September 15, 2018
Podcast from: https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/podcast/nutrition-podcasts/microbiome-gut-testing/
[01:19] Kion Lean/Organifi
[04:59] Naveen Jain
[09:12] How Naveen Learns So Well and So Fast
[20:35] How Naveen Would Become an Expert on a Given Topic
[22:00] How the Microbiome Regulates Inflammation
[29:26] Returning to Naveen's Learning Process
[34:50] West Clinic/Gosha's Organics
[44:51] How Naveen Reads So Many Books
[49:02] Singularity University
[50:47] Viome's Sequencing
[57:15] How Viome Tracks Changes
[1:01:17] How to Tell How the Microbiome is Affected
[1:04:59] Good and Bad Bacteria
[1:08:20] How the Food Recommendations Work
[1:12:24] Viome's Business Model
[1:16:39] End of Podcast
Ben: Y'ello! That's how I pick up the phone when you call me on the phone. Y'ello. Actually, I just got back from Japan. What they say over there is, “Moshi, moshi!” Moshi, moshi! I like, “Moshi, moshi,” better than Y'ello. Anyways though, this is Ben Greenfield making all these annoying sounds for you, and I went to Bellevue, Bill Gates' neighbor over there, this billionaire named Naveen Jain, brilliant dude. I got a chance to interview him about Viome and answer, or rather, ask him a lot of the difficult questions that a lot of people have been wondering about this whole Viome thing and kind of put him in the hot seat. We record this with a video crew in their office, so the audio might sound different than what you're used to, and you can also find some cool videos to go along with it if you go to the show notes, along with a special link to Viome where you can get moved to the front of the line to get your Viome test, 'cause a lot of people wait a very long line for months 'cause they use Los Alamos Laboratories and they have kind of like a scalability issue as far as you being able to get your tests as fast as you want it. But if you're not, if you use the link I've got in the show notes, which I'll tell you during the show, you're going to be good to go.
So, the other thing is that when it comes to your microbiome, one of the best ways to feed your microbiome is via wild plant extracts and the polyphenols they're in. They do a really good job balancing the microbiome. And in addition, there are ingredients like rock lotus extract, for example, that cleanses the liver and that is associated with a reduction in the rate at which telomeres lengthen, it has a longevity effect, it lowers the levels of insulin and insulin-like growth factor. It's a calorie restriction mimetic, which means it mimics the effects of fasting as well. There's another one called bitter melon, extract it's very similar to exercise in a pill. Does the same thing, but significantly reduces blood sugar levels, especially if you pop a couple before you eat higher carb or a higher starch meal. Higher carb and higher starch are kind of the same thing, aren't they? But anyways, this is all over at Kion. You go to Kion, getkion.com, and the supplement that you want to get for this is called Kion Lean, K-I-O-N Lean. getkion.com and you want to look for Kion Lean, that's the one that has the rock lotus extract and the bitter melon extract in it.
This podcast is also brought to by Organifi. And Organifi makes this turmeric-infused powder that I drink almost every night. I tend to blend it with CBD. You can take it all by yourself if you don't want to throw hemp in your smoothie. But what they did was they combined turmeric with coconut milk, cinnamon, ginger, lemon balm, two different super mushrooms including reishi to give you this warm, relaxation beverage. You sip this thing at night, like after dinner as a substitute for whatever dessert you're craving, and, oh my goodness, it's super fulfilling to your taste buds. Reduces cravings, it's an anti-inflammatory, you sleep like a baby. You get a 20% discount off of this, or their red juice, which is chock full of antioxidants, their green juice, which is chock full of nutrients, use code Greenfield to get 20% off. You just go to Organifi, that's Organifi with an “I”. Organifi with an ‘”I”, use code Greenfield. You get 20% off, and may I recommend to you their gold juice. Alright. Let's go talk to my buddy, Naveen Jain.
In this episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Show:
“Is the food healthy for you or unhealthy for you? You know what he said? ‘One man's food is another man's poison.' And then he realized the way to modulate this functional aspect of the microbiome is food. So, he said, ‘Let food be thy medicine. Let thy medicine be food.'” This generation, Ben, you and I have a shot at fixing this. And if we don't, we're going to watch our children and grandchildren suffer from chronic diseases. And I'm not the one who's going to be for lack of trying. So, I'm going to do everything it takes to prevent reverse chronic diseases. And that's my moon shot. I hope we are able to successfully do that.”
Ben: Well, in addition to anti-aging, and longevity, and kind of getting the most out of the brain and the body, one of the things that I am most infatuated with that I have been for a long time is the gut…
Ben: Well, also my friend Naveen, who has already jumped in the conversation, obviously. But it's the gut. And if you heard my last podcast with Naveen, you know very well that he is intimately involved with the microbiome, with the human gut, and the profound impact that it has on human health and disease. I actually, and perhaps we can touch on this later on in the podcast, Naveen, just two days ago, I actually drank a giant cup of helminthic worms and parasites from China and Thailand to induce a few so-called “old friends” into my own gut. So, if I do melt into a pile of explosive diarrhea during today's podcast, that's why.
Naveen: Yeah. We have a microphone to record.
Ben: We do have a microphone to record it. And a backup microphone at our feet. It could get messy. So, now we've already forayed into the wonderful world of the gut, I do want to remind you about who Naveen is because he has been on this podcast before. It was one of our most incredibly popular podcasts last year. Recorded at your house after we handled your moon rocks, which is not meant to mean anything other than the fact that we literally held moon rocks in Naveen's office because he has had the pleasure and the ability to be able to get his hands on moon rocks from the moon, and we talked all about that in that episode, which you can go back here. But we also touch quite a bit on biome and a lot of Naveen's past successes.
His list of accomplishments are nearly too long to list, but I can tell you that just of late, he's been named as Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the year, has been given the Albert Einstein Technology Medal, received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, was named the Most Creative Person by Fast Company Magazine, which is a pretty incredible accomplishment in and of itself, Top 50 Philanthropists of 2018, Humanitarian Innovation Award. He's won a Distinguished Global Thinker Award, awarded the Most Admired Serial Entrepreneur, which means that he does not have the ability to focus at all, the Top 20 Entrepreneurs and Lifetime Achievement Award. And of course, one of his latest projects that we've talked about before, and we're going to take an even deeper dive into today along with a lot of Naveen's keys to success that he talked about in the last episode that we did with him, his Viome, the gut metatransciptome and microbiome analysis service that allows to actually look into your gut health and is focused on changing disease around the world by looking at what's going on inside of your gut.
So, Naveen and I are going to hit on that. And if you want to actually look at my own Viome results, if you want to access any of the previous blog posts, I have a really comprehensive article on Viome, and also the previous podcast with Naveen if you want to get to know his backstory a little bit better, go to the show notes there at bengreenfieldfitness.com/viome2. That's bengreenfieldfitness.com/viome2.
So, Naveen, if you're game, I would like to jump in here. One of the things that people were most intrigued about the last time I interviewed you was how you get to know topics so well, so intimately, and then actually create successful businesses serially, as we've already named, around that topic. You explain this process of diving in via Twitter and then reading a copious number of books and research articles on the topic. Walk us through your mechanisms for actually learning something as well as you learn something so quickly as you do it.
Naveen: So, first of all, as we discussed last time, once you've become an expert in any field, then you somehow, at a point can at most do incremental improvement on it. That means you're more or less useless when it comes to disrupting your field that you already know a lot about. So, if you want to disrupt a field, you have to be a non-expert. That means you have to be able to challenge the foundation of everything that experts have taken it for granted. And I have now started seven companies, and no two companies that I start are ever in the same industry because you're able to essentially rethink about what the problem is. So, my previous company, as you and I discussed last time, was Moon Express where we're really about how do we create a multi-planetary society. How do we save the humanities from a potential extinction? We're not just talking about saving the planet. We may be really arrogant. This planet will be just fine without us. In fact, this planet was just fine before humans came about. So, the interesting thing is if we all own this spacecraft we call lovingly the Planet Earth, and it's flying up into space, if it gets hit by a large asteroid, the whole human species could be wiped out just like it wiped out dinosaurs, and we could be the dinosaurs. So, the idea really is unless we are able to move away from one planet and to be able to distribute ourselves on the Moon, and the Mars, Europa, and Titan, and Enceladus, and all other places, the species may completely get wiped out.
Ben: Now, I don't want to rabbit hole too deeply down this hole, but what about, and I've heard people talk about this before, we're spending so much time, so many resources on space. What about the sea? What about deep underneath the ocean in areas we haven't explored yet right here on our own planet?
Naveen: And the answer is yes and yes. So, that means every time in life you have a choice, it's not about this or this, you should always be about this and this.
Ben: You don't have to choose between the sea and the moon?
Naveen: That's right. You can do both of them. And we're doing both of them. Now, we are exploring the depth of the oceans that we have never seen before, and we're going to find the organisms, we're going to find the lives, and we're going to find the mechanisms about how these lives were created very differently, and then we're going to learn about the human body more than we have ever learned. And that's really the key is to be able to understand how we evolved, and that means understanding how the planet was formed, understanding how the life was formed. And someday, we can even discuss this story, or maybe later today, about how humans were created. And this isn't my tongue-in-cheek the story of how humans were created, but it gives you an idea that despite how much we think we know about our human body, we're really a walking, talking microbial ecosystem.
Ben: Yeah. If we have time, I would actually, I'd love to explore a little bit more that creation story. The other interesting anecdote of course, is that when it comes the ocean, I was recently looking into some of the longest living species on face the planet, there's a particular octopus species and a jellyfish species that have the ability to regenerate their own cells and this disproportionately long period of time. I think there's a lot of things we can discover in the ocean.
Naveen: Absolutely. It completely regenerates the limb, exactly the young part of the limb. That means it's regrowing as if it's the first time it's growing. So, it's not going back to your 40-year, or 50-year, or 100-year old limb, it's going back to your newborn limb. So, imagine you're able to regenerate your own organs, whether it's your own heart, your own kidney, your own liver. So, you can drink as much as you want. There's always a new liver waiting for you.
Ben: I don't if anyone remembers Lorena Bobbitt and that whole technology would have come in pretty handy back then. It would've been a much better strategy than the glass of milk and ice. But anyways, so your strategy for learning things, your strategy for learning things.
Naveen: It's about staying intellectually curious. So, to me, the day you stop becoming intellectually curious is the day you die. So, the only way you essentially are alive is you're constantly learning. So, it's never about taking the horse to the water and making it drink. It's about making them thirsty. So, the way I look at the life is that every single person, if you can inspire them to be intellectually curious, you have created a society that will always be learning and moving forward. The other part that I really like is that there has never been a time in the human history where individuals and a small group of people are able to make an impact that could only be done in the initially kings and the queen, and the aristocrats, and then later came by these nation states and superpowers. The same thing that were done by the nation states and superpower are now being done by individuals and a small group of people. Whether it's going to space, it's no longer done by, the nation state is being done by private companies, whether it's Elon, or Richard, or Jeff, they're all going out and doing things that could never be done. NASA did not invent reusable rockets. It is the private companies that innovate because they constantly have the reason to be cheaper, better, faster.
The same thing you're starting to see in other areas of the industry is healthcare. Healthcare is not going to be solved by Obamacare, or Trumpcare, or Putincare. It's going to be solved by some entrepreneur saying, “Enough is enough. We are sick and tired of the system that's constantly victimizing humanity.” When pharmaceutical companies have become a parasite on humanity, the humanity must to come together to kill the parasite. And that's exactly what is going to happen. Our education system will have to be completely retaught and reimagined that was designed for teaching you skills, and now if you're living in the world of exponential technologies where any skill that you learn becomes obsolete by the time you actually graduate. And you have to completely rethink about learning to learn, learning to be able to solve problems, learning to be multidisciplinary rather than unidisciplinary because problems tend to be multidisciplinary, not unidisciplinary. And coming back to how I learn is that I tend to go deep into the subject when I'm starting a company. So, in this particular case, when I started on the company on about human health. And we really wanted to understand why is it that people get sick? Why is it that people die? Why is it that people age? And the idea it really comes down to is that it can't be your DNA, because your DNA never changes. Your DNA is always the same from the time you are born to the time you die.
Ben: The DNA is use a computer program essentially made up of alphabet letter.
Naveen: Exactly. So, your DNA is really the alphabet that can write any story you want it to write, and your RNA is really the story that's being written. So, it's not the genes…
Ben: A story that you can write, or that anyone else can write based on the idea that our own electrochemical signals that we produce, based on more quantum physics principles can actually affect the way people think, and feel, and believe.
Naveen: Absolutely true. There's a whole lot more to the things. What I was trying to say was that your genes are not your destiny. It is the gene expression is what your destiny is. And when you start to think about your gene expression, there's something that I never knew, which is if you look at just the number of cells in the human body, we have more microbial cells in our human body than the human cells. That means the cells you get from your mom and dad are less than what we essentially acquire after we are born and through this microbial ecosystem. But that's really nothing. What's really interesting is the human DNA only produces about 22,000 genes. When it comes to microbes primarily living in our gut, they produced 2 million to 20 million genes. That means, at best, we are 1% human. That means all the genes that are expressed in our body, less than 1% come from human DNA. And that's really interesting, that if our gene expression is what makes us who we are and we have completely ignored the largest organ in our body, and that was the big breakthrough for me.
Ben: Well, not only have we completely ignored it. But I mean, I'd argue we even, to a certain extent, damaged it. Back to that old friends’ hypothesis I mentioned earlier, the whole idea is that we wiped out friendly species via our era of post-industrialized antibiotic use and antibacterials that have rendered us microbially deplete to a certain extent.
Naveen: It is right. Yes, absolutely correct. But I want to also hit on the point in a little bit more nuanced way. It's not necessarily that our microbes need to be what they used to be in the past, or they need to be in something, if you look at the aborigines, or the people living in the Amazonian forest, they have a very different microbes and they have a very different set of DNA mutations. And you can essentially get a little bit more into science if you want, for example, in the modern human DNA, we believe if you have a larger copies off DNA called ApoE 4, people believe that is associated with chances of getting higher Alzheimer's disease.
Ben: Alzheimer's, yeah. To a certain extent, Alzheimer's and cardiovascular disease. I'm a carrier of the ApoE 3,4.
Naveen: I'm 4,4.
Ben: You can make decisions in life where you don't eat as much saturated fat.
Naveen: However, what they found is very interesting, that people who are living in the Amazonian forest have 68 copies of ApoE 4 and they never get Alzheimers. An interesting thing is that gene also tends to be an extremely protective gene against infection. Since they have a lot of these insects and stuff, parasites that cause infection, ApoE 4 actually protects them from these bacterial infection and mosquito infection…
Ben: Similar to the sickle cell anemia gene one against malaria from mosquitos.
Naveen: So, sickle cell was designed to essentially protect you from malaria. And now, people essentially get today, obvious, gluten tends to be, and to some extent, a lot of the other chronic diseases.
Ben: Now returning back to this concept though, because I do want to delve into biome individuality and some of those things that you've talked about. Because since our last podcast, I've actually gotten some questions about sequencing analysis and also about how you can draw correlations and say X bacteria allows for higher elements of health compared to Y bacteria, but how does it change from person to person. And I want to get into that, but returning back to this concept of learning, walk me through the actual process. Is there a topic right now, obviously you're very involved in the biome, along with aging and longevity, but is there a topic right now that you are very interested in or that you would see yourself being interested in. If so, how would you become an expert on that topic?
Naveen: So, first of all, obviously I'm spending a lot of the time not just microbiome, because microbiome is a piece of the puzzle, and it's the important piece of the puzzle. But you also have to look at on the host side. So, you're looking at the microbial side and then you have to look at the host side, that how does the microbial ecosystem, releasing these enzymes and peptides, and then they are absorbed in your host side, how does the host gene expression change? How do the metabolites released by the microbiome cause pro-inflammatory compounds or anti-inflammatory compounds? How are they modulating our immune system? How are they modulating our mitochondria? And how are they modulating our various gene expressions that actually make us who we are? So, a lot of the times, what you're realizing is that even our cardiovascular diseases are not caused by the fat we eat. In fact, it's the lipids that are produced by the microbiome, that lipids are the one that actually causes the hardening of arteries.
Ben: Now, just a second. Walk me through that. Because most people are under the impression that when you consume a fat, such as, let's say, a triglyceride, it would go into the bloodstream, and if energy stores were elevated, could potentially cause excess triglycerides or fatty acid deposition. But the microbiome is really discussed as being a player in that scenario. So, walk me through what you mean by that.
Naveen: Think of our body as a doughnut. As you can imagine, a tube that goes through us, and the whole body around us. Every time you eat a food, who do you think actually ends up digesting it? So, think of our microbiome not only as the inflammation processing unit, think of a food as that input information. So, food is the information, and the inflammation processing unit is not billions, but trillions of these microbes that reside inside us. They digest the food we feed them, in turn, they synthesize them and they metabolize them. And what they release is actually sometime can be very beneficial to us. So, it could be nutrients like short chain fatty acids, or it could be harmful to us, such as lipopolysaccharides that could be highly pro-inflammatory.
Ben: So, the bacteria, there's of course the concept of prebiotics and the idea that those would feed the bacteria. Are you saying that carbohydrate, proteins, and amino acid constituents, fats in general would also be digested by the actual bacteria?
Naveen: And protein, as a matter of fact.
Ben: No kidding?
Naveen: So, the very interesting thing is a lot of the people think that certain foods are good or that certain foods are bad, or certain bacterias are good or certain bacterias are bad. There is no such thing. There is no such thing as universal healthy food. A food that's healthy for one person can be completely harmful to another person. And more than that, the food, exactly the same food, depending on the quantity that you are eating it can be beneficial or harmful. For example, protein is a great example, lot of the people, at least, who are listening to the podcast are in the fitness world and they believe that protein absolutely essential to building the muscles and really keeping the body healthy. What happens is when you eat a lot of protein, the protein that needs to be digested in the upper intestine essentially starts to go into the large intestine where it starts to feed the gut microbiome. And these gut microbiome can work these protein using fermentation. So, these are called protein fermenters. And these protein fermenters, when they start to ferment protein, they're releasing ammonia and sulphites, and they cause a massive amount of gut inflammation.
Naveen: Yeah. They essentially make the intestine permeable that it starts to have a massive amount of gut lining being shed constantly.
Ben: Do you think that that is why, to a certain extent, in addition to excess activation of mTOR pathways, that we would see something like excess protein comfirm a decrease in longevity because of the inflammation, the ammonia and sulphide-based inflammation produced by the microbiome?
Naveen: Absolutely correct. That's just one example. Think of your microbiome again as a detoxing also. It does a lot of detoxification. So, if you really think of the people who are living in China, they are able to eat MSG and they have absolutely no impact on it because their microbiome have essentially evolved to be able to detox MSG. You and I go eat MSG, we get headaches and we get all kinds of issues.
Ben: I've heard that's a myth. I've heard that's a myth that was actually propagated against, of all thing, almost like a racist myth towards Chinese restaurants wanting to limit, and this could all be an old wive's tale. I don't know. But the idea is that when they induce cytotoxicity in rodent models in a lab, they give them copious amounts of MSG or glutamic acid. But if we were to eat, let's say, smoked salmon, which would have MSG in it, or even small amounts of Chinese food that has added glutamic acid or umami, that it all winds up being the same thing in the gut.
Naveen: No. Again, remember. The gut does a whole bunch of the detoxification. So, you would see detoxification of the food that we're eating that has toxins in that. So, your gut actually does a lot of detoxification. It also converts one type of nutrient into other types of nutrients. So, it could eat fiber and turn them into short chain fatty acids such as butyrate that's extremely beneficial. It's anti-inflammatory compound fixes your gut lining, it's able to be absorbed in the blood, and at the host side, it had a lot of anti-inflammatory benefits. In addition to that, what's really interesting with what we're seeing, and we'll come back and describe actually how we do it as we get into Viome, but one of the things that we found, I mean personally to me, it was just mind boggling, that people who are vegetarian for generations, their microbiome have evolved to convert carbohydrate into branched chain amino acids, precursor to protein. So, who would have think that vegetarians are able to convert the starch in carbs into precursor to proteins?
Ben: And is that based on their microbiome?
Naveen: It's based on their microbiome. So, we see them, that people like me who have been a vegetarian for 10 generations, we start to see a lot of the people…
Ben: I remember having a wonderful Indian vegetarian meal at your house. I didn't miss the lamb, or the goat, or the chicken at all.
Naveen: The interesting thing is they're able to convert them into, and we always wondered how do vegetarians get protein. And now we know how.
Ben: How do you not know about the huge amounts of sarcopenia and muscle loss, et cetera from protein deficits.
Naveen: It turns out your microbiome actually makes it for you. And it's just mind boggling to me that you start to see that, even the things that are supposedly neutral, where they can be beneficial or not. Ellagic acid is a great example. So, pomegranate juice has ellagic acid, and most people believe that pomegranate is really good for you. And the reason they believe is the ellagic acid actually is neutral. It doesn't do anything. But if you have the gut microbiome that is able to convert the ellagic acid into urolithin A, UL A, that is antioxidative. But if you don't have the gut microbiome that can convert ellagic acid into urolithin A, then at best, you're pissing off your money. Or worse, you're harming yourself.
Ben: And a big part of that from the pomegranate standpoint is the pomegranate juice only contains a small amount of what the bacteria actually need to produce not only that, but the omega 9s from pomegranate. And so, if you have pomegranate, you technically wants to figure out a way to eat the skin, to eat the seeds, to get all the oils, and to get the juice itself because you're actually feeding that goes contain prebiotics, post-biotics, or…
Naveen: A lot of phytonutrients.
Ben: Well, not postbiotic 'cause they allow the bacteria to produce these post-biotic beneficial compounds you've already alluded to, and then I think what they're called are modbiotics that you get from the skin 'cause that modulate the bacteria or keep certain bacteria from growing, from what I understand. I'm no pomegranate expert, but I read something fascinating about pomegranates and the idea that you need the whole fruit, including some elements of the skin to get all the bacterial benefits of it. Now, I want to…
Naveen: And just because of the fiber too, by the way.
Ben: Well, the fiber exactly, you're getting from the seed. The fiber and the omega 9 oils. Exactly. The thing that I want to dive into before we talk about Viome Technology and how you're actually sequencing the biome, and then how someone can intelligently use that information, because I know people are going to be screaming if I don't close this loop, would be back to the concept of learning and your process, this whole idea of following certain Twitter feeds and both, I'm not going to let you off the…
Naveen: No, no, no. I just got a habit of just going off tangent in a lot of different things.
Ben: Yeah, I know. I got to reel you in.
Naveen: So, first of all, when I started this company, I did not know the difference between the DNA and RNA, and I had no idea what this microbiome thing was. So, first thing I did was I buy probably a dozen books. And here's why. If you only read one book, the author's views become your own view. Then you start to 20 or 30 books on a subject, then you're able to synthesize the information from 20 or 30 different perspectives, and then you form your own opinion that's unique from everyone else because you're now looking at the things from a much farther view. All of them are looking at the trees, and you're able to look at it from the whole forest and say, “Oh. This is what the whole thing is all about.” And you're able to synthesize that information in a way that no author individually has ever been able to synthesize. And then, what I do is I look at every single scientific journal, and then I actually subscribe to them on Twitter, and that's all I read.
Ben: You subscribe to the journal's feed on Twitter?
Naveen: On Twitter.
Ben: What would be an example of a journal that has a feed?
Naveen: Every one of them. There are probably 30 journals on microbiome alone, and you subscribe to them. Then I subscribe to Nature, New Scientist, Scientist. I mean, every single, if you look at the…
Ben: The Twitter feeds or the magazines themselves?
Naveen: Just the Twitter feeds.
Ben: Just the Twitter feeds.
Naveen: Because the point is the world of offline magazine is gone. And by the time it's printed, the information is already too old. So, I'm getting as of today what papers are published this morning. So, for example, I can tell you in the last two weeks alone the latest cutting edge research that shows that mother's microbiome is being shown to have an influence on a kid having an autism. Think about that for a second. Mother's microbiome during pregnancy has impact on the children having autism. There are a whole bunch of, research now clearly shows whether the cancer therapy, like immunotherapy is going to work or do not work, does not work depends on your gut microbiome. Even if you do chemotherapy, how do you recover from chemotherapy and rebuild your microbiome. And even if you're able to recover or not able to recover from chemothreapy depends on your gut microbiome. And breast cancer being caused by microbiome, the pancreatic cancer being caused the microbiome, the depression, the anxiety, the ADHD. The interesting thing is even PTSD is now shown that people who have a certain gut microbiome have a propensity or tendency to be able to get PTSD.
Ben: Now when you say the microbiome and these diseases, do you mean that a lack of a proper amount of bacteria, meaning a desolate bacterial profile would cause this? Or are you saying specific bacteria in the microbiome, no matter how robust that microbiome is, the balance or the amount of certain bacteria will cause this?
Naveen: I'm going to have to change the discussion slightly different. This is why this science has never been able to be successfully deployed, and that's a big change. The fact is everyone in the universe was focused on the taxa, the taxonomy. What organisms are there? What organisms are here in your gut? The fact is the organisms in themselves have very little meaning. What really matters is what is it they're producing? The interesting thing is you can have ten different organisms producing exactly the same thing like butyrate. So, it doesn't matter if you have this, this, or that, as long as they're all producing butyrate. So, what matters is not the taxa, but what actually is being done by this microbiome.
Ben: Is there a name for that, by the way?
Naveen: Yeah. It's called transcriptomics.
Ben: Transcriptomics. No, but I mean is there a name for something that a microbiome produces?
Naveen: Yeah. So, it's called metabolites.
Naveen: And also peptides and enzymes, they're all metabolites.
Ben: Okay. Got it.
Naveen: And the interesting thing is that this part of it is what we call the functional analysis of microbiome, rather than what used to be. In the beginning, everybody understood in the last 10 years that the microbiome is responsible for almost all of the chronic diseases. There are a few very rare genetic diseases that are caused by the DNA mutations, and you will see them when you're born, but very few. The genetic diseases are called rare diseases. And you know why they're called rare? They're rare! Everything else is really caused by the dysbiosis in the gut. And then you say dysbiosis, the reason we knew in the last 10 years, in fact, we knew this 2400 years ago. Remember, Hippocrates. What did he say? All diseases begin in the gut. He was a doctor. And then he realized that, like we talked about, there is no such thing as a universal healthy food. It really depends on the person. Is it healthy for you or is it unhealthy for you. So, it's not the food that's healthy or unhealthy. Is the food healthy for you or unhealthy for you? You know what he said? One man's food is another man's poison. And then he realized to modulate this functional aspect of the microbiome is food. So, he said, “Let food be thy medicine. Let thy medicine be food.” Think about that. 2400 years ago. It took us billions of dollars of research, all that, to come back to the same principle, which is all diseases begin in the gut.
Ben: Hey. I want to interrupt today's show to tell you about this company that I went down to and saw in Salt Lake City. They combine acupuncture with stem cell treatments, and the acupuncture actually increases blood flow and circulation when you get the stem cells injected along with them. It's a company called the East West Clinic down in Salt Lake. They also do brain regeneration, meaning they can deliver stem cells intranasally. There's some very interesting research on that behind slowing down the aging process in the brain and reducing inflammation and disease risks in the brain. They do umbilical cord injection. So, if you don't have your own stem cells banked, this is a way that you can still get some of the benefits of stem cells without having to go through the long process, or the painful process of getting yours extracted and banked. So, there's no risk of surgery, early recovery, no big hospital stays, 100% safety record down there. And I've been down to their clinic, they do a good job. You can even go watch a whole video of me get my treatment done.
And basically, what they're going to do is they will give you almost a $90 discount on a procedure and a free consultation if you mention Ben Greenfield. You mentioned Ben Greenfield when you contact them, they also have a really good book where you can learn more about stem cells, like a downloadable e-book, and they're going to give all that to you for free. So, here is how you get hooked up with these folks. You go to acueastwest.com, that's acueastwest.com, like acupuncture. acueastwest.com, and they do, well they do acupuncture. They do a really good job at acupuncture, but you should try the acupuncture mixed with the stem cell treatments that they do down there. So, check 'em out.
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Ben: When you subscribe to a feed on Twitter, are you then chunking those feeds into categories? Do you have the microbiome Twitter feed and the…?
Naveen: I have a scientific Twitter feed. So, I'm going to show it to you and then you can essentially…
Ben: Yeah. I can describe it to folks who are listening via audio.
Naveen: Yeah. So, look at the things here.
Ben: So, you've actually chunked, you have a health and longevity Twitter feed.
Naveen: So, what happens is I go there and I still look at my list, and they are list here and I can look at all of my members. So, think about it. The feed from Mighty Microbiome, Microbiome Articles, Microbiome Woman, Gut Microbiome, Microbiome Center…
Ben: These are all microbiome-based journals or individuals you're following on Twitter.
Naveen: Then this Nature. The Brain Facts, the Neuroscience, Molecular Biology, Microphagy.
Ben: Have you ever written an article about this that teaches people how to categorize? Or maybe I'm just a Luddite and I don't know how to categorize certain Twitter feeds…
Naveen: But, literally you go there, the people you follow and you can add them to your own private list and no one else can see it. You see my private list of different things I'm reading.
Ben: So, you could have your own series of different private list…
Naveen: Exactly. And that's literally, so now in the morning, when I wake up at 4 AM, first three hours, I'm going through everything. By the time the first person wakes up in our household, I have now figured out every latest science research that has come out since I went to sleep and what is going on. So, the next day, I can go and say, “How does it impact what I'm doing?”
Ben: So, I'm writing a book right now on anti-aging and longevity, and I could go and follow, we were talking about Peter Diamandis earlier, and the Human Longevity Project, and Josh Mitteldorf, and Ray Kurzweil, and I could follow all these people, but have them not be getting lumped into or confused by all the other tweets that I'm following?
Naveen: That's right. And you can also start to follow a whole bunch of things. So E4M, all the scientific journals that are talking about those things. Because most of the time, you'll start to see if you're looking at longevity, it's rarely the people in longevity who is going to come up with those ideas. So, what I do is I follow all other tangential fields because you are the one who is going to connect the dots. So, I am suddenly reading that says, “The mitochondria during aging changes its expression.” It's not going to be showing up in some longevity journal. When I read that, I'm thinking, “That's very interesting. Isn’t that in fact aging?”
Ben: And you could also ask yourself how the microbiome affects the mitochondria. You can look for headlines on that.
Naveen: Exactly. So, most people may not realize that mitochondria is the ancient bacteria captured in the human cell. It has its own DNA. So, mitochondria has its own 13 DNA different from the DNA that is from your mom and dad. And something I'm going to tell you that I haven't announced yet, very soon, we're going to be also launching, just like we did the microbiome transcriptomes, we're going to be doing for the host side. With a couple of drops of blood, we'll be able to sequence the whole blood transcriptome. And then you do the blood transcriptome for the first time, we'll be able to look at all gene expression from your mitochondria, all the blood cell gene expression, including all the inflammatory markers. So, think about it. Just to do a cytokine panel on the blood test today costs a thousand dollars. My cost is going to be zero. Not…
Ben: Are you saying that this would be a way to determine whether or not you have healthy mitochondria?
Naveen: Healthy mitochondria and also inflammation in the host side. So, not just the microbiome inflammation, or the gut inflammation…
Ben: So, you can see microbiome inflammation and host inflammation…
Naveen: When I mean host inflammation, I mean all the interleukins. So, IL-17, IL-16, IL-15, IL-1, and you're looking at CRP, you're looking at TNF-alpha. You're looking at all the transcripts now.
Ben: When people ask me the top two things that they could track get when it comes to their longevity, I typically say…
Naveen: Mitochondria, microbiome.
Ben: That's not what I typically say.
Naveen: You tell them telomere, which is wrong.
Ben: I say glycemic variability and inflammation. Both of which are biased heavily by mitochondrial health and by the microbiome. But up until now, wearing a continuous blood glucose monitor testing your blood glucose is not rocket science and many people can track glycemic variability. But inflammatory markers, most people are trying to do a quarterly measurement of CRP or something like that…
Naveen: The CRP…
Ben: What you're saying is a couple drops of blood, you can analyze everything from an inflammatory standpoint, but also mitochondrial health?
Naveen: And here's the best part of it, there's no doubt in terms of human longevity and human health low-grade inflammation is absolutely the key to maintaining good health. Every single chronic disease, as we talked about, from depression, anxiety, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, autoimmune diseases, heart diseases, cancer, diabetes, depression, every one of these current diseases, they're just names, but they really come from low grade chronic inflammation. You don't wake up one day and say, “Honey, last night I was with Ben and I think I drank too much. I might have caught diabetes today.” You don't catch that diabetes, you don't catch obesity.”
Ben: You have to drink with Ben a lot, chronically, for that to happen.
Naveen: But chronically low-grade inflammation is what causes that. So, not only understanding what is going on for human longevity, you have to understand both the microbial side and how the host is being impacted, what gene expressions are actually changing. So, what happens is the microbiome, and we'll come back to story about microbiome are constantly working with our immune system, and they're constantly working with the host side to change the host for their own benefit. And they work their job to some extent in this symbiotic relationship is to keep the host healthy only to an extent when their life is not in danger. But when it comes to protecting themselves, they would kill the host to protect themselves, or they would at least harm the host 'cause they can now move to the new host. We are purely a container for these microorganisms. So, they move from host to host.
Ben: Fascinating. I want to ask you about Viome, but the final question about your learning process, how do you read so many damn books?
Naveen: So, one of the things is that I am actually, I have to admit, I'm a slow reader. First of all, I still can't read in electronic books for whatever reason. It may be my age. I'm just not young enough to be able to read electronically. If it's a 300-page book, I can't read them on Kindle. I actually always buy a nice hardcover book. And the good thing is that I travel a lot. So, on the plane, I get plenty of chances to go sit down and read a book.
Ben: Did you ever audio? Podcast, audiobooks…
Naveen: I love audio podcasts, I love audio books because that's really the easiest way of actually to be able to read a book, and you can actually speed them up at 2x or 3x and still make sense out of it.
Ben: One of the more profound things related to what you've talked about regarding learning and education, I don't remember who told me this story, and tell me if this is true, you actually, with your own children, when you would attend conferences like business conference or conferences in sector you were working in, would bring your children along and kind of drag them to the conference and just expose them to a lot of big thinkers and like-minded individuals.
Naveen: That has been actually, honestly, has been one of the keys to their, today, what they are doing today is absolutely mind boggling. Our 28-year-old is just absolutely killing it out there. Not only when he was 17, he started Kairos. When he went to Wharton, when he left Wharton, he started a company, sold a company, and now he's working with eight, ten companies that are solving the biggest problems facing humanity. He did not get sucked into building [0:46:23] ______. He's working on how do we take affordable senior, affordable housing, student loans, and really thinking about these problems very differently and how we apply technology to solve these problems. How do we get rid of $45 billion debt sitting in that security deposit because they need a security deposit for last month? And just simple fact, he said, “Why can't we come up with a 10-bucks-a-month insurance and just not have a security deposit and bring back $45 billion back into the economy?”
Ben: Did he or your other children never get bored, or embittered, or anything like that when you'd bring them around to exposed them to all these ideas?
Naveen: They’re not. You can see that, our daughter felt that she really wasn't interested in learning about science, and the fact I told her that she gets to decide her passion after she had been exposed to enough things. And when I took her to Singularity University, when she learned about neuroscience and then she learned about genetics, and she said, “Dad, I really want to help women, and the only way I can help women is to understand how their brain works, how their genetics works.” And today, after she graduated from Stanford, at a Stanford Mayfield fellow, board of Stanford Women and Business, and she's a UN ambassador for women empowerment, she's working for head of product for the company that is focused on removing gender bias from hiring using artificial intelligence. So imagine, she's still doing what she wanted to do, but she's using technology to solve that problem now. And our youngest one, by the way, a rising senior at Stanford.
Ben: That's the key, isn't? My wife and I were talking about this at dinner last night, about how it's imperative that you expose your child to as many new things as you possibly can because it's unlikely that on their own, there are things that would discover, from jiu-jitsu, to cooking, to arts, to science, et cetera, children will err towards getting involved with that thing that they're most interested or passionate about. But that doesn't mean that you shouldn't expose them to other things. And so, my wife asked me just the other day, “Do you think the boys will just not like bowhunting?” ‘Cause I'm teaching them how to shoot the bow now, we're going to take them on their first hunt down in Hawaii. And I told her, I said, “We'll never know unless we expose them to this. And if they go through all this, and they come back, and they say, ‘Dad, I want to become a gardener, and eat vegetables for the rest my life, and I never want to go hunting again,' fine. But at least we tried. At least we exposed them.
Naveen: By the way, one of the best things I did with all three of our children, I took them to Singularity University. And I tell you…
Ben: What is Singularity University?
Naveen: It's all about exponential technologies that are actually occur where they're doubling or quadrupling year over year. So, that means these technologies that are occurred are going be so far out in five to ten years, if you don't understand the implications, you will never know how your life is going to be fundamentally changed. So, I took every one of our kids to Singularity University and I really believe that if I were you, Ben, there's a Singularity University Global Summit for two and half days in San Francisco on August 20th, 22nd, bring your children. Just the fact they sit there, even if they're going to nod their head and they're going to say, “Dad, what are we doing here?” The things they take away after that is going to be in their mind forever. It's going to change how they think. It's going to fundamentally change every problem they look at, they're going think about the solution. “Oh! I just heard someone talk about that. Why can't we apply this here?” So, every problem becomes simply an approach to [0:49:58] ______.
Ben: I think we're going to be fly fishing out at Lake Coeur d'Alene that weekend. But the next year…
Naveen: Well, come to Abundance 360!
Ben: A360 is on my list.
Ben: Now, Viome. The last time that we spoke, you were using a unique form of sequencing to actually determine what the microbiome actually looks like in the gut. You do almost like a full sequencing of the gut. Bring people up to speed on the technology and what you're doing right now. And also, when you do so, I've had asked me this question about how you're actually sequencing the full genome of the gut and how this would be different than something that I think is called shotgun sequencing where you take little snips of DNA and pair them all together and what traditionally has been the gold standard of sequencing technology. How is what you're doing different and accurate?
Naveen: So, DNA sequencing is essentially, again, looking at the DNA. That means everything that can potentially happen. What we do is we look at the RNA. So, as you know, the DNA is the double stranded thing and it's the alphabet of anything that can happen. RNA tells you exactly what is currently going on. So, we use the RNA analysis, but to analyze the RNA is still the same thing, is still the shotgun sequencing. It is identical to what the DNA sequencing will be except instead of doing DNA sequencing, we are doing the RNA sequencing. But the underlying technology is still the same illumina identical.
Ben: What about the argument that RNA could degrade or be unavailable before it even reaches the stool?
Naveen: So, first of all, that is only true for the dead RNA. So, what happens is when you're doing a DNA sequencing, that is actually one of the biggest problems is you see a lot of the dead stuff. So, if you were to look at the food that you're eating, whether it's the plant-based food or the meat-based food, you're going to start to see a whole bunch of DNA that's coming from the food. And by the time it goes through your digestive canal, it is all dead. But you'll see the dead DNA because DNA lasts forever, you're going to be able to see all the dead DNA, and you don't know those things that are actually there or they're simply dead. RNA, as you know, obviously degrades. But in the stool, it's still replicating. And we're able to, as soon as you take the stool out and you put it in the test tube, we preserve it right away. So, instantly it gets preserved, we lyse the cell, we open up the cell, preserve the RNA, and it's gone.
Ben: Now a lot of people, they might not be aware, so we'll inform them now, Viome is a poop test. Basically, you send me a tube, and I don't actually poop in the tube, I poop in a, I forget what it is now, like a hotdog tray or toilet paper, and you swab it and put it in. Another question that I've gotten is how you can say that a small sample from one daily poop is accurate versus analyzing it over like taking three days’ worth of stool analysis and getting all the different variables from the stool.
Naveen: So, first of all, there are two parts to the puzzle. One is can we take it from one place and is it good enough. The second part is if I do my test today versus I do my test tomorrow, is it going to be much different. So, we actually did all of that. So, we tested the things in different places in the stool, and then we took the same person for 30 days in a row. And then we took 20 different people for 30 days in a row and said, “Just eat normally what you…”
Ben: They had to poop in a tube for 30 days in a row?
Naveen: I mean, they poop every day, right? So, it's not like [0:53:29] ______.
Ben: It's just so much harder to poop when you know you've got to put it in a tube.
Naveen: It’s tiny, but let me tell you about that. You're talking about, just touch. Anyway, let's not get there too much. But the point is we were able to say exactly who this thing belongs to from all 30 days because the microbes, even if they change a little bit, unless you change your diet drastically, so if you are vegan and you change your diet to become or you started eating meat, or you were completely on this diet and you change it to this diet, then fundamentally, your microbes will change. Otherwise, we're able to predict that they are same people these came from. That means there is a minor change, but it's very temporary and transient.
Ben: Got it. So, you've actually done your own…
Naveen: We absolutely have done all the studies and we are publishing that paper, by the way.
Ben: Amazing. Okay. So, once someone has actually tested their stool and they've sent it off to you, what happens next?
Naveen: So, we essentially take that stuff, and again, remember, as soon as you put it in the test tube, we have now preserved this RNA, and this RNA preserver would last for at least 30 days. So, you can ship it in the regular mail and doesn't really matter whether it gets to us tomorrow or it gets to us a week from now. So, we get the samples from UK, and it's just totally fine. And then, we take the sample and then we prepare it. In the prep side, what we're doing is really amplify, removing some of the RNA that we know exactly what it is. And we're able to remove what we call “housekeeping RNA”, and then we sequence everything that's out there. And by sequencing and amplifying it and sequencing it, we're able to now see exactly how active each of the organisms are. But more importantly, now we can look at these transcripts of what is going on, and by looking at the different pathways, we can say how much of butyrate you are actually producing, how much of LPS you're actually producing, how much of flatulence is going on, how much of vitamins, the folic acid of vitamin K you're actually producing. And then we look at what you're capable of producing. And then we go take all of this information that's coming from your RNA test, and then we take all of the information that you provided us, and then we feed it all into the artificial…
Ben: When you say the information, you mean like surveys and questionnaires that you would answer as you complete the Viome…
Naveen: Yeah. And you take all of that, then we feed it into the artificial intelligence. And the artificial intelligence, just a couple of interesting things, we have a complete food ontology. That means we have now the nutrients in each food, what they are. And then we say, “If this food were to come in contact with these microbes, what this ecosystem will do. So for example, if you say, “Hey, I'm eating spinach,” and I say, “Oh, Ben! The spinach is really not going to be good for you.” You say, “How can you possibly tell me that Popeye was wrong? Popeye was always right. You need spinach!” Spinach has oxalic acid, oxalate. Unless your microbiome is able to detox oxalate, so if you have oxalobacter that's able to detox oxalate or oxalic acid, it's going to be harmful to you. So, we look at the stuff and say, “Are you actually going to be able metabolize this oxalic acid or not?” And if you don't, you can't, then we have to say, “Hold off on that spinach.” And then we looked at your poop and say, “You know, Ben, you really, really need to cut down on protein because we're seeing a tremendous amount of ammonia and sulfites being produced in your gut because those protein fermenters are fermenting all the protein, excess protein that's not being digested. So, you need to ease off on that.
Ben: Right. When these changes are then made, what have you been seeing in the follow-up? What actually happens as far as either the way the microbiome changes or even the way some of those things we were talking about, like inflammatory markers or glycemic variability changes? How do you actually track…
Naveen: So, I think you have multiple questions. So, I'm going to break it down and answer it for you. So, obviously we have people now who've done one, two, or three tests. And then they do what we see is inflammation activities continue to come down. So, we have inflammation activity score in your Viome app, you can see. You can start to see your metabolic flexibility or the metabolic score is going up. Then your digestive efficiency is going up.
Ben: And how are you measuring those?
Naveen: So, all those things essentially come up with tens underlying scores. For each score, there are 10 underlying scores. Under each of those 10 scores, we have thousands of gene expression. So, we say, “These genes are overexpressed four times or eight times. These genes are under expressed.” And then, we look at these pathways and think, “If these genes are overexpressed and these are under expressed, are they producing more butyrate or less butyrate? Are they producing more LPS or less LPS?”
Ben: Got it. So, you can basically take the gene activity and extrapolate that to, let's say, inflammatory markers without necessarily having someone send in their sample along with, let's say, a tube of blood to test the HSCRP, and fibrinogen, and all these other…
Naveen: Those things are on the host side. And I was mentioning that instead of testing that on the host side, we'll again be looking at the transcripts and gene expression. And the gene expressions are the one, remember, DNA makes RNA, RNA makes protein. Right? So, by looking at RNA, we can see exactly what protein is going to be made. So by looking at the blood gene expression, we'll be able to say how much of these inflammatory markers, the cytokines, CRP is a great example, C-reactive protein, we'll be able to imagine and say how much of CRP is being made.
Ben: Will you eventually be able to take these new measurements you alluded to a while ago, take those, that's a blood measurement, right? So, can you take those and then combine them with the microbiome data to actually see what's going on in the host level even more specifically? So, you pair that with the microbiome analysis.
Naveen: Very soon, when we launch the blood transcriptomic, it's going to be called the genetic intelligence test. So, we have now the gut intelligence test and we're going to have a genetic intelligence test, we're going to be able to now take your microbial gene expression, the host cell gene expression, your phenotype information, and then feed that into AI along with the food ontology and say how that food is going to be impacting you, if you take this supplement, how is that going to be impacting you, if you take these things, how is that going to be impacting you. The goal of reducing the inflammation, because at the end of the day, if you can get rid of the inflammation, everything else, losing weight. So, what's interesting is we don't go focus on diagnosing a disease or reversing a disease. The symptoms, the disease are simply the symptoms of the chronic conditions, people name them these diseases, there's really no such thing as disease. They are just, your body is not at ease, so it's at a dis-ease is what disease is.
So, when you bring your microbial ecosystem, bring your body into homeostasis and you reduce the inflammation, what pharmaceutical companies do is they love chronic diseases. So, what they'll do, they'll never want to cure any of the chronic diseases. They don't really care what's causing them. They want to suppress the symptom. So, you have autoimmune diseases. What do they do? Suppress the immune system. Don't worry about what's causing the autoimmune diseases. And guess what? When you suppress the immune system, there'll be three more other diseases that's going to be caused by it. They have pills for every one of them. And by the time you get to my age, you're popping more pills than blueberries, and there's another set of problems you get.
Ben: Right. How do you know with the microbiome whether the disease is causing the microbiome to be deleteriously affected? Or whether a poor microbiome is causing the disease?
Naveen: Think of it as a circular path. So, it's not a chicken or egg, which came first. It is really, so think, let me give a better example. Stress. Your gut microbiome makes you essentially highly likely to be able to get depression or stress. When you get stress, you release cortisol, that changes your microbiome.
Ben: I think we talked about this a little bit last time too, about even the fact that the neurotransmitters produced, such as serotonin and dopamine, are heavily influenced by bacterial profile.
Naveen: No, no. 90% of all the serotonin produced in the human body is produced in the gut.
Ben: 90%. So, majority.
Naveen: In the gut!
Naveen: Not in your brain. Almost all the neurotransmitters are either produced in the gut or consumed in the gut. So, think about it for a second. Your gut and the brain are connected through the vagus nerve. And that vagus nerve is bidirectional. So, your brain impacts your gut and your gut impacts your brain. And that is a…
Ben: From the time you're a fetus, the enteric and central nervous systems are connected.
Naveen: And in fact, even before, think about it from an evolution perspective, a lot of the original organism didn't have the brain. They all had the gut. People say this is our secondary brain. In fact, evolutionary-wise, that is our primary brain. That is where the brain was evolved. This is our secondary brain.
Ben: I know a guy who has done, Jeff Leach, he did a fecal transplant. And I believe he was with the Hazda when he did this, some hunter-gatherer tribe. And it changed his, like the way he felt, his personality almost instantly, probably because of that difference in neurotransmitter. What do you think of this idea of using fecal transplant therapy as a way to change the microbiome?
Naveen: So, first of all, one has to be extremely careful doing that. Your microbiome evolves to essentially compensate for the environment that you're living in. So, if you take a microbiome from a person who's living in a completely different set of environment, eating completely different set of foods, and you take that microbiome, bring it in to the…
Ben: That was a pretty extreme scenario that he did. I think most people, they're going to Taynuilt Clinic in Britain and they're working with a healthy donor. I was just curious if you guys have even ever looked into that with Viome or even tested someone's who's done that.
Naveen: There’s lot of these stuff. They’ve done in the interspecies transfer and they've also done the human to human transfer. So, there are a couple of very interesting cases. They took the microbiome from a human and gave it to the mice which essentially had no microbiome. And if they took it from a fat person, the mice became fat. When they took it from a thin person, the mice became thin. So, they are able to show that obesity goes with the microbiome. They did the same thing with diabetes. They have done it for many diseases.
Ben: Jet lag and circadian rhythm.
Naveen: Most people don't realize that microbiome have their own circadian rhythm and that's the reason…
Ben: I didn't know that.
Naveen: So, microbiome has its own circadian rhythm. In fact, there's a whole bunch of interesting things about microbiome. They communicate both chemically, they do the quorum sensing, they also use electrical signals communicating between themselves. So, there's a very interesting paper that came out at how microbiome use electrical communication to communicate themselves just like our brain does. So, this whole idea of, one thing we did not touch on that you were asking is there good bacteria or bad bacteria. That is actually the old science. It is not the bacteria that is good or bad, it is the ecosystem that's good or bad.
Ben: Give me an example.
Naveen: C. diff is a great example. C. diff in itself is a terrible bacteria. But it's really, really good in an ecosystem, almost 80% of the people we tested, they all have a C. diff.
Naveen: But remember, if in…
Ben: ‘Cause most people would freak out when they see C. diff on their test.
Naveen: But the interesting thing is in a good ecosystem, the other bacteria are keeping this in check. And you need these bacteria to essentially constantly keep your immune system primed. So, what happens to these bacteria are keeping you immune system ready to go so when there is a parasite, it can attack. And this thing also allows you to renew your gut lining. So pro-inflammation, a little bit of pro-inflammation allows you to renew your gut lining.
Ben: So, when you talk about immune system modulation and the microbiome's key role in that, something like C. difficile, even though we would paint that as, in old school terms as you refer to, a “bad bacteria”, it is in fact imparting the ability to modulate the immune system?
Naveen: And as a part of the whole good ecosystem. Almost every one of them, 80% of the people you look at have C. diff. So, my point is the same thing with Akkermansia. Akkermansia may be extremely good in some quantity in some ecosystem. In other places, we have seen Akkermansia to cause psoriasis, multiple psoriasis or a whole bunch of other diseases. So, it's really not the bacteria in itself. And that's really my point is the reason the science hasn't moved forward is because people are using this old science of 16S. And 16S, you're looking at the thing…
Ben: 16S was the old way that you would normally sequence the microbiome.
Naveen: Yeah. That's right.
Ben: I don't want you to shove people under the bus, but we have to, I'm afraid. Now, what would be an example of a company or a product that was using 16S…
Naveen: I mean, any time you have essentially got scammed by uBiome, or American Gut Project, or in fact most other labs. 99% of all labs just go there….
Ben: They all use 16S.
Naveen: Because it costs a couple dollars. So, they basically are scamming you, not doing anything.
Ben: Gotcha. But you're not getting the full picture at all…?
Naveen: First of all, you're missing out all the viruses, phages, RNA viruses, yeast, fungus, mold, and even the bacteria…
Ben: What about parasites?
Naveen: Depends. I mean, the parasites, if they are bacterial parasite at a genus level. But you're going to be able to get them into species level or strain level. So, it's like saying we see a lot of man here, we see a lot of women there. They don't know, “Is it Ben or Naveen?” Even worse, the strain level, are they producing butyrate or are they producing LPS? Are they really a plumber or the electrician? What are they doing?
Ben: What are the metabolites?
Naveen: Right. What are they doing? That's the reason these companies have really essentially given a bad name to the good science.
Ben: When someone finally goes through the Viome analysis and then the food recommendations are generated, how does that actually work? Do you just begin to eliminate foods that would feed parts of the microbiome you don't want to feed? How does that actually, 'cause honestly, there's a lot of people that really don't give a crap about what form sequencing is used. All they want to know is, “What am I supposed to eat? What am I supposed to avoid?” So, how does it work with Viome?
Naveen: By the way, that's what we do. So our whole job is to look at all these signs and give you actionable things that you can do. So, our job is to say, “Here are the foods that are good for you and here are the food that you should minimize,” and that's really it. And how do we know what foods are good for you, how to minimize, they may know Ben that, we have the food ontology database. So, we say, “What are the nutrients in each food,” and then we say how are these foods, when they go to the gut, how are they going to be synthesized and how are they going to be metabolized. And based on that, we can say, “Alright. For your gut microbiome right now, here's what you need to do.” An interesting thing is when you change your diet, in the next three to four months, your gut microbiome completely changes.
Ben: That's what I wanted to ask you. Does it change, then the food recommendations change when you do a follow-up test?
Naveen: That's right. So, if you do a test in three to four months and if you change your diet, if you say, “I got the recommendation, but I didn't change my diet,” don't bother.
Ben: So, you're saying I might be able to eat green beans?
Naveen: That's right. In fact, the change for me.
Ben: Tell me about what change with you.
Naveen: So, when I started, it said I need to cut down all the things that actually I thought were healthy for me. Spinach, lentils, legumes, tofu, and oats.
Ben: Legumes and lentils are pretty big staples of the vegan diet.
Naveen: It is, right? And avocado! So, all those things that I thought were healthy for me, total bummer. Did that, cut down. Four months later, I did a test again.
Ben: You cut them. Did you do anything else? Did you introduce certain bacterial strains like probiotics…
Naveen: No. So, I took some probiotics, and obviously I ate whole lot more fibrous that was recommended to me.
Ben: Did you take specific probiotics strains, like specific to what you were shown to be deficient in?
Naveen: Exactly. So, we took exactly what I needed. So, one other big thing is it's not the probiotic that's really healthy for everyone. As a matter of fact, people who take probiotic could be harming themselves significantly. Because if you have a SIBO and you take probiotic, it's going to make it worse.
Ben: Or a histamine intolerance.
Naveen: Or if you already have too much of those bacteria by giving more, you're going to make it worse. The good thing is 90% of probiotics are so useless, they never actually get old anyway. So, sure, I mean it doesn't make it as much bad, but you're just pissing off or you're shitting off your money.
Ben: They never actually see the actual gut.
Naveen: And that's one other interesting thing is I'm looking at another biodefense technology that's coming out of another lab that is able to show that based on this microbial ecosystem that's in your gut or my gut, if you want to introduce this specific strain, what other strains have to go with that so they can found a symbiotic relationship, what prebiotic it needs. And then, you can package them to say when it goes down it has all other, these are the friendly ones that are going to support it, and here are the antagonistic ones they're going to attack, and how they're going to be able to survive. And you can show and prove that personalized probiotic will work in you better.
Ben: That field, I mean we could have a whole different podcast about the field of nutrigenomics and personalized nutrition just based on that alone. Customized supplement delivery.
Naveen: So, we are actually working on this high-throughput sequencing for microbes and microbiome that's going to be able to modify. And god knows why [1:11:37] ______ in this national security lab to introduce a particular set of bacteria for a specific person. Who am I to ask?
Ben: Yeah. You're now a conspiracy theorist. It's a lot more targeted though than eating a dirty pomegranate. Okay. So, walk me through this part of things. Someone tests, they send in their stool, or they do a repeat test, and you have the app, you have your Viome dashboard on, or the online portal that you access will show you your first results, your second results, the, correct me if I'm wrong, but the food recommendations and everything kind of changed from result to result, how does it work in terms of just the business itself? How do people actually sign up and what's the testing protocol? How do you guys change? A year ago, I think your business model has changed a little bit since the last podcast.
Naveen: Not really. No, no. Not really. So, what we have done actually is we have learned a lot and we have been able make it simpler. So when we started, we needed to do a metabolic intelligence test and a gut intelligence test.
Ben: Metabolic intelligence being the shake that you drink to see what your glycemic response to a meal is.
Naveen: That's right. So, we no longer need to do that anymore because what we did is we took a thousand people, put them on a continuous glucose monitoring, give them, we bought the whole foods, 50,000 different foods to give it to these people, and we are able to monitor for each set of gut microbiome, how does the glycemic response change? And now, we built a whole machine learning model so I can now predict that you eat that carrot, I can tell you exactly what is going to happen.
Ben: Of course, more importantly, I'd have to drink the nasty sugar drink…
Naveen: That's all gone now. Now the kit is a beautiful silver looking box. Another thing we did is really constantly reducing the cost for the people. As you know, this is not something that I'm trying to make money from. This is something to me for my way of giving back to the humanity. How do we help billions of people live healthy? As you know, my dad got diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and we all know it came from gut microbiome because there's a very interesting research that shows that how pancreatic cancer is caused by gut microbiome through leaky gut moving into the pancreas, shutting down the immune system, allowing the cancer to grow. At this point, I wish I had started this company two years ago. Because if I started two years earlier, I would have had by now all the information I need to keep him healthy. I don't know how much time he has, honestly, to live right now. But I promise, I don't know if I can save him, but I can promise you that people behind him are going to be saved, and that is my goal, that I am going to focus and I'm absolutely focused on a simple moon shot. How do we make illness truly a matter of choice? And this chronic illness, we need to be able to eliminate these chronic diseases. This generation, Ben, you and I have a shot at fixing this. And if we don't, we're going to watch our children and grandchildren suffer from chronic disease. And I'm not the one who's going to be for lack of trying. So, I'm going to do everything it takes to prevent and reverse chronic diseases. And that's my moon shot. And I hope we're able to successfully do that.
Ben: That's a pretty noble effort. I think that's a perfect place to wrap it up, man. So, if you're listening in, go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/viome2. That's bengreenfieldfitness.com/viome2. If you want to see what my results look like, I'll put 'em there. If you want to get a test for yourself, I'll put a link there and we'll work on a special code that you can use when you get your own test that will get you some perks that Naveen and I will talk about later, but I'll work out something for you guys that I'll put in the show notes. And I'll also link to my previous episode with Naveen because I know we didn't get into his history too much, but listen to that one because your mind will be blown about everything else that this guy has done. I, of course, have plenty of work to do myself. I'm setting up my Twitter feeds, and amping up my books game, and continuing to learn from some of the smartest people on the face of the planet like Naveen. And I'm just incredibly honored to be able to sit down with you and I'm impressed with your passion, your devotion to healing the human race. So, thanks, man.
Naveen Jain is an entrepreneur and philanthropist driven to solve the world’s biggest challenges through innovation. He is the founder of several successful companies including Moon Express, Viome (you can click here to get moved to the front of the waitlist right away with code “FITNESS”), Bluedot, TalentWise, Intelius and InfoSpace.
Moon Express is the only company in the world to have the permission to leave Earth orbit and land on the moon with the goal to harvest planetary resources and to develop infrastructure to make humanity a multi-planetary society.
Viome is focused on disrupting healthcare with the goal of “making illness elective” by identifying microbial biomarkers that are predictive of chronic diseases and to adjust the microbial imbalance through personalized nutrition.
Naveen Jain a trustee of the board at the X PRIZE Foundation where he is focused on using incentive prizes to find a solution to many of the societal challenges. He recently launched a million-dollar Women Safety XPRIZE to empower the women around the world. Naveen is also on the board of Singularity University where he is focused on educating and inspiring leaders to address humanity’s grand challenges through innovative technologies.
He has been awarded many honors for his entrepreneurial successes including “Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year”, “Albert Einstein Technology Medal” for pioneers in technology, Recipient of “Ellis Island Medal of Honor”, Most creative person” by Fast Company, “Top 50 philanthropists of 2018” by Town & Country magazine, “Humanitarian Innovation Award” at the United Nations, “Distinguished Global Thinker Award” by IILM, “Most admired Serial Entrepreneur” by Silicon India, “Top 20 Entrepreneurs” and “Lifetime Achievement Award” for the leadership by Red Herring.
Naveen’s latest project is called “Viome”, a cutting-edge gut and microbiome analysis company I first revealed in the must-see video “What Is Viome? How Gut Metatranscriptome & Microbiome Analysis Can Change Your Health“, then took a deep dive into in a follow-up podcast with Naveen “Age Reversing Via The Gut, The Ultimate Anti-Anxiety Pill, Customized Probiotics & More With Billionaire Entrepreneur & Viome Founder Naveen Jain”. Viome is focused on disrupting healthcare with the goal of “making illness elective”. They have developed technologies to analyze the biochemistry and ecosystem of our body that consists of millions of metabolites and trillions of micro-organisms. Their plan is to identify biomarkers that are predictive of chronic diseases and prevent them through personalized diet and nutrition.
Since that initial interview with Naveen, I've gotten plenty of questions about Viome – including criticisms of the genetic analyzing technology used and the applicability of the test in general. Today, Naveen takes the hot seat, answers all the tough questions and reveals even more secrets to his own success.
During our discussion, you'll discover:
-Naveen's unique process of mastering topics and creating businesses around that mastery…9:00
-Whether or not human microbiomes “evolve” with changing technology and civilization trends such as the industrial revolution…17:30
-How Naveen uses Twitter feeds to educate himself and stay updated on the latest research on the microbiome…29:00
-How Naveen exposes his children to the complex concepts he is studying…45:25
-How Naveen's company, Viome, can use a single stool sample to determine the overall health of your gut…52:14
-How do you know whether the disease is causing the microbiome to be deleteriously affected, or whether a poor microbiome is causing the disease…1:01:00
And much, much more!
Resources from this episode:
-My original Viome results walkthrough: What Is Viome? How Gut Metatranscriptome & Microbiome Analysis Can Change Your Health.
-My latest Viome snapshot:
–Kion Lean Support for normal blood sugar levels and healthy energy metabolism, even after large, carb-rich meals.
–The East West Clinic Mention Ben Greenfield and get a free consultation, some free goodies, plus a discount on your treatment.
BONUS: Here is the video of Naveen and I doing the interview in his home in Bellevue, WA.