Steve Wright on Tributyrin for Microbiome, Histamine and Leaky Gut

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Katie: Hello, and welcome to the ďWellness MamaĒ podcast. Iím Katie from wellnessmama.com. And Iím here today with Steven Wright who has been on this podcast before. I wanted to bring him back to talk about a specific topic that Iíll get to in a minute. He is a medical engineer, a Kalish Functional Medicine Institute graduate, and a gut health specialist who I have known for many years and followed his research closely. He spent close to $400,000 overcoming his own health challenges using everything from Western medicine to Eastern medicine and everything in between. Heís the founder of healthygut.com, and he has a lot of expertise specific to a lot of particular issues. And today I wanted to talk about tributyrin which is a new molecule that Iíve been using that was, I believe, helpful in my Hashimotoís remission. Itís also been helpful for a couple of my kids for various things, but itís considered a breakthrough molecule for microbiome, histamine, and leaky gut. And we explain why in this episode.

We talk about what butyrate is and how itís produced, how our gut bacteria feeds on some of the food we eat, and what this process does, what anaerobic bacteria are, and why theyíre important to understand, the new information we know about leaky gut and how this comes into play, how restrictive diets can reduce butyrate production over time and how to fix it, understanding the histamine response, what mast cells are, why tributyrin is different from other supplemental forms of butyrate and the very specific gut effects it can have, and how to use it effectively for the extremes of different kind of issues and to find your own dose. Steve is so well-spoken, and I loved this episode. Like I said, this is something thatís been helpful for me and I was excited to share it with you guys today. So letís join Steve.

Katie: Steve, welcome back. Thanks for being here.

Steven: Katie, thanks for having me again.

Katie: Itís always so fun to chat with you, and itís extra fun when we get to record it and share because you are so knowledgeable about so much. Before we jump in, I just have a note in here about fun facts about you that youíre an old man at heart and that you eat dinner at 5 p.m. and go to bed at 9 p.m., which if thatís true, I love it because thatís supposed to be amazing for your circadian rhythm.

Steven: Yeah. Itís true. I kind of have an old grumpy man inside of me who likes things very regimented and early, and, yeah, I guess the side effect is better for your circadian health. I donít know what it is. Itís just been like that since I was a teenager.

Katie: Well, thatís awesome. I feel like youíre probably naturally where all of us are trying to get as the goal. Iíve been doing some brain training, and the neuroscientists keep telling me it would be best to go to sleep around 9 and ideally to wake up naturally before the sun, which Iím getting much closer to but not quite there yet.

Steven: Thatís awesome. Good luck.

Katie: Thanks. Well, and I know youíre here today. Weíre gonna go deep on a lot of gut-related issues. And youíve been on this podcast before. If you guys havenít heard Steve, Iíll link to his other podcasts in the show notes, so you guys can find those. But Iím excited to really deep dive into tributyrin because this is one that Iíve been taking and that Iíve mentioned to people, and even some of my really educated health friends arenít familiar with this one. And Iíve seen how profound of an impact it can have. So I wanna kind of break down the mechanisms by which thatís happening, but to start broad, can you define first of all what it is?

Steven: Yeah. So, tributyrin, really, I think is the next frontier of gut health, and tributyrin is a specific type of butyrate. And so some people or a lot of people are starting to hear about butyrate. Like basically, itís what all that vegetables people tell you to eat and all the fibers people tell you to eat, all that goes down into your microbiome, and the microbiome, the good parts, turn most of that into short-chain fatty acids. And the most studied and considered the most important short-chain fatty acid is butyrate. And so tributyrin is a specific type of butyrate that is sort of the next evolution of supplements for humans and animals, and so itís a pharmacokinetically superior form. And we can go into more details about that, but we probably should stick with butyrate and short-chain fatty acids for the beginning here.

Katie: Yeah. I feel like most people listening have probably at least heard of butyrate. Thatís gotten some press in recent terms and then all of the different types of fatty acids and what the different ones do. Can you explain how the microbiome creates butyrate and these short-chain fatty acids, like whatís that mechanism?

Steven: Yes. I mean, I think, itís best remembered in, like, silly terms because the gut can be so complex. I mean, Iíve been studying this for like 12 years, and itís stillÖthe complexity is amazing. And so the easiest way to remember this is your prebiotics or your fibers are taken in, and then your probiotics or your good bacteria poop out postbiotics or butyrates and short-chain fatty acids. There are other short-chain fatty acids. And if youíre like, ďWhat is a short-chain fatty acid?Ē Well, if youíre taking MCT oil, thatís a medium-chain fatty acid or medium-chain triglyceride. And so this is just a smaller chain of fat molecules bound together, and butyrate just happens to be, you know, the most important one. Now, how do you actually make that? Well, like I said, it comes from the fibers that we donít actually break down. Sometimes thatís resistant starch. Other times, itís just specific compounds polyphenols, your brightly colored vegetables. You know, thereís various diets out there that weight the diet towards more brightly colored fruits and vegetables. Those seem to preferentially create more butyrate from certain types of microbiome bugs.

Katie: That makes sense. And some of the listeners may remember a previous podcast where we talked about, like, pregnancy nursing and how a lot of breast milk actually is not designed to feed the baby specifically but to feed the balance of bacteria in the babyís gut. So similar, I would guess, pathway to this. Can you explain why butyrate is important for gut health? And also, I know it extends to a lot of areas of health as well.

Steven: Yeah. So basically, you think about that. Youíre eating all these vegetables. You know, like, ďI donít really know why Iím eating these and all these different colors.Ē And so they go down. Your microbiome produces a bunch of butyrate and other short-chain fatty acids like acetate and propanoate. But 95% of your butyrate is used by your colon cells, and so it is the preferred fuel for these colon cells. Some people have heard that, you know, L-glutamine could be a preferred source for the small intestine. The preferred source for the large intestine is butyrate.

And so when the colon cells metabolize or do their metabolic process through using butyrate, they actually need oxygen. So they suck oxygen out of the colon, which is super important because, if you think aboutÖwe all want a really healthy microbiome. We know itís important for food sensitivities, for aging, for immunity, for all kinds of things. The biggest part of the microbiome thatís considered healthy is a type of bacteria class called anaerobic bacteria, whichÖagain, thereís a lot of names, and some are really hard to make sense of, but that basically means without oxygen. And so these bacteria love an environment that has a low oxygen content.

And so when your colon cells are actually metabolizing the butyrate that you make, theyíre sucking oxygen out of the colon and creating the right environment for the good bugs inside of you to flourish and be like very diverse and really healthy. And so when thatís happening, a lot of really good things are happening, your mucous barriers, your mucous lining is healthy. Your microbiome is very diverse. Your colon is healthy. And then, yeah, it travels. Itís sort of like the magnesium of the gut. A lot of people are familiar with how magnesium is this molecule thatís responsible for like 300 interactions all over the body. Butyrate is very similar. It travels around. Itís very important for bone health and bone density. So, it helps create parathyroid hormone and T regulatory cells, which regulate bone mass. Itís been studied in asthma and allergies to help the lungs. Thereís ongoing research around the brain and neurodegenerative diseases. So, butyrate in general isÖthe 5% that gets into the bloodstream and goes everywhere else is super, super important.

Katie: That makes sense, and it makes me wonder about I have a lot of listeners working through various health conditions, and for at least a time, I know youíve had this experience as well. I also having to be on a more restrictive diet, and for me, even an AIP diet, which somewhat limits the number of fiber-rich foods that youíre eating. And now with the trend of carnivore, a lot of people eating almost no fiber. How does that impact butyrate production?

Steven: Yeah. The quick story here is that it goes down, and so thereís nothing wrong. I donít believe in doing a food elimination diet, or a carnivore diet, or various types of FODMAP diets, things that reduce the fermentable carbohydrate load, especially if youíre symptomatic. However, the research is very clear especially when they study FODMAP diet set. Starting around six to eight weeks, your butyrate production starts dropping off a cliff.

And then, you know, if youíre like me, and maybe youíve seen this as well, Katie, but a lot of folks when they do these really restrictive elimination diets, I donít know what percentage, maybe 50% or higher, really struggle to add the foods back in. And they get caught in this loop where they felt better for a while, but now they canít get back to a regular diet, they canít participate in normal life, and their health starts to plateau or get worse. And itís in that area that the sort of the cycle of food is sort of broken, and I believe thatís where weíre creating our own basically dysbiosis through using diet. And so to get yourself out of that, you gotta figure out how do you get your butyrate back up because when you do that, you can really control a lot of the factors that create food sensitivities, right? Food sensitivities are very complex. Some people are histamine-driven food sensitivities. Some people are leaky gut-driven. Some people have enzyme issues. But in general, butyrate, and a high production of butyrate or using the right butyrate supplement can get you through almost all of those conditions. Itís sort of the linchpin for me when it comes to people who are stuck withoutÖunable to reintroduce these foods.

Katie: Yeah. I heard someone say recently, and I thought this was a great point that you can view those more extreme restrictive diets as almost like a pharmaceutical intervention. They can have their place, but they should be thought of as very short-term for a very acute thing and not a long-term ideal. I think often people get sucked into thinking of those as the gold standard for long-term when they feel better, and then, like you said, they see that rebound effect and end up a little bit worse off long run, not to mention that, like, I found on my own health journey getting rid of Hashimotoís, the goal should be to be able to eat a wide range of foods and be highly adaptable and not react to them.

And for me personally, my last holdout food was eggs for a long time, and I now tolerate eggs just fine. And I think maybe tributyrin is part of the equation for that because I was taking your enzymes and tributyrin and HCL when I eat them for a long time, and now seem to have no problem with that. Can you kind of explain maybe what happened there?

Steven: Yeah. Sure. So, yeah, food sensitivities is a very complex topic because, for instance, an egg, I would wager to say that the majority of the reaction there is related to the protein in egg. But a lot of other food sensitivities like FODMAP sensitivities are related to the carbohydrate structure. And so you have thisÖdepending on the type of food and what macromolecules and micromolecules make it up, it can be very complex. But when it comes to egg and other protein dominant food sensitivities, a lot of that I believe is related to leaky gut and then an immune system thatís super overreactive.

And so, you know, you and I have been talking leaky gut. I think that was one of our first podcasts many, many years ago, and back then, I and almost everybody in the field thought of leaky gut as just the zonulin molecules, the tight junction sort of separating between your gut cells. Now we know that itís so much more complex than that. Thereís actually four layers to leaky gut. And so this is, I think, one of the reasons why, you know, things like high-dose L-glutamine and certain probiotics and other things just help, but they donít ever really get you through, for instance, the egg sensitivity. And the reason why is these four layers. So layer one is those tight junctions, so closing those up, super important. Layer two is your mucous membranes. They have to be really thick. They actually protect the gut wall from being exposed to these things. Three is your immune system in and around your gut. You want that immune system regulated and sending out these defense molecules that sort of bind bad things and also signal back to it to be, you know, overly reactive or less reactive. And then fourth is your microbiome. If you have a diverse microbiome, it also sort of helps you in that area of being able to tolerate a lot.

And so the cool thing about tributyrin is that in the research studies, itís been shown to increase all those things. So it helps the expression of tight junctions and strengthens the gut wall. It expresses MUC2, which produces mucus which thickens your mucous lining. It regulatesÖlike I said, T regulatory cells helps lower cytokine release, other immune systems in the gut. And then four, itís been shown to increase your microbiome diversity. So, Iíve never really seenÖI mean, you know me. I order stuff from all over the world I try. Like, I donít care what miracle you wanna tell me about, Iíll give it a go. Letís see if thereís truth here. Does it work in a body? Is there science? Is there biology to back this up?

And I donít take it lightly when I say that tributyrin is one of the most exciting compounds in the world right now for these types of issues. Itís doing things for people who are stuck on five foods, or seven foods, or whole classes like eggs or FODMAPs, things like that that were just off-limits for the majority of their life. And I too and like you, I believe that resiliency is what we wanna build. We wanna build, like, the ability to tolerate all types of foods and be able to choose. And so when you have a lot of butyrate, and you have, you know, something like tributyrin to come in and potentially rebuild those pathways, it produces pretty amazing stories, and itís very exciting.

Katie: Yeah. Exactly. I was recently at an event, and it was a wonderful event, but it was very kind of biohacking-focused. And I found kind of an odd contrast of these people who are doing all of these extreme things to keep their health in check and eating very restrictive diets and considering that resilience. And I understand, like I said, the need to do that in certain instances to recover, but it was really kind of striking, and it really brought up to me, like, shouldnít the goal be to be highly adaptable and able to handle when you have to WI-FI, or blue light, or gluten, or whatever the food may be long-term, even if your bodyís maybe not there right now. And you mentioned histamine intolerance as well, which I think is something Iím hearing more about from listeners and readers. It seems to be maybe on the rise, or at least thereís more knowledge about it right now. Can you talk more specifically about that histamine interaction and how maybe butyrate contributes?

Steven: Yeah. So we have these things called mast cells and we need the right amount of histamine, really. So just like all of our hormones, we donít want too little, we donít want too much, histamine is the exact same way. We want the right regulated response of histamine to our environment and what weíre doing with our bodies. Thereís a bunch of mast cells that are concentrated in the gut wall, and if these mast cells are perchance more exposed to whatís happening inside your gut because of a low mucus lining like a thinned-out mucus lining, or if these mast cells have been triggered into high alert due to infections, or toxicities, or inflammation over the years, they can basically overexert histamine. And that can cause all kinds of things. You know, you get flushing. You can get tachycardia. You react to all kinds of foods. This eliminates a lot of your wines, your fishes, your beers, anything fermented, mustards, all kinds of things like that. Like I said, it can become to the point where we have people in our community who like basically can get tachycardia and have to go lay down for hours because just too much histamine will raise their whole body.

And so is it growing? It might be, but I think there is a lot more awareness to what it is. And the cool thing about the options out there for histamine, thereís a lot of people talking about taking like a DAO enzyme. DAO helps break down histamine. Thereís people who take a lot of quercetin with their foods or quercetin during the day that helps lower the amount of histamine thatís released as well. But a lot of times, if you donít respond to just those simple interventions, you get on this little hamster wheel where it just gets more and more aggressive. And tributyrin is one of the first supplements Iíve found that can kind of, like, just insert a foot into the door and stop the cycle from happening and also start to reverse it.

And so part of whatís been studied in animals is that it sort of, like, bays the mast cell in a way that it sort of re-regulates it to an environment so it stops expressing so much histamine. And so I would say some of the coolest stories out of our community have been people who, for instance, ate a strawberry in February of last year and went to the hospital because of the histamine release. And then they took our products throughout the year, and for Thanksgiving that year, they were able to eat the meal with their family and have a glass of red wine and not have any issues, which if you donít know about histamine and mast cell, mast cell issues that doesnít even really matter to you, youíre like, ďI donít understand.Ē If you have those issues, thatís like a really big deal for someone like that.

Katie: Got it. And you mentioned examples of stories that youíve heard. I know youíve heard a lot from your community. I know I saw a difference in my own health. And one of my kids who had eczema in the past, it seemed to be really helpful for her. What other kind of stories do you hear from your community?

Steven: Yeah. I would say some of the other major ways that it can really help is people who have loose stools. So, this could be IBS, IBD. You know, the actual underlying structure is not all that important. It just seems like most people are either too slow in their digestion. Thatís just like their phenotype, if you will. If youíre familiar with that word, itís kind of like body types but applied to the gut. Some people are too slow in general. Theyíre always skew that way. Some people are too fast, and some people alternate.

And so when theyíve studied IBS people who are diarrhea dominant or constipation dominant, they do have low butyrate in both conditions, but constipation is always more complex than diarrhea. And the cool thing about diarrhea dominant people is Tributyrin-Xô is like one of the first things that is almost like just a 95%, like, recommendation. Thereís almost no way it doesnít work. And so weíve had people who have been on all different types of pharmaceuticals, all different types of supplements, theyíve seen 20 plus doctors, still having loose stools, and theyíre able to use a higher dose of Tributyrin-Xô and finally have normal bowel movements. And thatís like a really big win if youíre someone whoís chained to the toilet.

So, the constipation people, on the other hand, weíve seen some pretty wild successes there if they go really slow for a long time, so like 12 to 14 weeks of like every other day dosage versus someone with diarrhea might take like nine a day. And something, I think, flips inside of the constipation biome or the constipation gut such that people just report like suddenly, theyíre using less magnesium, theyíre using less laxatives, things like that, somewhere around that 12-week mark. And so I think it goes back to this ecosystem idea of are you setting up the conditions to, you know, really have a healthy gut. I mean, we take all these pills, and these killers, and these probiotics, and these prebiotics, and I believe in all that stuff. But if weíre throwing it into like the dumpster fire of our gut versus like a really nice remodeled home, theyíre gonna do two different things. And so I think a lot of the stories that are really successful from the community are related to taking it for like 12 weeks or more, and, you know, things like, ďOh, wow, that skin patch I had, I never knew what it was. I didnít even notice, but it was gone, or you know, that bloating I always got with broccoli, I didnít even realize it, but now I donít have that anymore. I just stopped eating that food.Ē Itís really little things like that that matter to people, the details, but also some of these bigger histamine and diarrhea-related things.

Katie: And to circle back, you mentioned, especially with restrictive diets, that many of the listeners have probably tried at some point or another, that you can have that downshift in butyrate production in the gut. And I know like with tributyrin, you can just take it, and that seems to be extremely helpful. But long-term, how can we get back our natural butyrate production if thatís even possible, and what does that look like?

Steven: Yeah. Thatís my hope for myself and for my family and for everybody listening here is, you know, tributyrin is sort of inserting the stop in the door, like I said, and beginning to reverse and repair everything. But the goal, as weíve talked about several times already, is to be able to eat all kinds of vegetables and make your own butyrate. And so to do that, we have to think about the ecosystem again. Number one, we gotta be eating foods that have fermentable fibers. Number two, we need the microbiome to be able to breakÖthat microbiome will give off enzymes and basically break that fiber down, and then you have butyrate specific species of microbiome or bacteria that make the butyrate.

You need basically all three of those things to create butyrate on your own. And so how do you do that? Well, for instance, pomegranate and cranberry are shown in the research to help increase butyrate-producing species. There are species now that people are talking about like Akkermansia F. prausnitzii. I think I pronounced that wrong every time. But thereís these specific strainsÖand Clostridium XIVa. You can search those strains online for different types of foods, but in general, it tends to be these high polyphenol foods. So, the goal, I believe, is to take probiotics and prebiotics that sort of increase the diversity such that maybe we can recover that internal butyrate production.

Katie: And butyrate seems to be a bit of a buzzword right now, and there seems to be, at least what Iím seeing, a lot of research coming out. What is the difference between tributyrin and other products that contain butyrate or that claim to help with butyrate?

Steven: Yeah. So butyrate by itself is kind of a fragile stinky molecule. Like it smells like terrible vomit. Like you donít wanna smellÖyou donít wanna open these capsules. And you may have bought some sodium butyrates and smelled the bottle and just be like, ďI gotta get my money back. I canít take this.Ē That was the first generation of butyrates. They were butyrate bonded with salt, either sodium, magnesium, or calcium usually. And these salts are absorbed really, really quickly in the upper intestinal tract. And so you have to do a few things. Number one, you have to make a product that humans can actually not gag and eat. And so sodium butyrate was a huge breakthrough, and thereís been a ton of research on it. Itís a very helpful compound. But it suffers a lot of issues. One is, itís hard to contain the smell. It still smells pretty bad even when you put it in very high-tech capsules. Number two, itís just naturally absorbed really, really quickly because absorption of salts in the intestinal tract is based on a gradient. If itís really salty in one area, it just moves across the membrane right away. And so then youíre also getting a lot of sodium, or calcium, or magnesium, or something like that extra on top of the butyrate. So itís less of, like, a full-on butyrate supplement and more of like a combo supplement. So that can make dosing a little hard.

Then there was this breakthrough like three or four years ago where people started to realize that they could take the tributyrin molecule, which is butyrate backed by fat. Itís a glycerol molecule. They could take this natural what they call pro-drug of butyrate, and they could wrap it in special capsules or fat molecules and create liposomes. And that would reduce the smell and protect it from the stomach and get it deeper into the intestines. We actually want our butyrate to be released like basically top to bottom. Like somewhere in the small intestine, you want to open, youíre gonna try to get it down into the colon as well. Now, it might be counterintuitive because the majority of itís made in the colon upper large intestine.

But all the research that weíve been done, except for the suppository research on butyrate, has been done in capsules that opened in the small intestine and were quickly absorbed in the small intestines. So what I can say is that practically speaking and human research speaking, we want a butyrate product to release in the upper small intestine and make its ways as deeply as we can down into the large intestine.

And so tributyrin does that naturally because it needs lipase to split it apart, and so itís a natural time-release molecule versus the sodium butyrate molecule, which is just a quick salt absorption. When you basically do something like what we did, which is a patent-pending capsule, itís an enteric capsule, so some people are like, ďWell, the product I have or the other brand has a really nice capsule too.Ē And itís true, but weíre the only ones with an enteric capsule. And youíre like, ďWhatís enteric versus gastro-resistant?Ē And Iím like, well, itís the difference between the iPhone 5 and iPhone 10. If you drop your iPhone 5 or your iPhone 6 in the toilet or in the water, you had to get that thing out right away because it was water-resistant, and most of us know that basically meant it was toast, you know, put it in some rice, itís probably gonna die. iPhone 10s and ups were the next level of water-resistant, and they were like basically what enteric capsule is. At some point, if you leave an iPhone 10 in the water, itís gonna die. At some point, our capsule will open up in acid, but in general, thereís been no leakage at over two hours in the studies. And so basically, what that means is getting intact and projecting it from the acid, which allows us to go up to 99% purity, and then when that opens in the small intestine, the natural time-releaseness just gets it deeper. Thatís one of the reasons why our product is I think special compared to the other products out there.

Katie: You also mentioned magnesium a minute ago, and on a personal level, Iím really curious about this because thatís one piece of my own health I havenít been able to fully figure out yet in that I seem to have a skin reaction to a lot of forms of magnesium. I also tend to stay awake from them whereas they help most people sleep, and I wonder about a potential histamine pathway. You mentioned the potential of this to help with not needing as much magnesium. Can you go deeper and explain whatís happening there?

Steven: Yeah. If I did, I misspoke. I donít know that taking tributyrin would reduce your magnesium need, but I do know that for people like you who have, like, whatís called a counter-intuitive reaction, anytime youÖlike if everybody reports, you know, most everybody says, in this case, ďI get sleepy from magnesium.Ē And youíre someone who has a counter-intuitive reaction, you get energized from magnesium, then itís typically another pathway like you mentioned.

Dr. Dan Kalish has actually done some work on this, and heís pretty familiar. I canít remember off the top of my head what he said is needed to sort of fix the magnesium hyper-reactivity. I will say that Tributyrin-Xô, one thing I forgot to mention is that we have a whole group of people in our customer group who use it as a sleep pill. And so this doesnít make a lot of sense at the first glance, but thereís a mouse study where they give tributyrin to mice, and they experience much deeper sleep and deeper stages of sleep and longer. And so thereís like people, like, we have somebody on our team who just got some bottles at their home. The wife whoís a mom of three, and sheís got a lot going on, right? All the kids are under 10. She just saw it on the counter and started taking one before bed, and her Oura Ring scores or sleep scores are going up. And so Iíve had other biohackers who track their deep sleep states and their HRV states report better outcomes using Tributyrin-Xô right before bed. So, Iím not sure how to solve the magnesium thing off the top of my head. I know Kalish is the way there.

Katie: Awesome. I will check that out. Are there any contraindications when it comes to tributyrin supplementation or times people would need to be especially cautious?

Steven: Yeah. The biggest thing is that for the constipation dominant people, the number one side effect is as your bodyís sort of reabsorbing the butyrate and reusing it, it can slow your motility down even farther. If youíre using our product or anybody elseís product, and you tend towards constipation, I would go very slow and very low, so like once every three days, something like that. Thatís probably the number one contraindication. Otherwise, I donít know of any others.

You know, ours, for instance, is not a vegetarian or a vegan capsule. We could not find an enteric capsule that was actually able to be vegetarian based, and so for people who may have an animal sensitivity or just prefer to not do that, it wouldnít be suitable for them as well. But, yeah, in general, the coolest thing about tributyrin versus sodium butyrate. Now, sodium butyrate, again, really good research. Iím not saying donít take it, but I am saying if youíve ever taken it, try someoneís tributyrin, whether itís ours orÖlike the other good product is Pure Encapsulations, but itís a liquid, so especially good if you have children who donít swallow things.

So the interesting thing there is that in humans, back in the day, they realized that butyrate could be helpful for cancer. And so there was a study done in humans where they gave a ton of oral tributyrin, not oral sodium butyrate, but tributyrin actually. They get up to 42,000 milligrams a day per person. They did see some side effects, some GI side effects, things like that. As far as a safety profile goes, tributyrin orally is one of the best out there. Like in this case, in order to replicate that study, youíd have to swallow our entire bottle of pills, which I donít recommend, and I donít think anybody would do. So I think the really cool thing about the safety profile here is there are clinical research studies checking, is this a bad thing? Could there be side effects? And itís very high, you know, amounts that Iíve never seen or heard reported before other than that study.

Katie: Got it. Okay. What about the brain connection because this is another area that I see a lot of butyrate-related research, and I see people experimenting with it almost as a nootropic? So, what is happening with the brain when we get enough or make enough butyrate?

Steven: Yeah. I mean, this is early, early days of research, and no one can really tell you. But my theory is that itís traveling up the vagal pathways and the portal pathways right up into the brain. We see almost all neurodegenerative diseases when tested, do they have a disrupted microbiome? Do they have low butyrate production? The answer is pretty much always yes. And so thereís ongoing clinical data right now on things like Alzheimerís and, you know, whatnot. Iím not willing to comment on that. I havenít heard it anecdotally, and I donít know the results of those studies. But as I mentioned prior, I mean, sleep is a very brain-driven component, and the sleep data so far as I said is that most people who take a tributyrin supplement or Tributyrin-Xô close to bedtime, like within a half-hour to an hour of bed, typically report more REM sleep, more deep sleep, and then better restedness in the morning. How the pathways and how thatís all working, weíll find that out in the next 5 to 10 years.

Katie: Thatís exciting, and itís super exciting how fast research seems to be moving right now. Iím definitely keeping an eye on a lot of these.

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This episode is sponsored by Olipop. At least six times a day I get the question, ďMom, can I have an Olipop?Ē Usually once from each of my kids. And Iím happy to say yes. While I sometimes drink regular soda as a kid and usually felt pretty awful after, I love that my kids get to sip on something that taste like the sodas I grew up with. But unlike other sodas that are full of sugar, corn syrup, and artificial ingredients like aspartame, Olipop is made with natural ingredients that are actually good for you. They use functional ingredients that combine the benefits of prebiotics, plant fiber, and botanicals to support your microbiome and to benefit digestive health. Weíve all heard that many people consume much more than the recommended amount of sugar. And Olipop is much, much lower in sugar than conventional sodas, with only 2 to 5 grams of sugar from natural sources and no added sugar. Their vintage cola, for instance, has just 2 grams of sugar as compared to a regular Coca-Cola that has 39 grams of sugar. Iíve worked out a special deal for my listeners to receive 15% off of your purchase. I recommend trying their variety pack if youíre not familiar with them, so you get to sample all of their flavors. Go to drinkolipop.com/wellnessmama and use the code ďwellnessmamaĒ at checkout to claim this deal.

For a lot of people listening, especially when we talk about food sensitivities, Iím guessing a lot of people are wondering all kinds of questions related to kids because we see certainly food sensitivities on the rise in every age group of kids right now. So, are there any guidelines? Iím sure you have parents asking, ďCan this be given to kids, at what age, in what dose? How do we use this with kids who already have food sensitivities?Ē

Steven: Yeah. Well, I guess like everything we should say here, you know, Tributyrin-Xô doesnít treat anything. It doesnít treat IBS, IBD, anything, asthma, you know, sleep issues, anything. Itís just supplemental to everything else youíre doing. If you have any questions, do check with your provider, your healthcare, general doc. But what weíre seeing is that, you know, butyrate since it is a normal production inside the body, there doesnít seem to be any contraindications from our users when theyíre giving it to their kids.

The biggest issue is around swallowing a gel cap. Our product is a very small gel cap, so itís one of the easier pills for a kid to swallow. But if not, then thatís where Pure Encapsulations SunButyrate, which is aÖitís like a blueberry lemon liquid. Thatís another good option and can be much easier to use.

So, when it comes to kids, you know, check in with your doctor, be monitoring them. And then as I mentioned earlier, especially with kids, you do want to try to get their diet more diverse. If youíre gonna use tributyrin to, you know, basically stabilize the gut, get them out of their acute symptoms, you know, allow them to feel better, then you immediately as a parent, I would hope anyways to begin to get more prebiotics and probiotics in their diet so that we hopefully rebuild that microbiome before they pick up too many sort of like allergies or immune issues as they grow.

Katie: Yeah. Absolutely. It seems very much a both/and equation, and like, we talked about already, with the goal of much more adaptability and resilience and being able to interact with lots of different substances without having a reaction in the long term. I know you also have personal experience in gut healing, and for anyone whoís maybe starting off or experiencing some of these more severe problems, you have talked before about kind of the 80/20 of gut health. And Iíd be curious, any personal advice you have on just getting started with that. Like I know for me, in the long-term, short fast like three to five-day to reset the gut, and then some of these products were really effective versus more long-term restrictive diets. But Iím curious what your experience is and any helpful tips you would give people for starting.

Steven: Yeah. I mean, you just nailed it there with fasting. I mean, some people are on the verge of going to the hospital, or theyíre in a real bad place, or a lot of people will buy these very expensive cleanse kits and things like that. Itís much cheaper and actually much more beneficial just to do a water fast for, you know, two to five days depending on whatever you can tolerate and have experience with. So, thatís gonna be your best bang for your buck when it comes to fasting, and I guess bang for your butt as well probably. So, either way, thatís really good.

And then I would say the biggest 80/20 here is if you focus on the ecosystemÖ Again, Iím an engineer, so I think about things a little differently. But I always try to think when it comes to behavior change or anything, we wanna set up the conditions for the outcome we want. So, like, for instance, if youíre trying to go work out every day and you just canít figure it out, one of the best things you can do is put your shoes and your clothes right underneath your feet when you get out of bed, so when you get out of bed, you literally fall on the floor on your shoes because then youíll be like, ďOh, right.Ē It disrupts all of our mental patterning, and it creates the system or the ecosystem for you to actually be into fitness and do it every day.

So I think about the gut that way as well. I take probiotics, I take prebiotics. You know, from time to time, Iíve had to use killing programs to kill off certain things. Iíve taken other specialty products, you know, depending on whatís happening for bloating or things like that. But the number one thing Iíve always come back to is if your ecosystem isnít working correctly, if you donít have the stomach acid to actually breakÖneutralize, you know, incoming pathogens and break down your foods and things like that, if you donít have the enzyme release to actually break apart the molecules in your food, and if you donít have the butyrate to keep your microbiome healthy and keep the food sensitivities at bay, like, youíll just be chasing your tail. Youíll be eliminating foods, you know, month after month. Youíll be trying this supplement, trying that supplement, all of which supposedly will help you with those things, and they will. But itís the 20% that doesnít really matter that much until you get that bigger 80% working. If you get the actual underlying architecture of the body working again, then all those things matter so much, then the probiotics matter, then the prebiotics matter, that kind of thing.

Katie: Yeah. Thatís such helpful perspective. I think two important things you said. The first being about that tip for putting stuff in your way where itís gonna trigger a reaction. Even small things like supplements that are supposed to be taken at meals like your HCL or certain probiotics Iíve taken, I put them on the table with the salt. So, I see them and then remember to take them, or nighttime supplements, put them next to my toothbrush, things like that, and it helps so much with actually remembering to take those things. And then, like you said, that 20%, I think itís easy to wanna get caught up in these fancy biohacking things or all these cool new devices. But I agree with you, if we donít have those foundational things in place, those things arenít gonna be as effective, or theyíre gonna be marginally effective compared to what they could be. Whereas I always tell people, if you can optimize sleep especially and light and stress and the basic foodstuff, then anything else you add on top of that is gonna be so much more effective. Iíve also seen you talk about how bell curves should rule your health choices, and Iíd love for you to elaborate on this a little bit.

Steven: Yeah. I should say that a little easier for people, but basically, statistics should rule how you think about your supplements. So, this might be a lot for somebody if this isÖyou know, depending on where you are in your health journey, this might be too much for you to hear, but I need people to start to get this message, which is that everybodyís genetics, epigenetics, their health history, their environments, like you said, their light exposure, their food is different. And so this idea that whatever the back of the bottle says is what you should be taking, or whatever you hear me say on a podcast or someone else whoís a ďexpertĒ say, thatís just straight-up bullcrap. We fall in a statistical probability based on all those factors.

And so thereís something called the long tail, which is if youíve seen a bell curve, itís like this bell-looking thing, and at either end, itís about 34% of people. Thatís of a standard population. Now weíre talking about people with, like, for instance, food sensitivities. Well, the chance that youíre in that long tail on either end if you have food sensitivities is even higher. So, for people listening to the show, you might fallÖyou know, there might be a greater percentage than 34% that fall in this long tail. And the long tail basically means you need way more or way less than whatever is the general recommended dose.

This can work for pharmaceutical drugs as well. It definitely works for vitamin D supplementation. So thereís some people out there who can take 10,000 IU of vitamin D3 and see, like, no movement. They might have like a 30 on their score, which is, like, just barely good enough. And other people can take 10,000 IUs of vitamin D3 and get to like 70 or 80 nanograms for IU, which is like a lot. And some people might say you might need to take less. The same thing is true, especially in your gut. You really need to work with a provider or, you know, get a certification yourself or get educated yourself to realize like, ďOkay. You know, in this case, Tributyrin-Xô, like, you know, based on my symptomology, I might need more. I might need to dose higher. I might need to dose less,Ē and, you know, getting regular blood work done like that to help out as well. This comes to like curcumin. This applies everywhere.

But thereís so many people who listen to a show like this or are working their butts off to get healthy, and they just havenít been in the industry like you and I have for this long. And so they donít realize that, for instance, you know, 500 milligrams of curcumin is statistically not gonna do crap. Like, it doesnít matter how ďbioavailable it is.Ē The research data basically says above 1,000 milligrams a day is where you get like the joint reductions, the inflammation reductions. And so being willing to take chance, dose yourself a little higher, dose yourself a little lower, understanding the risk profiles I think is really important because one of the worst things, I think, is when someone has an emotional breakpoint, and theyíre like, ďIím gonna handle this. Iím gonna get my health back.Ē They choose the right product or the right grouping of product because theyíre, you know, listening to the right shows, and theyíre doing everything right, but then they under-dose it, or they overdose it. You know, thatís just so sad to me because youíre so close to what you want.

Katie: Iím so glad you brought that up. Iíve been talking more and more, and I know weíve even talked about it in one of our past episodes about the importance of that personalization aspect and how weíre also individualized. And thatís why Iím hesitant when people are like, ďWhat exactly did you do to get over Hashimotoís?Ē Iím like, ďI can share it with you, but use it as a framework, not a blueprint. Like follow it loosely and experiment. Work with someone who knows what theyíre doing and figure out your own actual variables.Ē I think itís a two-sided thing. On the one hand, we can learn something from almost every interaction, every experience, every expert, but at the same time, we have to then take that and personalize it to ourselves and not just accept it at face value without experimentation. So that being said as a caveat, Iím curious what your own personal 80/20 for health right now are, and what those consistent things that you figure are the most important for you.

Steven: Yeah. Itís a great question. I need the supplements every day. So I take the HCL, the holoenzymes, the Tributyrin-Xô every day. So keeping my gut pretty healthy with those is really important to me. I really need to exercise most days. That just really helps me, I donít know, just getting my body, get out of my head, Iím behind a computer screen a lot. It helps me not think about stress, things like that. The other thing is meditation and gratitude journaling. This is also super important. I can get into these rabbit holes, or maybe Iím nitpicking my own health or like worried about a loved one in their health. And meditating and gratitude practices, when Iím doing them, I find that I have much more acceptance and faith for whatís unfolding, and I think thatís as important as almost anything else out there.

Katie: I 100% agree. I find that, for me, sunlight and meditation fix almost every problem as long as Iím not doing anything super bad in any of the other areas. I feel like sunlight just feels like Iím charging, and meditation helps me ground. And together, those two are definitely super impactful for my health. And as expected, our time is, of course, flying by because I could talk to you all day long. I know weíve covered a lot, and Iím gonna put more links for everybody listening to go deeper on some of these topics, and I know you also have more information on your website. So Iíll put those links, as well as you have special links for everyone listening. But another question I love to ask toward the end of interviews is if thereís a book or a number of books that have had a profound impact on your life, and if so, what they are, and why.

Steven: Yeah. Well, definitely, listeners should go check out those links because you have $15 off and free U.S. shipping for the Wellness Mama community. So, weíll hopefully take care of you all there. The books for me, I would say the two biggest ones are ďThe Surrender ExperimentĒ by Michael Singer, which for me as a type-A personality whoís hopefully trying to help the world, things like that just kind of shows me, like, what happens when you do yoga and meditate every day, and you really surrender to life. And like, you know, he ends up being the CEO of a publicly-traded company thatís indicted by the FBI, and like his whole internal journey during this crazy leadership experience. And then the other one is ďManís Search for Meaning.Ē That book is just a regular read for me, just helps me put things into perspective. I think for most people listening, life is probably more intense today than it was two years ago, even a year ago. And I think with all thatís going on in the world, we can really get wrapped up in things that are happening. And then when you go read about something like whatís it like to go into a concentration camp and survive, to me, it helps put what Iím dealing with in perspective.

Katie: I love both of those books as well, and I think youíre right. Viktor Frankl was so great for helping reframe current situation and the stress that we all experience. Iíve read about him and another member who was in the concentration camps, and both of them their mindset going into it was that they were going to try to be a presence of love for everyone they encountered. And it was amazing when they studied it after how much even their biology reacted differently, and they didnít experience some of the really negative long-term physical effects. I think that mindset piece is bigger than we even understand yet. And lastly, what is one piece of advice you would like to leave with everyone today, could be gut-related or not?

Steven: Yeah. I mean, thereís so many pieces of advice Iíd like to get out there, but I think that justÖyou know, when weíre recording this in 2021, I think one thing I want people to do is really focus on their mental health. And thereís lots of components, and you could take that any number of ways mental health is aÖyou know, itís not really a very definable word. For me, thereís key characteristics of mental health that help myself know that Iím in a good frame of mind.

And one of the biggest ones is holding paradox, just being able to say that, you know, when somebodyís on the other side of a point from you, and theyíre being very vocal or very aggressive, and youíre on the other side being just as defensive and vocal, that youíre probably both slightly right and slightly wrong. And I feel like weíve lost that in the world today for a little while. I hope it comes back. Thereís actually a component of a true adult or a mature adult can hold two simultaneously opposing ideas at the same time and not make either one right or wrong. And so I think that if we could do that more as even like this, even that this talk is right and wrong for you all at the same time today. I think itís really, really important for us all to be a little bit better at being critical thinkers and then just being positive forces of acceptance like, ďYes, I get that thatís important to you, and this is important to me, and weíre probably both right a little bit here.Ē

Katie: I love that and the idea that a different viewpoint should in no way take away from your ability to love a person. I think I love that you brought that up as your advice, and the world can certainly use more of that right now and always. So I love that weíre gonna end on that note. And, Steve, thank you for your time. Itís always such a pleasure. Youíre so knowledgeable and well-spoken. I learned a lot today, and I know the listeners did too. Thank you for being here.

Steven: Yeah. Thank you, Katie.

Katie: And thanks as always to all of you for listening, for sharing your most valuable resources, your time, your energy, and attention with us today. Weíre both so grateful that you did, and I hope that you will join me again on the next episode of the ďWellness Mama Podcast.Ē

If youíre enjoying these interviews, would you please take two minutes to leave a rating or review on iTunes for me? Doing this helps more people to find the podcast, which means even more moms and families could benefit from the information. I really appreciate your time, and thanks as always for listening.



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