Gut health - what a minefield! Well, after today's Part 1 episode, we hope you'll be feeling more empowered understanding your gut health. Dan Sipple (The Functional Naturopath) joins Mason today as the boys dive deep into the depths of your gastro-intestinal tract! This subject is so vast, we have Part 1 and Part 2 to follow - stay tuned for next week. This episode covers the basics, what is digestion, what is good gut health and how we can build a robust gut microbiome - all the topics to get you in the driver's seat of your health. Dan shares his personal gut health journey (inclusive of viral load and Epstein-Barr) and once again, Dan brings his clinical observations to the table with real-life client experiences.
The guys discuss:
Who is Dan Sipple?
Dan is a also known as The Functional Naturopath who uses cutting-edge evidence-based medicine. Experienced in modalities such as herbal nutritional medicine, with a strong focus on environmental health and longevity, Dan has a wealth of knowledge in root-dysfunction health.
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Check Out The Transcript Here:
Mason: Hello everybody. All right. Dan, welcome back.
Dan: Thank you my brother. How are you?
Mason: Yeah, I'm really awesome, and I'm really looking forward to today, talking about all things gut health. Now, this is a mammoth conversation. We get asked about gut health at SuperFeast endlessly every day. We'll have several people talking to us about it. You are a practitioner. You have even more people talking to you about it I imagine. You kind of started specializing a little bit in digestive health. I don't know, was that due to inspiration or is that necessity?
Dan: That's a good question. Probably a bit of a combination of both in the sense that, yes, I did sort of enjoy my own journey which told me a hell of a lot about integrative wellness and the gut and the gut being the sort of key to health all around the body really and then, and in term of being inspired, absolutely, there's definitely sort of heroes of mine in the gut realm that we can go into. But yeah, definitely, definitely a journey that kind of threw me into the initial explorations of healing and integrative wellness and naturopathy and herbal medicine. Yeah, was a bit of both really.
Mason: I want to talk about that. I mean, let's go into our own little personal gut healing. Gosh, what do you call them? Journey sounds a little bit wishy-washy sagas. I'm pretty stoked about what happened with my digestive system actually. I mean, leading into this, our whole intention here is going through the GI tract, going through digestive issues. We want to be talking about what digestion is, what gut health is of course, huge, huge topics that I think we're going to have a good, good wack at. We're going to talk about these issues that come up. These are things from spleen, spleen dampness, talking about small intestines, parasites, bacterial infections, all these kinds of beautiful things, and also the steps for building back potent digestive capacity.
Mason: What I want to talk about first is as always with myself, I am ... I've chosen not to go down the practitioner route. I've heavily been in that tonic herbal world of prevention, and I've been heavily in that world of SuperFeast as well where we're getting basically that self-healing wisdom back into the home. So I just wanted to recite for everyone that I'm not a practitioner. I'm not a TCM practitioner. I'm not a naturopath. I'm not sitting here treating people.
Mason: Therefore take everything with a beautiful chip on ... Not, like, just take everything with a little bit of, a grain of sea salt, just because all I'm doing is trying to get people in the driver's seat once more. That's why I share, and I feel like I got to bring that up again and again because I don't like laying things down and saying this is the exact protocol, this is the exact issue and I know the root of that issue. But just basically sharing from someone who wants to have a nice long healthy life that wants to have a household that knows how to treat little niggles and bits and bobs.
Mason: Just almost in that like around the water cooler kind of vibe, how to share with other people in your life, not expertise on how to overcome gut issues. This is where it's a little bit funny because everyone has like, "Oh, that's just a damp spleen. You should be doing this." Everyone's like into diagnostics. That's one thing that I know for Tahnee and myself, whenever people ask us about, they're fishing for a diagnosis, and we're not ... we don't give like straight down the line answers about how to heal your digestive system or whatever it is. It's generally just, "Okay, well, maybe it could be this. What other clues have you got?"
Mason: I kind of, I like, it can be really like annoying for some people just not getting an answer, and I like being that annoying person that just throws little bits out there for consideration because it keeps us in that conversation where you're just sitting around the breakfast table or the water cooler or sitting around with friends having ... ideally having some information sharing going on that will not lead you down the route of diagnosing or false diagnosing yourself. It'll more so ideally lead you down that route of having some extra investigative tools or some insights of how organs work. Because I mean, I like talking to you as a practitioner because the decentralizing of health information away from practitioners is kind of like the aim that I know you kind of like, you're one of the practitioners I can talk to about that freely because we've spoken about it for so long. I just wanted to lead with that. That's why I value as well having your clinical view.
Dan: Yeah, no, thank you man. Totally appreciate that too because it's, people, by the time they've decided to go and see a naturopath, often it's the case they'll get in front of the clinician and they are just at their wits end with their conditions. Some know what it is because they've might done testing that's revealed that such and such may be the root cause and they've had a good crack at it and it hasn't sort of ameliorated altogether. Other people just have no effing idea and they're at their wits end. Their stress is running through the roof. That's affecting the gut health and they're in that vicious cycle of they've got a huge amount of inflammation, dysbiosis, or what have it be, and then that's impacted by the psychological impact of having to battle a gut condition day after day after day.
Dan: So yes, it's important to diagnose to some degree, to get some data. Particularly in my sort of shoes as a clinician, I always say, "I can throw at you what I think might be going on and we might get a win, or we may not get a win." And that's where sometimes getting a bit of data initially upfront can be good as a clinician to really making sure that you can pinpoint your therapies and get in this specific sort of for example using a particular strain of a probiotic for instance that you know has research behind it for a particular bacterial overgrowth, or using a particular botanical to sort out a parasite for example.
Dan: I know there's a lot of ... I guess there's still a lot of clinicians that will do more of a shotgun approach and just sort of go, weigh it up and look at it like, well, testing is going to cost the patient x amount of dollars and it's going to be a lengthy process, bla, bla, bla, bla. I think I know what's going on so let's just go in with a shotgun approach and hope that we catch it. Sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn't.
Dan: It's often the people I see that have had that happen to and they've done countless loads of antibiotics, as well as herbal antibiotics, and they've tried a lot of the over-the-counter stuff and nothing's worked. And that's really where you've got to pull out the big guns I think and get a good comprehensive sort of digestive stool analysis done that uses PCR technology which we'll talk about more later and looks at the whole microbiome and looks at all the pathobionts and the viruses and the dysbiotic players and things like that, yeah.
Mason: I know we've got a mammoth one on our hands today in this chat, but can you just give me your quick little rundown of your health history in terms of digestive health. I think I got a little bit of understanding in terms of viral load, dysbiosis. Is that right?
Dan: Oh yeah.
Mason: What else was going on?
Dan: Mae, I had it all going on. I had the viral load. I had the classic Ebstein-Barr initial insult at sort of 17 years of age the high school year when all the stressors are on high. You're doing the high school certificate. You're partying lots, well, I was. Yeah, all that sort of fluctuation and change and hormonal surges, and just all that environmental change essentially. That's when the Ebstein-Barr virus came along and sort of swept me off my feet.
Dan: But it wasn't all about ... I think I was 19 or 20 that I'd realized that my health really never sort of came back on onboard and I was just declining and declining and I was just going through the layers of ill health, down to the point where my skin was gray, I was totally malabsorbing, lost heaps of weight. So knowing nothing at this time, saw a lot of orthodox doctors who just said, "It's just post effects of EBV. Go and rest it off." So I tried that lots and lots. Then your family is seeing it, you're seeing it, you're declining, you're not who you were.
Dan: Eventually, like I said, I was about 19, I started really questioning the paradigm, and then at that point changed to an integrative doctor and was able to pinpoint it straight away, which was celiac disease. I had the initial viral insult, plethora of antibiotics between the age of 7 into 19, and then at 19 the celiac disease was finally found.
Dan: At that point it's like, yeah, cool, a little bit of relief. I know what we're working with here. Let's fix it. At the same time the body's just being blown to smithereens. The gut wall's completely destroyed. Your microbiome is totally offline and your deep reservoir of nutrients is being burnt up because as soon as you start absorbing, you then go to your stores as we know. That's where you'll burn up all your as we know Jing. That's when you really tap into your Jing energy and you burn all those deep reservoirs of nutrients.
Dan: I'd done that and was pretty ill by the time I was 19 or 20. But from there it's been a pretty long journey back to health and I've learned lots. I've had wins. I've had failures, falling off the bandwagon, got back on it. I'm 31 now, almost 32, so yeah, it's a been long road man. But I'd love to hear more about your journey, Mason Taylor.
Mason: Mine was an interesting one because I guess when I started looking into it, the dysbiosis and the gut health wasn't quite as trendy as it is now. And so what you are talking about as a practitioner having that blanket approach that they just throw at it, assume that's like triple treasure herb formula to get rid of parasites in the gut where you're using black walnut and clove ...
Dan: And wormwood.
Mason: And wormwood, as well as using maybe oregano oil. I kind of, I didn't have one of those to just pull in. But I guess what's interesting is I like that bridge between a naturopath. You want to be going to a practitioner, and yes, you want them to be able to assess for one thing the budget and the capacity of the patient, and if unable to go and use some testing which is going to hone in, give a little bit of generalized approach. I think what we're talking about here is that generalized approach, not being one that is yang in excess and stripping and catabolic in excess. I think that's a variable in which I'd like people to be taking away. I feel like my approach was somewhat like that, especially based on my constitution.
Mason: I had that realization when I was backpacking. I'd been partying a lot. I was in Uni. I had taken a year off. I was in South America.
Dan: As you do.
Mason: As you do. And had that moment when I kind of just dropped into my body, realized I had some things going on, had no idea what they were. And for me, pretty much it would've been to my detriment I think if I went in and started diagnosing myself with particular deficiencies within my organ system and also with candida.
Mason: I wasn't aware that I had candida infection. I think we've spoken about this before. But I got back and went into the raw food diet. This is something I was having a little bit of a think about before the conversation, is I'd like to talk about raw food and cooked food, that whole ... The raw food scene is like, especially when I got into it was like we've got digestive issues, get onto a high amount of roughage and raw food. And you talk to a TCM practitioner and they're like, "That's just a damp spleen bomb waiting to happen. It needs to be cooked food. It needs to be sloppy foods."
Mason: I think as we know now it's all going to be a little bit of a coming out in the wash and getting to know your body and reading the seasons and reading where you are in the world and not doing anything in excess because I've seen both go awry. I had a quite strong constitution. So I got back and went into raw foodism. And it did a lot of good for my digestive system. It really cleaned up my bowel movements. I feel like it was really strengthening for my GI track, which basically we'll get into the nuts and bolts of this everybody, but I had enough charge within my kidneys to be able to handle all this raw food coming in, which and I must say, wasn't cold raw food. I wasn't one for pulling stuff out of the fridge and throwing that in there, which I feel is a distinction which needs to be made and why I was so effective at that time pulling my spleen and my pancreas back in and back online, and also really helping me produce really nice and healthy stool.
Mason: But at the same time, I was layering in a lot of colostrum. I got excited about gut health. I got excited about the fact that it was skin cells on the inside of my body, and that it was just this big hollow passage from mouth to anus. I was really, like I was just using my instincts to guide me in that interest to that cavity and going, "Cool, I can't believe colostrum powder has this effect to where it can almost go up and like celly-seal, putty up all these gaps and all these permeability while laying down a constitution for the ... a blueprint for the immune system." I got onto that heavily.
Mason: I got heavily into internal usage of aloe vera. And this was, again, my symptoms were I was very tired and exhausted, yet I did have a strong prenatal gene constitution at the time, and the fungal infection coming out of my arms really showed that my immune system was bottomed up. Naturally if you focus on immunity and digestion with your excitement inclusion of herbs and foods and practices, you're going to have some pretty good results.
Mason: But I didn't go down that gnarly blasted out route. I didn't use a lot of herbal antibiotics or herbal antivirals, which I feel like was really healthy for me. A lot of colostrum, a lot raw food, a lot of juice. Again, this isn't ... I'm not telling everyone to go and do this. A lot of aloe vera. I was lucky enough to have aloe vera plants and I would filet them and get the gel out and I would blend that in with what I would call my immortal beauty shots. So I'd have that mixed in with a slightly warming herb and turmeric. So if you're a particularly cold person that doesn't have great circulation, you don't want to be doing a lot of ... maybe you don't want to be doing a lot cooling aloe vera.
Mason: Mixing that in with a bit of turmeric and ginger and then I'd blend that up with grapefruit or lemon, a little bit of black pepper, spring water, and then get Schisandra in there as well because I've always been a fan of Schisandra. Doing a lot of that and that aloe vera had a really nice effect on my ... on those epithelial cells.
Mason: I've been talking about this for seven or eight years now, and just how transformational that was for me. The same protocols that you use to heal your skin externally can be somewhat transferred into the internal world. Of course, I got a lot into medicinal mushrooms, which we'll get into, and I basically just cleaned up my life. I was at uni, but I took the foot off the accelerator, and when I realized that I didn't want to be doing what I was studying, and that had a lot to do with stripping the stress off my ... basically just off my life. My life revolved around getting up and sun gazing and doing yoga and all these kinds of things, and already been a young man with not much responsibility on my shoulder I bounced back really quick. At that point my digestive wall, I felt like just became while soft to the touch, really rock solid in its capacity.
Mason: That is my little path of digestive health and it led me to investigate and continuously have conversation. It showed me that if you go excessively with some gentle healing protocols like nourishing foods, diets, fiber was another one obviously. I was focusing on a lot of chia seed, just clearing up my digestive tract, just getting the colonics done, not a lot, but I was getting the colonics done. I had a few salt flushes. That's just mouth to anus yogic salt flushing for two hours with all the movements and cleaning up my valves, clearing out my esophageal valve, clearing out my pyloric valve, and just passing a lot of shit that was accumulating within my GI tract and bounce back really quickly. And that was the ... I didn't realize that was setting me up for a very strong foundation, very strong foundation for my health.
Dan: It sounds like, sorry to interrupt, it sounds like what you did Mason was really beneficial in the sense that you skipped that weed phase which we naturopaths kind of got indoctrinated into through a lot of the old teachings, the weed, seed, feed sort of process where initially you pull out, you do the shotgun approach, you blast everything, hope that you catch the candida, the bacterial over growths, the LPS, bla, bla, bla, bla, and then you go in there and reseed with good bacteria, and that's when you typically patch up that leaky gut wall, and then you sort of aim to maintain what you then got as a new foundation.
Dan: Sounds like you skipped that initial phase back at that time when you went down that raw food path and went straight into healing and sealing that gut wall. As a clinician, I kind of look at that and think no wonder why you did sort of bounce back really quickly because had you have gone in and pepper sprayed everything, that may not have been the case because you would've obviously wiped out a lot of your good guys that are there to control the dysbiotic players and that sort of thing.
Dan: It's not often I hear that as a clinician, so when I do, it's like hats off to that because healing and sealing that gut wall I think in a lot of cases is beneficial to do first and then tackle the microbes, once the gut wall is strong and the foundations are strong and the Jing's back online, the person's absorbing and their constitutional and the vibrational energy is higher. Then again, there are different cases where you do need to go in and do a good weed up.
Mason: I mean, but the balance between anabolic and catabolic should be present anywhere. I think what's like I did also a clay-psyllium classic gut cleanse. It was like the first kind of fast I did actually, was one of those just four days hitting clay and fiber. And that was awesome. That cleared me up. I did a little bit of a fast afterwards, probably went like four days just on water after I did that, and hit a point where I started feeling depleted. I was pretty Gung-ho, surprised I didn't do more fasting considering how Gung-ho I really was in my attitude and how much internally I really actually thought that it was a bit of silver bullet.
Mason: But I had sensible people around me. It's why it's really, it makes sense. It's why I think it's a good thing to be in a nice ... a relationship where your partner feels very free to give you feedback or within a friends group that feels very free to give you feedback and you're not critical about it and you respect them enough to actually utilize that. Because I remember my mom and my partner at the time telling me like, "You know what? I get you. I get this thread that you're on. But there's I feel like this water fast just right now isn't the thing for you."
Mason: I had a little temper tantrum inside, but I remember going, "You know what? I'll trust them," and started eating, like getting a lot of good fats in me afterwards and just in a space of a couple of days just developed this muscle that I hadn't seen in so long. It was a useful fast. But it brings up the fasting side of things, because I feel like what a lot of people will do is they'll tack on with the raw foodism or mainly in the raw foodism world or basically the kind of the health protocols that are revolving around those tropical environments, a lot of fasting, a lot of that ... Was that weed?
Dan: Yeah, that weed and fade.
Mason: Yeah, so that weeding phase is just very, very heavily at the forefront in most of those circles where viral load and pathogenic load is almost feared as a central dogma. It's never going to be ... It's only going to be interesting if you have another stripped down, another catabolic detox or fast, because you can get immediate shocking results when you do that, when you go through one of these processes. I know I did and it was very tempting to keep on smashing my liver with flush after flush and keep on going back, do another salt flush, do another colon strip, do another colonic.
Mason: And it's not as sexy to be like do a little, hit in there, get in there, do a little bit of catabolic state, a little bit of a fast, and then get back in there and build it up for a couple of months, and learn what kind of consistent action and lifestyle flows you're going to be doing that building state, building state, getting like releasing all the tension. Because that's what you can't. I was like ... I was about swear. I'm realizing I'm on the SuperFeast podcast. It's not the Mason Taylor podcast. What I really ... What I really ... Sorry, guys. I'm a little goo-goo. Dan used to help me produce the Mason Taylor Show, so like that's, we have a little bit of a history there. Anyway, getting back to these fasting states, it's basically boring.
Mason: To be sitting there and slowly feeling the building back of a digestive capacity through habits and traits that aren't going to give you an overnight result. Everyone can see it. It's when people come out of the fasting scene with that heroin cheek, you know? They look like they're coming out of a concentration camp, and that's an excess. But a lot of people, a lot of women especially who aren't living, like revolving around a lifestyle that is innately stress-free, they're actually living lives, they've actually got children, they've actually got a job, they've actually, they're focusing on bills and budgets and schedules and all these kinds of things. So they don't realize that the most defining factor there is the lack of stress and pressure on your shoulders that is there in the sinew of your lifestyle building you back up consistently despite the fact that you're doing a lot of fasting and detoxing.
Mason: So what you see is people in society try and replicate that Instagram fasting trendiness, that quick get me better, and all of a sudden things start getting depleted because the whole basis of you healing to begin with is going to be a lifestyle that's tearing away that stress, releasing tension from your organs, and then finding that dietary herbal flow, tonic herbal flow, and then just a relation to the seasonality of your lifestyle that is going to span decades and has to span decades because you're going to be here for many decades. You don't actually want to end up at that place where you have to fast and you have to smash with all these detoxes and these antibiotic herbs. Sorry, I'm going on a nice little rant here man. I'm going to let you jump tag in soon.
Dan: No, no, that's good, that's good. I love it. I agree man. It's like I've said people all the time, resting and repairing is not sexy.
Mason: They do not.
Dan: Who wants to tell their friend that, "Hey, what did you do on the weekend?" "Oh, I took colostrum and slept for 16 hours and mediated."
Mason: Yeah, but the other thing is people don't know the actual ... and I still, it's like something I'm still working on understanding. Your mind can't wrap its ... can't really get itself wrapped around what's going on, so you don't feel like you're achieving anything. That's what I want to have. And that's the responsibility of this all to continue to communicate and find ways and going like, "Why isn't that sexy? Why isn't that a draw?" Because unless people have really been burned by the excessive need to heal and over identifying with the fact that they're sick and have candida and have Crohn's or have whatever it is, unless they've hit the glass ceiling or their pain threshold and then all of a sudden can feel in that gooey consistency that isn't just looking for an overnight result, then it's not going to be an easy draw.
Mason: I feel like it's getting better. To be honest I feel like it's getting much better. I think even on all the Instagram world, it might be heavily superficial, but just that all the self-care Sundays and all that kind of stuff coming through, I feel like that's good. I still, I feel like it's a little bit of a commodification of something which just doesn't deserve to be commodified. But at the same time, I mean, I run retreats and that's all people come out to the retreats and go like, "What are we going to be doing here? Are we going to be doing," like sometimes they do a fasting retreat. Sometimes we just do a rebuilding retreat. At the same time, when people get there and go like, "What are we actually doing?" We're just like, "You are going to feeling your nervous systems and your body as it actually is."
Mason: I can't be too judgmental because I'm commodifying with the retreat, but at the same time that's one thing I've realized what comes out the other end, is sometimes digestive issues just start to not write themselves, but people start to get a little bit of a perception of what it's going to take for the digestive system to write itself and for the how you're going to approach healing of parasites or other degenerative diseases over the long term because you feel how you actually feel, you've taken time out. The mind doesn't have so much to be like grabbing on all the time, don't have all these things to be stressing out about all the time. You're basically on walk about 24/7 which means you're among nature, you're among trees and grass just flowing in the wind, or you're just watching rain and the mind just starts releasing all these stressful patterns as it looks at it, and you can get your nervous system ... We're talking about vagal turning today. You want to turn the vagus nerve. You may get into that and get that in as a practice.
Mason: So at that point you can ... people will start to see, "Oh shit, that's the bread and butter of my healing right here." That's what I want to be like. We've got a lot of ins and outs to talk about today, but that's the biggest in and out that I want to be delivering to people. We were talking about meekness. Remember like we were talking about meekness earlier?
Mason: Everyone if you go to the SuperFeast Instagram, you'll see a quote from the 6th of November, and it's from my friend Heath Daly over in WA from the podcast number six about the five elements, just how meekness, the ability to just do something without complaining or needing motivation, the virtue of the earth element, the spleen organ, which is very relevant to what we're talking about today, being able to do a fast, or go on a new diet without having to tell everyone on Instagram. And just doing it in this self-generated way that isn't generating with getting creatively cracked out from the liver and letting that drive you, getting motivated to go towards joy within the heart, not being driven towards like achievement and like ...
Dan: Result and outcome, yeah.
Mason: Just like, just do it, just do it, just do it, that meekness, be meek as hell. Like that is something which I feel like it's going to have its day, and if you can do it without feeling like you ... without feeling that there's motivation either way in getting up and just taking that action once again with your diet and taking that action once again with your lifestyle, without even an inkling of complaint coming up or needing for validation, I feel like that's going to have a big long effect decades' time on peoples' digestive tracts.
Dan: Yeah, absolutely. The quicker you arrive at that and the quicker you are able to disassociate yourself with the ego, because I think gut health has become such ... I mean, it's put in two ways. It's fantastic that there's so much gut health awareness happening now because people are connecting gut health to their conditions and realizing that something in the brain can be heavily impacted by the gut. Your joints are heavily impacted by the gut, et cetera, et cetera. So it's fantastic that gut health is getting such a good rep.
Dan: Even in the allopathic world we're starting to see those guys sort of really acknowledge things like intestinal permeability, which 10 years ago was laughed at. Dr. Alessio Fasano, a famous or a really well-known researcher has been hugely pivotal in that, in bringing that to the western world and how intestinal permeability affects a myriad of conditions.
Dan: But getting back to my point, yeah, and your point that the quicker you can disassociate yourself with the sexy marketing Instagram, all that kind of side of it, and just do it as a sovereign being and recognize your innate capacity to communicate, you want your body to be able to communicate what's going on to and act instinctively on that rather than sort of looking at the protocol online and following it.
Dan: Sure, we've all been there, we've all done it, but the quicker you can reconnect with your body's feelings and ... Look, sometimes your body will tell you that you do need to do a bit of antimicrobial approach. Sometimes it is necessary for that, yeah?
Mason: Yeah, oh absolutely. I mean, and that's like, we're getting down a trail of people needing to realize as well that you're going to hit and miss when you're trying to read your body, and sometimes you're going to completely screw it up and sometimes you're going to do it completely awesome. You've got to realize that if you're not chasing that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, then you're going to be swept, because you're just drawing on data of different types of approaches and different pockets of the health scene, the naturopathic scene, the raving detoxing raw foodist. I also, I just want to point out, although we have a little bit of a joke at the Instagram, let's not have too much of a joke because I am an Instagram influencer chasing my 7000 followers at the moment. Let's be nice.
Mason: I want to jump in. I want to get in, like jump up to our ears in digestive juices. I want to talk about what the digestive system is and what the gut is. From your physiological clinical perspective, do you want to run us from the mouth to the anus of this beautiful hollow of rippling, digesting, moving, absorbing system, wonderful system that's our GI tract, our gastrointestinal tract?
Dan: Yeah, sure. That's a big one. I kind of don't know where to start, apart from I guess just the obvious in that, the recognizing that it is a hollow tube. I often say that to my patients. It's one of the first things I say, and they're like, "What? What do you mean it's a hollow tube?" And I say, "Yeah, it's literally outside your body. Think about it. There's a hollow tube going through from your mouth throughout to the toilet bowl," and you've got to think of that as pretty much still a part of the outside world, and so everything that you put in there is obviously going to have an effect on that surface and that surface is the gut wall. Anything on the outside of that surface is technically inside our body. That's where our lymph is. There's where our immune system is. That's where our blood is, et cetera.
Dan: The idea is that we eat food. It gets broken down. I'll just run through this briefly and then we can dive deeper of course, but it gets broken down initially by enzymes, which we secrete in our saliva, goes down the esophagus into the stomach, gets broken down by more enzymes into what we call bolus, and then propelled through the rest of the digestive channels which we call the small intestine, the large colon, and then out the anus. The whole idea being that we extract and breakdown food and utilize those minerals, vitamins, amino acids for things like cellular repair, mitochondria, hormones, tissue repair, et cetera, et cetera.
Dan: I guess that's it in a nutshell. I know we'll obviously dive deeper into the nuts and bolts of it. But yeah, that's essentially it. And I guess if anything is off in that sort of cascade of events, we're going to see that as bloating, distension, diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, nausea, and so on and so forth.
Mason: Immune suppression, fungal infection, bacterial infection. Where do you sit on the whole, the gut? I don't want to dive too deep in this. I'm just curious. The gut is the core of the immune system, foundation of the immune system.
Dan: Yeah. I mean that's a good question. We know that 80% of the immune system resides within the gut. I do resonate with that. Of course, then there's the ability of the blood to take our white blood cells peripherally and deliver it to other areas of the body where we have an innate response. So it's not like the whole immune system is in the gut. But we know that the gut microbiota have a lot to do with the manufacturing and the regulation. I think that's really important keyword, is the regulation and the homeostasis of the immunological weaponry, so the white blood cells, the macrophages, the neutrophils, natural killer cells, T-cells et cetera, et cetera.
Dan: If you had to sort of summarize it, the better your gut health, the better your immune system's going to behave. So that means less allergies, less inappropriate immune responses, reduced risk of autoimmune disease, and by the same token, on the flip side, a really healthy active immune response that is able to kick in gear and communicate to the different arms of immune system when there is a foreign entity that it needs to take it out.
Mason: I wanted to bring up the fact that we are talking about a very yang system in the body, very active system in the body. Everyone here has heard us talk about the five primary organs: the spleen, the liver, the heart, kidneys, the lungs. And these are yin organs associated with vital function, hold a lot of qi, have a lot to do with the processing of a lot of qi in the body. But then basically you look at the majority of the digestive tract and the gut in itself. You see the corresponding yang organs to those vital organs pretty much making up that digestive tract. What this ... the bladder has still associated with elimination and still slightly associated with the GI tract, not really the focus today. What that always brings back to me is the importance of yang within the body in its entirety.
Mason: One thing I'm going to be talking about today in terms of what the digestive tract is, thanks for laying that out, that was awesome, and then at the core of it and what's going to be the actual pilot like for digestion to begin with is going to be residing within the kidneys and within that kidney yang, especially since the kidneys and its capacity to hold that yang creative, expressive, unfolding, acting, active, moving energy is it's going ... that's going to be feeding in the yang, into those vital organs, those five vital organs and the associated yang organs.
Mason: We're going to come back to why stress has a lot to do with digestive capacity, a whole lot. I just wanted to reiterate in what is digestion. A lot of it is yang, and a lot of it is how much yang and how much capacity you have for your kidneys to store it and then feed that to the other organs within the body, especially the stomach and the small intestine, and the colon, and the gallbladder.
Mason: When you start looking at it that way, I feel like what we're talking about heavily today, I'm going to be talking about heavily today is going to be the stress response and what stress does to the digestive system. It's kind of one of those ones, especially when you see a prakie or a doctor and they say, "Look, you're stressed. You're going to have to get your stress down." It's always nice to come back to the organs and come back to your lifestyle flow and actually start building back that core kidney capacity. That is heavily a part of the digestive tract I believe, that kidney capacity, that kidney essence.
Mason: Guys, if you're in a stress response, we're going to be getting a whole lot of cortisol, going to be getting much less sex hormones but we're going to be just seeing a general depletion of the body in general because you're going to be in that fight and flight response, and so resources are going to be taken and stored. It doesn't really make sense to be taking energy away from the digestive tract for you need that to live and thrive. But if it's not there, it's not there, and it can't be distributed.
Mason: So that is one thing I wanted to throw into the mix in terms of what the digestive system is and we'll get to ensuring that that pilot life of digestion that is the yang within the kidneys is rocking and that's not disassociated with the yin. It just happens to be the yang. Tell me about peristalsis?
Dan: Yeah, so peristalsis in a nut shell is really just the secretion of gastric juices and the flow of that bolus which we were talking about which is kind of like the broken down food components in eventually that makes up stool. Peristalsis, we kind of, we associate that and we talk in the same conversation about that with transit times. So if you've got a slow transit time, meaning that you're more on the sluggish end of the digestive spectrum, so you might be a bit more prone to constipation for example, that's indicative of a lack of peristalsis, so a lack of that domino effect is how I like to frame it to clients, is that you want your digestive flow to be like a domino effect. A rolls into B, rolls into C, rolls into D, et cetera.
Mason: Like a marble run in primary school.
Dan: Exactly right. And you get that nice flow of gastric juices all the way from literally the start of digestion when we start salivating, that's really when it starts. We know that that has a ripple effect down, upstream into the areas of the stomach with hydrochloric acid and digestive enzymes, so your pepsin and lipase and things like that. We know that peristalsis can be really healthy and that's obviously indicative of a good stool quality, lack of pain and abdominal bloating and things like that. Then on the flip side, if someone has a lack of peristalsis, it's usually a more sluggish sort of digestive function.
Mason: I mean that way, I kind of, I always see it whether this actually happens, that wave of that tissue through the digestive system helping to move, push, just like accumulate particular bits of matter, that wave I feel like the rock hard ab movement and seven minute abs, et cetera, has a lot to answer for it. Also I feel like it's one of the reasons why it's kind of falling out of favor. I feel like, I think men and women in general, when you are ... when you mature a little bit and you start realizing what true health is a little bit, you start getting less of a focus on that rock hard ab aesthetic and when you actually start looking at the obsession, if you look at most people who are super gym rats, they're in that phase of life where it's just all about superficial muscle toning and super toning of that gut tissue and that abdominal wall, you're basically going to lose the ability for breath to move through the body and contribute to that movement. It's going to be more reliance of that peristalsis and that wave in through the digestive tract to move food and then waste through the body.
Mason: But basically then once you start tensing up and constantly walking around with tense abs, because it's a habit. I think in the west it happened. I had to unlearn in my early 20s that constant hardness that I started developing because you know when you're walking around the pool or the beach in high school is always present, never-
Dan: Put your flex on.
Mason: Yeah, you're always kind of like, I feel like I subconsciously got my flex on, and I had less movement of that whole wall. Because naturally when you relaxing, ideally you want that to be showing, especially on an in-breath you want to be showing a little bit of a patch because you want ... You basically don't want tension through that whole wall so your organs can really move and stretch and breathe. I feel like that has a lot to answer for. For me anyway, that was my experience. So that, one of the huge aspects of what the digestive capacity is, not just necessarily the whole GI tract, is that ability for those digestive organs to move about because their environment isn't so tense. I wanted to throw that into the mix.
Dan: Yeah, big time. And like that mode of being that you just described, the first thing I thought of then like in your early 20s, it's all about how buff you are at that time. We've all been there. And you're walking around with your chest out and your abs on and what not. When you break that down, that's almost fight or flight when you think about it, isn't it? You're in that hyper nervous system mode when you know you're on show, you're being ... you're super, super tuned into how you're being perceived. So yeah, absolutely.
Dan: That's a massive stress on the nervous system alone there, and that, yeah, that kind of ties into people being really conscious of how they're being perceived. I see that a lot in people particularly with obviously anxiety disorders and mental and emotional stuff going on, just that really heightened perception, and then that can then even permeate into things like the online world and how they're being perceived online. I just think, yeah, it's so much nervous system stimulation. We typically do see, you're right, in that kind of phase where we come out of our late teens and into early 20s to throw that in there.
Mason: Well, I mean you throw in the fact that it's like a bunch of nerve tissue and that we've got like the second brain sitting within our gut, and having a lot of the neurotransmitters being produced within the gut I think this is pretty common knowledge now, a lot of the happy neurotransmitters, a lot of the happy hormones, serotonin, et cetera. You start realizing that it is a part of the nervous system, and so when you do get tweaked out anxiety wise, when you get tweaked out when you are burning it at both ends and you fall into the absolute crush it mentality around entrepreneurialism about your job, around your job, whatever it is, and I'm not slinging stones because I feel like I find myself there consistently at the moment, ideally feeling my edges a little bit before I actually get into a stress response.
Mason: But it's difficult man. It's difficult in the western world, and it's one of the reasons why I want to keep on doing Super Feast, just to kind of throw out these herbs and these information just as a little championing from the sidelines people in their lives. I'm lucky enough to have that network that champions me as well and have Tahnee kind of like feeding back to me as well, like what I need to do. You haven't been working out, you haven't been focusing on your sleep, whatever those things are. And those are the things that are going to matter in the long run.
Mason: To take it back to our rant in the beginning. You're going to hear a lot about, I might mention now that why lion's mane is so effective for digestive health and because it's such an amazing neurological herb. Although we are fishing for the data and we're waiting for the human trials to come forth, you can't deny how amazing it is as a nerve regenerative herb mushroom.
Mason: Then you see the correlation between how good it is for the brain, how good it is for stomach ulcers, duodenum ulcers, and other digestive issues, when you learn to link that to the fact that there's a lot of nerve tissue within the gut. So if you're getting stressed, just not as a thing for you to hold in your mind, just another thing to remember that if you are getting stressed out excessively, you will have to pay for it later. That's not a fear thing. You are going to be depleting your capacity to mobilize food within your digestive tract, break it down, and absorb it.
Dan: Yeah, it's that simple. Absolutely. Yeah, touching on lion's mane, just for a little quick segue there, you're absolutely right. I totally resonate that with kind of like watching and waiting for this human data to come through. We know there's [inaudible 00:46:07] trials happening at the moment, so that's not too far away. But if there is one of the medicinal mushrooms that is really valuable for that kind of gut-brain access, lion's mane is perhaps one of the best because we know that it has such a beneficial prebiotic action in the gut, as well as tonifying the nervous system, the enteric nervous system and gut fibers, as well as crossing that blood brain barrier. That to me as a clinician is huge. Anything that can get past that wall in a healing capacity, there's so many things that get past it and damage neural tissue in the brain and set up an inflammatory response. But when we-
Mason: [crosstalk 00:46:43] like we can go from pesticides, mercury, lead, et cetera, et cetera, just to give everyone a little bit of an example of what can crosses the gut-brain barrier there.
Dan: Yep. Endotoxemia from bacteria that get in the blood through the gut wall and go out through to the brain and cross that barrier. But yeah, we're super I guess privileged to come across something from the ... especially from the mushroom kingdom that can go in there and sort that out and get that channel re sort of regulated from the gut to the brain.
Dan: We know that that access is heavily reliant on the tone of the vagus nerve. With all the stress and chronic infections and everything we sort of encounter in modern life, a lot of people just have this really dysregulated vagus nerve communication. It's like a two-way highway, yeah, from the gut up to the brain, and from the brain back to the gut. Yeah, coming back to my point about lion's mane, I think the research will really, will shine in that area when it comes out about its ability to regulate that. That's my suspicion.
Mason: Me too. I'm pretty happy I brought it, like although I was late, I mean I was lucky enough to have Chaga and Reishi, amazing prebiotics. We'll get to this conversation guys. We'll talk about medicinal mushrooms. Don't worry.
Mason: What I want to talk about now is I want to start getting through the whole process, let's start going through from top to bottom. The first thing I want to bring up, you talked about the production of saliva and also basically getting the digestive juices going prior to the fact that you will be using your hollow pipe within your body to digest and get food circulating through the blood is, this is why whenever you're in the ...
Mason: I've been on the health trend for long enough. At some point you come back to there just being something about a home cooked meal or engagement with your food and engagement with spices and cooking methods like cooking over an open fire that brings through kind of a sense of romance, and that really does start engaging the physical heart and that aspect of the nervous system, but it engages your senses very long term, it's why you come home to a living kitchen and you walk in and there's a soup kicking, maybe there's a broth going and you can smell that herbaceous waft when you get into the ... come into the kitchen, or even you look around the kitchen and you see there's sprouts going, there's nuts soaking, or someone's making raw chocolate, or you can see your spice rack beautifully presented. You're engaged with your kitchen. That's a consistent engagement of the digestive system.
Mason: That engagement is different from say the usefulness of once a year maybe taking time out to fast where you give ... you sensibly when you've got strong foundations give your digestive system a break from motoring, you can consistently have yourself engaged in the way that you're using your food.
Mason: Now that can excessively become gluttony, and that's something once you get an excessiveness it's going to lead to a deficiency in health in some light. But being engaged with your food and really making sure that it's presented nicely to the best of your ability can be really, really, really small touches, really small touches. Even if you are eating on the go, that classic stop, acknowledge, just have a think about. It doesn't need to be so where it can either be a very beautiful thing for some minds or very wanky to others where you have to stop and acknowledge where the food came from.
Mason: I love doing that and sometimes it's just not my medicine. Other times I just, I like to think about just even check out how delicious this is. Like, "Wow, this is going to be really delicious." Whatever it is, there's a bit of engagement, and it's a boring conversation, but it's never going to be said enough because your spleen loves it. Your spleen activates and lets everything know through communication with your peripheral nervous system, through the senses of scent and sight and touch, like wow, we're a part of something here, we're a part of that lifecycle. I just wanted to throw that out there.
Dan: Yeah, it's a network man. It's a massive, massive underappreciated network. And we know that even just through the receptors on our tongue with particular bitters from different plants, we know that that has a domino effect. Without even have to consciously swallow and propel food down, we know that there's enzymes that are getting ready to rumble just based on that.
Mason: Oh man. Like the bitters conversation, I just, I don't know why it's not hotter here. I mean it's still only like healthy Hildes, like Swedish bitters that looks like it's from an old dusty dank 90s health food store kind of look. But it's so good. In America it's hot. Urban Moonshine is one my favorite companies over there. They do a digestive bitters that I got at that Mind Body Greens Conference I went to early in the year and they offered me a bunch. It saved my life. Like I've gone to the point I don't love taking enzymes. I don't find that they're that useful ongoingly.
Dan: Yeah, I agree, I agree. You want your internal weaponry to be rocking well. You want your own enzymes to be plump and rocking. You don't want to have to rely on something exogenous to digestive food. It's ridiculous.
Mason: No. In a treatment sense, I used them for years. For say a year I loved using enzymes. My body needed it. But then it was time to let go of the [inaudible 00:52:18]. But that, like a little bit of digestive bitters in the mouth before I had like a big meal or a start of the day, it's kind of the same idea as ACV, apple cider vinegar.
Mason: Let's move down to the esophagus. What do you got to say about this pipe?
Dan: Oh, the gastroesophageal sphincter, yeah. I'd like to I guess do a little bit myth busting around that because I think there's still not enough. Like you said earlier, this topic I don't feel is hot enough, and that's with regards to gastric acid. We still find a lot of people are in the mind frame that if they have a bit of reflux, they have too much acid.
Mason: Do you remember the GERD ads?
Dan: Oh yeah.
Mason: That was so funny. I feel like that's the only kind of American pharmaceutical ad that I really remember like selling an illness. Do you have reflux? Do you get that acid feeling at the back of your throat? Then you might have GERD.
Dan: Try Gaviscon.
Mason: Try ... Was it Gavastone?
Dan: Yeah, yeah.
Mason: I don't even feel like that. They were just like, "Go see your doctor," and they were like I feel like that was a doctor's association advert, like PR agency getting on board to get people more through the door going, "I think I have GERD." They're like, "I think you have GERD too."
Dan: Yeah, let's run with that.
Mason: Take this.
Dan: Let's shut all your acids down and then let's set you up for small intestinal bacterial overgrowth and malabsorption while we're at it. Yeah, a little bit of soapbox there, but that's what I see often, a lot of clinicians and naturopaths will say, some will come in with a GERD diagnosis and they're just latched on to this idea that they got too much acid, yeah, and they got all this back flow of acid and just burning everything up. Reeducating the mindset around that is the first thing we have to do. It makes so much sense when you understand it. It's like initially we just have to start with saying the first thing is you need acid. Acid's your friend. You just need it in the right bloody place. You need it south of where that gastroesophageal or sphincter is, yeah?
Dan: The problem is with GERD is that the flap that's designed to keep acid underneath it has opened up for whatever reason. We can go into that. That then allows the acids to then come back up that pipe, that esophagus. So that's when we get the gastric irritation on the sides of the walls.
Dan: The whole concept of just shutting down the acid and not addressing that is ridiculous, but it's, it's not uncommon in the allopathic mindset. Some folks feel better immediately because it's like a massive reduction in their acids, and therefore they don't get the burning, so they're like, "Oh, yippie, this is good, I've sorted out the drama." But then long term what we see is we see malabsorption of things like B12, minerals like zinc, calcium, magnesium, iron, even iron's a big one.
Dan: So yeah, I guess I just like to put it out there that when you do have that kind of issue going on, try and understand initially what the problem is at its root cause which is heavily down to that sphincter being ... not having enough tone. We refer to good sort of sphincter tone, meaning that you're less likely to get that sort of reflux of gastric content. So when you've got good tone, the lid's shut and things can flow south from there.
Mason: You're basically talking about that valve, that door that is separating those two stages of digestion flowing through the esophagus and then moving through the hopefully toned esophageal valve, opening up, entering the stomach, and then that valve closing and having enough intelligence or capacity to stay closed when it shouldn't be jammed open.
Dan: Exactly right.
Mason: What have you got? What's your two cents because I mean I liked the use of ... I don't suggest this every time, but I think a good yogic salt flush if you're nice and strong, because it is quite depleting, it is a really great. At least do it once experiment cleanse. I've done several over my time. I've literally heard people's esophageal valves pop where it's something as you smash litters and litters of warm salty water and you let that flow through the body again and again and again, and then where the pop occurred was during the stage where you're bringing it back up from the stomach and you're throwing up that water as you do during this cleanse, and you'd hear this ... pop, and the person go, "Wow, my gosh. I just had this really interesting sensation just about here."
Mason: And it always brings to light those salt water flushes how much, yes, we focus on the skin cells, the bacterial aspect of our GI tract, but we don't focus on the valves, and we don't focus about the fact that there is more activity there and you've got to really dilute it hinges and you've got machinery there. It's not just a flowing pipe. Therefore you're going to get accumulation of sediment and waste around there, and therefore it's important to have those periods where you can go in and clean house and basically get some WD40 on that thing and make it a nice smooth open and close.
Dan: Nice analogy. I love it. Yeah, look, I don't know, I don't know, I'll be on sort of a particular clinical experience around that particular salt flush, so that's where I'd love to hear more about your experience with that.
Dan: What I've used in the past is more a sort of a top down approach looking at what leads to poor tone. We know that the biggest one is stress. Stress ... like we have to remember that communication is back down to the nervous system. If we have lots of stress coming in, we're getting a dysregulation of all that communication through that network, and so that's where we're going to see an opening or a dysregulation of those bowel. We've got the one between separating the esophagus and the stomach and then we've also got the pyloric valve which we'll get to. The biggest one is removing the stress and there are-
Mason: Can I just ask you quickly?
Dan: Go for it.
Mason: You have in the back of your head whenever you bring up stress clinically, like you're like, "Oh my god, I can't believe I'm another person that's just telling them to eliminate stress."
Dan: Oh mate, it is a hard one. People are sick of hearing that. It's not ...
Mason: Like what's your attitude? Are you kind of like now at this point where it is like, "Yeah, you know what? I'm going to bring it up again, and I'll really support them because there's nothing else I can do at this point"? Or are you like trying to refine the way that you talk about it? Are you trying to make it exciting? Are you using diagrams?
Mason: What do you do because, okay, say you got like got a mom in there, she's got three kids, one of them is, I don't know, like one of them is autistic, another one has an autoimmune issue. She needs to work. There's not enough money and she's looking for things, and you're saying, "Well, look, at the root, we're going to be talking about stress."
Mason: We're talking about the esophageal valve and I assume with pyloric, et cetera, all the way down to sphincter that it's what's going to be stopping this crucial element of life from doing its thing and creating a deficiency of tone is going to be stress. And so, what do you do at that point? What's your latest and how you present that?
Dan: This is exactly why I ended up bringing in a whiteboard into my clinic and getting back on the illustrative bandwagon and drawing it up for folks. That's what I found has worked so, so well because people get sick of the word stress, and I got sick of it. I remember hearing that so, so often and it's like I don't want to hear that anymore. Tell me how the stress is working, what sort of stress, what sort of stresses is the issue? Is it stress-induced intestinal permeability? Is it stress-induced lack of cortisol secretion? Like give me specific, how is stress affecting it like the body on a physiological level? Don't just say stress.
Dan: So when I can illustrate that to a patient, and in some patients go a step further, do some blood work, show them that their body's out of balance, because no one wants to admit they're stressed. Sometimes it's not until you're really ... You get, as a clinician a lot of people find they'll get to the end of a consult before a patient sometimes will go, "Oh yeah, I am stressed." And even if they're not-
Mason: And even if they know they're stressed, like if they're like, "I know I'm stressed," so is it, do you feel like it's your job then to help them get some tools to overcome it, or is that where you come from?
Dan: No, absolutely. I do. I do. I consider that a big part of it because stress education is just ... It's so lacking. People have lost not all of it. I shouldn't sort of paint it that black and white. But I think humans to a large degree have lost the ability to recognize how stressed they are, just because we are in such a fight or flight scenario every day with work and bills and mortgages and kids.
Mason: Dude, yeah. I mean that's the whole thing when I was talking about with the retreat. People are like, "What am I really doing here?" I'm like, "Well, really in three days' time you'll see what happens." And it's like after a couple of days they're like freaking out about how tired they are, and like, "I slept so much last night and I'm just so tired again and I'm going to go to bed early and I'm going to ... I'll get up early and move and then I just don't know what's this feeling." I was like, "That's how you feel."
Mason: It was like we went, Tahnee and I went camping down at Evans Head on the week, on Black Rocks on the weekend for one night, and I was just like, "Oh my gosh, I'm so [inaudible 01:01:37]." And it's different. I didn't feel exhausted. You just go, "Oh man." It was just like all of a sudden comes pouring down, is just like the two months of travel, having to adjust from doing the nomad thing, moving every day all over China to being back, and boom, straight into the routine here with them, like whether it's routine for work, routine for family. You have to go like, "Oh, this is how I really feel. Oh, this is how I really feel." I guess that's what ... I'm just kind of fishing for my own justification as well. It's about allowing the mind enough what you're talking about there to move out the way enough so you actually can acknowledge, "Shit, that's how I really feel," right?
Dan: Totally, totally man. And I see a lot of people too that they don't associate with stress because they might not be necessarily be angry people. That's a huge one. It's so, so big where people will not admit they're stressed or their body's under stress. Then when I put it to them like that and it's like, "Don't think about it as in an anger type of mind frame. Think about your body. If you are nutritionally deficient, your body is under stress. If you have inflammation, your body is under stress. If you aren't sleeping, your body is under stress. If you've had a history of chemo for example, your body's undergone massive stress." Yeah, framing it in that sort of context, as well as illustrating it physically I think really helps people understand it better.
Mason: You know what I think as well? From like the anger one, I kind of get. But I recon acknowledging that just because you're not a worryer, because you're not necessarily worried about other people or your life or and like anything that kind of situation that your body can't be under stress, I think that's like a nice distinction just for me internally there. And then also you kind of talk about stress from a very ... you're talking about it from a very clinical angle as well, right?
Dan: Yeah, yeah.
Mason: This isn't something that's like, you can go like, which is kind of nice, it's refreshing to be able to get into that place where you just don't have this feeling like you're, "Oh that's it. I'm just going to accept." There's always going be stress, and there is to an extent. But it's like when are you physiologically or chemically or where are the markers through the body that actually showing that you're throwing yourself into dysbiosis right now, or you're throwing yourself into a point where you can measure the immune markers going down because you're in this state and then this where it's up to someone having a team I reckon.
Mason: You should be working with ... In fact, when people are working with you, should be working with a therapist. They should be doing work. They should be taken into their own hands at the same time. They should have a physical practice, whether it's yoga or tension release or [inaudible 01:04:16], whatever it is. That's why there needs to be a consortium. Anyway. Thanks for indulging me on that.
Mason: Hey everybody. Thank you so much for tuning in today. Now time to take that information, round it into your lifestyle so you can amplify your health to the next level. You can really help amplify the health of this podcast by going onto iTunes and subscribing and leaving us a review. It really helps us spread this information around tonic herb, around sovereign health, further out there to the community so we can help more people experience the best out of this life. Thanks guys. I'll speak to you next time.
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