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Episode 38: 70-80% of Your Immune System Lives in Your Gut

70-80% of Your Immune System Lives in Your Gut

Ever wonder what it really means to “boost your immune system”? Or, have you stopped to think about the measures of good immunity beyond just not getting sick?   

Our guest today is clinical nutritionist Josh Gitalis. You may remember Josh from our previous episode on autoimmunity. He’s a recognized expert in the fields of clinical detoxification and therapeutic supplementation. 

Josh is the first Canadian nutritionist to become an Institute for Functional Medicine Certified Practitioner (IFMCP), in addition to running his Toronto-based, private practice, with a worldwide client base.  

We wanted to bring Josh back on the show to shine the light on overall immunity: how do things work when they’re working well...and how can we make them work better?   

On this episode, Josh speaks with Andrea about how 70-80% of the immune system lives in the gut and how inflammation correlates strongly with healthy immunity. They also discuss why some people have more severe reactions to the same virus, bacteria or pathogen, and he gives tips on how to support immunity in the short- and long-term.   

To take advantage of Josh’s offer for listeners, head to and use promo code “mrfrp” to get the Prime version of his course for $98 (regularly $395), or use promo code “mbfrpessential” to upgrade to the essential level for $295 (regularly $595), which includes customized recommendations and four 1-1 sessions with a functional nutrition coach.   

Resources mentioned on the show: 

On this show, you’ll learn: 

  • How the immune system works and why it’s intricately linked to gut health (3:15)
  • Microbiota impact on immunity (5:52)
  • Measures of good immunity beyond not getting sick (8:26)
  • The relationship between the gut and inflammation (9:35)
  • Why some people have a bigger immune response then others to COVID-19 (11:39)
  • What is a cytokine storm? (14:55)
  • What “boosting the immune system” actually means (19:57)
  • COVID-19 and Vitamin C (21:43)
  • Changes that can help your immune system immediately and over time (23:56)
  • The best and worst practices in the time of self-quarantining (25:33)
  • On average, how long does it take to move from a chronic inflammation state to something healthier? (28:55)
  • Products that can help during times of higher stress (30:19)
  • What Josh and his family are doing to stay as healthy as possible (33:43)
  • Josh’s course and listener discount (35:58)

BIOHM gut quiz


Andrea Wien: Welcome to the Microbiome Report powered by BIOHM Health. I'm your host, Andrea Wien. I know, I know COVID has taken over your lives and all of your media, so don't worry. Our future episodes won't all revolve around this virus, but I did think it was important to speak more broadly to how our gut health impacts our immune system. To do that, I brought back clinical nutritionist, Josh Gitalis. You may remember him from our episode on auto-immunity last year. Josh is a recognized expert in the fields of clinical detoxification and therapeutic supplementation. He teaches clinical nutrition for several natural health colleges, and is the first Canadian nutritionist to become an Institute for Functional Medicine Certified Practitioner. In addition, he runs a Toronto based private practice with a worldwide client base. I spoke to Josh about how the majority, 70% to 80% of our immune system resides in the gut and whether it's possible to have good immunity when we're also experiencing that dysfunction.

He also discusses the measures of good immunity and why just not getting sick doesn't cut it. Josh explains the differences in the types of inflammation, how that correlates to gut health and why some people have more severe reactions to the same exposure to a bacteria, virus or pathogen. Of course, he also gives great tips on how to support your immune system in both the short and long-term. We talk about why the phrase boosting your immunity is a bit of a misnomer. I also forgot to ask Josh during the recording a question that's been on my mind. I followed up with him by email. We tell you all the time to ditch your antibacterial soaps and hand sanitizers because of their impact on the microbiome, but is the risk worth it right now with fears circulating about coronavirus? Josh said he still recommends steering clear of any antibacterial products with triclosan, which does far more harm than good.

Instead, he opts to use natural sanitizers, coupled with proper hand-washing with natural soap. Doing that, he says, will cover all your bases. Stick around at the end of the episode for a special offer on Josh's Functional Reset Program. He's deeply deeply discounting it for my listeners. Now let's get to the show.

Josh, welcome back to the show. It's so great to have you.

Josh Gitalis: Oh, happy to be back.

Andrea Wien: We were saying it's such a different landscape now. This call versus our last one we did on auto-immunity, but kind of in the same vein, we're talking about the immune system and the microbiome and gut health and how those things are really intertwined. It's almost an episode that maybe could have been done before the auto-immunity, because it's really the basis of what everyone goes through in terms of how their immune system works. Excited to be talking about this with you today.

Josh Gitalis: Absolutely.

Andrea Wien: I think people are really surprised to hear for the first time that when they hear this, that 70% to 80% of our immune system is located in the gut. I think most of us kind of visualize the immune system. It's something you hear about from time that you're a little kid, just something as circulating around the body. It's not localized to one spot. Most people don't really give much thought to where it originates, but can you explain how this works? How the immune system works and why it's so intricately linked to our gut health?

Josh Gitalis: I think we evolved to have such a dense amount of our immune system there because our gut is exposed to a massive amount of our environment. If we laid out our gut, just spread out on the ground, it would be the size of about a tennis court. When we swallow things, when we eat things, they get exposed to this tennis court and it helps to educate the immune system. We've evolved to have a massive amount of what's called lymphoid tissue in the gut, which is part of our immune system, about 70% to 80% of our body's lymphoid tissue is in the guy. Called the gut associated lymphatic tissue. It almost acts as like a headquarters of immune education. Things come into the gut and they are presented to our immune cells in that tissue, almost like a platter at a party.

You have this servers going around with the different snacks and you look at them and you say, "Oh I'll have one of those veggie rolls. Oh, a shrimp cocktail. You know, I don't think I want to have that. Oh, that. I don't really like that. You know what, I think I'll pass on the little dessert cups. Oh, that dessert cup looks great. Oh." We constantly have this presentation of different foods, different bacteria, different viruses, different parasites. Different environmental factors coming in through that pathway. Then our body has to decide whether that's friend or foe. A lot of that happens at the gut level in that tissue area.

Andrea Wien: Is it accurate to say if we're going with that analogy of the platter, that if the immune system is maybe not functioning as it should be, maybe because of a dysbiotic microbiome, which we can talk about in a little bit more detail that maybe that platter's coming around and we're saying, "Oh, that shrimp looks good and we're eating it, forgetting that we're allergic to shrimp?"

Josh Gitalis: That can definitely happen. That can also happen when you have leaky gut, right? It's like the barrier. It's like you've had too much to drink, so you're just going to eat everything. The barrier gets disrupted, that's called leaky gut. Then things get over that barrier that shouldn't necessarily be there and everything gets presented. Then that really can upset the immune system and kind of give it a hangover if we're moving on this analogy here, when you've lost that control.

Andrea Wien: Aside from the actual things that are in the gut, those cells that are reading what's coming in and deciding if we should eat from the platter or not, how are the microbiota really impacting this whole equation?

Josh Gitalis: Well, as you know, we have a extremely diverse population of not just bacteria, but parasites, yeast organisms, even viruses that are in there. They're supposed to kind of stay in there. When there's, again, this like dysbiotic relationship or leaky gut or a combination of the two, actual parts of those bacteria can sneak over into the immune system. You can sneak over to the bloodstream and stimulate an immune response. One that we're really familiar with are what are called light bulb polysaccharides, which are the cell membranes of bacteria. They can induce pretty extensive inflammatory responses in the body and give you feelings like flu like symptoms and just feeling ill, brain fog and whatnot. That's because the immune system is getting activated from these chemicals and saying, "Hey these shouldn't be, but in the bloodstream, we need to release all these inflammatory chemicals and start to amount to a response here."

Andrea Wien: Is it possible to have good immunity? By that, I mean, I think when people think about, I have good immunity, they're thinking I don't get sick. Right. I don't get sick often. My immune system must be functioning well. For just going on that measure, which we'll talk about, maybe there's some other measures we should be looking at also, but if we're just going on that, is it possible to have good immunity, not getting sick, but still have a dysbiotic gut?

Josh Gitalis: If your definition of good immunity is just not getting sick, then yes, it's definitely possible. Because there's different aspects of the immunity, different branches and immunity is a very dynamic process. It's like thinking about the Amazon rainforest, there's a lot of species. There's a lot of different environments. There's a lot of plants and it's very dynamic. Different things are happening in different places. I'm one part of the forest might be good, but another part might be experiencing some imbalances. Yes, you can definitely have a dysbiotic environment and feel like you have good immunity. Of course, from a functional nutrition, functional medicine perspective, we look at the body as a very dynamic organism that's always changing and it's not black and white. It's not like, "Oh, I never get sick. I'm good." It's much more complex than that.

Andrea Wien: From your standpoint, and when you're working with clients, what are some of the measures of "good immunity" that you're looking for beyond not just getting sick,

Josh Gitalis: Right? Of course we're looking at gut health because that's where it all begins. And that's where it all ends. Not getting sick as a good sign, but we also want to be able to amount an immune response. Sometimes feeling a little something, but being able to fight it is a really good sign as well. Of course, there's the whole world of auto-immunity, which we covered in great detail in our last podcast. Some people, again, are not really getting sick, but they have an immune disease. They have a situation where they're actually attacking their own body. That kind of covers that world of auto immunity. There's the idea of resilience. When you have resilience, you're able to live in this world with the onslaught of all these different microbes that could attack us and come out better on the other end, because you're able to handle that.

Andrea Wien: There's also a pretty strong link between the gut and inflammation and inflammation is something that I think a lot of people immediately think is negative, but there are different kinds of inflammation. Can you talk about the relationship between the gut and the different types of inflammation someone might experience?

Josh Gitalis: I like to differentiate between a couple types of inflammation. The one that's loud and in our face. You bumped your knee, you cut your hand, cooking with a knife and it's red. It's hot, it's painful. That's the loud information. We know it's there. Everyone's experienced that. We usually make changes to help us heal from that inflammation. Like don't walk into that table again or move that piece of furniture or put a bandaid on your cut so it doesn't keep on getting irritated and the inflammation continue, but we can also have what's called a silent inflammation.

That's almost like a smoldering fire inside our body that we can't necessarily feel, but if we measured certain inflammatory compounds, we would see that they're quite elevated. This creates what's called a baseline of inflammation that we can't see or feel, but is there. It's a sign that our immune system is being activated. It's on fire. It's amounting a response. As you know, we want just, just like law enforcement in our city. We want them to be there. We want them to be on the ready, but we don't always want them to be active. Right? Like you don't want to see a bunch of police officers running around with their guns drawn saying, "I'm looking for robbers. I'm looking for robbers." We want them to just be ready for that response rather than actively doing it.

Andrea Wien: Obviously we're in the age of coronavirus at the moment. It's all anyone is talking about. Obviously this episode about immunity is tied into that. I don't want to spend too much time talking about the specifics of corona because I think it's kind of been beaten to death. I think when you look at the people who are becoming severely ill from coronavirus, who are potentially dying from it, why do you think that people have a bigger immune response? Like is inflammation playing a role here when you're hearing about, "Oh, there's no pre-existing conditions, but this person was sick." Are you automatically thinking chronic inflammation?

Josh Gitalis: Absolutely. I mean, that's the first thing I think about. There's been some articles published on this. There was one written about how there's such a high complication and death rate for individuals in New Orleans that are getting disease. It's not because there's anything different about the geographical location. It's because of the people in that geographical location. There's a very high incidence of these chronic degenerative diseases like obesity and atherosclerosis and metabolic syndrome that really predispose these individuals to having actually an overactive immune response because they already have that baseline develop of inflammation. It's like with the stuff, a little bit is critical, right? You want some inflammation response, but a lot is harmful, right? It's like if you have a candle burning and you want to put it out, you can just blow it out and put it out.

You've taken care of that fire. With these people that are predisposed or have that inflammation already, it's like going up to the candle and taking a fire hose or a fire extinguisher and using that to put out the fire. It's a complete overreaction, and of course, if he did that, there'd be massive collateral damage. That's what we're seeing is happening with these individuals. I'm sure we're going to get to some solutions too. These people don't feel if they're you're listening, you don't feel absolutely do. There's lots that you can do to really turn this around.

Andrea Wien: Absolutely. We definitely will talk about some solutions as well. I think this is not only for coronavirus, right? When we talk about this overreaction to anything, it could be the bacteria, a virus, a pathogen. It could be just the flu, right? Or a cold. People across the board I'm sure can relate. Maybe they got sicker than their husband or their mother or whatever the case may be. Is the same thing at play in basically all illnesses?

Josh Gitalis: Exactly. Yeah. That's the beauty of functional medicine and functional nutrition is that we're working with the body. We're working with mother nature. It's not something that we all of a sudden start to focus on and make changes on when something like this hits, the pandemic. Flu season is every year, right? The flu is always changing and morphing. We want our immune systems to be vigilant again and against that. We consume and are exposed to probably millions of bacteria every day, coming into our body. There's parasites we might consume. There's tons of stuff in our environment that's constantly stimulating and keeping that immune system active. Immunity is really something we want to be focusing on all the time, not just to prepare for this, but to prepare for anything really.

Andrea Wien: What we're really talking about, just to make sure people understand the terminology. Because I think suddenly some of these very medical words have started to enter really mainstream public media outlets. Things like cytokine storms, right? That's really what we're talking about in this, but can you just break that down for people? If they see that terminology out in the world, they understand what it means?

Josh Gitalis: For sure. Cytokines are a group of chemicals that are released as part of that inflammatory process. As I was mentioning before, like, you don't want the police officers with their guns drawn already, because they're just a bit too sensitive. That's what cytokines can do if you're releasing them from that baseline inflammation level. Then when there's an actual immune response, you get sort of a multiplying effect of these cytokines and you have an overreaction and what can happen in that situation is it can cause massive collateral damage, right? Like putting out that candle, it's like you can blow on it and it does the job, but if there's already a wind and that candle is not going out, and you take something to max that fire extinguisher, that fire hose, you're going to really soak your whole house and cause some serious collateral damage because of that overreaction.

That's kind of what's happening with what's called the cytokine storm is that it's just like a storm, right? Like a little drizzle is fine, but once that rain comes pouring down, it's a big problem. You have an actual overreaction of that immune system. The immune system's beautiful because it does what it's supposed to do, right? It responds to certain stimuli, right? It's not just going to take the steering wheel on its own and do its own thing.

It is a responsive system in our body. It's sometimes already responding to certain stimuli that are there. What we talked about before was the microbiome. Of course your podcast focuses on that. If you have dysbiosis in the gut, that imbalance of the good guys and the bad guys are constantly stimulating the immune system. It creates that low grade level of inflammation. Lots of other things can do it too. Like toxins in our environment, like a lack of sleep. Like frankenfoods. Like white flowers and white oils and white salt. All these things can increase the inflammatory baseline. That's why when I work with my clients, it's a holistic thing. We got to address the lifestyle. We got address toxins in the environment we got to address to sleep. We've got to address all levels of health because they all play into effect.

Andrea Wien: Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. It's something that I think about when we talk about kids specifically having fewer complications. At the beginning, when coronavirus first started coming out, there were a bunch of people hypothesizing on, well, maybe kids aren't getting it because they have built up immunity to it. Really if we're looking at it in through the lens of what we've been talking about, it seems that they probably have fewer complications because they haven't had exposure as many things that may have increased that chronic inflammation in their body. Maybe they're not eating as many refined carbohydrates and sugars. Maybe they're not exposed to as many toxins as maybe someone who is 50, 60, 70 years old and has been living for a much longer time.

Josh Gitalis: That is definitely one aspect of it. I could probably tell you that there's lots of kids that are eating the standard American diet that are exposed to toxins and are still amounting a pretty good immune response. That's because when we're born, we have a really strong what's called innate immunity. This is a non-specific system in our body, meaning that it doesn't need to have seen the prior pathogen, virus, bacteria. It doesn't need prior exposure. We have some nonspecific innate immunity just from our barriers in our body, which these are non induced, like our mucus membranes and our cilia and our skin and the pH. We also have induced systems, which release these really awesome cells, like natural killer cells, for example, that can go seek and destroy the virus. This is quite strong in the young, this innate immunity.

Andrea Wien: The Microbiome Report is brought to you by Biome Health. Want to take action to improve your gut, but don't know where to start? Take the first step with Biome's Gut Report. You'll receive a full measurement of the bacteria and fungi in your gut, as well as actionable recommendations on exactly how to optimize your gut health from Biome's team of microbiome trained nutritionists.

I want to switch gears a little bit. We did have some listeners submitted questions that came in and I want to make sure that we address those before we talk about really starting to decrease the chronic inflammation in the body. Then some of the practices that people can put into place to support themselves during this time, but also in the future. When we talk about boosting the immune system, right, that's something that we hear all the time. We have to boost your immune system. Or if you take X, Y, and Z supplements or eat these foods, you'll boost the immune system. What does that actually mean?

Josh Gitalis: Right. Again, if we look at the immune system, it's more of a balancing, I guess you could say, or a supporting of the immune system rather than boosting, because as we spoke about, we actually don't want to boost certain aspects of it too much. When we are exposed to the right things, it's really cool. It does what it's supposed to do. That's what I call the laws of mother nature. You know, you can break the laws of men and women. You're driving three and am at a stop and you don't go to a complete stop to the stop sign. You go right through. No one's going to catch you. It's going to be fine. You've broken the laws of people. To be politically correct. When we try to break the laws of mother nature, it doesn't work. It's just, there's no way around it.

When we again, get the sleep we need and exercise, and do all those other things I was mentioning, our immune system kind of modulates we could say, or balances out. The part of the immune system that needs to amount a response gets stimulated when it needs to get stimulated. What's that stimulus, it's the virus. We want it to do that. Other parts of the immune system will calm down a little bit too when they need to calm down. It's a little bit of the wording, but it's not as black and white as we sometimes think it might be.

Andrea Wien: There's been some news about vitamin C, for example, helping with coronavirus. High doses of IV vitamin C. I think people hear that and they think, "Well, I'm told to take vitamin C for a cold. I don't know if it really works." What's happening in the body that allows something that's so commonplace that we have access to all the time, like vitamin C, to be helping in this immune process with coronavirus?

Josh Gitalis: First, I want to just dress that comment that people say sometimes that doesn't work. It's sometimes hard to gauge if it works, because when you look at the research around vitamin C, they'll take two groups of people on give one group of placebo and the other vitamin C when they get a cold or the flu or something. Then they'll look to see what their symptoms are like. Sometimes these studies show like your cold or your flu will be decreased by one to two days or three days. Now on an absolute level. That's pretty significant, right? If you're in it and you've got the fever and you're fully sick and weak and everything, and then bed, like one to three days is going to make a massive difference to you. If you suffered for like four days and you were still taking that vitamin C, it's going to feel like it did nothing.

We sort of have to have a little bit of faith in the science in this situation. Vitamin C is really effective because it can increase natural killer cells. Just like the name suggests, they go out and they seek and destroy those viruses. That would be one mechanism of vitamin C. I know that there's actually been clinical trials in China with vitamin C using high dose IV vitamin C. One study I read about was 50 individuals for moderate to severe cases of corona. They all got helped by the vitamin C with none of them passed away. They all came out better on the other end. Now they're starting to use Ivy vitamin C in New York as well, bringing it to the U.S. That's pretty cool with a vitamin C we've known for years that vitamin C at high dose can have a very strong antibacterial and antiviral effect.

Andrea Wien: Yeah, I think it's very cool that something that's so accessible and inexpensive really can be so effective. That's great. Now, when we think about starting to move into how to support the immune system and things that people can do, practices that they can take, what's something, I guess, on the same vein of supporting immune system with something you can do immediately, and then over time, are there certain things that can help right away and then things that we should be doing more regularly to help our immunity?

Josh Gitalis: Yeah. All of the above. Well, the cool thing is like eating a good whole foods, plant rich diet is going to help your immune system. In the very short term. We we know from research that one meal can shift your inflammatory response to either pro or anti inflammatory. One meal, which is pretty amazing. That's going to have quite an effect in the short term, but we also get a massive benefit from keeping this type of practice going over the longterm. When we eat lots of plants, we get a lot of flavonoids, for example, which are these different colored components in different plants. Those are really amazing at not just supporting the immune system, but actually renewing it and educating it.

There's thousands of diet books that there. There are thousands of different approaches. There's the paleo approaches veganism there's everything in between. One thing I think that every one agrees on is that we need to eat lots of vegetables. You know, like what Michael Pollan says, eat mostly plants. It is a really good direction to go and kind of fail safe. If someone's in doubt and doesn't really know what to eat, just eat the colors of the rainbow and you're going to be very well off.

Andrea Wien: Okay. Then when we think about the best and worst practices. People who are quarantining right now, we see people, I think alcohol sales have gone through the roof, or we see a lot of people baking sugary treats. Are maybe those not the best practices to be engaging in right now while we're really trying to make sure our immune system is at its strongest?

Josh Gitalis: Might be good for the soul at some level, but definitely not good for the immune system. I always say stay away from the four white devils. White oil, white salt, white sugar, white flour, because those, I mean, we can talk for hours on each one of those. Those just totally degrade the immune system. They just put a massive stress on their body and they've been created to help things last longer on the shelf, but not for personal health. Alcohol too really upsets the microbiome. We know we can use alcohol as a disinfectant and it of course is going to kill lots of bacteria as it goes down into our gut. Really upset that microbiome, which we know is so important for our immunity. One teaspoon of sugar can suppress the immune system for up to five hours. Think about someone who's waking up, having their glass of orange juice, which is basically sugar with a bowl of Frosted Flakes and skin milk, which is just a bowl really of sugar.

Then five hours later, they're having lunch and they're having a burger with a Coke and that's a lot of sugar. It suppresses it for another five hours. Then at dinner, they're having another sugar meal. That's 15 hours in 24 hours that you're going to be suppressing your immune system just from that one food. Yeah, we definitely want to stay away from these four white devils. We definitely want to try to reduce alcohol. I'd also say probably the most important lifestyle thing that everyone needs to think about is sleep. Because sleep is critical for our immune response. When we get into slow wave sleep, it stimulates the release of a number of antiviral chemicals. Of course, we need to have a good deep sleep in order to do that. If we're chronically sleep deprived, we really upset our ability to respond to those viruses.

We can get into big trouble. There've been studies where they've looked at people getting vaccines and their response to vaccines. Because if you get a vaccine, you're not guaranteed to have an immune response. They took two groups of people. One could sleep as long as they want. One was sleep deprived. I think it was under six hours. They all got the vaccine. Then they look to see if they made antibodies to that vaccine. The individuals who are sleep deprived had a massively reduced response and sometimes no response to the vaccine that was used on them. We know that sleep is critical. Of course like we're getting bombarded by the news. You could look at your phone at any moment and get a new newsfeed on what's going on. People are talking about it. Your friends and your family are going to be talking about it. Everyone's sending everyone everything. We got to really limit our nervous system stimulation on this, help ourselves sleep and control that because that plays a massive role on our inflammatory process.

Andrea Wien: Now I want to go two different directions, I guess we'll ask the first one. If someone is listening to this and they do have a lot of chronic inflammation, they have some of those markers we talked about before. You mentioned even just starting with one meal can help to start to decrease that. On average, when you look at work with your clients, how long does it take to move someone from a chronic inflammation state into something that is a little bit more healthy with a healthy level of inflammation?

Josh Gitalis: We can see some pretty big changes within a month. When I give a protocol, I usually follow up with someone no longer than one month away. We can see some pretty nice improvements, like say, we're working with someone with joint pain, a type of inflammation that you could really have a good gauge on. That's a little bit more of a loud inflammation. We can see some improvements over that period of time. We know that those changes are happening. If we're working with someone with obesity or atherosclerosis or osteoporosis, or some of these other inflammatory conditions that are a little bit harder to gauge, it might take a little bit longer to actually see the response. We do know that at a physiological level, those are happening.

Andrea Wien: Okay, and then on the other side, we have a lot of listeners who I think are doing many of the things that we're talking about very well all the time. They are eating a fiber rich, high plant foods diet. They are getting out into nature, staying hydrated, getting good sleep, trying to minimize their stress. In situations like this, where we have something that's so pervasive and we're concerned about getting it, obviously we're protecting ourselves by doing those steps and living that lifestyle all the time, but are there products you can take or do probiotics help with immunity? Are there things that people who are quote unquote "doing it all right," can do even more during these times of higher stress and insults?

Josh Gitalis: Absolutely. I think everyone needs to make sure that their vitamin D levels are really good. Within what I call the optimal range. When we get a blood test done, we kind of get this reference range that's massive and is not really where the health range is. We need to look into that. People want more information so that they can check out, where I get a lot of my vitamin D information from. There's also the Vitamin D Council does a lot of research. Vitamin D is interesting because it has a curvilinear effect. You don't want too little, but you don't want too much either. So you have to figure out what that happy places by doing a little bit of blood testing. Most people are going to need between about like 2,000 to 5,000 IUs per day to stay within that optimal range.

I've had clients that need 10,000 IUs per day, I've had clients that need 2000 IUs, but if you're listening to this and you haven't tested your blood and you're not in you still need to, or you don't know where it's at. Between 2,000 and 5,000, you're probably safe to take on a daily basis. That's really important for the immune system. Vitamin A also has a similar relationship where too little is not good, too much is not good. If someone's eating animal foods, they're probably getting some good vitamin A, but some people might want to up the dose and take a little bit more of the vitamin A. There's also some amazing herbs and phytonutrients and flavonoids and supplement type things that you can take to help modulate or help the part of the immune system to really deal with things like viruses at this point in time, like echinacea and golden seal has been shown to be helpful.

Astragalus is really powerful is increasing natural killer cells. Same with vitamin C as we spoke about. Reishi mushroom is a wonderful herb to use because it helps also to boost natural killer cells and can actually, in certain, in a subtype of people with diabetes or obesity, can help with the blood sugar response as well. It's a nice thing to actually take before bed for that double effect. I love these supplements that have kind of a multitude of fats on our immune system as well. We talked a little bit about sleep that people have trouble with sleep. Melatonin is a really good one to add to the regimen, not just because it with sleep, but melatonin has also been shown to be really helpful for the immune system.

People can go anywhere from like one to three milligrams all the way up to 15 milligrams. 1-5, if they really need help with that for their sleep or even just for their immunity. Yeah, there's a really great amount of supplements or nutraceuticals even that we can choose from. Then there's like the whole world of anti-inflammatory nutraceuticals, like curcumin, which comes from turmeric. Of course we can use the spice turmeric in our cooking regularly. There's resveratrol, which comes from grapes. That's another amazing anti-inflammatory has been shown to be wonderful for the immune system. Yeah, there's a lot of great tools in the toolbox in this area.

Andrea Wien: What are you doing yourself? You know, your family. Megan, your wife is also nutritionist. She's actually coming on the show to talk all about fiber with us shortly. But what are you two doing in your day-to-day life right now to make sure that you're staying as healthy as possible?

Josh Gitalis: It's an interesting question because we're doing what we're always been doing. When you have a diet and a lifestyle and a practice that is healthy, it's healthy for the immune system. It's healthy for the hormonal system. It's healthy for the digestive. It's healthy all around. That's what we talk about a lot is building and maintaining resilience for times like these. Of course our diets are whole foods plant rich. We do eat meat. It's from good sources. We just have a, obviously a good balanced diet. We like to get into the sauna quite often. We have an infrared sauna. I'm actually sitting right beside right now, I'm at home. We like to get into that multiple times a week because that's been shown to really improve the immune system as well.

We like to kind of have immunities going quite often. We'll take a bunch of different herbs. We've got a bunch of Chaga that we've wild crafted from Northern Ontario. We'll throw that in a pot with some Reishi, which we've also found up North, but you can obviously get this online and many places we'll throw a few other nice herbs in there to give it a good flavor. We'll throw maybe a cinnamon stick, a handful of goji berries and keep a decoction of that going on regular basis.

I love to drink tea throughout the day. I have a few cups of that and that's another really great way to keep the immune system nice and tuned up. I also really like mushroom extracts. It's sometimes hard to take, get all the good stuff out of mushrooms. Companies have done that for you, where they boil it up and then they freeze dried that liquid. It dissolves really easily in different strengths and smoothies and whatnot. I use like a five mushroom blend almost every day and a couple other key mushrooms like [inaudible] and lion's mane as well as part of my regimen. I just have these things as kind of part of my everyday routine.

Andrea Wien: That's fantastic. You have a course which you've so graciously offered to discount for our listeners. That really goes through all of these steps of how to reduce your chronic inflammation. Can you talk a bit about what is involved in that course and what people can expect?

Josh Gitalis: For sure. Thanks for asking. It's called the Functional Reset Program and what it is is it's a deep dive into the fundamentals of health. We cover every aspect. We talk about, first of all, what is health, right? Which is a question not a lot of people ponder ever. What is the human body actually made out of? What is functional nutrition? How do we find good food? What types of foods should we look for? Why organic is important? What are all those different colors and foods and what do they need? Then we get into like sleep and drinking enough water movement and stress processing. Then we talk about kind of the things that we should take out as well, because ... What I do, we're always looking at kind of two things. One, what do you need to take out?

What do you need to put in? That Functional Reset Program, it's 22 modules, which is somewhat self guided, but when you send you emails to kind of prompt you on what to do each week, and this is like what you have to do to really keep that immune system healthy before you go to all the bells and whistles. Like the supplements and the flavonoids and the nutraceuticals and all that kind of stuff. Because if you don't have this, nothing else works. If you use coupon code MB for Microbiome and FRP for Functional Reset Program, and you can access the discount for two weeks after this podcast has come out. It's MBFRP.

Andrea Wien: That's great. We'll certainly link to that in the show notes page at, it's B-I-O-H-M under the Podcast tab. I just have to say, I took Josh's practitioner course, which was very in depth and he is certainly one of the best instructors that I've ever had the privilege of studying under. So anyone who takes this course, I have no doubt that you will walk away with so much knowledge and such a better idea of how to take care of yourself and your family. Definitely a hearty plug for all of his courses.

Josh Gitalis: Oh. Thanks so much, Andrea.

Andrea Wien: Thank you so much, Josh, for coming on. We really appreciate having you back and thanks so much for this information. I hope to talk to you soon.

Josh Gitalis: Oh, it's my pleasure. Thanks.

Andrea Wien: As always, thanks so much for listening. As we mentioned on the show Josh's course is heavily discounted for the next two weeks for listeners of the show. Use promo code M-R-F-R-P, to get the prime version of his course for just $98. It's regularly $395. This is a great deal. Or you can use promo code M-B-F-R-P Essential to upgrade to his essential level, which includes customized recommendations and four one-on-one sessions with a functional nutrition coach. We'll link to that information on Again, that's B-I-O-H-M When you get there, just click the Podcast tab. This episode is powered by BIOHM Health, a leader in gut health and microbiome support until next time I'm Andrea Wien.


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