Do Probiotics Really Work, The Carnivore Diet, How To Heal Bacterial Overgrowth, Is Fiber Necessary, Melatonin For A Leaky Gut & More!

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These days, when people ask me what the #1 book I recommend for all things gut, it is, hands down “Healthy Gut, Healthy You” by Dr. Michael Ruscio. This book takes a deep dive into topics such as:

  • How the gut works and its role in your body,
  • Practical diet and lifestyle advice to support your gut health,
  • Simple and actionable tools to repair your gut, and
  • An innovative, user-friendly plan to heal, support, and revitalize your gut.

This is Dr. Ruscio's third appearance on the podcast.

The first one, titled Why Healthy People Get Broken Guts, And What You Can Do About It talked about why apparently healthy people, especially athletes and exercise enthusiasts, get broken guts, and what they can do about it.

Then, the second podcast, titled Good Carbs, Bad Carbs, High Carbs, Low Carbs & More: Clearing Up Carbohydrate Confusion, was an in-depth discussion on carbs and their effect on your body.

What will his third appearance on the podcast reveal???

Quite a bit, as you will hear.

About the guest:

Michael Ruscio is a doctor, clinical researcher and best-selling author whose practical ideas on healing chronic illness have made him an influential voice in functional and alternative medicine. His work has been published in peer-reviewed medical journals and he speaks at integrative medical conferences across the globe. Dr. Ruscio also runs an influential website and podcast at, as well as his clinical practice located in northern California.

During my discussion with Dr. Ruscio, you'll discover:

-What small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) is…6:40

  • Dr. Ruscio's interest in this goes back 5 years.
  • Focused on improving the health of bacteria.
  • Observations don't always translate into practical action inside a clinic.
  • You differentiate the discrepancies when you separate the large and small intestine.
    • What's going on in the large intestine isn't indicative of the small.
    • A lot of “gut advice” is large intestine-centric.
    • Small intestine comprises 56% of gut activity.
      • Most prone to leaky gut
      • Most immuno active
      • Where 90% of calories are absorbed
  • Bacterial overgrowth is either an overgrowth of or the wrong type of bacteria in the small intestine
    • Not a parasite
    • Native to your system; either in the wrong place or too much of it.

-How SIBO affects the thyroid…12:33

  • Many people who think they have a thyroid condition actually do not.
  • 60% of people who were rechecked were found not to be hypothyroid.
  • Symptoms of hypothyroidism can be mistaken for other problems in the GI tract.
  • Study done on people with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome)
    • Higher incidence of fatigue, depression and anxiety found
    • They were not hypothyroid
  • Another study looking at 1800 patients
    • Looking for drug use, medication use, prior intestinal surgery; expected these to increase risk of SIBO
    • Two most correlated conditions: being hypothyroid and being on thyroid medication.
    • 290 were taken off medication and retested; 60% were not hypothyroid
    • Neither antibodies, nor weight, nor time on medication dictated whether were hypo or normal thyroid.
  • Speak with your doctor to confirm whether you're hypothyroid or not.
  • Be wary if you were diagnosed by someone outside of conventional medicine.

-The testing and protocol for SIBO Dr. Ruscio recommends…22:15

  • For testing thyroid: test TSH and Free T4
    • If within normal range, you likely don't have a thyroid problem.
  • For SIBO, two practical options; breath tests.
    • One uses glucose, the other uses lactulose

-About the elemental diet. What it is and how it works…27:30

  • Hypoallergenic, gut-healing meal replacement shake.
  • Absorbs in the first part of small intestine
    • Rests the remainder of the small and large intestine
    • Starves overgrowth
  • Not as difficult as it may sound.

-The African vs. the Westerner microbiota, and whether or not it's a good idea to try to mimic our ancestors…32:20

-What happened when the Sardinians tried to eliminate malaria…39:07

  • Back in 1950's, Sardinia had a high rate of malaria; cases of MS skyrocketed.
  • Sardinian immune system learned to function with malaria.
    • Once taken away, the immune system didn't know what to do. Created unforeseen adverse consequences.
  • The malaria may have actually strengthened their immune systems.
  • Article: Why Ben uses tapeworms and whipworms

-Why we should have more naturally occurring plant life around our home…43:05

-Dr. Ruscio's comments on probiotics…44:55

  • Most probiotics do not colonize you.
  • Can help reset the microbiota to a healthy equilibrium.
  • Works in tandem with a healthy lifestyle.
  • Think of it as a “nudge” to complement your lifestyle to reset to a healthy equilibrium
  • Should kids use probiotics?
    • The earlier an antibiotic is used, the more detrimental; the earlier a probiotic is used, the more beneficial it is.
  • Can probiotics “seed” the gut?
    • A lot of outlandish claims to market the product.
    • The more a product is marketed, the more claims are made about it. May be unsubstantiated.
  • Ecoli used as a probiotic?

-Why we would be “surprised” about dietary fiber…56:30

  • The amount of data Dr. Ruscio had to sort through almost made him quit writing his book.
  • There have been no consistent benefits shown from high dietary fiber intake.
  • Fiber enthusiasts cherry pick the data from which they make their claims to its efficacy.
  • Carnivore diet: Results are varied on patients Dr. Ruscio has treated who have used it.
  • Focus more on simplifying your diet. A “lazy” diet.

-Whether or not melatonin can help with leaky gut…1:03:37

  • Focus on sleep quality.
  • Use melatonin carefully, to supplement healthy lifestyle.

Click here for the full written transcript of this podcast episode.

Resources from this episode:

-Dr. Ruscio's new book “Healthy Gut, Healthy You

Dr. Ruscio's website – use code BEN to get 15% discount on your purchase

Thorne Mediclear SGS

DirectLabs for SIBO testing (2-Hr Glucose/Lactulose)

Episode Sponsors:

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Do you have questions, thoughts or feedback for Dr. Ruscio or me? Leave your comments below and one of us will reply!

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10 thoughts on “Do Probiotics Really Work, The Carnivore Diet, How To Heal Bacterial Overgrowth, Is Fiber Necessary, Melatonin For A Leaky Gut & More!

  1. Marc says:

    What are your thoughts on taking Xifaxan for SIBO? Or would it be better to try naturopathic healing instead?

    1. Check out this podcast with Dr Ruscio: We take a pretty deep dive into SIBO

      1. Marc says:

        I took the Breath Test and my doctor said I have SIBO. they prescribed Xifaxan but after listening to the podcast it seemed like Dr. Ruscio said the Xifaxan didn’t tottaly work for his patients. Should I try it anyway? Or implement the elemental diet?

  2. Cathy Cooke says:

    So you discuss certain categories of probiotics that many people miss yet have shown to be very beneficial (like Robb Wolf), but you don’t mention what those categories are- Please share!

    1. Nikita says:

      Hey these are described in the mentioned book, check em out here

      The less common ones are the soil-based probiotics and probiotic yeast.

  3. Tom says:

    Was hoping to hear more on the semi-elemental diet topic. Curious as to the rule of thumb on how long one should dedicate on using this diet to get the best results please? Also, is there any concern in consistently having floating stools? Look forward to a response please!

  4. Dan says:

    Hi Ben- Thanks for your insight and another great podcast. I am very interested in utilizing the elemental diet for 3-5 days as a cleanse (ongoing SIBO issues). Can you elaborate on the differences of utilizing Dr. Ruscio’s elemental heal product vs. Thorne Mediclear SGS product that you have used in the past? The major difference I see is that Dr. Ruscio’s is whey protein based which can still create issues for individuals who are sensitive to whey. This makes me question the effectiveness of the product. Any insight you can provide would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Charlene says:

      I’m also super curious to hear the difference. I can get the Thorn SGS on amazon, but not the Elemental Heal, so being based in Canada it would be a lot more reasonably priced to go that route. The conversion is killing me right now… Hope to see a response about this!

      1. Charlene says:

        I’ve been looking in to this further, and the Thorne Mediclear SGS states on the label NOT to take it if you’re eating under 600 calories a day… This is leading me to question it as an option since that’s the point of the elemental diet, to not be eating any other calories.

  5. raf says:

    DR , i think my Doc , give me med for thyroid by “mistake” , or thinking hypothyroid ,so i use this med for almost 2yrs , hwo i can see now if tjis is not my problem or wrong diagnotic , and its possible stop the med?

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