Dr. Nick Bitz from the Neurohacker Collective joins us to redefine the probiotic game and unleash the bioharmony within your gut. Gain insights into the coevolution of humans and bacteria, and why our modern lifestyle has led to a deficiency in ancestral strains. Explore the exceptional benefits of next-gen spore probiotics and their ability to restore the gut-brain connection, boost cognitive performance, and enhance overall well-being.
Episode HighlightsWe aren't what we eat, rather, we are what we don't poop out! – Dr. Nick Bitz Click To TweetThe gut microbiota can influence the production of neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine, which are crucial for mood regulation and cognition. Click To TweetThe gut microbiome weighs about 6 pounds, the same as the human brain. Click To Tweet
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About Dr. Nick Bitz
Dr. Nick Bitz is a Naturopathic Physician who specializes in Ayurvedic medicine. He is a leading voice in the natural products industry and currently serves as Senior VP of Product Development at Neurohacker Collective. His areas of expertise include nootropics, anti-aging medicine, biohacking, herbology, nutrition, and dietary supplements.
Top Things You’ll Learn From Dr. Nick Bitz
- Why probiotics are one of the top dietary supplement categories in the US
- The distinctions between all the varieties of bacterial strains that support our microbiome, not just pro and pre-biotics
- Prebiotics: Non-digestible fibers that nourish good gut bacteria
- Probiotics: Beneficial live bacteria for gut health
- Postbiotics: Metabolic byproducts of probiotics’ activity
- Synbiotics: Combining probiotics and prebiotics for better gut health
- How the human body has a symbiotic relationship with bacteria, viruses, and fungi
- How the diversity of bacteria in the human gut has decreased in modern society
- Chemicals, especially antibiotics, have a negative impact on the microbiome
- Understand the Ayurvedic Doshas and how they correlate with modern science
- Vata: Governs movement and creativity. Imbalance can lead to anxiety
- Pitta: Manages metabolism and focus. Imbalance can cause anger or inflammation
- Kapha: Provides stability and support. Imbalance can lead to congestion
- How to choose the most effective probiotic supplements like Qualia Synbiotic
- Look for spore probiotics, such as those from the Bacillus genus
- Learn about Next-gen probiotics that address the lack of diversity in older varieties of probiotics
- Seek innovative brands that create better strains of probiotics
- Verify the DNA of probiotic products and ensure strain specificity on the label
- Review the time of manufacture not just the expiration date to ensure the most live organisms
- The importance of the gut-brain axis and its crucial link to our nervous system, mental health, cognitive function, and overall well-being
- Taking probiotic supplements provides benefits with better bowel movements, reduced abdominal distress, and enhanced cognitive performance
- Supplement: Qualia Synbiotic (code URBAN saves 15%)
- Teacher: Dr. Robert Svoboda
- Teacher: Deepak Chopra
Nick Urban [00:00:05]:
Are probiotics one of the top ten most essential supplements that virtually every modern human should take? Or are they a massive billion or even trillion dollar scam? In this episode of Mind Body Peak Performance, we will cover the microbiome, the supportive nutrients, what actually works and doesn’t to improve the gut, the ayurvedic, which is an ancestral health system’s perspective on gut health, microbes and digestion and how the integrity and health of your gut is really the basis of virtually every health or even anti aging goal. Joining us this week is Dr. Nick Bitz of the Neurohacker Collective. He’s a naturopathic physician that specializes in ayurvedic medicine. He’s a leading voice in the natural product industry and currently serves as Senior VP of Product Development at Neurohacker Collective. His areas of expertise include nootropics anti aging medicine, biohacking, herbology, nutrition, and dietary supplements. As I mentioned, in this episode, we focus primarily on the gut and the probiotics prebiotics symbiotics that can improve it. But if you go back to episode number 80, dr. Nick and I recorded a podcast on one of the hallmarks of aging, which is senolytic therapy. So that episode will nicely complement this one. And if you want to find the links to everything we discuss, the show notes will email@example.com and then the number of this episode, 119. If you feel like trying the Qualia symbiotic product for yourself, one of the very few probiotic hybrids that I actually use, you can use the code Urban in the Neurohacker store to save 15% on your order. Again, link to that product. And some of the stuff we discuss will be in the show notes. So if you’ve been wondering whether or not that expensive probiotic supplement you’re taking is actually working, this is the episode for you. All right, sit back, relax, and enjoy this conversation with Dr. Nick Bitz. Dr bitz. Welcome back to another round of MINDBODY peak performance.
Dr. Nick Bitz [00:02:38]:
Great to be here, Nick.
Nick Urban [00:02:39]:
Your last episode was a hit. We talked about your product, Qualia Synolytic, and that whole front of the longevity movement where things are going, the hallmarks of aging. And today we’re going to touch on a completely separate topic, but equally as important, if not more important, in my own opinion, and that is the gut microbiome and the ingredients, the compounds, the supplements and things we can do to support that, to build a robust, healthy microbiome.
Dr. Nick Bitz [00:03:10]:
Yeah, we had a really great conversation last time. I appreciated that that was all geared around aging senescence and what we can do to kind of reverse that whole process. This is a corollary. I mean, it relates to the hallmarks of aging. It relates to longevity. But I think today we’re going to focus a little bit more on gut health. So a slight tangent, but I’m happy we’re going here. This is a really fun area to talk about.
Nick Urban [00:03:39]:
So set the stage for us. Why is this something worth looking into and considering oh, boy.
Dr. Nick Bitz [00:03:46]:
If you go back to the ancient physicians, they knew that digestive health is the foundation of whole body health. That idea gets thrown around a lot, but it’s real. When you start leaning into the ayurvedic philosophy, you lean into traditional Chinese medicine, you lean into some of the eclectic physicians. They all had that same philosophy and it’s really core to how they approach the human body. And so we are, as a human body, we are a combination of 37 trillion cells. And they like to throw out the idea of, well, oh, there’s ten x the amount of microbes in your belly. And that’s been talked about for the last decade. But in recent years, they’ve actually identified that it’s really about a one to one. So your cells versus the microbiome cells inside. So we have this really interesting symbiotic relationship with all of these bacteria and viruses and fungi and parasites that live inside our belly. I mean, they are a world in and of themselves. And I think we’re just starting to get into the research and unpacking that little by little. It’s been interesting, though, to see the rise of probiotics in the US. I mean, in the last ten years, we saw them virtually come out of nowhere. They weren’t even really a category. And now they are the number three or number two category in all of dietary supplements in the world. So generally multivitamins fish oil and now probiotics. So people are starting to understand that there’s this relationship that we have with bacteria and it’s important to ensure that we’re getting and ingesting the right type of bacteria to make sure that we’re promoting health.
Nick Urban [00:05:43]:
Yeah, and I’ve seen research showing that if you have imbalances of certain microbes in your gut, that can translate into different behaviors and it can alter your personality. So it’s interesting to see how these things that are invisible to the naked eye can actually directly influence and even control the way we are, who we are, and our general life.
Dr. Nick Bitz [00:06:04]:
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, there’s so much information that’s bound within the microbiome. I mean, the microbiome is now starting to be viewed as really the last human organ. And so there’s a lot of active research in that area. Right now, the microbiome weighs about three pounds, which is heavier than the human brain. So just to show you how much information is there and then you start getting into the metabolites, that’s a whole nother area. And that really is, I think, the future of microbiome research is what are these bacteria producing and then how the body reacts to that.
Nick Urban [00:06:43]:
We’ll certainly touch on that before we get started into exploring this entire world. What are the unusuals or non negotiables you’ve done so far today for your health, your performance and your Bioharmony?
Dr. Nick Bitz [00:06:56]:
Oh, body. More and more I prioritize some of the simplest things. I prioritize sleep, I prioritize early morning sunlight, I prioritize walks or something more vigorous like getting out and playing basketball with my friends. And lately, I’ve really prioritized Earthing or grounding that is a core tenant to really my daily regimen. If I can’t get outside, if I can’t get barefoot and really absorb the Earth energy, I use an Earthing pad underneath my desk. I am right now, and I have found that to be incredibly beneficial. And the more I dig into the research, it’s proving to be beneficial for a lot of different people as well.
Nick Urban [00:07:43]:
Well, everything you just laid out has roots in ancestral medicine. These are all like tried and true practices. And some of the research is now starting to actually show how they work and that they do, in fact, work, and that it’s no longer just a fairy tale that was created a long time ago. And propagated. It actually has some validity, and it goes beyond the placebo effect. And I have done a lot of those same things today.
Dr. Nick Bitz [00:08:09]:
Yeah, fortunately, what’s old is new. Again, I think we certainly have lost our connection with nature. And the more you dig into the literature, that becomes more apparent even when you look at probiotics. I mean, the diversity that we have in the industrial world is minimal relative to what our ancestrals had. Our ancestors had great diversity of bacterial species in their gut, and we just don’t. And that really limits how we function in the world. I mean, in part, we rely on those metabolisms, those metabolites. We rely on the genetic expression of these bacteria in order to function as a whole healthy individual. And if we lack those bacteria, we lack that information. And so we’re starting to come around to say, wow, we’re lacking these ancestral probiotics and they’re critical to our health. I think that so far, the concept of probiotics absolutely rocks, and I think people are on board, but I think so far we’ve been given really B list or maybe even C list probiotic options. Most of the probiotic strains that are out there really aren’t that impactful. When you looked at the various foods that we’re eating or you’re looking at the various pills that are on the marketplace, they aren’t these ancestral strains that we’ve coevolved with. And so I think it is important to really reframe this whole category, knowing that these next gen probiotics are really starting to come in and people are starting to accept them more and more. And so one of them that’s critically important are the Bacillus strains, these spore forming bacteria. They are soil born organisms. They come from the environment, they come from the air, they come from our food. Those are really lacking in the industrial world right now. And so it’s critically important, I think, to get that through dietary supplementation.
Nick Urban [00:10:13]:
So let’s rewind. Where did humans used to get these biotics in their diet and life? Because they weren’t taking these supplements in at least in pill in capsule form. They may have taken them, supplemented them in other ways, but it was different than we’re doing it today. So what changed that? Humans once had a thriving gut microbiome and other microbiomes throughout the body that today we actually need a supplement to address that deficiency.
Dr. Nick Bitz [00:10:41]:
Yeah, that’s a big question. We definitely coevolved with bacteria. I mean, when you look at a cell structure itself, right? I mean, you look at the mitochondria that is one cell ingesting another cell and having a symbiotic relationship. That’s it. And so we are now full of cells that have those little mitochondria floating inside as sources of energy. And so we’ve always evolved with cells and bacteria in some form or know. It’s very interesting when you get into the literature you can see that the hunters and gatherers that lived long ago and even that are currently alive right now. The Hazda people in Eastern Africa, they have great diversity of microbiome. There was a study that just came out in June 2023 and it showed that they have on average about 700 different species of organisms in their gut, whereas the typical Californian person has about 200 species. And so a lot of these microorganisms are becoming extinct, more or less. We’re not getting them through environmental exposure, through the diet. It’s unfortunate, but we’re not getting them from our mom. I mean, these kind of ancestral strains, they’re part of the code biome. We gather them at birth, they become part of our body in utero. We gather them in the canal as we’re leaving our mother’s womb. We get them through breastfeeding. We get them through body to body contact. Right now, we’re not doing that if we’re doing C sections. And the mother doesn’t have a good starting point. The baby is not having a very good starting point from a microbiome standpoint. And so there’s a lot of different things. A lot of the chemicals we’re ingesting, of course antibiotics are really undercutting our microbiome and that has serious consequences.
Nick Urban [00:12:43]:
So you’ve mentioned probiotics a couple of times already. You’ve mentioned spore biotics or spore probiotics. And there’s some other terms that I’d like for you to define because I’ve heard several of them defined in different places but I haven’t heard all of them defined at once. And I’ll rattle them off now. So first we have prebiotics, then we have probiotics, then postbiotics, then transbiotics, mod, biotics and lastly probiotics.
Dr. Nick Bitz [00:13:12]:
Yes, all fun terms. I’ll start with the word symbiotic. Symbiotic is kind of this emerging term syn comes from the Greek word that means together. So a symbiotic really refers to the combination of a probiotic and a prebiotic. And they’re just kind of that combination, if you will. And so you see a lot of products in the marketplace that are quote unquote symbiotics. They’re a probiotic and a prebiotics. A prebiotic is in essence a nondigestible fiber. And specifically these are beneficial for the microorganisms in the gut because they induce the growth of those microorganisms. So they’re really food for microorganisms within the gut. Of course, probiotics are the living microorganisms by definition. They have to be living, and they have to confer a health benefit. And so lactobacillus that’s found in yogurt really doesn’t have a health benefit per se, but it does convert the sugar lactose, and it breaks it down so that milk becomes more digestible. And so it has that benefit, which is why scientists can label yogurt as a probiotic substance, which is interesting, but yogurt is not my number one probiotic, which we can discuss at great length here. And then we’re starting to get into this whole new realm of microorganism constituents that are called probiotics. And there’s a lot of, I would say, misinterpretations out there as to what they are. I would say that the most recent definitions relate to specifically an inanimate cell organism or its constituents. A lot of people like to think, too, that it’s the metabolites within the gut of microorganisms. They’re considered postbiotics. But I generally think of any heat inactivated organism that you consume which incites an immune response, an inflammatory response in the body that would be considered a postbiotic. And so you’re starting to see in the marketplace this emergence of prebiotics probiotics and probiotics overall.
Nick Urban [00:15:38]:
Okay, what about transbiotics probiotics and spore biotics?
Dr. Nick Bitz [00:15:44]:
I’m not even familiar with a transbiotic or a mod biotic. I would say that those probably are just starting to emerge. I’m deep in the literature, and I haven’t come across those. So maybe it’s within the biohacking area.
Nick Urban [00:15:59]:
Yeah, I think transbiotic is another term used for symbiotic, and I would have to imagine, based on the name, that a mod biotics has to do with modulating the effects of other biotics. I’m not positive, not my area of expertise, but that’s what I would infer.
Dr. Nick Bitz [00:16:18]:
Yeah. And again, there’s a lot we don’t know. And so these little ideas are I think they’re rising up little by little. But you did ask about spore probiotics, so that’s very simple. So, generally speaking, I will say about 99% of the probiotics that people consume through dietary supplementation are lactobacillus or Bithrobacteria. And those are two different types of bacteria. Spore are entirely different. Spore come from the Bacillus genus. And so you have Bacillus Coagulants, Bacillus CLASI, bacillus Subtilie, various types of spore forming bacteria. And these bacteria are very unique because they have this calcified protein coat that protects them. So they’re very stable. They’re generally found in the soil or in the air, and they’re really dormant bacteria. They’re neither really living nor are they dead. They’re just kind of asleep. And when you ingest them and they move through your GI tract, when they reach the small intestine, the PH shift is what allows them to come alive. And so that rise in PH allows that bacteria to kind of shed its coat, and then that bacteria comes to life. So they’re very unique in a lot of ways. They’re very stable, they live forever, hence why they’re in the soil forever and why we’ve coevolved with them. And they’re amazing in a lot of different ways. They have many advantages over the lactobacillus and the bacteria that people are used to. And I’m happy to dig in there if you want.
Nick Urban [00:17:58]:
That answers two of my questions because I remember years ago, I was listening to a podcast with Dr. Rhonda. Patrick and she was talking about probiotics and the type that she liked and it required fastidious care and refrigeration. And because of the care that went into it, they’re very expensive and they had to be alive to actually exert the full benefits. And then I came across the idea of probiotics and it elegantly solves both of those issues of like, the stomach acidity and getting broken down before it reaches the stomach and the microbiome. And then also the fact that it doesn’t necessarily need to be alive to exert its effects because it’s dormant when you ingest it.
Dr. Nick Bitz [00:18:38]:
Yeah, I mean, I’m not a big fan of lactobacillus and Bifido, and again, I know that’s what most people expect when they get into products. But by and large, they’re dead on arrival. They’re either dead in the capsule or the powder, or they are compromised by our stomach’s acid. And so they don’t actually reach the intestinal tract alive. Oftentimes when manufacturers are creating products, they’ll use a tenfold overage on that just to make sure that they can meet that label claim from day one. After two or three years, there’s no way you’re going to make that label claim because those bacteria are no longer alive. They’re really shells or ghosts of their former saves. The downside there is, even if, let’s say, 1% of lactobacillus or Bifido arrive alive, they don’t take up residency in the gut, they don’t normally colonize the gut, and they don’t have this really profound health impact. But I will point out that these organisms can be beneficial and often are, in part because they are dead and they act like probiotics. So they are inanimate, they are heat inactivated, they are killed in some form or fashion. And when you ingest them, they work to activate the immune system. You don’t absorb them, they don’t colonize, but they act much like a vaccine in some ways. And they create what scientists call a biological response modification, which just means that they incite this cascade response from inside the gut throughout the entire body. So that’s good. It wakes up your immune system. It can have an anti inflammatory effect overall, but they aren’t taking up residence. So these bugs aren’t working in the way that most people think that they are. And the last thing worth mentioning is that these are lactic acid bacteria. The spores are as well. They produce lactic acid. But lactobacillus and Bifido, they produce what’s called d lactic acid. And the body doesn’t break down D lactic acid very well. In fact, we know through a lot of reports from clinics, we know through a lot of studies that people that are taking these probiotics get this kind of acidosis effect where you have this accumulation of lactic acid in the blood, which can impact brain function, impract balance. Speech causes fatigue, causes a lot of really weird symptoms that clinicians often aren’t aware of. And so, again, that’s in part why I’m not a big fan of lactobacillus and bifido. But the spores, they don’t have any of those issues. I mean, they always arrive alive 100% of the time. They secrete what’s called L lactic acid, which is super beneficial, not the D form. And they’re transient. They come, they colonize for two to three weeks, and then your body gets rid of them. And so they help to just really restore and remodulate the gut lining and the microbiome. So they have very profound, very beneficial effects.
Nick Urban [00:21:54]:
I don’t want to get too off track here, but when you exercise, are you creating L lactic acid?
Dr. Nick Bitz [00:21:59]:
Generally, you’re producing lactate, which is a relative of lactic acid. So that’s a good question. I don’t know if it’s a D or an L in antomer, which is the form. I would assume that it’s probably the L form, because you break it down very readily.
Nick Urban [00:22:17]:
Well, that’s cool. I had no idea. And so that the probiotics also are taking up residence in the gut.
Dr. Nick Bitz [00:22:22]:
Yeah, so they’re known as transient colonizers. So they definitely embed themselves. They do what they do for two to three weeks, and then your body gets rid of them. So it’s fantastic.
Nick Urban [00:22:34]:
When I’ve purchased them previously, I’ve noticed a quite large difference in the sticker cost of these versus the traditional probiotics. Are there any other downsides to probiotics?
Dr. Nick Bitz [00:22:45]:
Well, something to be mindful of, generally speaking, spore probiotics are hard to eliminate. So if you put them on a manufacturing machine, whether you’re doing capsules or powders, and they touch that machine, they either need to be incredibly cleaned so that you’re getting rid of all of the spores, or you need to dedicate that line to spore probiotics altogether. So oftentimes people just start mixing these things and they don’t think about how resilient these little bugs are. So that certainly is one a perceived disadvantage, is probably the CFU count. Generally, you find these spores in much lower quantities. So probiotic products that are in the marketplace are 50 billion organisms, 100 billion organisms. It’s like the more is better. Mentality spores actually work at a much lower amount, which is amazing. And so studies show that at least in kids, they work at 15 million CFUs with million with an M. And then there’s some really good studies at 75 million in some adults. And so one in particular, probably the most researched brain of Bacillus is known as LactoSpore. And all the research done there is at 2 billion, which is perceivably a very low dose, but from a spores perspective, that’s a very big dose, actually.
Nick Urban [00:24:19]:
Well, I actually have some qualia symbiotic in front of me. I’m going to sip on that as we continue our show. One thing that I was liking as I looked over the label and read through some of the information on it, is that you guys don’t just take one single strain and use that in your product. You create a synergy of, I think it’s 28 different ingredients. And if you think about the way humans ancestrally got their pre, pro and postbiotics and all the other forms, it was in the form of food. And it was never just an isolate like this one strain, it was coming along with a bunch of different things. Can you talk a bit about the formula and why you guys combined what you combined?
Dr. Nick Bitz [00:25:01]:
Yeah, I mean, essentially we looked at 140 different ingredients. We rated and ranked all of them based upon the science that’s available. And then we went into the lab, we taste tested all of them. We wanted to make sure that it tasted good. And so we eliminated a lot of the good ingredients, but we kept the core ingredients. And in the end, we landed on about 13 ingredients that we felt was super comprehensive from a gut brain access perspective. And so we are incredibly excited about this product because it’s not just a single Probiotic strain. We have three Probiotic strains, the three most well researched spores. We also have prebiotics. So we have four prebiotics fibers, including a fermented blend of berries. We have a fermented curcumin in there as well, giving us the postbiotic that heat inactivated bacteria strains that have the kind of immune and inflammatory effect overall.
Nick Urban [00:26:09]:
Those come from fermenting it specifically those.
Dr. Nick Bitz [00:26:12]:
Come yeah, those come specifically from so we use the organisms to ferment the berries as an example, and then we heat inactivated the bacteria so they’re no longer living. And you get the shells, the postbiotics of that. And so we’re giving millions of postbiotic organisms in each serving there, which is very unique in the marketplace. We also have a fermented black tea in the form of a Kombucha powder that tastes wonderful. It’s kind of floral, but very subtle overall. And so we’re really excited. I think we’ve taken the idea of a symbiotics, which is, again, that prebiotic and probiotic, and then we’ve kind of built this formula around it, adding in postbiotic fermented foods, digestive enzymes, all in a powder format. So digestion starts in the mouth, and often people bypass that when they do these capsulated formulas. So it’s important that you have that immediate initial response to kind of set the whole digestive tract in motion as you take this product.
Nick Urban [00:27:19]:
You were mentioning that Probiotics traditionally are measured by the CFU in millions or billions. And when you’re combining the Probiotic and the prebiotic, the way I understand it and it might be an oversimplification, is that the prebiotic acts like food for the probiotics and that will help it have better effects with a lower dose.
Dr. Nick Bitz [00:27:44]:
Yeah, exactly. And so bacteria, they break down fibers, but they need to have specific enzymes in order to do that. So if you don’t have good diversity of gut microflora, no matter what fibers you give, you might not break it down. If you have good diversity, there’s a good chance that you have the bacteria that are capable of breaking down those specific prebiotics fibers. And so just now I think the newest research on prebiotics is getting into specificity and we know that certain bacteria want specific fibers. And so there’s a lot of talk about acromancia right now. It’s one of our keystone flagship probiotics that’s really important to our gut microbiome and we know specifically what fibers feed those bacteria specifically. And so if you’re not getting those diets specifically in the diet, you’re not feeding those keystone bacteria in the gut. And so it’s important to make sure that you saves some level of specificity when it comes to a prebiotics.
Nick Urban [00:28:52]:
I had that specific is it strain on my list of things to talk to you about. And I know that there’s a lot of research around that and excitement around acharmancia. And I’ve also read, I think it was in Dr. William Davis’s book Super Gut, that if you have too much, which I’m not sure any modern humans do, but if you do, it can also harm the mucosal membranes of the body. Is that true?
Dr. Nick Bitz [00:29:16]:
Yeah, I mean, achromancia is a mucin degrading bacterium and so it lives within that thin mucous layer that lines the intestine. But it’s critically important. I don’t think that we understand the ins and the outs. We don’t know really what a healthy microbiome looks like overall, nor the specific amounts that people want. But I would say that yes, because it is a mucint degrading bacteria. If you have too much of that, that certainly could impact the intestinal lining, no doubt. But again, I think it’s early days when we’re talking about acromancia. It is one of the few next gen probiotics that are out there in the marketplace. I think you’re going to see over the next twelve months or so more and more acromancia probiotic products that are in the marketplace. But the issue comes down to stability. It’s a very hard molecule or bacteria to stabilize to make sure that it arrives alive in the intestinal tract.
Nick Urban [00:30:14]:
Nick, you keep saying next generation and it sounds great. What exactly does the next generation of these biotics entail?
Dr. Nick Bitz [00:30:21]:
I briefly touched upon the fact that I think Lactobacillus and Bifido are kind of B grade or even C grade bacteria. They’re not very good overall, they are probiotics, but do they give you the benefit that you want? I’m going to say no. And so the next generation ones are these very interesting bacteria, often the keystone bacteria that we’re just starting to learn about, that we’re able to put into a pill. Acromancy is the first, it’s now sold as a supplement. It’s generally a freeze dried probiotic currently. But there’s a lot of technology, a lot of innovation happening right now from a manufacturing standpoint to make sure that we can get Acromancia alive and scale that up so that more people can start using this really beneficial bacteria. There’s also different bacteria, species really that most people probably have never heard about, that are starting to rise up. We know that they’re critically important to the human gut microbiome, we just haven’t figured out how to isolate them, how to stabilize them, and then how to scale that up and put that into an oral probiotic.
Nick Urban [00:31:36]:
What are the benefits that people report when using qualia symbiotic? I know that since there’s a very strong gut brain access that it can surprisingly improve cognition. Obviously gut health is a big concern and focus point for people who are supplementing probiotics. What else?
Dr. Nick Bitz [00:31:56]:
Well, something that people won’t experience is a lot of digestive distress after taking it. Some of the prebiotics fibers are not FODMAP friendly and that’s a whole nother area that we can dig into. But FODMAPs are certain types of sugars that are poorly absorbed in the intestinal tract. And so you’re starting to see this FODMAP friendly label attached to certain prebiotic fibers because they don’t give that kind of gas and bloating and digestive complaints that people typically get through these FODMAP fibers. And so we intentionally use low FODMAP fibers. I will say that generally speaking, people will feel a little bit lighter, they’ll notice that they’ll have more frequent, more full bowel movements, they’ll have less abdominal distress, less gas bloating indigestion. In the long term, you’re going to notice benefit in your mentation in cognitive performance, in nervousness. And so I briefly mentioned LactoSpore. So LactoSpore is the most researched spore forming bacteria and it’s known as a psychobiotic because it has really impactful benefits for the brain specifically. And so they actually did research on individuals with irretractable depression and they found that giving a bacillus coagulants Lactose spore probiotic improved symptoms of depression. And so that really feeds into and strengthens the gut brain axis, which is critically important. And so generally people don’t feel that right away, but over the course of time that probiotic really the effects of that probiotic really set in and you get that gut brain access effect.
Nick Urban [00:33:51]:
Does it strengthen or modulate the blood brain barrier or the intestinal barriers at all?
Dr. Nick Bitz [00:33:57]
Definitely the intestinal barrier. I haven’t read anything that would allude to the fact that it might increase the blood brain barrier seems possible, but I haven’t read anything on that front.
Nick Urban [00:34:11]:
Yeah, well, I totally forgot to even mention probiotics in that list of terms I had you define earlier. That’s another. One to add to it.
Dr. Nick Bitz [00:34:19]:
It’s super interesting. You do find a couple of products that are using that word. I don’t know that it’s super consumer friendly. We avoid it because you got the psycho word in there, but it just speaks to the fact that the gut and the brain are intimately connected. There is a bi directional communication at all times. So anything that impacts the gut impacts the brain and vice versa. And so we’re figuring out exactly what strains have the greatest effect on the brain as well.
Nick Urban [00:34:48]:
Are there other organ systems that are notably affected by this type of product?
Dr. Nick Bitz [00:34:53]:
Well, the gut is the core of everything. I mean, when you start getting into Ayurveda, you learn how all of the organs are built, and they all derive from the guts. Specifically, there’s something called the seven dot tube theory, and it’s super fascinating. You can follow food through these seven different dottus, or tissues, and digestion or kind of fire is at the center of all of these. And so it’s what converts food into blood, muscle, fat, bone, nervous tissue, reproductive tissues, et cetera. And so, again, I think there’s no organ or no tissue that is untouched by the digestive tract. And so by strengthening your digestive tract, in theory, you can impact all of the tissues in the body, including the brain.
Nick Urban [00:35:46]:
Yeah, and we’re not just what we eat, we’re what we absorb. And a lot of that has to do with our ability to take what we absorb and extract that convert those nutrients into fuels that can power the body.
Dr. Nick Bitz [00:35:58]:
That’s just it. I optimal say we aren’t what we eat, rather, we are what we don’t poop out. So just to show you that you are your food, and when you start looking at the brain, you are your food. Your food is what gives you your mental states. And so from an Ayurveda perspective, they’ve done a really interesting job of describing the energetics of all of the food and how they specifically impact the mind. And in general, there’s three energies that all food possesses. One energy is called satva, one is Rajas and one is Thomas. And depending upon what you eat, it leaves an imprint on your mind and creates the energy of the mind. And so from an Ayurvedic perspective, the energy of your food creates the energy of your mind. Nobody’s really talking about food energetics right now. I think people are really focused on the physical nutrients and how they impact and build brain and tissue and the body in general. But I think we need to be more mindful about the energetic properties of food. And so that’s a big piece of ayurvedic medicine.
Nick Urban [00:37:12]:
How did they originally discern what the energetic properties of foods are? Were they just like, look at the taste, say, like, garlic is spicy and hot, so that’s going to be a certain energy? Or do they have a more complex way of characterizing.
Dr. Nick Bitz [00:37:27]:
I mean, I can only speculate. I am an ayurvedic doctor. I’ve studied a lot, I have a lot of mentors in this space. With all that said, I think it’s just through the power of observation. I mean, this medicine is 5000 years old, so it’s been around forever. And I think that the sages, the saints, the gurus, the physicians from a long time ago, they sat with themselves and they observed. I think they had a very unique relationship with, with nature and the universe and they couldn’t escape it. And so I think they were left to really observe the impact it had on the human body and then to describe their worldview, their philosophy, based upon that relationship and their observations.
Nick Urban [00:38:18]:
In particular, did they note any effects from, say, consuming probiotic or prebiotic rich foods? And perhaps they had their own form of supplementation via those older forms of food preparation.
Dr. Nick Bitz [00:38:32]:
Yeah, I mean, in the literature they definitely talk about bacteria and its impact on the human body. As of late, I’ve been digging into the Ayurvedic philosophy around the oral microbiome specifically, and Ayurvedic’s perspective on oil pulling and its impact on the oral microbiome and how that influences everything downstream. And so, yeah, I think they touch upon it. It certainly wasn’t a philosophical keystone that they would talk about, but they definitely would discuss that at various points.
Nick Urban [00:39:10]:
Dr. Bitz, can we talk about how you go about evaluating one of these products? Say, when your friends comes to you with a bottle of Probiotics and they ask for your thoughts on it, you pull it out of their hand, you look at the back of the label and you either say yay or nay. Based on what you see, what are some of the factors that you look for?
Dr. Nick Bitz [00:39:28]:
First and foremost, I mean, I know all the brands in the industry, so I can pretty much say yes or no based upon a brand. I use a lot of physician grade products, but there are some good kind of mainstream products or brands that are out there as well. I can look right away. And if it’s a Probiotic product and I want to know, is it DNA verified? Does it have a little strain code after? So if it says lactobacillus acidophilus MTC one eight eight, that is a specific code showing that that strain has been DNA verified. I think it’s less of a problem versus ten years ago, we didn’t know what we were consuming. People would put something on a label, you weren’t guaranteed to be getting that bacteria because nobody was testing it at any point along the entire chain. So that’s critically important. We do know that strains are very specific in terms of how they affect the body. So if I’m looking for an immune benefit, then I want to go into an immune strain that has science showing immune benefit. As an example, most probiotics aren’t multipurpose all in one everything agents. For most people, I think you need to target your specific needs and then take a strain that has been studied in that area. I would want to know too, if you look at a label, does it say 10 billion CFU at time of manufacture or is that at 10 billion CFU at time of expiration? There’s a huge difference there because at time of manufacture essentially means that they’ve only put in 10 billion organisms. Most of them are going to be dead by the time they actually reach your mouth if it’s at the time of expiry or expiration. We know that they’ve done some form of testing and they’ve quantified it over the course of two years to guarantee that that 10 billion will arrive after two years. So there are certain things that are critically important, but generally speaking, I just avoid those kind of B list, C list probiotics. I personally use spore forming bacteria. That’s what I use for my patients in a clinical setting. That’s what I use for my ten year old daughter and always have. I think the proof is in using the product. And so people end up taking a probiotic and they don’t really know if it’s working. And from my standpoint, that’s problematic. I think you should feel the formula working. And in my experience, the spores, they are very felt. I think people can experience the benefits generally within about a week of taking them. For me, that’s critically important.
Nick Urban [00:42:27]:
Okay. And so immunity is obviously a big reason people turn to probiotics and gut health. Why else do people take them? And is there like a resource that you use personally, you’ve seen or that you’ve heard of, that can help identify which strains would correspond to your desired outcome?
Dr. Nick Bitz [00:42:47]:
I wish there was. I wish it was that easy. There really isn’t. I will say that there’s a lot of innovation happening in the probiotics space currently, and so I think people can expect some new strains with science, biohacking them very soon. Again, there are some good companies that are doing it right now, but generally beyond dietary supplementation, I’ll look at fermented foods. There’s some really good research showing that incorporating more fermented foods can increase the diversity within the gut as well as lower inflammatory factors and then moving more into a plant based diet. There’s something called interrotypes that we’re just starting to learn about, which is a very interesting thing. But they’re basically this signature composition of microbes that people get based upon their dietary habits. And so we know that individuals that consume more of an omnivore type diet, high in animal protein, animal fats, they have a specific bacterial profile within their gut. We know that people that are more plant based, more vegetarian, they have a specific profile of microflora in their gut. People that live on farms, that eat a diet rich in dietary fiber resistant starches, but not a lot of variety. Generally speaking, they have a specific microflora biome as well. So I think there’s a lot of things just making sure that you’re trying to improve your own expression of microbiome and to increase diversity as much as you can.
Nick Urban [00:44:29]:
Do you have any tips on that, on improving your own unique personal expression of microbiome, microbiome or microbiome while we’re at it?
Dr. Nick Bitz [00:44:38]:
Yeah, I think that I generally will tell people, incorporate more fermented foods, get outside having exposure to dirt. Critically important. Buy your food from farmers markets. The food tends to have dirt on it directly, which is critically important and super healthy. And then stay away from antibiotics. I mean, sometimes they’re critically important, but generally speaking, as long as you have the diversity, you’re going to have that resilience and that adaptability to overcome anything that you’re really faced with that’s a.v
Nick Urban [00:45:20]:
Big use for probiotics also is concurrently with antibiotics. My sister just needed a course of antibiotics and I bought her a box of qualia symbiotic and sent it to her and had her take it after I realized she was getting them too late and got to her after. What’s the best practice on using these biotics if you know that you’re going to be using antibiotics at some point?
Dr. Nick Bitz [00:45:47]:
There’s several different thought processes there. Mine is just to continue to take them at the same time. So if you’re doing an antibiotic in the morning halfway between your next dose, take a probiotics. Sometimes it’s good just to use an antibiotic in and of itself through its entire course and then to replenish after the fact. I don’t think we really know which approach is the best overall, but certainly if you’re using an antibiotic, make sure that you’re getting the probiotic at some point thereafter.
Nick Urban [00:46:22]:
Yeah, so it doesn’t necessarily we don’t know if it’s better to do it alongside or to wait until it’s over, the whole course is done and then to start taking it.
Dr. Nick Bitz [00:46:30]:
Yeah, I mean, you certainly don’t want to take them at the same time. That much we know. But whether you gap them by 4 hours, 8 hours, or maybe even a couple of weeks, that we really don’t know. And when you talk to physicians, I think that they all have very varied opinions around that fact. So I personally am not super opinionated by it. I think take them the same day. Just make sure you’re gapping them apart from each other.
Nick Urban [00:46:57]:
Do you add anything, stack anything together to improve your gut health? Maybe you add in some additional probiotics, like some butyrate or something, or maybe essential fatty acids, amino acids, anything you do to get better effects out of your product.
Dr. Nick Bitz [00:47:15]:
We have in that formula a little bit of magnesium. I certainly like to stack magnesium in there and not always an absorbable form of magnesium. Magnesium is a fantastic osmotic laxative, and so if you don’t absorb it, it runs through your GI tract, it pulls in water, and it helps form bowel movements. And so I’m a big fan of magnesium as a daily kind of bowel tonifier. If I lean into the Ayurvedic perspective, I’m a huge proponent of a product called trifola. And trifola is two Sanskrit words try, which means three, and fala, which means fruit. And from an Ayurvedic perspective, that’s considered really the panacea. If you work with any Ayurvedic physician, inevitably you will walk out the door with a prescription for trifola. It’s super incredible. It balances all three body types. It tonifies the GI tract if somebody’s too constipated or if they have loose stools, it creates balance incredibly nutritive. So you’re getting a lot of nutrients at the same time. I found it to be incredibly beneficial on top of any probiotic regimen.
Nick Urban [00:48:40]:
Yeah. When I was doing my own research into the universal Ayurvedic formulas and remedies and everything, I came across that one and added that to my custom adaptogen blend that I formulate and use five days a week. And I really like that one. I’ve added a couple of others, but that seems like it’s one of the ones that’s pretty universal for sure.
Dr. Nick Bitz [00:49:00]:
It’s super astringent and super bitter, so we did not include it in qualia symbiotic. I think it would certainly be additive to take it in and of itself. So from an Ayurveda perspective, yeah, you can certainly use a capsule and take it at night, but you’re missing a lot of the benefit. And traditionally, what they use is the powder. They use one to 2 grams of powder at night before you go to sleep. You stir it in about eight to 12oz of water, and you basically drink all of the water soluble component. You let the sludge go to the bottom. You drink the water right before you go to sleep, and then you mix up another batch for the next night. And that’s what they do day in, day out. From an Ayurvedic perspective, it works very well.
Nick Urban [00:49:48]:
Taste is another topic that we don’t really touch on or pay attention to in the west, and especially these days. And I know I bought a big bulk package of Berberine a long time ago for blood sugar support. And I got the powder, and I took it one time, put it on my tongue, and that was my first real experience of pure bitter. And I realized why people don’t love that taste. It’s, like, very unfamiliar. And I got through maybe like 100 or so doses of that over the years, but it was just like a very different experience to me.
Dr. Nick Bitz [00:50:21]:
Well, I will say taste is therapeutic. I would love to incorporate more of the bitter component into formulas, because I think the American diet in particular is lacking the bitter taste. In part. That’s why apple cider vinegar is so healthful, and it’s why it’s been used for hundreds of years. It’s a pre meal digestive tonic. And when you taste that bitter component in the mouth, it really fires up your digestion. It prepares the body for food. And so that bitter taste and from anything that you take can be incredibly powerful if you do it 15 or 30 minutes before you have a meal
Nick Urban [00:51:02]:
I believe that bitter also stimulates the liver and gallbladder.
Dr. Nick Bitz [00:51:06]:
Nick Urban [00:51:07]:
Can you walk through a couple of different tastes and the impact they have on the body?
Dr. Nick Bitz [00:51:12]:
Yeah, I mean, again, Ayurveda has done a really amazing job at this. I’ll just start by saying so, Ayurveda, they recommend eating sweet first, so they recommend eating desserts first. If you eat desserts after a meal, it really disrupts all of the digestive processes because the body always digests the sweet taste first. And so that’s mind bending. So just try it. Try eating dessert before you have a meal. You’ll find that your digestion is much more easy.
Nick Urban [00:51:45]:
Doesn’t that fly in the face of the traditional wisdom around or it’s not traditional like the newer wisdom around eating to stabilize blood sugar, where they recommend eating protein or greens first, to stimulate digestion or to stabilize everything, and then dessert coming obviously last.
Dr. Nick Bitz [00:52:01]:
Yeah. And that’s the thing. Ayurveda is a medicine of energetics, and so they’re looking at these principles that I think the Western perspective is just missing altogether. And if I had to choose which one is correct, I certainly would say Ayurveda is because it’s universal and it’s been around for so many years. And equally, I mean, they’ve talked about the sour taste, salty, bitter, pungent, astringent, and they’ve described the therapeutic applications of all of those and how they impact the body at its core. I personally use the various tastes to inform my body type. As an example, vatas need to eat plenty of sweet, sour and salty, really super pleasurable diet. But we don’t do good with bitter pungent and astringent. And so it’s critically important for vatas to focus on those three tastes. Similar to Pittas, there’s three tastes that they focused on from a diet perspective, and then Kafas as well. And so all of the six tastes impact the body types in very specific ways. And based upon your own body type, you need to pick and choose which tastes are kind of really predominant in your diet.
Nick Urban [00:53:24]:
And those the pitta, vata and kapha all refers to different constitution types, bodily constitution types, and there’s also the constitution of the mind, different typings, I believe. And I’ll put a link to a resource so you can figure out which you’re dominant in in the show notes. We will not continue on because this could be an entire four hour podcast on just Ayurveda and the principles and concepts from it. But back on the microbiome and probiotic front, what are some of the myths that you hear come up often?
Dr. Nick Bitz [00:53:58]:
Well, I think the biggest myth that we’re trying to dispel is that more is better. That kind of costco mentality where people are gravitating towards they’re moving from a 50 billion CFU product into 100 billion CFU and they expect greater results, that’s just not the case. That’s not how these things work. And there’s also the mentality of more strains is better. And so you find a lot of products that are in the marketplace that are like ten or more bacterial strains. And I’m certainly not convinced that that’s the case. We don’t know that they’re complementary or that they’re synergistic. They may rule out certain benefits. We don’t know how they play together in the gut. And so I think that it’s important to be more specific in your selections. Choose one to three strains that have a lot of historical use and a lot of science and to give it a shot. And then the whole idea around refrigeration too. I will say that lactobacillus and bifidobacteria are not shelf stable. So if you find them on the shelf of your local whole Foods, not in the refrigerated section, I would worry about that because they are dead organisms. They do need to be refrigerated and kept at a specific temperature. Specifically, critically important.
Nick Urban [00:55:25]:
So for that in order to have the maximum biological effect, because from what I understand, they still exert some effect even if they are dead, because they’re not only working through the mechanism of their alive activity, they also have, I want to call it like a signaling type effect to the microbiome when they’re dead.
Dr. Nick Bitz [00:55:42]:
Yeah, you’re spot on. And so they certainly can have an effect, but they’re not the effect that most people think that they’re getting from those type of organisms. So I would almost categorize all of them as postbiotics, which we talked about earlier.
Nick Urban [00:55:58]:
If you were going to formulate your own, you’re going to take this and adapt it, tweak it. You mentioned a couple of things you’d add. Is there anything you’d remove?
Dr. Nick Bitz [00:56:05]:
No. I love how comprehensive that product is. There’s apple cider vinegar in there. There’s anacetyl glucosamine in there, which is a prebiotic like amino sugar. There’s magnesium. There’s trace minerals. There’s these fermented foods. Because we are neurohackers, we always take care of the brain. And so we incorporated a little bit of celestrous in there, which is a brain. Botanical comes from the Ayurvedic tradition, the intellect tree. Very small doses work very well. Digestive enzymes. I mean, you got to take care of things upstream to make sure that the downstream is functioning as well, which is why we included the digestive enzymes in there. I love how robust it is. I mean, if anything, I would want to add trifola to it, but I know from a taste perspective, it just wouldn’t be functional.
Nick Urban [00:57:02]:
Dr. Bitz, you mentioned that you guys did an internal study and you were checking the efficacy and effectiveness of it. What were you looking at specifically to determine if this product was, in fact, working.
Dr. Nick Bitz [00:57:15]:
Yeah. So we use validated questionnaires. We stopped short of doing a double blind, placebo controlled study using stool test. With that said, we have designed that. It’s now in motion, and we’re setting that up. So we just use validated questionnaires. We always run a beta study on all of our products before they launch to make sure that they’re safe tolerable and efficacious, and then we get feedback. In this case, we found that over 90% of study participants enjoyed using the product, and they actually got benefit over the course of two to three weeks.
Nick Urban [00:57:56]:
Perfect. Well, Dr. Bitz, let’s wind this down. If people want to connect with you and Neurohacker, how do they go about that?
Dr. Nick Bitz [00:58:03]:
Neurohacker.Com, that’s the best place. Of course, we’re on all the social media platforms as well. But neurohacker.com is a fantastic resource. We have a ton of education on there. We have a lot of blogs. We have ingredient monographs, written documents about why we formulated in the way that we formulated. There’s just a ton of information there, so I would recommend checking that out.
Nick Urban [00:58:27]:
Cool. And I believe I also have a code for all Neurohacker products, and I think it’s Urban. So if you use Urban, that’ll save you on your Qualia symbiotics order or any other of their products. A couple more questions before we call it a day. If someone’s interested in learning more about Ayurveda, where would you recommend they begin?
Dr. Nick Bitz [00:58:47]:
Yeah, so there’s a few universities in the US. My personal favorite starting point would be just picking up books and reading them. There’s a couple of books that I started with personally that I think are really good entry points. One would be Dr. Svaboda Robert Sfaboda. He has a book called Prakriti that I think is an incredible introduction to ayurveda philosophy. There’s a couple other ones. One I’ll mention would be Deepak Chopra’s first book called Perfect Health. I think he’s gone off the far end now, and he’s traveling in space. But where he started was he was an Ayurveda physician, and he’s a fantastic writer. And I think he explains the ins and outs of ayurveda medicine very well through that book in particular, just applying those philosophical tenets to your own life, looking at what is your body type, and then figuring out what diet is specific for your body type. I think that’s the best way to learn Ayurveda is through using your body as a lab.
Nick Urban [01:00:02]:
What component are you currently focusing on for yourself?
Dr. Nick Bitz [01:00:05]:
My biggest focus right now is just starting my yoga practice. Again. I will say that fell off during COVID but I’m starting to get back to it. I’m starting to do sun salutations every day, maybe every other day, but I certainly want to incorporate that back into my regimen. That was a core exercise practice for me for years, but that certainly has fallen off. So I want to start doing a deep dive back into the world of yoga.
Nick Urban [01:00:36]:
What area of health wellness performance ayurveda are you currently researching?
Dr. Nick Bitz [01:00:42]:
I’m really starting to do a deep dive into the oral microbiome and the impact that oral care has on the digestion tract and whole body health, especially brain function. I think that’s a super interesting area right now. I don’t think people think about their oral care enough, and so just the basics of why you should floss and how that relates to cognitive health and potentially even dementia down the line. So super fascinating. It’s really incorporating everything we’re learning about the gut microbiome and everything we know about brain health, and it’s putting it in one area, which is the mouth.
Nick Urban [01:01:25]:
Well, Dr. Bitz, how would you like to conclude our episode together today?
Dr. Nick Bitz [01:01:29]:
Well, I just want to thank you for having me on again. It’s always fun chatting with you. It’s good seeing you at some of the shows that we cross paths at. Yeah, I think that’s it. I’ll just end by saying that there is no kind of one remedy that people need to lean into. And so use your body as a lab, try various products, see how they react, and get back to basics, get back to nature. Focus on the easy things that are controllable, that are within your grasp. Focus on sleep, stress management, relationships, and from that, I think you can gain and regain health.
Nick Urban [01:02:15]:
That’s a great list, and I like to take the same approach. Look for the timeless wisdom that’s held true for hundreds or thousands of years, and then layer on some of the modern conveniences and technologies and tools to help reduce the amount of work that each of these require and make living in harmony with our bodies and our biologies easier. And that is the perfect marriage for long term health performance and, as I call it, Bioharmony.
Dr. Nick Bitz [01:02:43]:
Love it. Yep.
Nick Urban [01:02:44]:
Well, Dr. Bitz, it’s been a blast. Thank you so much for joining me again today on the MINDBODY Peak Performance podcast.
Dr. Nick Bitz [01:02:51]:
Thanks for having me on, Nick.
Nick Urban [01:02:53]:
hope that this has been helpful for you. If you enjoyed it, subscribe and hit the thumbs up. I love knowing who’s in the 1% committed to reaching their full potential. Comment 1% below so that I know who you are. For all the resources and links, meet me on my firstname.lastname@example.org. I appreciate you and look forward to connecting with you. As a reminder, please tell your health professional before they came.
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This Podcast Is Brought to You By
Nick Urban is a Biohacker, Data Scientist, Athlete, Founder of Outliyr, and the Host of the Mind Body Peak Performance Podcast. He is a Certified CHEK Practitioner, a Personal Trainer, and a Performance Health Coach. Nick is driven by curiosity which has led him to study ancient medical systems (Ayurveda, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Hermetic Principles, German New Medicine, etc), and modern science.
Music by Luke Hall
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