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episode #344

Interview with Dr. David Bilstrom: Root Cause of Chronic Health Issues, Gut Microbiome and Anti-Aging!

April 1, 2024 in Podcast


This week, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. David Bilstrom! Dr. Bilstrom shared his transition from a rehabilitation physician to a functional medicine practitioner and explained how functional medicine seeks to identify the root causes of chronic health issues, offering a more holistic approach to treatment.

He highlights the immune system's role in autoimmune diseases and underscored the importance of focusing on gut health as a key factor for overall well-being. Dr. Bilstrom also pointed out the effects of vitamin D deficiency and the significant influence of the gut microbiome on various health aspects. Furthermore, he explored the impact of epigenetics on health and the possibilities for anti-aging breakthroughs. Lastly, Dr. Bilstrom stressed the importance of central mechanisms, such as epigenetics and protein folding, in improving health and reversing chronic conditions.


  • Microbiome mapping and addressing chronic infections are crucial for understanding overall health.
  • Optimizing the gut and addressing leaky gut can have a significant impact on inflammation and the immune system.
  • Addressing hormonal imbalances can lead to significant improvements in energy, mood, and overall well-being.
  • Epigenetics plays a central role in health, and understanding gene expression can help optimize overall wellness.
  • Advancements in anti-aging focus on optimizing central mechanisms, such as epigenetics and protein folding.

Brian (0s):

Coming up on the GET, LEAN, Eat, Clean Podcast.

David (3s):

Well, we talk about the seven central mechanisms, but the very first one is the gut. That is the biggest one. And then the second is the stress hormone cortisol. The third are these hidden sneaky infections. The fourth is food sensitivities. And just like infections, foods can bug you, obviously. Hey, I got a fever. I eat a food. It makes me sick every time I do it. They got sneaky way foods can bug us, just like sneaky infections and then vitamin deficiencies and then hormone deficiencies or imbalances. So even though we talk a lot about testosterone, it's coming from these other things. And then the last is environmental toxicity. All the toxins in our world are just making it so challenging to stay healthy, but the Gut is number one.

Brian (49s):

Hello. and welcome to the Get Lean Eat Clean podcast. I'm Brian Gryn and I'm here to give you actionable tips to get your body back to what it once was, five, 10, even 15 years ago. Each week I'll give you an in depth interview with a health expert from around the world to cut through the fluff and get you long term sustainable results. This week I reviewed functional medicine practitioner Dr. David Bilstrom. We discussed how functional medicine aims to understand the Root causes of chronic health issues along with the role of the immune system in autoimmune diseases and the importance of addressing the Gut as a central mechanism for overall health. We also discussed the impact of vitamin D deficiency.

Brian (1m 30s):

Lastly. We touched on Epigenetics and Protein folding in optimizing health and reversing chronic conditions. Really enjoyed my Interview with Dr David Bilstrom. I know you will too. Thanks so much for listening and enjoy the show All, right Welcome to the Get Lean Eat Clean podcast. My name is Brian Gryn and I have Dr. David Bilstrom on welcome to the show.

David (1m 52s):

Thank you for having me. Brian.

Brian (1m 54s):

Thanks for coming on and all the way from Idaho. I meant to ask you what, what year did you move there? I know you said you were in Chicago for a number of years.

David (2m 2s):

We've been here almost nine years now. Excellent.

Brian (2m 4s):

Did you say the pe, the people

David (2m 5s):

On your podcast know where Idaho is and we were telling friends in Chicago, we were moving to Idaho. Most of 'em. You mean Iowa. I

Brian (2m 11s):

Don't know if most people know where that is, but that's probably not a bad thing though, right?

David (2m 16s):

Well that That's right. We're we're, to give people a perspective, we're about an hour and 15 minutes west of Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Brian (2m 23s):

Okay. So a lot of good skiing.

David (2m 25s):


Brian (2m 25s):

And And now you're spending your days mainly treating individuals and and helping people with functional medicine, correct? Correct. And you've been doing that for what, 30 years?

David (2m 36s):

Well, I started out as a rehabilitation physician and and, and my sp my specialty area was a spinal cord injury. So everybody that I saw was paralyzed from the waist down or the neck down. And it's a very challenging population but also it really taught me of these gaps in our ability to treat people with chronic health issues. You just can't treat everything with a medication or a surgery. And then I've been on about a 30 year quest to learn about other options, including all the things I didn't learn and kind of my traditional training. And so now for about 20 years, I kind of moved into functional medicine which answers the question, tries to answer the question why somebody has what they have.

David (3m 21s):

Rather than just putting a bandage on a symptom, we can figure out why you have what you have and when we know why, we're always in a position to reverse it or because we know why people get chronic health issues of all kinds in a position to prevent it as well. And, what

Brian (3m 34s):

Sort of drove you to this area of the market? Obviously alternative health is a growing market, so I could totally understand why it's something obviously I'm in as well. Was there certain patient that led you down that road or just an interest of yours to go down this road?

David (3m 48s):

Well, the first thing was that I was looking for something to help that patient population and they're so sensitive medications. I'm like, wow, wouldn't it be great if there's something out there that could help these folks and didn't have any side effects And acupuncture kept popping up. And so I said, okay, well I'm gonna train in acupuncture. So I went to UCLA, trained in medical acupuncture, came back looking for, gimme an easy tennis elbow to take care of. But because of where I was at with all my partners, rehab partners in this huge rehab facility in North Carolina, we're always the ones that get sent. Kind of the people that nobody else can take care of. Kind of the, and but then if we can't take care of 'em, we have no other options.

David (4m 31s):

And so I came back and my partners were all like, hot dog. We got another option. So I got like the most complicated of all the complicated people and oh my gosh, did it work great? And I'm like, holy cow, this stuff works so much better than I thought. What else is out there that I don't know? And then I got into integrated medicine and I was running an integrated medicine clinic in Hinsdale, Illinois, west of Chicago. And functional medicine started coming into the forefront here where you're answering why now with acupuncture, if you get at the central mechanism that's causing some of these issues, you're in a position to fix everything at the same time. You just don't do the same treatment. So 10 people come in with low back pain, you, you don't do 10 treatments the same 'cause one person has low back is their main issue, but they got asthma low back here to a bowel low back and brain fog low back and migrate.

David (5m 20s):

So they're all different. You gotta treat 'em differently. But you get the central mechanism, everything's getting better. And then with functional medicine I go, oh my gosh, this is the same thing. You're answering why the central mechanism and you're not only in a position to reverse anything basically, but reversing everything at the same time. And when you do an acupuncture, it's very much kinda a leap of faith. Like you're coming in to see me, you're not sure what acupuncture does, how does it work? Does it even work? I know it's been around thousands of years so probably it works otherwise it wouldn't be still around, right? But somebody's gonna put needles in me. It's a leap of faith. So you come into me with functional medicine and I say, okay, we should be able to figure this out.

David (6m 1s):

Well what are you gonna do? I'm gonna run some blood tests, I'm gonna run some tests. And they go, ah, that kind of sounds like the medicine I'm used to. Because if I go see another practitioner, they say Well let's run some tests and see what's going on here. Well just happens that the functional medicine test. So I cheating because we know where this stuff comes from. The typical test they get run once a year for people. You pretty much have to be dead before anything shows up in those the things. They're not looking in the right place or they might look at something that's the right thing to look for. But then the interpretation of the lab results is very important as well. So, it could be missed So, we know where this stuff comes from. The science is really clear why people get health issues, including why people get these health issues that are so much more common than they used to be.

David (6m 48s):

All what they call the civilization diseases. So things that are happening so much more now than they used to be. And you go like, well geez, you know like in men's health it's like wow, it seems like everybody has testosterone issues. Oh my gosh, erectile dysfunction. you know we're men should be able to get erections with a, when a a breeze blows, you know, kind of a thing, right? Because we're on this earth to procreate, pass out our genes if you can't do that. It was like, why even here But? it was like, well everybody has those issues. Oh my gosh. Cholesterol, high blood pressure, cancer, like prostate cancer. Oh my gosh, oh my gosh. Heart attacks, strokes, Alzheimer's, dementia, Lou Gehrig's, disease, memory, brain fog.

David (7m 30s):

It's like, oh my gosh, everybody and their brother has this stuff. Well there's reasons why our world is creating these things we know, but we know what tests to run to figure it out for people. And when we moved from our private practice out here, what got me, 'cause we were seeing people with a lot of autoimmune disease, a lot of chronic disease and doing things that other people weren't necessarily doing So. we were already seeing people from not just the Midwest but all up and down the East coast, Florida, New York. And I read this article, heartbreaking article in the New York Times about this female journalist was losing her career and her life to lupus, which is an autoimmune disease where the immune system becomes confused and attacks our own body parts.

David (8m 15s):

And it was so sad. I've heard that story a thousand times. We reverse that stuff but she couldn't find anybody to do that. I'm like, okay, somebody's got to change the way autoimmune disease is dealt with worldwide and might as well be me. So to do that back then we said, well we got tapped into the global medical tourism where people are willing to travel to places to get care, they can't get close to home. And so looked all across the us Where do people travel to? So I plotted out specific areas and out here, even though Idaho, there's like, there's like 50,000 people when you first moved out here in this entire region.

David (8m 57s):

But everybody comes here for Jackson Hole, Wyoming, big Sky, Montana, sun Valley, which is two hours West Salt Lake City, two hours and a half south and the Snake River coming down, everybody comes here to fly fish. Yellowstone is an hour and a half away. And so before Covid, people have to travel to see us the first visit and then once a year and then we can do telephone stuff the entire time. But then when Covid hit, so like even like the week before Covid hit, we had like five new people come down from Alaska to see us. People were traveling already to see us from all over the place. But then when Covid, we can do everything telehealth. And so now we see people from every state in the country and spanning 21 time zones around the world because there's just not people doing this.

David (9m 44s):

Our goal is to get, this is ideally get a practitioner in every community that knows how to do this, but in the meantime we're here for people with these chronic health issues that nobody else can help them with.

Brian (9m 56s):

And you sort of, you hear autoimmune thrown out a lot, almost like a blanket statement. What would, what's your best way of explaining autoimmune, autoimmune disease and why does it continually come up?

David (10m 8s):

That's one of the civilization diseases, see it so much more than you, you used to. So there's two parts of the immune system. So one part is called the adaptive immune system where your immune system makes antibodies, specific antibodies against specific things, ideally against things that are not us that are gonna hurt us like an infection that gets in. It's not us, it's gonna hurt us to make antibodies against that particular infection, kill it, get it out. Or cancer cells, they become our cell to a cancer cell, they're not us anymore, they're just gonna hurt us. Immune system attacks gets rid of it. The other part of the immune system called the innate immune system as involved in controlling inflammation.

David (10m 51s):

And if you have excessive inflammation in any body part, that body part is where your health issue is. And so you get the body basically attacking itself with antibodies, autoimmune diseases, antibodies, attacking around body parts. You're basically self-destructing when that happens. Never a good idea to self-destruct, No So. we now know when we moved out here, we didn't know this but oh my gosh, the explosion in the scientific literature, we now know that the immune system is connected to every chronic health issue. Not just the classic lungs like rheumatoid arthritis. Oh, you're attacking your own joints or multiple sclerosis, oh you're attacking your brain.

David (11m 31s):

But it's involved in heart attacks, strokes, cancer, osteoporosis. 10% of people that get osteoporosis now are guys breast cancer. 10% of people that get breast cancer are guys, it's involved in all cancers. But also everything you can imagine it is this immune system is part of everything. And so fortuitously, we're kind of the ones that know some of this more than a lot of other people. And so we're in a position even like cardiovascular, like heart attacks and stroke risk. You kind of used to think of it as sort of this inevitable result of living long enough to get into that range. But we now know it, it's an immune system issue.

David (12m 12s):

Infections, every chronic health issue has infection. Just the sneaky ones. The one, not the ones that give you fevers, but the ones that drive inflammation and inability to clear inflammation. And so that goes with cardiovascular stuff including, and it got testosterone levels and guides. And this is part of this whole process where historically a guy would get into their seventies and they start to slowly drop in testosterone production. Okay, you want to be 800 to 1100 as a guy. Well if you're in your seventies, you might kind of slip down towards 600, but that's okay now still really good. We are now seeing 20 year olds, 18 year olds who should have the best testosterones of their entire life under two.

David (12m 53s):

And you're like, so this is where guys that used to get heart attacks were in their seventies, in their fifties. Now guys are having heart attacks in their twenties and it's not the guys that you might look at. It's like, you know, there's Bob down the street. He, he, he works out three hours a day, eats so healthy. Well Bob just died at age 35 running on his treadmill, massive heart attack. But you also see these guys like high school boys, ideally as a high school boy you should be able to eat like 10 meals a day, sit on the couch all day and still have six pack apps. So you see the high school basketball players with their tight basketball tops, they got a tire around them that's never supposed to happen.

David (13m 38s):

Inability to make testosterone and then gut health are driving this kind of amazing Chronic disease explosion.

Brian (13m 46s):

I know it's probably tough to pinpoint one thing, but if you were going to sort of try to do that regarding sort of this autoimmune epidemic that's going on, what would you, what would you, you know, what would you point to?

David (14m 1s):

Well we talk about the seven central mechanisms, but the very first one is the gut. That is the biggest one. And then the second is the stress hormone cortisol. The third are these hidden sneaky infections. The fourth is food sensitivities. And just like infections, foods can bug you obviously. Hey, I get a fever, I eat a food, it makes me sick every time I do it. They got sneaky wave foods can bug us just like sneaking infections and then vitamin deficiencies and then hormone deficiencies are imbalances. So even though we talk a lot about testosterone, it's coming from these other things. And then the last is environmental toxicity. All the toxins in our world, they're just making so challenging to stay healthy.

David (14m 43s):

But the Gut is number one,

Brian (14m 45s):

The gut. Yeah, I, I had a feeling you were gonna say that. And then you mentioned cortisol as well. How do you, what type of tests do you run for your clients? I actually recently just graduated from FDN, dunno if you're familiar with FDN.

David (15m 0s):

Excellent. Congratulations.

Brian (15m 1s):

Yeah, yeah, thank you. It took a little while but, and So, they do different tests. They have about five different lab tests. They, they, they sort of Lean on one of 'em is like cortisol and DHEA is a big one. That sort of ratio. Estradiol, progesterone, testosterone. The interesting thing about the cortisol is it sort of has this diurnal rhythm, right? Where in the morning obviously it should rise up and then it should sort of peak or sort of taper off as the day goes on. And a lot of times with people you don't see that, are those the type of lab tests that you're running with individuals?

David (15m 38s):

Yeah, so the, so the blood tests we run can be run in any lab. It is not like you have to mail 'em out and So, we look for a couple different vitamin deficiencies, including one that's very important for guys called red blood cell zinc. Zinc's very hard to get into the cells. And so if you're on a serum in your bloodstream zinc, that doesn't really matter much. But the question is can the zinc get into the cells? Red blood cells for example, we can test that. And low red blood cells. Zinc, not serums, zinc, well red blood cells ink has been correlated with Gus in ability to make testosterone. We check ferritin, which is iron stores, high ferritin, iron stores run too high, create tons of inflammation in the body, Gut brain, all this.

David (16m 21s):

But also in guys excess ferritin tends to accumulate in guys' testicles. And when that happens you can't make testosterone So. we kind of jokingly tell the guys when that happens, oh you know, this is rusty nuts. Rule of thumb. Never let your nuts get rusty and because you can't make testosterone and then we'll check the hormones. Kinda like you're talking about probably I'd probably check a few other ones to always check for these infections that drive chronic disease, simple blood tests, anybody can run 'em. And that gives us really good picture including, and then we'll run like digestive stool analysis. That guts a central mechanism. It's a poop test. You do, you mail it off, gives us fantastic inflamma information.

David (17m 4s):

Then what, what that will tell us is what's creating stress? What is throwing off that stress hormone? Because when you look at the stress hormone cortisol, the body's fight or flight mode, life or death mode, stress response is designed for intermittent stress, which is usually emotional stress. It is not designed for 24 hour a day, seven day a week, month after month. Physical stress. So if you have a biome deficiency, a hormone deficiency or an imbalance, a problem in your gut that is a 24 hour a day, seven day a week, it kicks cortisol up and locks it in place. And then when you're stuck in the stress mode, you might feel stressed, oh you know, I hold my shoulders up, I find I grind my teeth.

David (17m 47s):

you know that kind of stuff. I'm biting my fingernails, picking up my cuticles, you know, cortisol stuck. But what we need to answer is why the cortisol got stuck and it might not be showing up in the traditional ways. It's just showing up as well. I can't fix anything. Nobody feels fixes things well in the stress mode. Well why am I getting this, this, this and this? That's weird 'cause I'm, I'm not like 147. I'm only 47. Right? And you go, okay, so cortisol is stuck to the point where we don't check saliva cortisol nearly as much as we used to. Because if we say well we should be able to figure out why physically you got stuck in the stress mode.

David (18m 27s):

And if we address the wise seven central mechanism, for example, cortisol just resets itself. And in guys we tend to think a lot about well erection's ability to maintain an erection or even a sex drive is all testosterone. So often it's cortisol and and how I explain this to guys, but the same thing kind of goes with women is when you're stuck in the stress mode, your body feels like it's in the life or death mode. Like you're running from a bear now truly out here, we gotta carry a bear spray when I go back country

Brian (18m 59s):

Snow. Yeah, you might really have to run into that. I gotta

David (19m 2s):

Carry bear spray when we go hiking we gotta carry bear spray.

Brian (19m 6s):

Have you run, run into one? Have you run into one

David (19m 8s):

An early season spring hike last year we heard a big growl.

Brian (19m 14s):

Okay, they

David (19m 14s):

Were kind of, when the snow was just starting to melt But, it hadn't melted. But we were going early. The bears hadn't gone up, they were just coming outta hibernation, scared the living Jesus out of Jody, my wife and I and we just hightailed it back down. Holy cow, we've never gone downhill this fast.

Brian (19m 31s):

You Yeah, that is a, yeah, okay.

David (19m 34s):

And so for

Brian (19m 34s):

Anyways, it's just cur, just curious. Yeah, yeah.

David (19m 36s):

So you can imagine, okay, so I'm running downhill, right? Scared the bejesus, I'm worried the bears chasing me. Well if a bear's chasing you, you're stuck in the stress mode. You're not gonna go, Hey bear, gimme a second. I wanna have sex. I'm thinking about sex. Right? Right. Hey bear, gimme a second. I gotta get an erection. It's like, oh no, if I get away from this bear chasing me, then I might think about having sex. Maybe I'll get my sex drive back. Hey I might be able to get an erection if I'm not running from a bear. So for guys sex drive, erection, maintaining brushing, oftentimes there's more of this cortisol getting stuck than these, even the testosterone deficiency.

Brian (20m 10s):

What about vitamin D? That's a big one. I was actually just in Florida and I've my vitamin D's probably a little bit on the low side. I'd say being in Chicago here in the winter. Absolutely. But you know, going to Florida for a a week, it's amazing the difference in how much you feel, how much better you feel when you get a little sun. What do you see that as a driver of a lot of disease and yeah,

David (20m 37s):

And to your point, it's so hard for humans to make vitamin D from sun exposure nowadays that most people are totally tanked unless you're on the right dose of supplementation. Totally tanked. Yeah. And so ideally on a blood test, a person's vitamin D level should be 70 to 90 lifeguards in San Diego, mid forties they're like 40 points low as they should be. Now when your vitamin D is low enough, if you go someplace sunny, it'll come up a bit. And even that little bit can make you go, oh my gosh, that's great. Well imagine if you were perfect, how great you feel now. So everybody needs a great vitamin D, super important. But back in 2018 this information started coming out that we're like, oh my gosh, you can have all the vitamin D in the world and still not get a bang for your effort because every cell in your body has receptors for vitamin D called vitamin D receptors.

David (21m 28s):

Just like every cell in your body has insulin receptors. So that insulin from the pancreas can attach how the cell what to do. But your control is excellent. Well it turns out insulin receptors can become resistant. You can't attach and do the work. You get diabetes, elevated blood sugar. Well these vitamin D receptors become resistant too. And it turns out there are more vitamin D receptors in the gut than any other body part. And when the scientists found that, they go, oh my gosh, vitamin D must be so important for the gut, but the receptors become resistant. Oh my gosh is this a central mechanism? So what they found initially was that, well if you fix this vitamin D receptor Resistance in the Gut, you can turn around autoimmune disease in the gut.

David (22m 12s):

You can turn around ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, recurrent infections like h pylori and c diff. But they also said, oh my gosh, this looks like exactly what you wanna do for everything. Prevent cancer, prevent heart attacks and strokes and brain stuff and all kinds of stuff. And then all the data that came out subsequent was like, oh yeah, six months later the same researchers actually at U at University of Illinois, Chicago. Oh my University of Illinois med school graduates, I gotta give a shout out to these researchers. Oh my gosh are they stuff Six months later they go, oh my gosh, this is a central mechanism, I'm sorry, a nuclear weapon against metabolic disease, insulin and blood sugar, abnormal weight gain, heart attack and stroke risk elevated cholesterol, nuclear weapon.

David (22m 56s):

Harvard Journal psychiatry two years ago says, oh my gosh, if you can shift the intestinal Microbiome this way, 'cause it's fixing in the Gut, you can treat major depressive disorder. Another journal comes out and says, if you can shift the intestinal microbiome this way people, personalities change to become more outgoing and more social. So to fix this vitamin D receptor, Resistance is a super central mechanism. And but they also told us how to do that. And this with a triad, we call it the foundational triad daily vitamin D, daily probiotic and daily butyrate. Butyrate is this really important short chain fatty acid made by the good bacteria in the Gut.

David (23m 41s):

But the good bacteria in the gut gets dinged so easily nowadays. Stress antibiotics, MOS and Advils and metformin, the blood sugar medicine, all these kind of things that that triad fixes the vitamin D receptor, Resistance central mechanism for all this stuff. So that's where we talk a lot about the Gut is is vitamin D receptor issue.

Brian (24m 1s):

And regarding the Gut, like you mentioned before, you send out a sort of a microbiome mapping, like obviously send poop in and they get back whatever pathogens or fungi or yeast that could be problematic. Yep.

David (24m 18s):

The chronic infections. Yep.

Brian (24m 19s):

Yeah, that's interesting 'cause that's something that we did as well. I think that is the future, don't you think? I feel like there's still a lot of research to be done in that area. This is sort of microbiome mapping and figuring out like, you know, where everyone's at as far as pathogens or or yeast or zonulin. Iss a big one. And I really do think that there's gonna be more and more technology regarding that, that sort of area.

David (24m 44s):

Yeah, the more, the more data we have, the better decision making processes we have though what we tend to find is so, so on that test it'll give us good bacteria, bad bacteria, mold, candida yeast. It tells us that the pancreas is making enough enzymes to digest your food. Do you have some Fat malabsorption or carbohydrate protein malabsorption? It gives us, its inflammation markers, it tells us four different short chain fatty acids like the butyrate. And it gives us like si sig a zolin that kind of tells us whether you've got this leaky gut. Now in the big picture, if you got these, these things going on or because of our world, pretty much everybody's got leaky, leaky gut.

David (25m 26s):

And so what you wanna do is you want to be able to go, okay, what infections do you have? Let's get rid of it. Now there's one particular thing we like to use 'cause everybody's got infections. It's always a mix. Just viruses, bacteria, candida. It could be parasites can be other things. One call mycoplasm is a super common one. So, we, you always have to use a really good broad spectrum antimicrobial that'll kill any infection no matter where it's at in the body. Gut outside the bot, gut brain joints. Even if you don't know what infections you're dealing with, you gotta get rid of 'em. And then you gotta fix this vitamin D receptor Resistance. Because what happens when the vitamin D receptor Resistance is cleared, good bacterial numbers go up, bad guys come down, you, you, you optimize an intestinal microbiome, which is such an important factor.

David (26m 16s):

The lining of the gut stops making inflammation. And this is where the gut becomes this engine of inflammation because it gets so disturbed. The lining actually makes chemicals that create more inflammation. And then when we fix the vitamin D receptor, the lining of the gut starts making these things called a mps antimicrobial peptides to keep the bad bugs down, infections away long term. And then by doing that you fix the leaky Gut, you fixed the intestinal microbiome, 80% of the immune system surrounds the gut. So you now you fix the immune system that's involved in everything and you get rid of all this stuff outside of the gut, such as nuclear weapon against metabolic syndrome, treat major depressive disorder, personality stuff.

David (27m 1s):

But also this is what you wanna do to prevent all cancers, depression, anxiety, heart attacks and strokes, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, dementia, abnormal weight gain, all this stuff. Super central mechanism.

Brian (27m 12s):

You know, typically someone goes to their general practitioner, I don't really, and they don't really run these tests, right? Like I I, I have a general practitioner that I recently, I haven't gone to one in a while, then I just needed to get some things signed off. So I, I found one in the area and I asked him to do like a full blood panel and he's like, well I can only do these, this, this and this 'cause that's what insurance covers. And so I just sort of went on my own now and just did my own panel and paid for it out of pocket. I feel like this is where sort of sort of the healthcare system maybe just fall short, right? Like it's there, there's not this comprehensive, there can be But. it has to be like for him to do more testing, there has to be some type of reason where I just wanna be proactive.

Brian (27m 57s):

And so that's where you come in and even my myself, you know, with the testing that we do through FDN is is sort of getting ahead of the curve and finding out, you know, what's sort of under, underneath the hood and what's really causing these issues.

David (28m 10s):

Yeah. And and so you, you're your practitioner's correct, you have to use the right diagnostic codes to justify any test, whether it's a blood test or a CT scanner or this, the problem is they just don't know what codes to use. And so when we order the panels we do that are quite extensive. We just know the codes to use and insurance covers 'em. You just gotta know the right codes. And this is where like in my book that I wrote, not only do we talk about what tests are, well, well we talk about why people get these tests exactly what tests are run exactly how to interpret the data because you can have the information you need but you miss with a poor interpretation exactly what to do.

David (28m 53s):

Like supplements exactly when to retest, exactly what to do if you're not getting better, you know how to tweak things. But we also say, well these are the codes to use to justify the blood test. So it's covered by insurance. It's not hard. You just got, and, and the insurance companies kind of keep tweaking things. So, we have to kind of keep tweaking the codes. They'll go like, well they, that code doesn't cover anymore. I say, okay, we'll figure out another code. And that's why we always update so that people know what code actually cover this stuff.

Brian (29m 22s):

So insurance is covering these tests that you're sending out.

David (29m 25s):

I feel very strongly this is something that should be covered through the insurance world. That's why I've never worked outside of the insurance model, but I really feel like this should be something that should be covered for everybody and through the insurance model.

Brian (29m 39s):

Yeah, I, I agree. I I didn't realize some of these tests could be covered by insurance, which is, that's that's, that's

David (29m 46s):

Good. Like all the hormone tests that you, you are referred to, we run a couple of additional ones like an estro, which is the bad estrogen on top of the estrodiol is there's one code that covers all the hormone issues. and we go, oh, that makes it easy. We don't need a code for every one. It's like, well here's a code that runs all the hormones.

Brian (30m 3s):

Yeah. What would you say maybe a case or two that comes to mind where someone had a certain condition and, and you guys worked them out of it. I'm, you know, I'm sure people like to hear different stories that that sort of, yeah,

David (30m 15s):

So you know with, with your population of men is we often get guys coming while they're, they're tired, their, their brain is fog, they've been gaining weight, they're really losing their mojo and their motivation and they got some cholesterol issues and some blood sugar issues. Of course And, you know, they got some blood pressure issues. And so all these things are kind of going and maybe they're only like 35, 45, you know, that kind of stuff. And the wife comes in with 'em and we have 'em fill stuff out. One of the questions we ask is irritability and fatigue and memory concentration. Irritability is like a zero to 10. And on their form I say okay, so irritability, you rated at a two and the wife looks at him like a two, you gotta be kidding me.

David (31m 1s):

You're such a grumpy old man. You're an eight if you're, if you're a, you know, if anything. And he looks at it and like really? She goes, oh my gosh, you know you're so irritable. Oh my gosh, snapping all the time. and we go, okay, so you know this is probably low testosterone. Now you always gotta ask the question why. But we go, okay, you got low testosterone, this is your weight, this is your irritability, you lost your motivation. This is your brain fog, cholesterol, blood sugar, high blood pressure, all this kind of stuff. So, oh you're low in red blood cell zinc. Well your gut's off. You can't absorb nutrients. Your ferritin, iron stores are running really high accumulating your testicles while your gut's off it got leaky.

David (31m 44s):

You can't get rid of toxins from the body because even if you run your detox pathways, drop toxins into your gut to poop in the toilet. 'cause most toxins have to be pooped in the toilet. There's only a few toxins in our body that we can sweat out and pee out and breathe out. Can't get rid of these toxins because they keep recycling back into the leakiness and accumulating over time. Your body is so stressed out 'cause they're not feeling good. Cortisol's got stuck in the stress mode. Those are the reasons you can't make testosterone So, we might supplement with zinc, we fix the leaky gut with that foundational triad. Get rid of infections as well with the broad spectrum antimicrobial, we use some who Canada called pH structured silver solution.

David (32m 27s):

We start getting rid of the things that are causing physical stress so that cortisol's in a position to reset from stress to calm. But then we teach you how to teach cortisol what calm feels like. Like Brian go, I play some golf but don't stress about it. Right? Or just walk in nature, do your deep breathing, your meditation, cortisol resets. And then guys who come in with a total testosterone like you know 200, 2 50, 1 50 plus people closer at 800, they just start making testosterone on their own. Truly. years ago when it came out, oh my gosh, how important is testosterone And if you're low, let's give it to somebody.

David (33m 9s):

Oh my gosh, did they feel better? But I very rarely order testosterone nowadays because you can get guys to start making it and you do it and you say come let's do some repeat labs in three months. Come back and see me in three and a half months. They've taken a testosterone that's like 180 7 and they're up to like in three months. And then we keep going and kind of fine tune something. Then they're four forties up to 600, 6 50, 700. They're just making testosterone in one room. They're no longer irritable. Their wife loves 'em again. Their brain fog's gone. They're losing weight, their cholesterol's down, their blood pressure's great, their blood pressure is great. Blood sugar's great and they feel like they're in their twenties again.

David (33m 52s):

and we go like that's how it's supposed to be because if the body works well, you stay healthy. And if you're not staying healthy, if you're not feeling good, there's always a really good reason. It is never age. 'cause as you can imagine, we get people in their fifties coming in, right? I think I'm just getting old, but we have dudes in their twenties coming in, women in their twenties saying, I think it's just age. I'm like, no, no, no, no. Nothing is age related to at least 90. Now we're learning so much about human longevity that truly the human body is probably designed to be really, really healthy, sharp brain functional, moving around doing your stuff.

David (34m 32s):

Motivation like 105. But I usually say 90, nothing is age related until 90. So if it's something going on with you before 90, it is not age But. it is something and it's something we should be able to figure out and fix. And then

Brian (34m 46s):

It's interesting. What areas of anti-aging have you seen sort of come about over the last, you know, 10, 5, 10, 15 years that have sort of gotten you excited?

David (34m 55s):

Yeah, so we used to think that our genes, our DNA was hardwired. Whatever you got, you got good, bad, otherwise parents and grandparents hopefully more good came down than bad. 'cause you're looking at them and going, geez, you know, I see some things that I don't want. Right? Prostate cancer, breast cancer. 'cause breast and prostate cancer are the same thing, just in different sexes. So you know, it's pretty well known. And if a guy has a history of prostate cancer in his family, he's more likely to get it now. He can prevent it. Not hard. But if you have women in your family breast cancer, you're much more likely to get prostate cancer. It's the same thing. And if, if a woman has prostate cancer in her family, she's more likely to get breast cancer.

David (35m 36s):

So you go, geez, like I hope I got the right genes. Well it turns out it's not what genes you have, it's which ones are turned on and turned off. So this is epigenetics, the things that influence gene expression without changing the genetic code itself. So when people aren't feeling well, it's because they turned on bad genes and turned off good genes in every cell in the body. So it's so easy to start getting one thing after another 'cause every cell is being told the wrong information by the genes. So it's called gene expression. And so the things that we're talking about here, playing golf and not stressing about it, nature, deep breathing, meditation, fixing environment deficiency, fixing the Gut, getting testosterone to come up.

David (36m 18s):

It all is because they're turning off the bad, turning on the good. You Optimizing your Epigenetics, you fix everything optimally. If you can do this before conceiving a child, you then pass on cleaner gene expression to the next six day generations. The next six day generations will benefit. The corollary is if you don't, you pass it on Premier Genes to the next six day generations. So we're all the product of the previous six day generations. So you see what's going on in the previous generations, you're like, okay, they got flipped the wrong way. That got passed down to me. So everything we do optimizes epigenetics.

David (36m 59s):

And by doing that you fix everything rxi in place, they stay healthy. So on my, on the free online email course all called medical bill detox on my website, it's seven emails that take a deep dive into these central mechanisms that drive Chronic disease, And. what you can do to reverse in yourself. The very first one is epigenetics. 'cause this is such an important tool. Concept including when they, they map the human genome. They go, okay, we're gonna map human genome 10 years, 12 years, 12 major sites. We're gonna figure out every gene that causes a disease, we'll go zap it and the disease is over. They get done. They go, oh well that's interesting.

David (37m 41s):

There are a few super rare diseases, 50 people in the world with a gene. we can zap it, but it's not what genes you have, it's which ones get turned on and turned off as epigene. So this is so cool 'cause we can flip genes. Awesome. Turn off the bat. Yeah,

Brian (37m 57s):

That is amazing. And, what would you say some of the big levers that you can do to help with epigenetic, I'm sure, I'm sure we talk about it a lot on this podcast, but what are the ones that you sort of prescribe with your clients?

David (38m 8s):

Well, Harvard showed about 16 years ago that things like meditation, deep breathing, those kind of things work through Epigenetics. And they go, wow, no wonder this thing pretty calm can fix anything and prevent anything. And then this butyrate part of that foundational triad made by the good bacteria in the gut, it works almost exclusively throughout the genetics. So it's good for everything, right? There's this thing made by the liver called tudca. It's a bile acid. It's also called the shaft molecule because this, it works through epigenetics, which is super cool. You go, wow, it can't be any cooler than Epigenetics.

David (38m 48s):

But I gotta say, even though you ask what's the biggest thing this tudca works through an even cooler mechanism. I think So, we talked about civilization, diseases, all these things that are so much more common now than they used to be. Whether it's obesity, diabetes, cancer, autism, cholesterol, hypertension, kidney disease, liver disease, cataracts, retinal issues, gut autoimmune disease, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, dementia, Lou Garis, all these things, your body's liver cannot make enough those toco to deal with that inflammation coming from our toxic, toxic stress, environmental toxins, all these kind of things.

David (39m 29s):

Infections are so much more common. So it turns out that because the human body's 80% protein, our cells make new Proteins to do work take place of beat up Proteins. As Proteins are being made in our cells in a part called the endoplasmic reticulum, they become misfold. And the misfolding of Proteins drives all disease, including type one diabetes and type one diabetes. So much more common now than used to be. So this TCA made by the liver as a chaperone molecule, it chaperones these Proteins to the production process. They don't become this folded, oh my gosh, what a central mechanism, stay healthy, but also to reverse chronic health issues.

David (40m 11s):

And so this misfolding of Proteins even has to do with how we deal with epigenetic problems. So it's almost even a bigger central mechanism because it really turns off and on genes 'cause you have to have Proteins enzymes and other things, healthy immune cells, healthy Proteins in the immune cells actually do this kind of work. So this tca, capital T, capital U, capital D, capital C, capital A, taro, deoxycholic acid. You can see why they abbreviated such a central mechanism because we do not have this problem with misfolding. The Proteins Uber central mechanism.

Brian (40m 53s):

Yeah, actually was, I learned about tuka a little bit and I, it's a sort of a, it's like a unique bile acid, right?

David (41m 1s):


Brian (41m 3s):

And a lot of times you can supplement with TCA as well. Yep. Obviously is this something you look into some, some of your clients for some Yeah,

David (41m 12s):

We use it a lot. Yeah. There so much cool data including truly it is gonna be one of the major keys in reversing type one diabetes because TCA is so important for the cells in the pancreas that make insulin, they actually make insulin. And it turns out in type one diabetes, the cells that make insulin are not destroyed by the immune system like you tend to see in most autoimmune disease. So if you're making antibodies attacking the thyroid, you're destroying the thyroid tissue called Hashimoto's and you can't make thyroid hormones, you gotta be on medication. Or if you're attacking with antibodies to joints, rheumatoid arthritis, you're destroying the joints. Now you can reverse it and turn it around But. it turns out that's not what happens in type one diabetes and type one diabetes because of the inability to get rid of the inflammation.

David (41m 56s):

That other part of the immune system, the cells and the pancreas that make insulin go dormant, they just start making insulin. So I go, oh that's so cool. All we gotta do is wake 'em up. It turns out if you are on an insulin pump and so many men nowadays are getting type one diabetes, you're on an insulin pump. 10 years, 20 years, those cells to make insulin are sitting there just dormant, just waiting for someone to wake 'em up again. And in the vast majority of people, they're just sitting there, they're not destroyed. Another tuka gets in the wake up. It is. And it's one reason why people get type one diabetes in the first place, such as premature infants, livers don't make as much TKA as term babies livers.

David (42m 39s):

So premature babies are more likely to get this type one diabetes. But that early inability to make TCA is such a central mechanism. Those premature babies livers can't make quite enough tka. They're actually more likely to get type two diabetes their entire life. It sets the system in a bad place. Not, not that we can't turn around decades later, but this is where, you know, some really cool interventions for people's children. Premature delivered kind of a traumatic pregnancy or or delivery. They get a little jaundice at birth. Jaundice is kind of a liver ding got dinged there. It's like, okay, well we can see what will do this and set your system the wrong way.

David (43m 20s):

We're actually in a position to reverse it at within, you know, the first few months your life that will set somebody's system So. they don't have to deal with this stuff as they get through their years.

Brian (43m 30s):

Yeah, it's, it's pretty remarkable. I mean I think supplementation, market's gotten flooded with things that probably aren't great. But then if you get sort of the right direction and you find things that can really benefit you, you can, it can go a long way. Something like tka, like you mentioned

David (43m 45s):

And kind of the things that you're learning about, you know, these big central mechanisms, right? Intestinal microbiome, cortisol and tka. And it's like, and this is where people, you know you, you go online, you read about of stuff and people may come in to see us on like 50 supplements. Yeah. And I look at 'em, I go, you've done your homework, you've been reading. 'cause everyone you're using makes sense. But you're missing the central mechanisms like the seven central mechanisms we talked. You're missing these guys and if you do these guys, you don't need all this other stuff you're taking. And these guys are gonna get you where you really need to go.

Brian (44m 20s):

And your website is dr David Bilstrom dot com. Right? That's easy. Your name DR

David (44m 25s):


Brian (44m 26s):

Bilstrom. And I'll ask you 'cause we're getting up on it, but I'll ask you one question that I normally ask most of my guests. What one tip would you give an individual that you know maybe is, you know, 40, 50, 60 years old, that looking to get their body and mind back to what it once was? What one sort of tip would you give that individual?

David (44m 42s):

I'd say look at your central mechanisms. 'cause it doesn't take much if you hit the central mechanisms because then with the body's inherent tendency to always move towards wellness, it has always been sitting there waiting to get better. It knows how to get you better, something's gotten in the way. And then when you figure out the central mechanisms and get 'em outta the way the body says, hot dog, I can fix this. And no matter how long you've had something, your body's still waiting. You can have something for 50 years. It's waiting. It's waiting. You get it outta the way the body goes. I can fix that. You fixed new stuff, you fix old stuff. And then hopefully you sit there going, oh my gosh, my body is amazing.

David (45m 24s):

I can't believe it could fix this. I just had to get this stuff outta the way.

Brian (45m 29s):

Yeah. The body will heal itself as long as you just sort of put it in the right direction. Right.

David (45m 33s):

And if it's not healing itself, you know there's gotta be a reason, a very specific reason. 'cause that's how it works. It fixes things.

Brian (45m 40s):

Well this is great, Dr. Bilstrom, I'll put a link for your website in the show notes. You're also, your clinic is out in Idaho, right?

David (45m 48s):

Correct. So. we do telehealth, thus we see people from 21 time zones around the world.

Brian (45m 54s):

Excellent. Love it. Well I appreciate you coming on the podcast and and sharing all this knowledge with us.

David (45m 59s):

Oh, Brian, thank you so much for having me. and we didn't get a chance to talk about golf.

Brian (46m 3s):

We can do that offline. Okay. But, but yeah, I could do a whole hour on golf, but that we're

David (46m 9s):

Gonna talk about athletic performance crud.

Brian (46m 11s):

Oh, well I appreciate you coming on.

David (46m 14s):

Oh, thank you so much.

Brian (46m 17s):

Thanks for listening to the GETLEAN E Clean podcast. I understand there are millions of other Podcasts out there and you've chosen to listen to mine and I appreciate that. Check out the show notes@briangrin.com for everything that was mentioned in this episode. Feel free to subscribe to the podcast and share it with a friend or family member that's looking to get their body back to what it once was. Thanks again and have a great day.

Dr. David Bilstrom

David Bilstrom, MD, is an author, international speaker and distinguished member of the American Academy of Integrative Medicine and American Academy of Medical Acupuncture. He is an advanced fellow in anti-aging, regenerative, and functional medicine, and holds quadruple board certification in Functional and Regenerative Medicine, Integrative Medicine, Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, and Medical Acupuncture.

As the Director of the International Autoimmune Institute & Bingham Memorial Center for Functional Medicine, Dr. Bilstrom is affiliated with the first medical center in the country associated with a teaching hospital to treat all types of autoimmune diseases. The center is the first in the nation to utilize nature and its healing properties as a fundamental component of a wellness program.

Dr. Bilstrom is the author of the book, “The Nurse Practitioners’ Guide to Autoimmune Medicine, Preventing and Reversing All Autoimmunity.” He has also developed a course called “The Autoimmune Paradigm, an Experts Program,” which is available to all clinicians. He is also a sought-after speaker and has lectured on five continents.


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