Our very own Afif Ghannoum went live with Clean Plates' Jared Koch to talk about balancing your gut and supporting optimal digestive health.
In this interview you'll discover...
- The surprising connection between genetics and your microbiome
- What food manufacturers don’t tell you about the probiotics they add to their products
- The 4 factors that play a role in a healthy microbiome
- How prebiotics work together with probiotics to optimize your digestive health
- 7 foods rich in prebiotics and probiotics
Watch here, and you can read the transcript below. If you're ready to grab your BIOHM Health Probiotic, Prebiotic and more to optimize your digestive system, head over to the BIOHM Shop!
Jared Koch: Alright, so I am Jared Koch, the founder of Clean Plates. Just to keep it simple, our mission is to make it easy and enjoyable to eat better, and therefore live better. So, today we have a very special guest, his name is Afif Ghannoum. He is the founder of a company called BIOHM, which is a great probiotic, so we’re going to spend some time talking about probiotics. And he just recently told me that he is also a great Seth Rogen impersonator, so maybe he’ll give us a little taste of that at some point; we’ll see if we can convince him. So, thank you so much for joining me today, and all of our Facebook fans out there. I’m just going to jump right into it—lately there’s a ton of stuff in the news all of the time, it’s a hot topic that people are talking about around the water cooler, as they say. But I don’t think everybody really understands what it is. So give us, in layman’s terms, a very basic understanding: what are prebiotics and probiotics?
Afif Ghannoum: Right, so when you break it down, a probiotic is not a food, it’s not a capsule. A probiotic is actually a germ, it’s a good germ. Forever and a day, we remember when we were kids and bacteria was a bad thing. The only time you heard about “biotic” was in antibiotics. But what we’ve learned over the past couple of decades is that there are not only bad germs, but there are also good germs, and those are probiotics.
JK: So it can be as simple as that “biotic” is the germ, and antibiotic is against the bad germs, and possibly the good germs; so then probiotic is just the good germ.
AG: Correct, it’s a good for you germ. Juxtapose that against a prebiotic, and a prebiotic is just a fancy way of saying food that is very friendly to probiotics to feed on and multiply. So that’s how the two relate. So probiotics don’t only come in yogurts or capsules, there are actually foods that are both prebiotic rich and probiotic rich. So—I put a quick list together—foods that are really easy to get prebiotics into your diet are avocados, bananas, legumes, asparagus, even whole wheat bread. So these are things that can set your gut up for a very probiotic-friendly environment.
JK: So, is fiber a part of it? Not necessarily with the bread, but—
AG: Yeah, fiber can definitely be a part of that. And again, what fiber is good at is that these good bugs just love to eat these, and it’s a very easy pH for them to multiply and grow. And that’s really what you want. So that’s what prebiotics do. And probiotics, again, while you can get them from a capsule or yogurts, there are actually probiotic-rich foods. These are things like fermented foods: pickles, kimchi, sauerkraut, soft cheeses that are pasteurized and actually have bacteria and fungi in them. You know, one of the things I emphasize is that you can use your diet to improve not just the probiotic part, but also the prebiotics in your system
JK: And are the probiotics exclusively living in your gut?
AG: No, actually our bodies have several microbiomes. So that’s a term people are hearing a lot more about, and a microbiome is the community of germs that live in your body, and of which we have several. The one in our gut is what we hear a lot about, but your oral cavity has its own microbiome; even your lungs, your ears, and your skin have their own microbiome. And so I’ve founded BIOHM with my father, who’s the scientist who named the mycobiome, the fungal community in our body. And just in our mouth—some people find this kind of gross—he identified 101 different species of fungi that natively live in our oral cavity.
JK: Oh wow, I’m sure everybody won’t be too happy to know that.
AG: Right, but they’re actually good for you. So when you hear the term “microbiome,” there isn’t just one microbiome, your body has several. But most of the time when people talk about “balancing your microbiome,” they’re talking about your gut, your digestive microbiome.
JK: And is there a reason that’s talked about as the most important, or has the most research just been there?
AG: No, it’s actually very important because what we’re finding is that, while all the microbiomes play an important role, your digestive tract’s microbiome in particular has been tied to your overall health and wellness. Obviously digestive health is very important because—you know—there’s nothing like just not feeling great. But we’re starting to see a lot of studies that are tying good digestive balance and microbial gut health to everything from better skin to what’s been called a brain-gut connection. Now the science is still emerging it’s still very early, so the way to look at probiotics, whether through your diet or through supplementing with a capsule or yogurt, is that having and maintaining your total digestive balance is critical to your overall health and wellness. Long story short, the data is definite around the fact that a healthy microbiome is tied to digestive health. Where we came into the mix, with me having my background as a biotech attorney and my father is, again, the scientist who named the mycobiome, is that we found that everyone was talking about good bacteria and getting it into your gut, but what they were ignoring is that the microbiome of your gut, and all your microbiomes, don’t just have bacteria, they have fungi as well. They have good bacteria and good fungi. And they have bad bacteria and bad fungi. So it’s critical to maintain the total balance of your microbiome, and that’s addressing both bacteria and fungi.
JK: So it’s a more complete solution.
AG: Right. And it would be like taking your car into the mechanic and him saying, “Your front two tires look great.” And you’re thinking, “Well, what about the back two?” It’s really been up until now, as the science has developed, that we get just how important bacteria and fungi are because not only do the fungus and bacteria keep each other in check but they also have the potential to work together both negatively and positively. This makes it critical to not limit talking to only bacteria but the fungi are equally just as important.
JK: From a food stand point are there ways to get it in foods outside from the most obvious being mushrooms?
AG: Most people could easily benefit from a prebiotic and probiotic rich diet. The only problem is inconsistent levels and strengths may result from doing so. For example, something just as simple as two bananas can have varying prebiotic strengths that will cause inconsistencies. One solution to this problem is adding dietary supplements to your regular diet. These probiotic supplements will add consistency, protection, and an enteric coating as well as ensure that the strains will come in live and in both the bacterial and fungal form.
JK: By taking a supplement you will guarantee that your body with receive the basic prebiotic and probiotic levels that it needs while still striving to eat foods throughout the day that are highly prebiotic and probiotic.
AG: For some people, a simple diet may be the maximum measures needed for them to take. The problem in today’s society is that people may only receive probiotics through eating foods like yogurt and sparkling water. By doing this, they believe they are supplementing themselves with enough probiotics for the day. Unfortunately, the amount of probiotics offered in these foods is so small that it will not be anywhere close to the amounts of probiotics that are expected to be ingested daily. This is one of the challenges when buying probiotics. I recommend that all interested probiotic purchasers look at the number of strains offered while also looking at how the strains protect the cultures to ensure that they are alive. Another important part to take into consideration is the enteric coating. The enteric coating will coat the probiotics ensuring that it will survive while under your system.
JK: Do probiotics need to be refrigerated?
AG: No. Your system is a harsh environment for a probiotic. When a probiotic is going into your system, which is a live culture, several will die on their way down. However, the enteric coating protects the probiotic while it makes its way down your system. This will ensure that the cultures make it into your system alive. My response to the frequently asked question, “Do probiotics need to be refrigerated?” is that fungus and bacteria thrive in warm environments. Our bodies are 98.6 degrees meaning that the fungus and bacteria will thrive inside our bodies. It’s unnecessary for us to have probiotic strains that will refrigerated.
JK: Is there anything else in particular you would like to tell us about the product or something that you think the viewers would like to know?
AG: When we created BIOHM, we created it because we believed that people were getting an incomplete solution meaning that they were receiving only some bacteria and not all. We decided to use my father’s scientific background to create a balanced total gut. We took the broadest bacterial and fungal strains and combined them to ensure that you get 30 billion CFU’s of protected cultures, maintaining and optimizing your total digestive health. Regardless of any supplement, it’s important to have a prebiotic and probiotic rich diet. For example, even a glass of red wine will provide you with polyphenols that will help with microbiome diversity. I would also like to mention that microbiome balance is multifactorial, with the main factors being genetics, diet, alcohol consumption, and stress. One person that is genetically predisposed to having gut problems may do everything in the world and still have some issues. Genetics are unchangeable. However, you can modify the four factors by controlling your diet through supplements of probiotics, lowering stress levels, and consuming alcohol in moderation. There are a number of things that you can do to optimize your microbiome and there is not just one solution. If anybody tells you they have one solution for everything, then run the opposite direction. Whether it is a BIOHM or anything, these are dietary supplements that are meant to supplement your diet. There is a reason why Larry the Cable Guy is the face of Prilosec, because there are people at 11:00 pm just stuffing their faces with food and have bad acid reflux. They’re not optimizing how to deal with acid. Kefir and Kombucha are some of the other natural ways to control probiotics. Look at the consistency, the source, is it a reputable manufacture, and if the retailer has refrigeration because they are live cultures. If products like Kefir and Kombucha are not refrigerated and are sitting on a warm shelf in the back then this could adjust their balance. It’s all about moderation and optimization on various levels.
Jared Koch: I want to show an image of the product. I’ve been taking it and I am enjoying it. It’s helpful and I definitely recommend people looking into it. Would you like to let people know how they can learn more about it?
AG: Yes! Our website is BIOHMHealth.com and we always love to hear from people. We have a fun and active community and we talk about everything. The last thing I saw was about an episode of Chef’s Table on Netflix where they followed this monk in Korea. And it related to our BIOHM community because this woman was a monk who understood calmfulness and mindfulness, so that’s a cure for stress, but she was also in Korea making tons of different fermented foods. And it’s all about looking at how to do this holistically.
JK: Yeah, really making it part of a lifestyle.
AG: Yeah, exactly. And like you said, not only do we do BIOHM, but we do Seth Rogen impersonation parties.
JK: Can we get a 40 second Seth Rogen impersonation?
AG: I think we need at least 20 minutes for that. I got a really good voicemail that is Seth Rogen answering your phone.
JK: The mouth, the smile, so I can totally see it. I really appreciate your time. This was very great and really informative. It was very helpful and I definitely recommend people to check it out. It is BIOHMHealth.com and thanks again, Afif. Let’s stay in touch!
AG: Yeah, thanks again!
Ready to grab your BIOHM Health Probiotic, Prebiotic and more to optimize your digestive system? Head over to the BIOHM Shop!