see what I’m saying? Absolutely. I think so many people I meet that are like, well it wasn’t, it un it’s not diagnosed. So I guess it’s Lyme disease.
The commonality between all of these health problems
Will : 19:22 Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Yeah, you’re right. And I think a lot of times these umbrella terms or even, you know, really the diagnoses sometimes are just a description of, of their symptoms. Yeah. Because like, fibromyalgia being labeled that it’s, what, what does that even mean? It’s like musculoskeletal inflammation, breaking that down. Anybody that has fibromyalgia will tell you I already know that. Or chronic fatigue syndrome. Yeah. Okay. What does that even mean? I’m chronically tired. They already know that my, my job in functional medicine to say, why do you have this problem in the first place if someone has fibromyalgia? Okay, if that’s your label, that’s your label. But what’s upstream to that? What’s actually causing that neuromuscular inflammation in the first place? Or c f s chronic fatigue syndrome? What’s actually driving that? Cfs mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So it, it, it definitely is, it’s manifested in different ways for different people depending on the confluence of variables and the area in which it’s impacting.
20:19 Right. The commonality between all of these problems is chronic inflammation. But then ultimately my job in functional medicine is to figure out and find out why, what’s causing the inflammation in the first place. Inflammation is the commonality, but ultimately, yes. Something causing the dysregulated immune response or chronic inflammation. And in turn the nervous system and the endocrine system, the hormonal system. So I went over, like through the book, I go over the top physiological and psychological things that I see. And for some people we’re all gonna have different pieces to that puzzle. Like for some people it’s gonna be a bigger piece of their puzzle is underlying gut problems. Like a lot of b gut bacterial dysbiosis, things like sibo, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. But then, not to get super granular here, but like what caused the sibo? So there, there’s a lot of research to show that, you know, their um, trauma can decrease the migrating motor complex and both mental emotional trauma but also physical trauma like head traumas.
21:23 So like car act, past car accidents or sporting injuries can drive this ebo. And then there’s that whole sort of mental emotional trauma around that, or mycotoxins mold toxins we see decreasing in the migrating motor complex. So the SIBO doesn’t happen in a vacuum. So this sort of the complex areas, but that’s where it impacts the person is how we like to label it in healthcare. Right. If it impacts more of the gut, we have labels for it. Like IBS or Crohn’s leak or ulcerative colitis. Yeah. Or if it happens in the brain, we used to call it brain fog fatigue, but it’s inflammation in different parts of the body. We can label it however we want to, but what’s the upstream root issue? What’s causing that inflammation in the first place? So is it like what I call shame inflammation? Is it the mental, emotional spiritual stuff? Is it physiological things like underlying gut problems or chronic infections or environmental toxins like glyphosate impacting neuroinflammation and the decimation of the gut microbiome? It’s, for many people it’s a confluence of factors. It’s the perfect storm of variables. Yes. Of giving rise to these crawling problems.
Kimberly: 22:31 Yeah. I remember when I had a lot of yeast, well like candida and then I was really anxious and then I was constipated. So it was almost like my gut health was making me more moody and then vice versa. Cuz then I was clamping down. I wasn’t relaxed, I wasn’t chewing well, I wasn’t chewing good food or choosing good foods. So it was sort of like this vicious cycle that it’s really hard to break when you don’t have the knowledge.
Will : 22:57 Yeah, absolutely. And look, it’s, you’re right, it’s, they’re on a causation level. There’s studies to show that different bacterial overgrowth or actually causal to influence the way that neurotransmitters are produced and signaled. So like we know this, but like 95% of serotonin is made in the gut and stored in the gut. 50% of dopamine is made in the gut. Stored in the gut. So we know the different bacterial overgrowth and imbalances can actually influence the way that serotonin, dopamine, acetylcholine, gaba or inf or influence as far as your mood. But on top of that, like you said, when you have digestive issues just on a symptomatic level, anybody’s gonna feel irritable and moody and maybe a little bit lethargic from that as well. So then it’s, yeah, this is where like the um, sort of vicious cycle can play and come into play is people don’t know what came first, right?
23:49 Is it, was it the underlying gut problems for the mood issue? That’s the bidirectional relationship because we know the gut and brain are formed actually from the same fetal tissue. So babies are growing in their mother’s womb and they’re that gut and brain is an inextricably linked for the rest of our life through what is known as the gut brain axis. Your gut is your second brain. It even looks like the brain if you think about it, your intestines. So it’s an important part. And many people can’t untangle, they’re having difficulty untangling where to even start because it’s happening on both, both ends, both literally and metaphorically.
Kimberly: 24:25 Well, well then we then we can argue. Does it matter? Right? Do do we need to know where it started? We can start working with both as you talk about in your book.
Gut brain or mood – Which came first?
Will : 24:33 Yeah. Yeah. It doesn’t really matter. It, it, it only, it matters. It matters to a certain degree. Cuz it, people want the root answers. Sure. And you wanna go upstream, so I you, that’s where a comprehensive health history comes in, in labs. But ultimately, even when you lay out all that data, the evidence for people, and I do that as a, for my day job, I tell them exactly what you just said. Ultimately, you, you don’t know always what came first. It’s kind of irrelevant. You have to do with both sides of the coin and what are gonna be the biggest needle movers for you. And for some people, the biggest needle mover for them is gonna be dealing with this piece of the puzzle for the next person. It’s gonna be that. So any, like, I’ll do whatever it takes for our patients to get their head above water so they could start, have that sigh of relief of like, I’m moving in the right direction. And then they get encouraged by doing the things that make them feel good. And I want the same for the reader too. It’s just just like, let’s intuitively kind of check in with theirselves to see what are the, what are the areas that are the most tangled up for me, so to speak.
Kimberly: 25:36 Well, and I love in the book you juxtapose the, you know, the the the actual nutritional the recommendations with meditation and therapy to just to show, Hey guys, this is a really holistic way of looking at it. If we really wanna heal, this is as important as this, as this part.
Will : 25:53 Yeah, it is, it is the gut and the feelings and it’s every day I wanted to like there’s a 21 day protocol in the book that I, as I say in the book, clearly, like, I’m not saying I’m gonna deal with completely solve people’s intergenerational trauma in 21 days, but I want people to start leaning into these practices cuz with consistency and a lot of aha moments, I think for many people, yes, they’ll be able to know, oh, this EMDR thing that he’s talking about here, I need to go seek a specialist that that’s trained in e emdr or I need to do more of what I learned over the 21 days with somatic experiences or breath work mm-hmm. <affirmative> mm-hmm. <affirmative> or soups and stews and really deal with the gut brain access and this underlying gut inflammation impacting my mood. Like maybe it’s more of that. So all of this stuff is important. So hopefully it’s a springboard in many ways. I hope it is for people to have a lot of, uh, first like a step, first step in the right direction.
Kimberly: 26:48 You know, talking about soups or stews as a Ayurvedic practitioner, there’s so much about cooked food, well like with feeling really nourishing when you’re feeling stressed. Right? But then on the other end of the scale, there’s the raw foodists that talk about don’t destroy the vitamins and it’s, you know, there’s like this or that. What have you do you see people in your, in your clinic that sort of, and you talk about this like on off and even within the vegan vegetarian world, there’s this raw food cooked, um mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know, discussion. And everybody’s body’s different. So do you, do you see people in your, in your clinic where you’re, they are better handled to have all cooked Yeah. All raw than most people. It’s a combination.
Cooked vs raw foods and bio-individuality
Will : 27:29 Yeah. For most people it’s a combination. So for, for us, we’re always looking and, and I, and some, for many of our patients, we, I think of it as sort of this pie chart, uh, for cooked versus raw. And for some people, like these are very general generalities. But to give you an example, somebody that has more active flared up I B S D, like an irritable bowel syndrome, looser stools, ide, digested foods, they tend to do better at the beginning, therapeutically using food as a like therapeutic tool within their toolbox. More soups and stews, more cooked. Even some people puree vegetables even as soft and easy to digest as possible. Versus some people that have less reactive digestive issues or even that have, um, little bit sluggish GI motility all the way cons to constipation is to start with really looking at more fiber and, and, and actually having some more raw foods.
28:26 Yeah. Uh, and then there’s everything in between. There are people that, yeah, there’s exceptions to even that rule of what I just said. I know people that have looser stools, I B S D that actually do need to have more raw foods so the fiber can actually add bulk to the stool. So even when I just said I B, S, D and C, I’m thinking of exceptions of bio-individuality of everybody’s gut is different, everybody’s biology is different. So a major part of what I do and what I try to put in the book is bio-individuality. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So I don’t, I think it’s very, um, reductive of us in like if someone’s a raw foodist and they think everybody should do raw food Yes. All the time. There’s no exceptions. They’re not pro they’re probably not talking to very many people during the day. And if they are, they’re probably talking to, to the same small subset of people that agree with you.
29:13 Yes. And, and it works for them. Right. So there’s nothing no shade on that like that It does absolutely work for some people. But I’ll tell you what, there are many people that have tried the raw food and it really just isn’t loving them back right now. And that’s the big term right now. Right. Where like, can you do more of, like you said, the aured principles of more soups and stews and, and traditional Chinese medicine and with more soups and stews for a time. And then lean out of that and segue out of it. So different seasons of our life, different seasons of our health journey, our what foods love us back and how that food looks like, what that food looks like. It’s gonna evolve over time. And it’s okay to pivot. Many people, especially within the vegan of vegetarian world, they feel like they’re a failure if what they’re doing because it’s so tied up into belief and faith and ethics and morality that they somehow really feel like there’s an extra level of, there’s the food shame and then there’s like this larger, like, I’m an ethical moral failure because I, uh, this food’s not loving me back even though it did at one point.
30:17 Or this food’s not loving me back even though I thought it should. So be okay to pivot, be okay to evolve and give yourself grace because stressing about this stuff isn’t, is ultimately sabot our health too.
Kimberly: 30:29 Right. Exactly. Then it goes to the orthorexia and the feelings. And ano another area in the book that was really fascinating and is so needed to be talked about today is course the relationship with hormones. And you had something really interesting, uh, you wrote about the connection between insulin and negative emotions because obviously we know we’re in the middle of this diabetes epidemic and child diabetes, uh, pediatric diabetes. So can you talk a little bit about that?
Hormones and the connection between insulin and negative emotions
Will : 30:56 Yeah, so hor hormones are kind of like biochemical emails. I, that’s how I think of ’em. They’re, they’re messengers, right? They’re chemical signaling molecules. And when somebody’s under stress, I mean chronic stress is associated with pretty much every health problem pretty much. Um, but it’s implicated with metabolic syndrome type two diabetes for sure. And the impact that has on our blood sugar regulation because of its influence on cortisol, which influences blood sugar regulation. And then that will impact insulin, which is meant to get glucose stabilizing down. So the vast majority, depending on the study that you look at, it’s the vast majority, 60 to 80%. Some, somewhere around that time than that percentage of people in the west have some sort of blood sugar problem. They’re somewhere on that insulin resistance spectrum. It may be negligible, but most people you can measure it in the form of high triglycerides cuz the body is storing glucose as circulating fats.
31:58 So you’ll see triglycerides above 100, you’ll start to see H G L or good cholesterol under 59, uh, which we want that to be higher than that for optimal, uh, cholesterol health. Um, and then obviously serum insulin, leptin, a1, CS above 5.5 glucose fasting blood sugar above 90. You’ll see that. And there’s both the physiological and a psychological component of it for this for many people. So looking at stress, looking at negative emotions, looking at trauma and how those things impact hormonal signaling and, and, and, um, blood sugar and inflammation, it’s kind of all part of that same dysfunction when you’re talking about insulin resistance. So
Kimberly: 32:39 Yeah,
Will : 32:40 It, it, it’s, it’s just needed. It’s needed. And I, I, again, I see people that have the perfect macros. Their protein fats and carbs look beautiful, but they’re not sleeping well cuz they’re stressed and then that’s throwing off and then they’re further stressed cuz they’re not sleeping well. So again, it’s like what came first there, but it’s, it’s going to only compound over time this dysregulated endocrine response. And when, when blood sugar is off and insulin is off, uh, you are gonna see a cascade of problems with other hormones as well. And that can do, that can play a part in the thyroid hormones and with estrogen and progesterone. Cause you know, things like, uh, es insulin resistance, which most people are dealing with to some degree will impact liver function and impact an enzyme called aromatase and really impact estrogen and progesterone for people, for both men and women and testosterone for both men and women.
33:35 So it is, it is a something not to stress people out, but just to say, look, there’s, if anything, I hope this, this is a sense of grace for people to know, hey, this isn’t just my lack of willpower or I’m weak or there’s something wrong with me and uh, there’s something dysfunctional with my personality. It’s like, no, there’s a reason why people are craving certain foods when your blood sugar is off. Yeah. Because of a maybe underlying gut problem or stress. It’s gonna make you crave certain things. And there’s fascinating research to show that just even bacterial imbalances in the gut, which impacts your blood sugar, you’ll crave certain foods. Yes. So maybe it’s not you craving it in the first place, it’s your gut bacteria that’s causing you to crave it. So that’s, if anything a sense of like, whoa, it’s not just something wrong with me. I can actually, there’s a reason why I feel the way that I do. Let’s be curious and ask why I feel the way that I do so I can deal with it and move on with my life.
Kimberly: 34:30 You mentioned in the book about trying to break free of sugar and then the bacteria that feeds out the sugar could taste could change your taste buds, your opioid receptors. So what do we do if we are trying to get off sugar? It’s, it just seems like, oh wow, this stuff is a lot more complicated than we thought. It isn’t just willpower. Yeah. To strengthen the overall gut.
What to do if you are trying to cut out sugar
Will : 34:51 Yeah. Lean into it. I think that’s what I wanna do for the 21 days. It’s like, if you are a health expert, if you are know all this stuff to some degree but haven’t put it all together, this 21 days will allow you to lean into it and sort of streamline what are the most effective tools that I’ve seen work for people in functional medicine for the past 13 years. Or if you’re new to this and they’re like, what the heck? Where do I even start? Yeah. Then this, when people lean into it and are consistent with leaning into it, they can get their head above that proverbial water and start feeling better so they don’t have to have it all figured out. And the the flip the flip side of this is yes, the body’s interconnected. So one problem in one area of the body can cause a ripple effect or as you said, a cascade of things in the body.
35:35 That is true. But the flip side of that is you don’t have to deal with all the separate parts of the body to start feeling better. You can start to go what we would call in functional medicine upstream, like get to the root. And for many people it’s these gut things. When you start dealing with that, that untangles a lot of the dysfunction downstream. Yes. So you don’t have to definitely have, like, you don’t have to have 50 different things you have to do. Sometimes it’s just consistency with the few Right. That will really start moving the needle for you significantly.
Kimberly: 36:07 Well, well I have you, well I can’t help but ask about one big category that comes up a lot in our community and that is fertility. Right? We’re seeing arising women, people in their twenties are having a really difficult time ovulating or getting pregnant or holding or taking babies to term, which has to do with estrogen and progesterone. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So I’m sure you see a lot of patients as well in your clinic. So is there, um, hope for many struggling in this category and, and you know, in context of your book with gut health and feelings and to heal the ovaries and hormones in general?
Fertility and how to heal the ovaries and hormones
Will : 36:45 Yeah, absolutely. So hormones are, as I mentioned, that there’s sort of physiological emails and emails are not being sent appropriately whenever the body’s stuck. When the different systems of the body are stuck in that sympathetic fight or flight stressed state. And that’s a spectrum too, right? That hypervigilance is a spectrum on one end, on one extreme end. It’s a labeled term which I talk about in the book that dysautonomia, it’s, it’s sort of that dysregulated, hypervigilant, the immune sy the nervous system’s actually stuck in a, a sympathetic fight or flight stress state. There are many people that aren’t diagnosable with dys, but they’re somewhere in that sympathetic overactivation. They’re parasympathetic, they’re resting, digesting hormone balanced state is inhibited. So every practice that I have in that book, both the gut and the feelings action items is boarding the autonomic nervous system in more of a parasympathetic state.
37:41 Which is key cuz you, I see patients that are teenagers all the way to perimenopausal and beyond postmenopausal. And I can’t tell you how many women that I see in the twen in their twenties and thirties and forties that are their hormones look like they’re in the post-menopausal ranges. Oh gosh. Cause gosh of their nervous system and their immune system and their gut brain access are just so de in in that fight or flight stress state. So part of the epidemic of infertility is due to what I am no doubt is what I’m seeing clinically. Cuz I realize I’m just seeing this sort of microcosm within the our society Right. Of people I see. But then it makes you think, and it makes us think as a team, like, wow we’re just, we’re seeing this sort of subset of pe things that are going on, but you are, the numbers speak for themselves and you’re dealing with 50 million Americans plus to have an autoimmune disease. As I mentioned earlier, million, the majority of people have insulin resistance. These, all of this stuff increases infertility and, but the hormones, you’re, it’s really difficult and it’s even hard to even expect great looking estrogen and progesterone and testosterone when your body, when your nervous system st and stuck in that hypervigilant state
Kimberly: 39:03 Or sperm
Will : 39:05 It it. Right. Absolutely. With sperm as well. So both, and that’s a great point. I mean it’s, both parties need to be Yeah. Looking at what, where is my health at both on a physical and mental emotional, spiritual side. So all of these variables need to be taken in consideration and um, you know, it’s, I think that the tools within the book are really meant to, and there’s a whole chapter talking about hormones. Yes. Because of the impact of the gut and the feelings on the endocrine system. It’s so, so common. Um, but yeah, beyond that, you know, clinically I see people overcome these things all the time. So we get baseline with labs and really lean into these gut feeling practices, these parasympathetic supporting, endocrine supporting, uh, practices. Uh, so yeah, it’s, I want want people to know those help. And there’s definitely a lot of tools within the toolbox that they can start to lean into.
Kimberly: 39:59 And again, that’s one of the reasons I love this book, I’m so excited about this book, will the 21 day plan. So you really lay out for us in the beginning so we understand the connection, we can understand, wow, this is really important. And then you give us a program to help reset that involves the feeling part, like you said in the gut part, the food, all of it integrated. So I’m really excited about this book. As I mentioned, I have all your books over here on my shelf. Thank you. But this one, I started reading it and I was like, oh my gosh, like, ah, like they like light bulbs going off. Like, this is so exciting. People need to know about this, this book and can and will help so many people will. So thank you so much. And you can feel, um, it’s come from your heart. I imagine it’s come from your practice and just seeing all these people, these everybody needs help and this is how you can really give people the help and the support that they need.
Will : 40:52 Yeah. It, it really is, uh, heart. My heart is for anybody that’s going with, through these health problems, you know, what would be commonly referred to as mystery illnesses. I want to demystify that and really realize there’s, it’s not so mysterious when you look in this look at the stones, so to speak. Look at those proverbial stones that are most likely to have something underneath it. And we get to really talk about those stones that are oftentimes not talked about. Exactly. Cause when you look there, you get answers.
Kimberly: 41:22 Whew. And just to have, you know, this area of medicine coming into this perspective with heart and compassion and like you said, this holism. So it, it really, this is how we really help, right? Don’t have to hide parts of ourselves. We don’t say, oh, this is not related, but it’s this holism which which is where our power is. Yeah. So thank you so much for taking time out of your schedule for chatting with us.
Will : 41:43 Yeah, you’re welcome. I have to say real fast. Yes. Your con the conversation that I had with you around your books where, um, I had to include the yogic science section within gut feelings because of the connection between Mm. Like the, even the, the section that I talk about, yoga, the yogic science’s, so much parallels between yogic science and polyvagal theory and polyvagal theory talks about like the ventral vagal and the dorsal vagal and the sort of the, the how stress and trauma can be stored in ourselves. Yogis knew this thousands and thousands of years ago before we had all this sort of science and this sort of Yes. Western terminology. So I just wanna thank you for that cuz I, that area within the book is really because of our conversation.
Kimberly: 42:31 Oh wow. <laugh>. That makes me so happy. Oh my gosh. Well I’m just, you know, just enamored with your work and I’m just so excited to share this Will and I love everything that you are talking about resonates so deeply with me. So thank you so much. Thank, thank you for being here with us today. Thank you. Loves for listening. The gut, the book again is called Gut Feeling, healing the Shame Field Relationship Between What You Eat and How you Feel. And we will be linking to it directly in the show notes.
Please be sure to check out the show notes for direct links to his new book. Again, it’s called Gut Feelings and His Work as well as other podcasts I think you would enjoy past shows we’ve had with Dr. Cole and other related topics, as well as articles and meditations, recipes. So much lives on our website, so please be sure to check it email@example.com. We will be back here Thursday for our next Q&A podcast to then take great care and sending you so much love, so much gratitude. Thank you for being part of the community and I look forward to supporting you more. Namaste.