Power Our Gut Health: Whole Food, Fermentation, Detox, Cancer, And More With David Benjamin

Power Our Gut Health: Whole Food, Fermentation, Detox, Cancer, And More With David Benjamin

In contrast to what the world tells you, you have the power in your hands to control your health. And David Benjamin, the founder of HealthyWildFree.com and the co-founder of FermentationMethod.com, is on a mission to educate the masses about this fact, starting with gut health. Today, Pamela Wirth invites David to discuss the importance of utilizing nature to our advantage to power our gut health. He shares how the Fermentation Method will guide everyone to have more biodiversity in the gut, helping fight strains of bacteria or pathogens and get the immune system lined up. Tune in to learn about the value of strengthening your gut health as David digs deeper into whole foods, detox, cancer, and more!


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Power Our Gut Health: Whole Food, Fermentation, Detox, Cancer, And More With David Benjamin

Listen To David Benjamin And Pamela Wirth Talk Gut Health.

In this episode, I have David Benjamin, CEO and Founder of Healthy Wild Free. I love everything that you're doing in terms of the benefits of health and wellness and getting into the gut. It sounds like you've got a lot of healing stories and a lot of people in your life that you've helped. Tell us a little bit about you and how you got into health and wellness.

Many years ago, when I was a young boy, my mother had stage four colon cancer back in 2001. During that time, I was eleven years old and we think she had a chance at making it. It was very difficult for my siblings and me. I have 1 brother and 2 sisters. During that time, thankfully, she connected with Olivia Newton-John's husband, who was a treasure hunter in the Amazon rainforest. He brought these different herbs and plant extracts back from the Amazon after almost dying in the Amazon himself. He connected with my mom at a health conference and found out she had cancer and said, “Start taking these herbs. They'll help keep you strong and healthy.”

She did that. Over about a period of a year, along with diet and some emotional health things as well, she fully recovered and is cancer-free to this day. That was a hugely impactful story in my life and the upside of holistic health and wellness. That happened during my childhood. My older brother was born with a birth defect because of Accutane. My mom took Accutane as a senior in high school and my brother's right hand didn't form properly, so his middle finger only grew halfway and the other fingers curved in because of that. This is something he has to live with for life as an after-effect of Accutane.

I saw growing up, holistic medicine, pharmaceutical medicine, the power of holistic medicine and plants, and the damage that pharmacopeia or pharmakeia can do. That shaped my perspective growing up. That led me into pursuing health on my own and recognizing that I control my biology. I control what I put in it. I control what's in my immediate environment around me. If I can alter or improve my biology, why wouldn't I? I have a choice. I have the option, so I'm going to make empowering choices to do so. That set me off on a journey to pursue this in not only my personal life but my career as well.

First of all, what herbs did your mom take with stage four colon cancer that helped her so much?

They were all Amazonian for the most part. There are some Chinese herbs in there as well but una de gato was one of them. That's cat’s claw in English. Translation from Spanish, sangre de grado, which is dragon's herb in English, amazing tree sap from Peru or South America. Camu camu berry was the richest source of vitamin C in the world but it's now number two because some Australian fruit surpassed that. It’s just a variety of different herbs from the Amazon rainforest.

There are some Chinese herbs in there as well but it's mostly Amazonian herbs. It's interesting because when you look at the pharmaceutical industry as a whole and you look at all these synthetic drugs, they are synthesized from Amazonian plants. About 3% of Amazonian plants have been researched for medicinal potential. Out of that 3%, 33% of pharmaceutical drugs have a synthetically-derived version of that plant in drug form.

If we researched 10% of the Amazon rainforest, we would have a natural plant that grows from the earth that is mostly side effect-free. I hate the phrase side effects because what is a side effect? It's an effect but if you're big pharma, you got to soften the blow. If we study more of those plants, there's something for everything from nature. Pharmaceutical companies know this but they synthesize it because synthesizing is what they have intellectual property on that they can patent and sell. There's a lot of potential demand.

A lot of my journey came from when I first met this neurologist that told me that to heal my son, I needed to fix his gut. Through the gut, it travels up through the brain and the immune system. That is all interconnected as well as the power of plants that can cross the blood-brain barrier and get rid of any infection that may have crossed the blood-brain barrier.

In our case, she was talking a lot about turmeric, frankincense, oregano, all of the leaf extract, and all these incredible plants. Tell us a little bit about what you're doing with fermentation. A lot of people hear about fermented food and the gut but tell us a little bit about what's drawn your journey and what's working for you.

It started when I was 19 or 20. I realized that when I was in middle school and high school, I had acne on and off. My mom took Accutane and I didn't want to go that route. She knew that as well at that point. I started understanding that fermented foods and drinks were helpful for gut health. I started experimenting with these things and it helped. In my early twenties, I started making YouTube videos sharing this digestive health, metabolic health, metabolic flexibility, fermented foods, fiber, enzymes, and all these different things.

I'm sharing this with people to say, “If you heal your gut health, your skin will heal and clear up.” I helped thousands of people. The channel is still online and has millions of views across the videos and was tremendously impactful on most teenagers’ lives. It’s a rewarding experience. I got tired of talking about skin health and gut health, then I started Healthy Wild Free.

ENW 7 | Gut Health


I did a podcast for a while where I interviewed experts on health and wellness, everything from physical health, emotional health, and gut health, all that stuff. That leads me to Fermentation Method, which my sister and I were our mom being in the health and wellness space as well. In understanding this, we decided, “Why don't we do something where we can empower people to have healthier guts, do it from home, and take the power back into their hands?”

We all know that if we go to the store, we can get GT’s kombucha or something like that but it's like over $4 a kombucha now. With inflation, it's crazy if you look at the math and you create a big gallon of kombucha on your own. It's a night and day difference. We decided to put something together called the Fermentation Method. Basically, it educates people on how to ferment foods and drinks both from home and essentially how to turn your kitchen into a probiotic factory.

It's taking probiotics, understanding how they work, and understanding how you can multiply them with foods and drinks to get more bacterial potential. The benefit of that is you get more probiotics over time because these probiotics grow within the drink or the food source but then the diversity of those probiotics is great as well. If you take kimchi and sauerkraut, for example, kimchi, because it has more ingredients, has more of a range of probiotics that do different things in the body. Sauerkraut is still great but they have different benefits.

It's good to have more biodiversity in the gut because different bacteria will fight other strains of bacteria or pathogens within the body and immunomodulate in different ways to get the immune system lined up properly. It's been a cool journey. We are starting to get this out there and share it with the world. It's been rewarding and we want to inspire people to be in their kitchen, have control over their health, and know that process through and through.

Some people don't like the taste of fermentation or fermented things, particularly kids. Do you have any suggestions on how to make things that are not necessarily full of sugar but are still tasty or how to hide them in things that might be more savory? Do you have any thoughts about that?

I love that because one of the challenges with anything to do with health, not just fermented foods but any healthier foods, is how we incorporate delicious flavor and taste so that it's easily accepted and is a tremendous experience for anyone enjoying it. They adopt it because they want that experience in both ways. There are a few things there.

The sour fermented flavor profiles, especially with sauerkraut and kimchi. There's not a whole lot you can do there. You can ferment beets, turnips, or different things and create different flavor profiles that might be more applicable to someone's palate. This is probably a better way to start with the drinks, kombucha and kefir. With those types of things, you can flavor them however you'd like and create even a fizzy carbonated kombucha or you can add different red powders that have maybe strawberries, blueberries, or raspberries to give it that delicious Kool-Aid taste that we all had as kids that isn't so healthy but recreated that in a healthy way that benefits the gut.

Additionally, what's nice about sourdough bread in particular is that a lot of treats, baked goods, and things are very unhealthy. The flours are fast and cheaply made. There are a lot of sugar additives and things like that. The nice aspect of sourdough is you can utilize it for many different things. We've created like, for example, sourdough cookies, sourdough tortillas, or sourdough chips.

Things that can be replaced with traditional more unhealthy foods and have a little bit of health benefit as opposed to something that creates inflammation in the gut or potentially leaky gut or something like that. It's all about being creative and we've been as creative as we can to position that to help people enjoy it as well.

Do you have recipes that people can find, try, and download? What's the best way for people to get started and learn more about how to make fermented things and how long does that take?

It depends on the recipe but for example, kombucha and water kefir are pretty quick and easy to do. The nice thing about those is you can keep them going. Once you get them going, the work is upfront and it still doesn’t take anything but 15 or 20 minutes. Once you get it going, you can continue to feed like the SCOBY with kombucha, for example, or with the water kefir for the grains and the sugar. That ferments that sugar and creates those probiotics.

It doesn't take a lot of time with the drinks. The foods take a little bit more time. The sourdough takes more time. The vegetables take more time but it's a process. Once you get into it, it is rewarding because you're also saving money. Instead of buying sourdough at the store, you're saving money. Instead of buying sauerkraut, you're saving money. Kombucha is a huge money saver. You get a lot more probiotics for a lot cheaper cost and you can flavor them how you'd like.

Creating your own fermented food is a process. Once you get into it, it is really rewarding because you're also saving money.

The Fermentation Method is a digital download course, so it's instant access. Access all the sourdough bread recipes, all the sourdough treats which are healthier treats, kombucha, water kefir, pickles, salsa, and many other recipes. There are also different discount codes and specific step-by-step instructions. It speeds it up, you save money, and it's all in one place, so you don't need to go searching or finding to know if this will work with that or whatever because there's a lot of logistics to it. We've simplified it and streamlined it for everyone.

For people that may or may not have tried this before, do you have to get a starter kit or there's certain ingredients you need to buy or find, or do most people have the things already in their house to try something the first time?

With some recipes, yes. With sourdough, it's a little bit more complex. You need a starter, culture, and things like that. Kombucha as well. You need something called a SCOBY, which stands for Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast. There are specific things that are needed for each specific recipe. However, like sauerkraut, kimchi, and pickles, these are very simple glass, water, salt, and jar. They are very simple ways to ferment that anyone can ferment and you're creating these probiotics from scratch and it can continue to grow.

Additionally, one thing I'd like to add is, I know you have a probiotic at Hello Health. What's cool is you can not only take your probiotics for gut health but you can multiply them in yogurt. You can get a coconut-based and you can multiply your probiotics and create your own yogurt from scratch. That's nice because then it allows you to use your probiotic supplements in different ways.

Do you have a favorite place that you like to buy SCOBY?

There's a company called Kombucha Kamp. I believe they're based out of San Diego. They are a great resource for all of these types of kombucha kits and things and all the tools you need.

Do you have to use it only one time or can you use it over and over again?

You can use the SCOBY over and over again. You can, if you want to as well, take a part of the SCOBY out and replicate it somewhere else or give it to a friend or family member, then they can start to make kombucha from that SCOBY as well, so it continues to live on and multiply and create probiotics for everyone, which is a great deal.

That's pretty wild.

It's like a seed in the soil. It keeps growing. Not genetically, of course.

Do you tend to have people that contact you about certain autoimmune things that might be happening with their gut or any particular health and wellness stories or journeys that have taken you down some interesting roads that fermentation you've found has been beneficial?

With this, in particular, this Fermentation Method is a brand-new training. We haven't had anyone yet but I have, in the past within my own health coaching, had clients that I've worked with that I've dealt with autoimmune and leaky gut. That's a big thing and a lot of people have autoimmune-related conditions that stem from a leaky gut and something harming the integrity of the gut lining.

Fermented foods and drinks are a great way to help repair that but also, I'd recommend essential amino acids. Make sure to get those essential amino acids in your diet and/or supplement routine as the gut lining needs that. Colostrum is amazing. If people are not breastfed, they do not have the colostrum that helps to build the structure of the gut lining, so that's beneficial.

Aloe vera is great. Sangre de grado, coming back to that again, the Amazonian tree sap helps collagen building blocks bind and build more effectively. That's also a tremendous tool. Focusing on the integrity of the gut lining and strengthening it so that food particles don't leak into the bloodstream and confuse the immune system is an effective strategy. There are a lot of things that support the gut lining but there's also a lot of things that damage the gut lining. It's good to know the distinction between the two and make wise choices.

From what I've found in my own experience as well as talking with other doctors and experts, it truly affects everyone. We all have some leaky gut. We all need to constantly be working on making sure that we're putting the right things in our bodies to keep them strong. Also, detox was an interesting thing that some doctors have taught me about. It's not only important to put the good stuff in but you've got to make sure that you're putting things in that help you pull the bad things out of your body naturally through different types of plants. I don't know if you've done any work in that but I think that's an interesting part of that too.

Supporting your gut health is so important. Fermented foods and all of these things are so important because fats and proteins are very difficult to metabolize compared to sugar or glucose. If we don't have the proper and necessary things in our gut to break down and metabolize fat and protein properly, this can create blockages. This can create unhealthy metabolic processes in the body and cellular waste, all of these different types of things. This has a whole host of downstream effects. Detoxification is huge.

ENW 7 | Gut Health


Also, beyond that too, your liver, kidneys, and lymphatic system are supporting the drainage pathways. I remember years ago, I gave my ex-girlfriend a pill for circulatory health. I gave it to her and like 10 or 15 minutes later, she's like, “I have a headache.” I'm like, “I just circulated things that were supposed to be removed in the wrong order.” It was like a slight lesson. I was like, “I'm going to store that and remember that.”

You could take something that's great for your circulation and it's clearly working but if the liver, the kidneys, or the lymphatic system isn't working properly, then it's going to recirculate toxins. It's important to support detoxification but also the drainage pathways, so that doesn't get plugged up at the bottom. You fully remove and release it from the body and there are so many practices that are good for that.

Do you have any favorite ones that you want to share?

A few of the most important, even backing up from nutrition, are elemental. What I mean by that are hot cold therapies, doing sauna but also cold exposure. You're creating blood flow dilation within the blood. That's huge. You're moving the lymphatic system in the blood with any hot or cold therapy. It could be a sauna or hot tub, preferably with hot chlorine. That's a whole other story, and then a cold bath or even a cold dip in a lake or something like that. It's so beneficial for the body.

Also, light is such a huge component of health and it's very often overlooked. Our body and the systems in our body are light-dependent. Our circadian biology and circadian rhythms are dependent on light. Having that dialed in is tremendously important because if we have bright lights on at night, we're confusing our body and our body doesn't produce melatonin, which is a powerful antioxidant. Sleep hormone does so much more than sleep. That helps to facilitate so many bodily processes, recovery, and detoxification during sleep.

In our brains, we have plaque. When we sleep, our glymphatic system is removing this plaque. If our sleep cycles are not properly processing, our brain isn't removing that plaque. That buildup can lead to dementia, Alzheimer's, or neurodegenerative diseases. There are so many processes that go on during sleep as a part of this. The higher the quality of sleep we can get, the more impactful our body will remove these things.

Any last things that you want to be sure that we cover in terms of the gut and the connection with the brain? We've also seen that there's research on depression and anxiety. When you've got a healthy gut, you've got less neurotransmitter issues. Anything else that you want to share or how can people find out more about you?

I'm glad you brought that up because, oftentimes, we think of certain portions of our health within those categories. This is my physical health, my mental health, my emotional health, and my spiritual health and we almost compartmentalize them. There's interplay between all of these systems in the body and we still don't even fully know the connection of how our emotional health affects our physical health and vice versa.

It's important to support your gut health but also understand the impact it does have on our brain health. Our gut is called our second brain for a reason but it could be our first brain because when we have a gut feeling, we have a visceral response to a decision-making process. It's intuitive-based. It taps into ancient wisdom to some degree. It's important to understand that there's a strong connection and correlation. I'm so glad you brought that up to understand that we have to support both our mental health as well.

Getting outside and moving, getting fresh air, getting sunshine, and getting vitamin D, doing these different things is going to put our mental and emotional state into a better state so that we make better decisions in the kitchen as well. There's so much connection between all these but that's it. I'd love to leave everyone with just sharing that you have so much power and control over your health. Oftentimes, we live in a world where we have so many messages coming at us that are telling us we can't do this, we're not able, or whatever it may be.

If we understand the true power that we have within our biology and make smart decisions, we can do anything. I've seen and heard so many incredible transformative stories, as I'm sure you have as well. It's so encouraging to hear these stories and understand the power that we have. Take care of your health and value your health. I highly recommend it and encourage fermented living, foods and drinks. Incorporate that into your life and you'll see a big difference.

If we understand the true power we have within our biology and just start making smart decisions, we can really do anything.

One last thing, in terms of nutrition outside of fermentation, do you live by a certain type of diet? Do you find that some are better for the gut than others?

I've experimented a little too much. I lived in Costa Rica for a while and while I was there, I inadvertently became a fruitarian, not by choice but because the fruit was so delicious. I realized one day, “I'm a fruitarian.” I've been a vegan, a vegetarian, and a fruitarian. Now I consider myself a flexitarian. I firmly believe everyone's biology is different. There are so many factors like genetic factors, your blood type, the environment you grew up in, and how that impacted your gut health, whether you were breastfed or not.

There are so many variables that come into play that affect metabolic and gut health. I don't think there's one size fits all. I believe in a whole foods diet that is nutrient-rich and has a very good balance of both micronutrients and macronutrients so that we're getting what we need and adjusting if need be, whether it's a biofeedback test, blood work or anything, hormone panel, or whatever it may be. Maybe you see some of your markers are off or a little bit interesting.

You can adjust that moving forward. I don't think there's one diet for all. Most diet books unfortunately are more like getting people into these corners where then they limit their choices of food and they eventually end up missing out on nutrients. There's a lot of research to back that now. There's research that shows specific diet types will have specific nutritional deficiencies over time as the years prolong and as those deficiencies add up. I don't subscribe to any particular diet type.

I appreciate that. I find that when people are very restrictive, it seems like they tend to move from one restrictive thing to another because they do find these challenges with each one. My dad used to always say, “Everything in moderation.” I was like, “Stop saying that,” because he said it all the time but it's true. Everything in moderation.

It's so true because if you're eating one food group or a very narrow group of foods over time, your metabolic flexibility decreases because your body isn't as able to metabolically process a wide array of foods. That plays a role. You do want to test your metabolism because it revs up like that metabolic fire. You do want to have fats and proteins. You want to have these things that are more difficult and challenging but you also want fruits for cleansing and vegetables for building and roots for building. There's so much value in each of those food groups. As long as it's closer to nature and more whole-food based, you're going to be fine.

Less processed is probably the way to go. Thank you, David. It's truly been a pleasure to connect with you and I'm sure everyone will be thrilled to read and learn more about you.

Thank you so much for the opportunity. I'm looking forward to seeing it published and please send it my way so I can share it.

Take care.


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About David Benjamin

ENW 7 | Gut Health

David Benjamin is the founder of HealthyWildFree.com and co-founder of FermentationMethod.com with his sister Rebekah. His mission is to educate the masses on the power we have over our health and biology and use nature to our advantage! He produces videos, articles and content around nutrition, diet, herbs, health technology, elemental health, biohacking and gut health!



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