Healthy Gut, Healthy Mind

Learn the importance of the second brain, the gut

Here at Complete Cranial Relief, our focus is on communicating with the nervous system through bodywork to treat a variety of mental and physical health conditions. By addressing tension in the mind, head and spine, we start healing at the root cause of all bodily functions. But what about another control center for our thoughts and mood?

You may have heard the gut, or intestines, referred to as the "second brain" due to its high neurotransmitter production, and therefore strong influence on our mental health. On national Mental Health day, I sat down with Jeff Berger, Vice President of the Holistic Chamber of Commerce Cape Coral chapter and mental wellness representative of Amare Global, to discuss how vital gut health is in managing our pain and mood. Listen to the full interview here, or read it below.

Myra Adu-Sarkodie: Hello! This is the Health Blog at Complete Cranial Relief. I'm here today with Jeffrey Berger, he is the Vice President of the Cape Coral Chapter of the Holistic Chamber of Commerce. He’s also a Mental Health Representative of Amare Global. Today we're talking about how balancing the gut can help us balance the mind.

First of all, I want to thank you Jeff for coming in today.

Jeffrey Berger: Thank you, Myra, for having me in. I’m humble to be here with you.

MA: I’m very excited to speak with you, Thank you.

Amare Global creates products that help strengthen the Body-Mind connection, or as you guys call it the Gut-Brain Access. This is great for people like me and other people who are helping others with mood disorders, Autoimmune Disorders, and alike. Before we go into your company’s product why don’t you tell us about the Gut-Brain Axis and why it’s so important.

JB: Actually, Hippocrates was the first, that we know of, that documented everything starts in the gut. Through the years, we now have evolved science and research and the microbiome is now referred to as the Gut-Brain Axis. The science that is out there today, in the research and clinical trials have really shown a significant correlation between the gut and the brain. The gut and the brain are connected through what’s called the Vagus nerve, which is attached to your cranium, which is the lower part of your brain, and is throughout your entire system into the gastrointestinal. That’s really like the communication highway, where the different systems of your body communicate with the brain.

What they have found is that 80% of the neurotransmitters are created in your gut. Those are significant to both the gut and brain like we talked about. Its more on the autoimmune diseases, we start with Leaky Gut that’s where it really starts. Leaky Gut can go into a plethora of other autoimmune diseases; for example: diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, colitis, so on and so forth. Then that will stem into more of the brain which it is we talked about, anxiety, depression, autism, suicide, dementia, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s. They’re all integrated together and that’s why we call the Gut the second brain.

However, through the microbiome studies are now finding out that the heart is the third brain. So, there is a brain in your head, a brain in your gut, and a brain in your heart. They are all talking to each other and the goal with educating the consumer about the microbiome is that this Vagus nerve is like a parking lot in the middle of the highway, and if it’s not moving we need to clear it up so that the traffic of communication can communicate from the gut to the brain, the brain to the gut, then back to the brain and also through the heart.

80% of the neurotransmitters are created in your gut.

MA: That’s so interesting! I read somewhere that the Vagus nerve is responsible for at least 75% of the parasympathetic response, which you know is when the nervous system really calms the organs and gets the whole body into the healing response. So I’m sure it’s important to strengthen that connection.

JB: Absolutely! As we’ve grown up when we go to school, we’re taught physical health. I’ve gone to schools and asked the question “who’s been taught physical health?” you know pretty much everybody raised their hand. Then I ask, “who knows about mental wellness?” and about one person raised their hand. Mental health and physical health work together and what we are finding is that mental wellness is the new physical health, because if you don’t have your mental wellness with you then everything else falls apart.

MA: That’s really great. Everything does definitely start with the mind. The brain creates neurotransmitters which go out to the body which creates hormones which essentially is your physical response. So, the concept behind Amare’s product line starts by balancing the gut bacteria so we can balance the neurotransmitters produced in the gut. Correct?

JB: Yes, that is correct! We understand gut flora bacteria. So, our bodies are 90% microorganisms and the other 10% are actually cells. We’re like walking amoebas or microorganisms. With that we have found that 90% of that is down in the gut; however, the neurotransmitter we have found out that we have more bad bacteria than we do good. You need both to survive but we need more good bacteria with the autoimmune diseases. Mental wellness aspect of it regards to anxiety, depression, and suicide, there is a huge imbalance there. The idea is to really get out there and educate the consumer about why this is happening. We are finding out that it’s all based on food. Eating the foods that we are eating such as fast food, boxed food and canned foods, have a huge impact, these have chemicals and preservatives in them. Plus, the environment too because we’re exposed to so much outside, our whole body is a microorganism. I’m finding out some studies that your lungs have microorganisms so they all really work synergistically together in the ideas regarding what this system is and how important it is to overall health.

MA: Now how would somebody get started with balancing all this gut bacteria? Especially if this is something they’re very new to understanding.

JB: Great question. So my recommendation is to really start doing research in understanding the microbiome, that's the first thing I understand what the basics are and how the whole system works because it does have a significant role in your physical health as your mental health. Once you have that, then the next step is to go into looking at what you're eating and looking at your environment.

For example, for me for a few years I was a type 2 diabetic and my doctor had told me that, yeah, you're managing your diet and diabetes; just take medication, be careful on the foods that you are eating, blah blah blah … Well, when I got involved with the Holistic Chamber of Commerce, I worked with a health coach and we took over working on sugar and how bad it is for the systems. I started to do a deep dive and that's when I came across articles I saw about reversing type 2 diabetes. I had no clue that this could be done because I was raised in a generation where they were strictly reliant on Western medicine and come to understand what that's all about -- they went to school for specific programs and they were taught what we are taught today, that it is okay that we have this problem and here's a medication to put a band aid over it.

We're not getting to the root of the problem so that was that discovery I did. I did more of the deep diving to understand where the root of the problem was, and the root of the problem is basically foods and weight. What I found was that I’m a stress eater so when I get stressed out, I ate. Thankfully I didn't get up to 400 pounds but I'm about 58 pounds down and 10 more to go.

My second aspect is food. I really started looking at the foods that I was consuming and learned a huge amount of information on Monsanto, who is the creator of Roundup [and is also a major American food conglomerate], which has a chemical called Glycinate. Glycinate which impacted the antibiotic [industry] back in the mid-70s which was come to find out injected into corn and soy to warn off insects from eating that but when they were there, there was no insects eating the corn or soy. Who consumed it? We did or animals for feed. So where did it end up? In our systems. Over the years that chemical has produced all these known autoimmune diseases. This has been a contributor to a lot of the auto immune diseases that we have today, especially the baby boomers.

Mental wellness is the new physical health, because if you don’t have your mental wellness with you, everything else falls apart.

But what's more frightening, is that the kids today there is so much going on with stress, anxiety, depression, bipolar, ADD, ADHD and autism and this is all related to food. Today the numbers especially for autism is 1 in 59 are diagnosed with autism and they are predicting the year 2025 it will probably be 1 in 25. You know what is causing this and it's a matter of really getting there and educating the consumer and of course they must be open to it. For me it was an ultimatum. My dad passed away from type 2 diabetes, type 2 diabetes heart which leads to heart disease and he had amputations an then his sister had type 2 heart disease and his youngest brother had type 2 heart disease and I'm like, “Oh my gosh I'm next in line.” So that was a really big wake up call for me even though I was managing and controlling it, I wanted to get rid of it and manage my health 100 percent. So I told the doctor I want to get my A1C down to 5.0 and the doctor asked why. I said “Why do you tell me that, I want to get off my meds and reverse my type 2 diabetes and live a nonpharmaceutical world.” Knowing what these prescriptions do to your body down the road and for me it was the diabetes as most people know you start with leaky gut then diabetes and then it goes to neuropathy, blindness, heart disease, dementia and Alzheimer's, if you even get to live that long. About 70% of the population don't know they’re either pre diabetic or diabetic. That have the tendency to be type 2 diabetic.

Look at Obesity. It’s a major problem and 80% of the world's prescriptions are consumed in the United States right now. That's pretty frightening there are other options out there for people to look at that are clean and safe and that do. We're finding that I reverse my type 2 diabetes so I reverse that autoimmune disease and there are others out there, other diseases that can be reversed with a mind shift of food. Food is really medicine, today we have to be more careful about food because of manufacturing, the farming, and all those processed foods. You've got to really go organic to make sure that there is no chemicals preservatives or sprays on your food.

MA: The consumer really must be diligent, do their part, take responsibility and look what products they are using, etc.

JB: I read in an article that the FDA said that Glycinate doesn't harm us. That really disturbs me in many ways, we’re fighting all over the news now, call this lawyer if you have been exposed to Roundup and glycinate because people are dying from cancer so forth and so on and that's really scary.

So, to get back to just one aspect of the product line, and you know there's a lot of great products out there that work on the probiotic perspective. Our products are science backed, clinical trials, plant based, vegan friendly, and award winning. What makes us stand out differently from others out there in the market is that we actually target specific neurotransmitters that are in the gut to work and heal the gut and the brain because they work together. And we get to the point -- for those science geeks out there -- we get to the strain level within a species of the genome of the microorganism. We're down at that deepest layer and there we’re finding out that we can get even further down and started on a revolution.

We’re disrupting the Health and Wellness industry in regards to bring awareness because the microbiome is so important it's not only about supplementation because we're building up a whole platform here in regards to product people and the platform basically is really getting out there into wellness centers working with them because it's not supplementation only; it is a combination of supplication, exercise, nutrition, and stress management. Everybody is stressed out today and we need to really work on our stress levels and that's meditation, massage, prayer, yoga, whatever the case may be, but people don't take enough time for stress management. I was just talking with the president of the Chamber of Commerce this morning about doing meditation to get more of that on a daily basis. We just run, run, run, and we need to kind of step back and look at that because that is a key component in the formula for overall wellness.

MA: When our bodies are stressed and we’re in a sympathetic state all the time, you’re releasing all these stress hormones constantly. It’s going to cause your body to breakdown eventually.

JB: Definitely, Fight or Flight.

MA: Exactly. So I'm curious to know in your guys’ product line. Obviously you mentioned it's more of a “lifestyle change,” but in what people are ingesting, Is it more probiotics, is it botanicals? What kind of elements are in there?

JB: #1 All of our products are plant based.

#2 Each product is different.

We have 22 products, you have our flagship product is called the fundamentals and it's 3 products of biotics, which is specifically for the gut, it has some proprietary blend of prebiotics, probiotics, and phytobiotics. That's a powder form.

We've got a capsule form for the Sync, which is for the Vagus nerve and Focus for the brain. So that really is specifically targeted introduction to opening up that communication line between all 3. We start out with a reboot which is specifically targeted to detox and getting your organs ready for this good nutrition that's coming in. Then we go off and depending on the individual, everybody has different paradigms, different stress levels or disease states; we address energy, we address mood, we address pain relief and then sleep.

Then we go into a more targeted areas with our Vita GBX. GBX is Gut-Brain Axis. So we go into vitamins and minerals with our Vita GBX all again these are all targeted specifically for the Gut-Brain Axis. Protein powder. We just came out with a hemp GBX. The first full spectrum, the hemp targets more on the endocannabinoid system. So, we're making those two talk together. And we’ve got different types of program. As we said lifestyle earlier and that that's what it's really all about. They found out that I had to change my lifestyle, if I want to live longer and healthier. I've got to change my lifestyle; a little challenge, but when I thought about the outcome, it’s like I'd rather be healthier than miserable and unhealthy, I'm going to have to give up those bad foods and to look at a healthier lifestyle.

We even came out with a kid’s line. So, we have fundamental, a vitamin product. We just came out with a mood product. So we’ve got the whole gamut from children to adults but each of these products the different plants because we pull plants from all over the world. What I love their mission, it is that when we go into indigenous regions, we use indigenous people to harvest these plants so we're employing those individuals to help with our Mental Wellness revolution.

It's mental health awareness day and its mental health awareness month. I think it should really be every day. We want to destigmatize that negative connotation and understanding or belief in mental issues that's going on out there, because ultimately what we're finding through the science and the clinical trials is that it's a result of foods that we're eating. And pharmaceuticals that are being handed out like Skittles to just band aid over the problem. Because as we know, as we go through life you start out with one medication and just like me for my diabetes will start out with this one but now we need to add this one because you're having side effects from that other one so band aid over band aid when what’s the root of it. Again, comes back to food and what are we eating that is not destroying our gut or destroying our gut, I should say.

MA: What are you putting into your body to compromise all of your cells, exactly. that's all really interesting I'm really learning a lot about how this treatment is actually activating the body's natural systems and kind of boosting it so you can truly heal yourself. I think we need to see more of that in the health care system.

JB: Absolutely that’s what's beautiful about this, is we are healing and we are changing people's lives and you know we're getting peoples gut cleaned, we're getting people's minds clean, we're getting children off of meds, we're getting nonverbal autistic children to start speaking, and we're clearing up the brain fog. Where the cognitive behaviors are becoming better and people, they are feeling a better sense of well-being and their spirits are lifted and they want to get up in the morning or people just don't want to get up sometimes. Now people, any of this is not a quick fix remedy because most of us have destroyed our bodies from over the years. And me personally I did not notice any really good benefits from the mind and gut perspective for about 4 to 5 months because I was losing weight, I was changing my diet, I was incorporating different types of lifestyle. I want to maintain that now, I don't want to go back to 230 pounds. I want to stay at 160-170, and that's where people need to realize that once you can get to that state you need to maintain it.

MA: I was definitely going to ask, just starting that lifestyle change can be difficult, what kind of timeline should people expect to make this self-care a habit for them?

JB: Great question, we are finding that people that are generally healthy have quicker results than others. For example, a fitness trainer. They watch what they eat, they exercise, many meditate or do some types of holistic modalities. They have a tendency to have better results from the product line. They’re still under stress, being exposed to the environmental stressors.

But then take someone like me who is diabetic, or somebody who is on tons of medication, or has gone through antibiotics. Huge, huge gut killer. We have found that people who are on antibiotics, it can kill your gut flora for up to a year, and could take up to a year to get it back to a really good state. I talked to a woman the other day, whose son was on antibiotics for six years in a row because of all these different health conditions he was going through. And it makes sense for what he was experiencing in his overall health, which was not good. Anything chemical put in our body is not good. Our body is like a temple we should not be filling it with chemicals. Yes, there’s meat eaters out there. Look for grass-fed meats, or organic chicken, or wild fish. When looking for grass-fed, be careful and know where it’s coming from. Were they around farms that were spraying their crops? Did they use roundup to ward off bugs?

It’s definitely a lifestyle change, I’m excited to see where I’m going to go… I’m turning 65 next week. My dad died at 70. I’m only five years away. But realized he had five bypasses by 58 and lost his leg below the knee at 62. Bad health issues going on and on. I’m waiting to see what comes in the next 20-40 years because people are living to be 100 years old. With science out there who knows, I could live to be 105.

My whole thing is I want to add value. I want to leave this planet knowing I made a difference being involved with this industry of mental wellness. I have two nephews. One is just out of his fifth heroin addiction rehab and his twin brother, a bipolar-suicidal. And other family members who have gone through different arenas like alcohol, and drugs, etc. It’s very passionate to me with my history... I’m a coauthor of a book, It’s Okay Not to Be Okay, and t’s a collaboration of stories and journeys these people have gone through. I’ve had my own journey in regard to mental illness. The title of my chapter is “Rocking the Boat on My Journey to Mental Wellness.” It talks about my two attempts at suicide, my chemical dependency, childhood molestation and when I was a teenager, rape. So, it just talks about my roller-coaster of life, but I’ve gotten through it, and I want to help the next individuals to let them know that there are avenues to help get rid of those demons, and live a purposeful life. The way I look at this, people are still trying to find their purpose. And once you find that purpose it’s so rewarding and I’m truly blessed to have come across this company that’s so passionate and mission-driven. We’re really mission-driven because we want to destigmatize that. and right now we’re doing that in the united states, we’re launching in Mexico next month and then Canada, and we want to go worldwide. Because this is a worldwide pandemic.

...we are healing and we are changing people's lives. We're getting people's minds clean, and we're clearing up the brain fog.

MA: Yes, we’re all stressed, we’re all depressed, we all have our demons that we need to work out. So I think it’s great that you guys as natural medicine are spreading your reach throughout the world. That’s inspiring.

JB: Absolutely.

MA: Well if you have any other comments to make on how we can better our mental health and wellness we’d love to hear them now!

JB: Sure. So my recommendations would be, really be open to first understanding about what the microbiome is. Microbiome 101: understand the basic concepts of it. And then look at your life, and see where you are in life. Are you happy? Are you healthy? What do you have going on, what do you want to change? And then look at that and figure out what you need to change. Take that and do baby steps. This is not going to be an overnight fix for most of us out there. Be open to making those small incremental changes, because as you make those changes on a daily basis it becomes a habit. And as you develop those habits it becomes a routine. Make it mandatory to your life. Prime example is, for me, When I started my exercise, I was riding only 15 minutes a day because I was pooped out. I was an athlete and a professional dancer in New York city so I was in that whole athletic realm in my earlier years. but of course Life goes by and we just settle. Well I’m done settling, I’m not going to settle any more. As I rode every day I got stronger and stronger. And I built that habit, and now it’s routine. So that’s how you do it, you just take Baby step after baby step. I started noticing changes in the first month. Incremental, small. And as those changes came on board, I was really excited because it built the adrenaline, and I got excited because I was on a good path to living a healthier lifestyle. And the ultimate goal for me right now, I’m still on my pharmaceuticals. My goal is when I go back to the doctor in December for her to say “You’re off all your meds.”

MA: That’s coming up pretty soon.

JB: It’s coming up pretty soon, so I’m on that second chapter. I reversed the diabetes and I still have a couple other things to work on from a metabolic perspective. Once I get those into a normal state then its “bye bye.” I want to live a pharmaceutical free lifestyle.

MA: Yes, and we all should all aspire to that, definitely.

JB: Absolutely.

MA: So, making those small commitments to yourself over the long run, you can heal your traumas and really resolve your lifestyle to be a lot healthier.

JB: Absolutely.

MA: Well Jeff, thanks so much for sharing your story and your thoughts. It was wonderful speaking with you.

JB: Thank you Myra. I appreciate your time, I appreciate you inviting me, and I hope to provide value to many of our listeners out there.

MA: I think you did.

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