Today I speak with Travis who experienced improvement in his gas, bloating and loose stools from the Healthy Gut, Healthy You protocol. Travis also made a couple mistakes that are great learning experiences for those who are using the book protocol.
Dr. Michael Ruscio, DC: Hey, everyone. This is Dr. Ruscio. I’m here today with Travis Baird, who’s had some pretty good results with the Healthy Gut, Healthy You protocol. And he was kind enough to take a moment and share his story with us. So, Travis, thanks for being with us today.
[Continue reading below]
Dr. R’s Fast Facts Summary
Case Study for Healthy Gut, Healthy You
Patient Experienced Long-term Symptoms
- Loose stools
Patient First Tried …
- 4-day fast
- Paleo diet
- Low FODMAP
After No Improvement, Patient Added
- Resulted in a complete turnaround in symptoms after just 4 weeks
Patient Moved to “Motility Phase”
- Symptoms started to regress
Patient Returned to Antimicrobial Phase …
- Added anti-biofilm agent
- Symptoms started to fade
Probiotics Helped Too
- Probiotics are underestimated as an antimicrobial support
- Work toward a minimal effective dose
Patient’s Key Takeaway
- Being patient with the process is important. Try not to jump ahead too quickly. Give each step it’s due time.
- Get help with your GI symptoms.
- Get your personalized plan for optimizing your gut health with my new book.
- Healthcare providers looking to sharpen their clinical skills, check out the Future of Functional Medicine Review Clinical Newsletter.
Travis Baird: Sure.
DrMR: Can you tell people a little about your road up to Healthy Gut, Healthy You? And then we’ll go from there.
TB: I had 3 major symptoms: loose stools, bloating, and gas. And these I had for as long as I can remember. It got to the point where loose stools turned into fairly frequent diarrhea. And the gas got to be something that was inconvenient, to say the least.
TB: So I started to look more and more into is this normal? And what could be causing these symptoms? I listen to a lot of podcasts. So I think I first heard you on the Mind Pump podcast. And that led me to listen to your podcast.
And that’s about the time that the gut book came out, Healthy Gut, Healthy You. So I thought, this is great. This is exactly what I’ve been looking for, something that I can read that will guide me through the process. There’s so much information, it’s very easy to get quickly confused in which direction you should go.
So I started the process outlined in the book, the Great in 8. And I did the fasting for 4 days, first time I’ve ever done that. I tried a few of the different diets: the paleo, the low FODMAP. And at that point, I didn’t experience any kind of noticeable improvement from any of the diets or the fasting. I was kind of just back in the same spot.
So I proceeded to go through the anti-microbial step. And when I got through the first month, I thought, you know what? This is just a waste of time. I had zero benefit at this point. And I thought I’m kind of at a dead end again. It was about at that time that I had a complete turnaround, about the first week of the second month. And it was at that time that all my symptoms improved, almost just completely went away. And my digestive process was better than it had been since I could remember. So I continued through the process. And at that point, I think anything the book told me to do, I would follow through with.
DrMR: Had you done the probiotics leading up to that? Or did you gloss over—
TB: Yes. So I had tried the diets by themselves before I had even heard of the Great in 8. I had tried many different types of probiotics. And either I had no benefit, or sometimes my symptoms would get worse. That’s just by things that I would read on the internet and research that I had done on my own.
DrMR: And that’s a good point there that we should quickly mention, which is we don’t want to force a dietary solution to a non-dietary problem. So you had gone through the dietary steps. And I’m assuming you gave at least the paleo and the low FODMAP diet a trial. And for people watching this, we want to give diet it’s fair due. But we also want to know when to move beyond diet and not flounder in the dietary purgatory forever.
And so I’m glad that you did the dietary trials. But then you were reading the book protocol, which gave you, okay, diet hasn’t done it yet. Let’s not try to force that. And let’s now escalate these. And it’s also, I think, notable to mention patience can be important. Some people will respond only after being on antimicrobials for a couple of days to about a week. And your case, you had to stick with it and get to, I’m guessing, maybe 5 or 6 weeks of total time on the antimicrobials before you started seeing some improvement. Is that about accurate?
TB: Yep, that’s right. I had tried some of the antimicrobials before, in particular, oil of oregano. I had tried that. One of the podcasts I listened to is Ben Greenfield, and he has one of those that he recommends for gut issues. But by itself, I had no improvement at all.
DrMR: This is another key point. And this is something I probably harp on in the book, which is there’s not necessarily a magic protocol. But there is really no magic process if you will. And this is one of the things I see for many people, which is they try one thing in isolation or another thing in isolation. But they’re not sequencing these things in the right order in laying this foundational aspect, building on top of that, and then building on top of that, kind of like this pyramid model. And that, in some cases, is the difference between success and failure.
So really, kudos to you for diligently working through the protocol because that’s, I think, again, sometimes the difference between succeeding and failing, which is having a map for how to apply these therapies and sequence them rather than just trying this, trying that, trying the other thing.
TB: I think that’s what I love most about the book is it gives you that map. And it’s really necessary. I’m surprised there aren’t more books like this to this point. There’s so much information about a diet or about a certain antimicrobial. But none of it is encompassing. It doesn’t fit together. There’s no laid-out plan. There’s no pyramid.
DrMR: Right, right.
TB: So that’s where the book comes in. That was helpful.
So after the 2 months, the second month of the antimicrobials, I felt great. I felt that I was cured of whatever it was. I had never been diagnosed. But my symptoms were gone. So I moved into the motility phase. And I started with the MotilPro.
After the first month, I was starting to experience some regression back to the same symptoms as before. So I went back to the book. And it said sometimes you just need more time. So I thought, well, maybe that’s it. Maybe I need to stay here a little longer. And I started the second month of the MotilPro.
At that point, towards the end of the month, the symptoms were still regressed. So I was kind of slowly moving back to where I was. All the symptoms were coming back, not as bad as they had been before. But I was going back in that direction.
So at that point, I decided to go back to the book and see what direction it told me to go. And I decided that the second phase of the antimicrobials with the additional add-ons would be prudent at that point.
DrMR: Yeah. And just to clarify, because this is a point that I specifically speak to in the book because this does happen where people go on antimicrobials. They improve. And then when they come off antimicrobials, they regress. And it’s not necessarily a hard thing to fix. And we do speak about that in the book, which is kind of extending your time on antimicrobials a little bit longer. So that’s essentially what you started on, plus some of the add-ons.
And just for people listening, there’s a couple add-ons for…Let’s say you’re buying a car. You can buy a regular car, or you can also get the upgraded turbo charge, plus the full power window package. You don’t need to buy the most expensive car or the fastest car on the market. So we start you off with kind of the basic model, so to speak. And then if you’re in this position of seeing some improvements, but then regressing, if we have to go through another course of antimicrobials, there’s some add-ons we can use to kind of enhance the results. And so that’s where you’re starting to now.
TB: Yes. That’s what I decided to do. I went with all the add-ons, so the Biota-Dissolve—
DrMR: Which is an anti-biofilm agent, just for people listening, which some bacteria and fungus can form this protective coating over themselves. And that can be one of the causes of these symptoms that improve, regress, improve, regress. And so using an agent that breaks apart this film, this protective coating and allows the antimicrobials to penetrate the organism can be helpful. So, yeah, that’s one of the things in the add-on package
So I’ve just started the first week of the second month. And at this point, I haven’t noticed the same benefit as I had before. So I’m kind of waiting and hoping that I get back to the place that I was at the end of the first 2-month protocol. But I’m not there yet. So that’s kind of where I’m at at the moment.
DrMR: This is a great time snippet because you’re not someone who’s fully gone through everything and gotten all the way out of the woods. So this is kind of an interesting time to check in.
So just to recap, you’ve seen results. Really, it sounds like you haven’t seen this level of improvement prior until doing the Healthy Gut, Healthy You protocol. But you haven’t made it all the way out of the protocol. And this, I think, is a key thing to mention because some books will give you a helpful protocol. I don’t think there’s any gut books, as you mentioned a moment ago, that really give you as in-depth of a map for improving your gut health as my book does.
But even beyond that, there are also some tips for people who improve and then regress because this sometimes happens. When someone does a line of therapy, they feel great. But sometimes what’s left out of the testimonial or the marketing literature for a book or course or whatever is the people who did great, and then later on regressed.
And I built specifically into the book protocol what to do when that happens. And fortunately, this is an outgrowth of what I see in the clinic where, when you’re following up with people every month, you see one group of patients uses this protocol. They feel better, and they never look back. But another group improves, and then they start regressing after a number of months. So it’s not necessarily difficult. It’s just knowing what to do.
And so that’s right where you are, Travis. And you may need to give it a little while longer. I believe you said you’re only a week in. So you may need a little bit longer with the more advanced antimicrobial protocol to get there.
And this is funny; I’m having a conversation with a patient in the clinic right now. And what I tell my patients is the fact that you responded to this antimicrobial nudge to the microbiota tells us we’re doing the right thing. It’s just sometimes we need to do the right thing a little longer.
And the analogy I like to use is the injured knee analogy. If you hurt your knee and you are wearing a brace for a while and doing some rehab and feeling better, but you went back to playing sports too soon, you might see your knee pain regress. And so it’s not necessarily a big deal. We’ve got to get back on the rehab protocol, wear the brace for a little while longer, stay in that post-injury rehab phase just a bit longer. And sometimes that’s really all that we need to do to fully get someone over the hump.
So this is actually a great point in time to check in on it. And it would be great if we can get another snippet from you when you’re on the other side of the hump to put these together.
Hey, everyone I’d like to tell you about BIOHM, who helped to make this podcast possible. Now, BIOHM offers a line of gut-healing products, including a probiotic, a prebiotic, and a green powder. Now, their probiotic is interesting in the sense that it combines strains from both category 1 and category 2.
So from category 1, you have lactobacillus, acidophilus, lactobacillus rhamnosus, and Bifidobacterium breve. And from category 2, you have S. boulardii, so a nice combination of category 1 and category 2.
And if you go over to BIOHMHealth.com/Ruscio and use the code RUSCIO at checkout, you’ll get 15% off your first order. So BIOHM, they’ve got a good line of probiotic and prebiotic and the greens powder, all to help you improve your gut health, which we know has such massive and far-reaching impacts. So check them out over at BIOHMHealth.com/Ruscio.
DrMR: Do you have any questions for me, I guess, while you have me here? And then do you have any words that you want to offer people listening in close?
TB: One thing that I’ve skipped forward to in the book is how you eventually—and I think this is a mistake I may have made when I came off of the antimicrobials—the proper procedure to start stepping away from some of these supplements that you go through.
What I did, when I got done with the second month of the first antimicrobial protocol is I basically quit all of the antimicrobials along with the probiotics and was just on the MotilPro. I thought I was done. I thought I was, like I said, cured. So I didn’t see the need for those things anymore.
But when I looked at toward the back of the book, it shows what order to come off of these things. And actually, I should have stayed on the probiotics while I was still taking MotilPro. Do you think that affected my regression?
DrMR: It certainly could have. And this is why I do recommend when people read the protocol that they read through it fully first before doing it because you want to make sure you understand the whole map so that you don’t just follow part of the map and then in your case, maybe jump ship prematurely, which is fine. This is part of the learning process. I understand the spirit of feeling better and, “All right, on with my life!” I totally get that and appreciate that. I think that’s probably a healthy psychology to have.
However, coming back to the rehab analogy, we don’t want to get you back onto the sporting field too early post-rehab. And so it sounds like that may have been what happened. And what likely happened here was there was some dysbiosis in your but, some imbalances in the fungus, bacteria, and like organisms in the gut that was improving from the protocol. And you got to a point where your symptoms were gone. And that’s fantastic.
But instead of weaning yourself back down off of the supports into a normal life, you kind of jumped there. So instead of a stair step, it was just like a cliff. And what may have happened there was you opened the door for those imbalances to come creeping back. And the probiotics are actually a type of antimicrobial. And this is one of the things, as you know, I talk about in the book. I think it’s really underappreciated that probiotics can fight things like small intestinal bacterial overgrowth and fungus and yeast.
And we haven’t done, obviously, any testing. And you really don’t need to. We just need to understand that there’s some imbalances in the gut. We don’t need to know exactly what they are. We need to know if you have symptoms, you can presume that there are some imbalances in the gut. And then we can use these tools to rebalance you.
And so everything was working according to plan. But we didn’t follow the plan all the way as we should have. And so we saw the gut come back to balance. And then that equaled your symptoms going away. Fantastic. But then there was a cliff right down to appropriate not the follow-up and follow through. So when I tell people to really follow the book protocol, it’s for a good reason because these are all things I’ve learned through hundreds of patients every years for multiple and multiple years. You start to see how these things play out.
And while my ultimate objective is to get you and anyone else to a point where they have the broadest diet possible and a minimum amount of supplements possible, we want to make sure that we don’t fall off a cliff to get there and that we don’t go on to the program and wean off of the program just so we avoid any of these problems like this.
But this is actually a few examples that are really, really poignant because these are things that will affect a lot of people. So I’m glad. Don’t take this the wrong way, but I’m glad you’re making some of these mistakes because they’re really valuable learning points for people.
TB: Sure. That’s why I brought that up. To everyone out there, read through the whole program before you decide that you’re going to stop anything. It’s important, like you said, to know the whole plan before you decide to jump off a cliff.
Going back to knowing the whole plan, one of the reasons I was going that far ahead in the book was I wanted to see the end result. What kind of supplements did you recommend once everything is said and done?
And that’s another question I had. I was surprised to see such a high dosage of probiotics, even after you make it to—I forget—I guess, the eighth step, the Enjoy and Have Fun step. I was hoping to get to a point to where probiotics would not be something I needed to worry about. But from what the book says, that’s not the case. It may be something that you recommend on an ongoing basis even after symptoms have been gone for some time.
DrMR: And there’s a key word there, which is “may.” So specifically in the protocol, we have you stay on the probiotics for a term. So you hit your peak levels of improvements. And you wean off a number of things. And you’re left with a couple things. But—and this is an important thing to be clear on—you want to test or wean off of the probiotics. And only stay on them if you notice your symptoms regress when you come off of them. So staying on a probiotic is only dependent upon someone coming off them and noticing they do better when they’re on.
And what this really does is it helps answer the question of who should be on them in the long term, and how do we get to the most minimal protocol? Now, most people can come off most probiotics and be okay. But some people do notice—and usually what this looks like is, using loose stools as an example—their stools look great. They come off probiotics and their stools don’t go back to normal, but maybe they’re a little bit loose. And so people notice, “Yeah, if I take my probiotics every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, that’s enough to keep my stools looking consistent and well-formed.”
I also mention in the book that you want to periodically revisit this wean off because what happens at month 4 may be different at month 8 or month twelve. So it’s important to periodically revisit weaning off of all the supports so that you know if you’re someone who can be on nothing and be okay or maybe needs a little bit of support. Or maybe if you’re someone who has a very severe case of IBS or IBD, you may need even a little bit more support.
So there’s no right or wrong answer there. But what we want to do is stair step to getting to a point where we’re on the minimal dose of any kind of support in the long term. And that will be taken on a case-by-case basis.
TB: Well, my next question was—and I think you just kind of answered it—was I know the dosage of the probiotics that you were recommending people to stay on. In the book, it says a teaspoon of the probiotics, which would actually be, according to the website, 4 billion on the dosage.
Now, when you go to the store and you buy probiotics, generally you can’t even find a 4 billion most of the time. But a hundred billion is a high dosage from what I’ve seen and what’s offered. So it sounds like from what you’re saying, is a probiotic may be necessary. And the dosage will vary, depending on the person and the symptoms.
DrMR: Right, right. And coming back to the point from a moment ago, which is, as part of that step 8, which is maintenance and fun, find the minimal effective dose. So really what this comes down to said succinctly is you’re working toward a minimal effective dose. And for everyone, that’s going to be a little bit different.
So I don’t give a specific dose because it would be incorrect for me to say, “The maintenance dose of this probiotic is 50 billion CFU” because for some people, that’ll be too much. And they won’t need it. And for other people, it won’t be enough. So it’s a great question and definitely something I hope we help aid other people in having clarity on, which is the minimal effective dose could be anything. And just because the book protocol gives you 1 dose, from there, when you’re trying to find the minimal, it could be any derivative of that full dose.
TB: I understand. Yeah, that makes sense.
When you’re trying to determine probiotics—or, I guess, I was going to ask about dose—but how do you consider things like natural probiotics, like a kombucha or a sauerkraut. Do you consider those as…How do you put those into the equation? Do you factor them in at all? And how much of a probiotic are you actually getting from those kinds of sources?
DrMR: Well, you can look on the label to get a read for what the probiotics are in those different foods. There’s not one answer that equates to kimchi to sauerkraut and to kombucha. They’re all going to be a little bit different in both their probiotic makeup and their dose.
But as I mentioned in the book, I think probiotics in your food—so probiotic-rich foods—are definitely a part of a healthy diet. They won’t be for everyone. Some people will notice they don’t do well on those foods. But I think the majority will be okay with those. And they’re definitely something I’d incorporate into your diet.
And that would be a foundational aspect of trying to incorporate fermented foods into your diet. And I wouldn’t try to offset dose for dose, but rather build those into your diet. And then you’ll also have your support supplemental probiotics. And then with time, you’ll go through the exercise of trying to find the minimal effective dose. And hopefully, your minimal effective dose will be nothing. But if you need a little bit to supplement in addition to what you’re getting in your diet, then you’ll figure that out when you go through that wean off process.
So they’re both something to be considered. And hopefully you can get there just with food. But if not, you can use whatever minimal dose of probiotics that you need.
TB: And those kinds of foods, are those okay during the antimicrobial step?
DrMR: Oh, absolutely. Yeah, absolutely.
TB: Okay. That is all the questions I have for you at the moment.
DrMR: Cool. Well, this is great. This turned out to be kind of half, I guess, conversation about your success and then also half Q&A and typical stumbling blocks. So I think this’ll actually be helpful in 2 veins for people. So thank you, Travis, for taking the time.
Any parting words you want to leave people with?
TB: Just have faith in the process. And if you’re like me, I made it through 4 days of fasting, many different diets that were not necessarily convenient and a whole month of antimicrobials before I noticed any benefit at all. But it was at that point in the process, I’m glad that I didn’t give up because that’s when I did notice more of a benefit than I’ve had in as long as I can remember. So, you have to hang in there.
DrMR: Yeah. Sage advice. Well, thank you again, Travis, for taking the time to speak with us. And then shoot us a note when you’re out of the woods. I’d love to follow you again then.
TB: Sure. That’d be great!
DrMR: Awesome. Thanks again, Travis. Take care.
TB: Thank you.
What do you think? I would like to hear your thoughts or experience with this.
- Get help using this information to become healthier.
- Get your personalized plan for optimizing your gut health with my new book.
- Healthcare providers looking to sharpen their clinical skills, check out the Future of Functional Medicine Review Clinical Newsletter.
Dr. Ruscio is your leading functional and integrative doctor specializing in gut related disorders such as SIBO, leaky gut, Celiac, IBS and in thyroid disorders such as hypothyroid and hyperthyroid. For more information on how to become a patient, please contact our office. Serving the San Francisco Bay area and distance patients via phone and Skype.