Clay Higgins Transcript

Written by Christopher Kelly

April 2, 2015


Christopher:    Hello and welcome to the Nourish Balance Thrive Podcast. My name is Christopher Kelly. Today I am joined by Clay Higgins.

    Clay is someone I met, I don't know, maybe six months ago and we've been working together since then. I thought it would be really fun and interesting to have him on to the show and tell you a little bit about him and what he's done and what's he's been through and the progress that he's made.

    Clay, thank you so much for coming on and doing this with me.

Clay:    Sure. Thanks for having me.

Christopher:    How was it? Did you hear me speak on the Robb Wolf podcast?

Clay:    That was exactly it.

Christopher:    I remember now.

Clay:    I had just kind of started listening to Robb and was talking to some other practitioners and stuff but what you said really resonated with me because I felt like the people that I was talking to, some were throwing supplements at it which I think is probably an easy thing to do. I guess for most people it may do a few things and then on they go.

Christopher:    Right. Why don't you tell us what you do for a living? This is really cool.

Clay:    I am a fourth generation funeral director, funeral home owner. My great grandfather started the funeral home in 1903. I moved back with my family in 2001. My dad was getting up in years and so we moved back after a life of database consulting and a totally other career. This had always kind of spoken to me. We're in a small rural southern town.

Christopher:    Whereabouts in the U.S. is it?

Clay:    We are in Fayetteville, Tennessee, about an hour and a half south of Nashville.

Christopher:    That's awesome. I bet you've got some great photos, haven't you?

Clay:    Yeah, yeah. It's cool territory.

Christopher:    Excellent. Let's dive into this then. I want to start by asking you what life was like at its worst. What was it that motivated you to take control of the situation and see what could be done?

Clay:    Yeah. It's funny. I remember the date and I told myself I would never forget this date. It was 4/23/12 so we're coming up on two years. Excuse me. Three years. The exacerbation that just drove me nuts was debilitating canker sores to the point that I couldn't speak. I didn't know what to do with them. In my mind I didn't know what cooling the inflammation was at that time but I knew I had to back off stuff. It's like you can't have those, just a beer or two and I didn't know what all the starchy carbohydrates and stuff like that and what all it was doing to my system.

    I had always read that canker sores are a sign of what's going on down below in your system and that's so true because I can count on two fingers maybe the ones that I've had and it's probably because I just bit my lip or something but, no, they don't just flare up anymore. That and brain fog that was like scary brain fog where you start asking yourself: Oh, my gosh. Do I have the dreaded beginnings of some cognitive downslide and that's really, really scary stuff.

Christopher:    Yeah. I can definitely relate to that one, sat a hedge fund in Monarch Creek trying to program a computer and not being able to even concentrate for long enough to read a hundred lines of code, like read a hundred lines of code and let alone write a hundred lines of code. No way. So, yeah, quite debilitating for many lines of work I'm sure.

Clay:    It is. When I look back, it's like my concentration level has always probably suffered. There's always been that fog. For years and years and years I know I had GI issues but to think back on college and trying to learn and things like that, it's like it was just tough. It was tough that I had three incredibly smart roommates and I will just be like going: Whoa. This is really tough. So I really leaned more towards the right brain stuff and that seemed to work with me. I felt like I could get by but I enjoyed it and I thrived with it but critical thinking was tough.

Christopher:    I'm sure.

Clay:    Yeah.


Christopher:    You're an active guy though. It's not like you were totally sedentary, sitting around eating junk food. You're a mountain biker like me, right?

Clay:    Exactly. Exactly. I wasn't a competitive one. I did competitions and attempted to do things and my buddy got me into triathlon and I did that. That was just too much but again I can think back to the pleasurable rides where we would go to Moab and just cruise around for four hours and feel great. But anything that was an effort that would push you towards the red would just, I would be done -- done, done, done -- after that. Usually, halfway through it, I would just shut down.  

Christopher:    Yeah.

Clay:    So fueling for that, I had no clue. I would just do what you read. Because you buy your organic coffee and your organic bagel with whatever the organic store, you were eating okay. That's just not the case as I found out once I started finding out a little bit more about some of the good fats and less of the starchy processed stuff.

Christopher:    Right. So inflammation, brain fog, and then how is your life now?

Clay:    Man, if I look at it on a continuum --

Christopher:    Nothing changed overnight, right? We're not talking about, oh, well, I took this pill and the next day I woke up and the brain fog had lifted and it was like the angels playing trumpets.

Clay:    Absolutely. Except for kind of that one when the amalgams came out. We can talk about that later but for so long I chased everything with food and supplement as a magic bullet. If I eat this right proportion and stuff and take this supplement, it's going to happen. Just keep trying and keep trying and keep trying. None of that worked.

    A few years ago I even went vegan vegetarian. Not really vegan but vegetarian but I was going on a -- I told my holistic practitioner. I said I think I need to go on a candida cleanse because I read and read and read and I have a coated tongue and all of the stuff that people --

Christopher:      Yeah.

Clay:    They know what it's pointing to. For 12 weeks, rotating everything every two to three weeks and eating vegetarian well and training for a half marathon, there is the double whammy. So doing that but feeling good because I'm probably not stuffing my system full of a lot of stuff. No alcohol, no processed, a lot of stuff. Just a lot of good veggies and fish and stuff like that. Nothing crazy. It was very clean. It felt great for a while. You feel great until you don't feel great.

Christopher:    Right.

Clay:    And then it starts to go downhill.

Christopher:    Okay. So you sort of quite quickly figured out -- that was going to be my next question. So the canker sores are gone, the brain fog is lifted. The first thing you did then was try and change your diet which had some success but it didn't give you complete resolution of the problems.

Clay:    Absolutely, and they all came back.

Christopher:    Oh, really?

Clay:    Yeah, yeah. Canker sores kind of seemed to subside but not until I found the fats and the bone broth and things like that did that really start to heal. Really, until I found you last year and really got serious because when the brain fog came back -- when you feel that lightness when you're on your bike or just running or whatever and things are effortless, it's magic. And then when it's on the other side of the coin and it's a struggle to put one foot in front of the other, you're like, oh, my gosh.

Again, I have just been a recreational athlete just like everybody else so when it came to competition it was just, yeah, not even going to happen. I couldn't understand. I chalked it up to genes or not training hard enough.

Christopher:    Right.

Clay:    Because I think once you and I started testing, we found where my holes were. Starting to heal the system, changing the macronutrient ratio was big because I existed having blood sugar dips all the time. I have always kept food with me, near me.


Christopher:    Right. Yeah, I was the same.

Clay:    Yeah. That's a really hard habit to break. I mean, my kids, if they're in the car and they're like, "I'm hungry!" then I just grab something. It's right there.

Christopher:    Right.

Clay:    So that's a really hard habit to break.

Christopher:    You know what? You reminded me of something then. When I was at my worst, when I was probably waking up with my fasting blood glucose in the maybe 120s, I can remember people asking me if I wanted to go on a ride and then I would figure out that the ride would likely overlap with 12:00 midday which was the time at which I had my lunch. And I really, really had to have my lunch at 12:00 so there was no way that we could ride. I would suggest a different start time to a group of eight people because that --

Clay:    Wow.

Christopher:    Yeah. I was completely bonkers. And then I discovered the gels, right? So I knew that I could just like drip feed myself glucose throughout the course of the ride and get through that which is -- that's not a solution in a bag. So tell me, what did you do exactly? I'm really interested in what you did. You changed for your diet.

    A lot of good quality foods but a lot of carbohydrate I'm assuming. You mentioned bagels there. What did you do? You got rid of the gluten, the pasta, and all of that stuff and then the macronutrient measure so the carbohydrate went down. You didn't necessarily eliminate it completely but presumably you're eating a low-fat diet at that point.

Clay:    I was and oddly enough another kind of discovery along the path and this was fall of 2012 when I did the Candida Protocol and then that winter came across Bulletproof Coffee and started reading that blog. That and Jack Kruse which was just --

Christopher:    Your brain fog couldn't have been that bad. If you were able to read Jack Kruse, I don't believe you. I can't read him now and I'm clean so I don't have brain fog.

Clay:    Exactly. You know how in his articles he has the geek version and then the non-geek version.

Christopher:    Okay.

Clay:    He'll break it down for the layperson and so you'd read it and you're like, "What the?" He's talking about --

Christopher:    Quantum this and --

Clay:    -- amount and quantum physics.

Christopher:    Free radical the other.

Clay:    Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Ubiquinol. Anyway, it will get all crazy but I did notice. Of course, caffeine is great to a point but that and the fat just really woke my brain up.

Christopher:    Uh-hmm.

Clay:    It's almost like you're smelling things you've never smelled. You're seeing things in 3D. I mean, it was incredible and I think I had that joyride that everybody has on Bulletproof that's enjoyed it until it doesn't work anymore and I think it's because you jack your adrenals or whatever.

    So I realized that I needed to back off caffeine and all that kind of stuff. None of this again really hit home until I started talking to you because everybody was just kind of approaching this from a single point of view. We're going to attack this one thing whereas once I got on with you we said, number one, let's do the test. Let's see where things aren't working. All of a sudden, when you introduce an inordinate amount of fat into your diet, your body's like: Oh, my gosh. What's going on?

Christopher:    Right. I'm not going to die anymore.

Clay:    Yeah, yeah. It loves it but also it's like for my test I was having trouble processing it. I had a pretty jacked gut and so just kind of working away at that. Now, I mean, if I'm not making bone broth every other week, I mean, that's like brushing my teeth now.

Christopher:    Yeah, I'm the same. Tell me about that though. I really want to know about your gut because it seems to be -- and I know this from the lab testing that everybody has some degree or issue with their gut. If you're seeing any sort of chronic symptoms, like I would really honestly go that far. If you've got anything that's been going on for a while, then there's probably something going on in your gut.

You may or may not have digestive symptoms. Most people do that come to me. They're either constipated or they've got loose stool or they've got gas or bloating or something quite tangible they know there's an issue. How was your digestion? Was it like really, really bad? You didn't list it there in the list of top things that you were worried about when you first started all this.

Clay:    Yeah, yeah. Because I think in my mind I was like I just have a funky digestive system and this is the way it goes.

Christopher:    Right.

Clay:    Gas is normal. Bloating is normal, right?

Christopher:    Right.

Clay:    You put it in that pile of I'll just deal with it. It's just the way I am.


    I was on the other side of things. I mean constipated pretty much forever. As long as I can remember, that's not been my shining star. When you read about the problems that that's causing, just recirculating toxins, it's amazing because you definitely had the times where you're cleared out and you're like: Oh, my gosh. I can smell again. I can breathe again. It's crazy because I felt bloated and gassy and stuff all the time. All the time and just assumed that's what it was.

    From there going on to the protocols and you kind of attacked the gut and realized that that stuff settles down, goes away, again, it's not perfect but I've come light years. When you're bloated and all, it's like you can't think. There is your brain fog too right there.

It's a simple thing. I think I sent you a little snippet one time and it was just talking about amino acids and how they're turned into your neural transmitters and everything. I had always thought of that. I'm like, if you're gut is not where it needs to be, every single thing that you put in your mouth is not getting to where it -- so if you put 100% in, maybe 10% is getting to where it needs to go or whatever because I had friends who could eat whatever and just hammer on a bike all day long and I'm like --

Christopher:    Right.

Clay:        -- I'm not trying hard enough or something. I don't know. Not gifted or whatever.

Christopher:    Yes, that's the genetic thing, right? Yeah, I know. We did find problems in your gut. I'm just looking at your first stool test result. You did a BioHealth 401H and it was suspicious. It wasn't horrible. There was a light growth of E. coli which is suspicious in itself. Normally I see an abundant amount of E. coli. E. coli is an opportunistic pathogen so when it becomes overgrown, it's an issue but it's also part of a normal flora. When you see anything other than abundant, that's kind of like it's a sign. You wouldn't try and act on that. You wouldn't like bring out the antibiotics or anything like that but it's definitely a sign that there's something going on there.

The lab, they also found a light growth of candida which is a pathogenic species of yeast. So you were kind of on for something. Some people, they just read stuff on the Internet and they're like, "Oh, this is me. This is definitely me. I've also got this for sure. I know." I'm sure doctors, that must be the worst part of their job. When you get something that walks into their office and they've printed out 500 pages from Wikipedia and they're going to tell you exactly what's wrong with them.

Yeah, I know. You were on to something there. I think it was the smoke and not the fire, right? That was kind of like a sign of something else that was going on. Yeah. I'm just kind of really like what do we do?

Clay:    Anti-fungal, anti-parasitic kind of attack that I had for two to three months. Also, I had a pretty weird rainforest going on down there too. I was really lacking in a lot beneficial gut flora like zero bifido which is --

Christopher:    Right.

Clay:    -- not good.

Christopher:     I still have that now actually.

Clay:    Yeah.

Christopher:    I guess I'm doing okay but I've just had a really interesting conversation with Grace Liu and she regards bifido -- bifidobacter longum in particular is what she called a keystone species. What that means is without it there can't really be stability and you're vulnerable to opportunistic pathogens. I guess like E. coli would be one but maybe you would pick up some other bugs. It's really important to have a decent amount of that particular species. Bifidobacteria has been around in probiotics, the store bought probiotics, forever. But, yeah, whether or not people are taking those or whether they are actually doing anything when they do take them is I guess questionable but…

Clay:    It's weird. After you and I went through that and we felt like we got to a certain point and you said let's just see if we can populate the gut and Prescript-Assist, one that I had taken that had really just helped me with constipation -- I can't even think of the name of it now, but the Bifido Factor 4.


Christopher:    Okay. Oh, is that the Klaire Labs one?

Clay:    Yeah. That's one I had kind of thrown in there occasionally all the time but was under the understanding you're probably better off taking some prebiotic grow to help grow that. I've never had a whole lot of success with resistant starch and BiotaGen and things like that.

Christopher:    Right.

Clay:    I would get pretty gassy on those. I would start off and titrate and then I would forget to take it for a couple of days for some reason because I never forgot to take anything else.

Christopher:    Right.

Clay:    But, yeah, that --

Christopher:    Did you do Primal Defense?

Clay:    Yes.

Christopher:    Garden of Life has a soya-based probiotic called Primal Defense which is really good. I've been getting good results with that.

Clay:    Yup, and then tons of saccharomyces boulardii.

Christopher:    Yeah, a ton of saccharomyces boulardii. Saccharomyces boulardii is interesting. It's a yeast which sounds like it's going to be the opposite of what you want when you've got another growth of candida. But saccharomyces boulardii cannot take up residence in the gut and when you take it you're just displacing something else. So typically what you do is you take in super high dosages for short periods and then you can just stop. It's done its job and there's not much point in continuing to take it. Nearly everybody feels better when they take saccharomyces boulardii so that's a really great tip.

    The only thing you're going to watch for is it's extremely heat-sensitive so don't buy it from Amazon. In fact, I wouldn't even buy it from -- I've seen it in Whole Foods say, in the refrigerated section. But the type that I sell it ships directly from the manufacturer which is Allergy Research Group here in Alameda. It ships direct from them. I think it's got either eight or ten billion counts in it so it's like really, really high. It's way more potent than anything else I can find so I think that makes a difference. Of course, Prescript-Assist we already mentioned again always gets good results.

Clay:    Uh-hmm.

Christopher:    I know that more variety is better when it comes to probiotics so it makes sense to take more than one at once or to rotate them or cycle them, pulse them, all that kind of stuff.

Clay:    Yeah. I think I have successfully -- I don't know if you remember. You grew up in the U.K. but there was a show on Friday night called Friday's or something like that. It was kind of like a Saturday Night Live but there was a skit where a pharmacist, he would freak out and just turn around and grab stuff off the shelves.

Christopher:    Uh-hmm.

Clay:    It was part of the whole skit. It was pretty funny. Blah, blah, blah. I always kind of felt like that. I'm like, oh, I should probably take this. I should probably take that. It is. It's trial and error but you can definitely tell from -- I think you and I were having a conversation of my sensory was so blunted that, I mean, I couldn't even begin to tell you what works and what doesn't work.

Christopher:    Uh-hmm.

Clay:    Other than --

Christopher:    So what you're saying is you've taken a lot of supplements to try and fix this problem and maybe not all of them were working very well for you.

Clay:    Yeah, yeah. It's like CoQ10? Sure. When I started taking that -- yeah. Tyrosine, 5-HTP, certain combinations.

Christopher:    Your case is kind of interesting. We did an organics acid urine test for you and we saw very high turnover of serotonin. That's actually quite unusual. Normally, what I see is very slow turnover.

Clay:    Uh-hmm.

Christopher:    And you can stimulate that pathway by taking 5-HTP as a supplement -- 5-Hydroxytryptophan. It's beyond this point, there's like a kind of fork in the road with the metabolism of this amino acid, tryptophan, and 5-HTP is beyond the fork so there's no way that the tryptophan can go to produce inflammatory cytokine so it must go down, continue down that same pathway toward serotonin which is an inhibitory neurotransmitter and hopefully it makes you feel a bit calmer and then goes on to metabolize melatonin which is a hormone that helps put you to sleep.

    When you say highlight that, the goal really is to stop you from like burning out. It's not clear to me whether that would actually make any difference. But did it affect your sleep at all?

Clay:    It did.

Christopher:    Okay. Interesting.

Clay:    I kind of think of things now before I had my mercury amalgams removed.


Christopher:    Uh-hmm.

Clay:     And after. There have been a couple of different periods where things just are all firing on all cylinders.

Christopher:    Uh-hmm.

Clay:    That's pretty cool when that happens. I don't know. I can't even explain it but --

Christopher:    Excellent. But --

Clay:    Yeah, yeah.

Christopher:    Okay. So moving back to your gut, in July we found like [0:25:37] [Indiscernible] yeast and then you took some supplements. In November, we did another stool test. That's gone although I do still see a good amount of Klebsiella which I know is not good.

I think it's going to take time for the gut to normalize out. Rome wasn't built in a day and it took you a long time to do this damage. But, yeah, we'll see. I'm taking part in a study at the moment that's looking at how quickly can the microbiota, the population of microbes that live in your guy, how quickly can they change. So I think that's still an unanswered question.

But we felt like you'd made a lot of progress at this point so this is, say, November. We started in July. How would you describe it? You thought that there was still a piece missing.

Clay:    Still a piece missing and the more you and I talked, it was kind of like I'm just not seeing that clearing that most people get when they've had three months on supplementation and getting better sleep. I think I had all that dialed and then one day you had sent me something and it just said stress, the stress component of all this is really underrated.

    I had always done HRV for at least a couple of years now and I've never seen a bump in mine. It was just dragging the ground -- low HRV, all that kind of stuff. You don't know whether it's your sleep or lack of sleep, stress, or disturbed sleep stress or gut inflammation stress or just that all phones are ringing kind of stress and you got to be in six places in one time.

All those factors come together but I'd always kind of worked on a spiritual practice and things like that which really helped. Like you said, once you can kind of lower that stress level like taking the 5-HTP and you have the serotonin or you're eating the right foods and all that kind of stuff comes together, when they all come together, it's like there're a few things out there and once those come together everything else really just kind of falls in place.

Christopher:    Uh-hmm.

Clay:    Not totally there but, man, you just make these gains. I'm 45 years old now. You make gains that you've never seen in your entire life and you're like, oh, yeah, this is good. There is an upward trajectory on this for sure.

Christopher:    That is also me and I love it. You dived in. You're fully committed. I must say that that's something that's special about you is your level of commitment. I'm just starting to fully appreciate just how important that is, right?

Clay:    Uh-hmm.

Christopher:    That's what our programs are is just basically it's almost a reenactment of everything that I did in order to get better. I didn't just do some tests and take some supplements. That wasn't it. I changed my diet and then I worked on my sleep and then I looked at the amount of exercise I was doing. Maybe it wasn't necessary to do 35 hours a week in order to be a competitive Cat 1 mountain biker say like now I know Sami Inkinen won the amateur triathlon Ironman world championships on 12 hours a week so what the heck am I doing like doing a full-time job outside of work. That just doesn't make any sense. So there's the exercise part of it and it's not all exercise. I know that now that movement is important, walking and such.

We walk people through everything. That's what the programs are. They are not just one thing. But then the lab work and the supplements did turn out to be really, really important. No doubt some of the problems I had and some of the problems that you had -- like that yeast infection wasn't just going to get up and walk away just because you started meditating although the meditation was still important. It's the whole thing.

Clay:        Yeah.

Christopher:    But you went on. I mean, that was awesome. I was so happy that you are committed and you stuck with me and you wanted to continue the investigation and get to that point, find that last 5%. You did the world's most expensive and awesome functional medicine test which is the Genova Diagnostics NutrEval. It's almost like comparable with 23andMe after it's been through Promethease in the overwhelming amount of information that it gives you.


    For people that know a little bit about the testing, it's the organic acids which you can do with the urine tests. It's not that expensive. It's about $370 I think. We charge for it. But then it goes beyond that and it looks at plasma amino acids.

So organic acids that show up in the urine, they are originally derived from amino acids. Sometimes you'll get someone that's got really poor digestion and they're not digesting, absorbing, assimilating the protein and the amino acids in the first place so everything just shows up low on the organic acids just because they never had anything to make the organic acids out so you can't really tell anything for them from the organic acids test. That doesn't happen very often but it does happen.

Clay:        Or it's getting blocked.

Christopher:    Or it's getting blocked. Right. Yeah. Yeah, that's really, really useful for that but then it also looks at the lipids, right? So it gives you like a complete breakdown like that the cells, the phospholipid membrane of each cell like what's it made out of? What's the omega 3 to 6 ratio? It also looks at the essential nutrients, things like magnesium and copper and manganese and potassium, selenium, zinc, and then it also looks at the toxic elements which are things like lead and mercury and arsenic and cadmium and tin.

The thing that immediately popped out for me was an elevation of mercury. For most people, the mercury exposure is coming from amalgam fillings so that was my first question. I was like, "Hey, Clay. Do you have amalgams?" He said, "Yeah, I do."

Clay:        A mouthful.

Christopher:    Yeah. So that's --

Clay:        Yeah, I had 12.

Christopher:    Yeah. So at this point I'm kind of stepping beyond my area of expertise, my comfort zone. I don't really know what a safe level of mercury is or how it acts as a neurotoxin or anything about dentistry or anything about that. So this is the point where I'm now like, okay, so you need to go and find out what this means and find someone that can help you. What did you do?

Clay:    I was lucky enough to have a biological dentist about an hour north of us and went to see them.

Christopher:     What does it mean "biological dentist" then? Should everybody's dentist be biological? I'm not sure what that means.

Clay:    Yeah, probably should. Biological dentist in regards to amalgam extraction means that they have covered about ten or 12 serious protocols in regards to protecting the person having them extracted, the people extracting them, the environment around it because apparently it's okay to have it in your mouth but once you pull it out it's now toxic waste.

Christopher:    Right.

Clay:    I've never understood that. There's a handful of things, whether it's the air source, the dam they put in your mouth so you don't swallow any but you have to make sure that when you pull the amalgams that you're not going to get so toxic or have such an overload, whether your body starts releasing the mercury that's stored in the tissues as well because if you're grinding your teeth -- not even grinding. If you chew and brush your teeth, you're getting mercury vapor. You swallow that. That goes through the lungs and directly affects the GI tract.

Christopher:    Right.

Clay:    One of the largest ones. I can say that I probably had, after all these were pulled, about ten days that were kind of a little funky but after that I have been regular every day since which is now going on -- let's see. That was January 5th. This is March so over two and a half months. Almost just like that which was incredible. Again, I've never had that in my life.     When you had looked at this test, saw that I had a high level of mercury plus my glutathione was in tank --

Christopher:    Right.

Clay:    Things like that that were just getting, as I was thinking, it's like every time I chew or brush my teeth, all that stuff, it's like the system's going, "All right. Here comes more mercury" and so they just spend their day trying to shovel this mercury out of the hole, much less keep up with anything else.


    Once that burden was relieved, the body could go [Makes sound] and instantly -- instantly -- this is where the HRV comes in. Mine bounces up about 20 points and has really kind of stayed there unless I have had days where I've done too much or not gotten enough sleep or things like that. But over the next -- what? Two months? It's bounced back like numbers I've never seen in my life.

Christopher:    I should probably explain a little bit there for those that don't know. Heart rate variability is something that I get everybody checked now. I didn't in the beginning actually but now I insist on it. The reason I insist is because it's so easy and non-invasive. You just wear a heart rate monitor strap which most people we work with own anyway. You connect it to a little app that runs on your phone and it measures the variability between the heartbeats.

    If you imagine your heart beating, it doesn't beat like a metronome. There're variations in the amount of time in between the beats. The app is measuring that variability. There're tons and tons of research. This is really strongly backed up by the evidence that the greater the variability, the healthier and stronger the autonomic nervous system.

    If you've got someone with anything going on -- and it doesn't matter whether they've got problems with their gut or their liver or they've got cancer -- they're always going to have a lower heart rate variability. So it's become like a really easy and non-invasive way for me to track progress.

    Sometimes -- this has actually happened. Someone said, "You know what? I was feeling pretty good before we started and I was really just interested in the tests and wanted to know where I was at and to establish a baseline. I think I feel a little bit more energy. I'm not really sure but one thing I have noticed is that now my heart variability has gone up by ten points."

    So, yeah, that's interesting. I'm going to continue on and see what else I can get out of this. Yeah. It's just another biomarker. It's not the be all and end all. I wouldn't give up everything else just for heart rate variability but --

Clay:    But it is cool in that --

Christopher:     Yeah.

Clay:    You can't really will yourself to have a higher, where you can relax and lower your heart rate.

Christopher:    Right.

Clay:    I mean, this is under the covers and so you can't like chill out and get a better one or anything like that. So go out and have a meal with drinks if you drink and stuff like that and see what that does. If you're eating the stuff that makes your body feel good and you sleep well and all that kind of stuff versus going to have a birthday cake and a big pasta meal and stuff like that or whatever your kryptonite is. It'll affect that because it senses all of that and so it's like something's not right. Once we pull that, you start to recover. So it is an amazing tool but like you said the science or the conclusions are not quite there yet.

Christopher:    Yeah. There is some argument -- I've written an article about this actually -- that there're two components: a low frequency and a high frequency. Originally, people thought that they corresponded quite clearly between the parasympathetic which is like the rest and relax and the sympathetic which is the "I'm being chased by a tiger right now." But now they're not so sure.


But the variability part, the number -- so the app, it spits back a score typically between zero and a hundred. If you're in the 50s or 60s, then I would say that there's probably something up especially if you're an athlete who's the right side of 40 years old. It should be somewhere in the 70s, 80s. Mine now is consistently in the 90s but, yeah, it's definitely a really useful biomarker.

Finally, Clay, I want to ask you what's next for you? Do you plan to go back to eating organic bagels now that the mercury fillings are out? How has this changed your life and what things do you plan to keep?

Clay:        Yeah. Since I got it all fixed, I'm going to go back to what I was --

Christopher:    The bagel thing, it was all a red herring.

Clay:    You know what? It is funny. I have tried on certain days just to I guess "eat" just whatever. I can notice that right off. It's not, oh, I shouldn't have -- I always avoided maybe these diets of, oh, I'm bad. I ate a cookie or whatever. It's like, whatever. I'm 6' 1", I weigh 155 pounds, and I can eat whatever I want. I can eat like a horse.


So that's never been anything but it's like you notice this lack of energy or just it drains you so no, no plans to do that. But you were talking about the ease of it. It does ease your mind about once things start clicking and you feel normal, you realize that everybody's entry point or level of acceptability or whatever is so different.

Christopher:    Uh-hmm.

Clay:    We all come into this at various levels and I realize that mine was so low because I would talk about stuff. The way I feel now is what I equate to what probably normal is for most people. I'm still working towards optimal.

Christopher:    Right.

Clay:    In the beginning I thought I was working on optimal but I was just trying to get up to normal.

Christopher:    Do you know what? That's really interesting here and you say that word. It's the first time. I wonder whether this is like a sign of the progression. I'll give you an example. I've done presentations, walked into a room and some of those people there in the audience, they are taking eight different prescription medicines and they don't know what they are. They're not taking part in the project that is their health and well-being at all. Those people don't say optimal health. Give me optimal health. That's what I'm after.

As more of a health geek or a practitioner or a wellness coach, it's those people that use that language and so it's not very useful to say to someone like that, "Oh, well. I can give you optimal health" and like, "What? What's that? I don't want that. I don't know what you're talking about."

But, yeah, so you I'm sure like me at one point were kind of like that so ignorant of all this stuff. You didn't know what some of these organic acids were called or what they meant or any of that. You kind of had to get your hands dirty and figure this out.

Our programs, they are not really like a prescription you would get from your doctor. They are more like a training course where you're given this catalyst for learning which is the test result. Okay, so what is 5-Hydroxyindoleacetate? What is that? Go type that into PubMed and find out what it is and what it means. Usually, there's an entire body of research and literature that goes with each of these organic acids. There's 46 on this lab. So now you've kind of really gone from that one end to the other end where you're kind of verging on someone that looks a lot like me where you can --

Clay:    Yeah, yeah. And I think in the beginning, I probably pinged you 56 times a day and it's like what about this, what about that, what about this and you're just totally interested when you started seeing these things.

Christopher:    Uh-hmm.

Clay:    At some point, it dawns on you that really you're the only person who can figure it out. I can ask you what these certain amino acids are but you can't detect what's going on or write or whatever and really you do have to trust your gut.

Christopher:    Uh-hmm.

Clay:    Even though you're --

Christopher:    It is -- sorry. I was going to say so, yeah, it's like -- there're two things you touched on there which I think are really interesting and the first is that nobody cares about this more than you, right? Not your wife, not your doctor, not me. You are the one that's most invested in this problem that is your health.

The other thing is you can't communicate everything there is to know to anyone. You could get the best doctor in the world and live with him, like live in their basement and you still wouldn't be able to communicate everything that you're feeling and experiencing. Obviously, that nothing even remotely approaching that is possible when you go to the doctor, right? So you can fill out the intake form and, Clay, we've spent a lot of time. I wonder how many emails we have exchanged over the last six or seven months. Probably quite a few.

But, yeah, still I don't really know what's going on for you yesterday or -- do you see what I'm saying? You as an individual, especially once you start to feel better. I love that. People are going out and doing training courses like Functional Diagnostic Nutrition and   Bryan Walsh's Metabolic Fitness Pro is just fantastic and you're doing that too.

Clay:    That's just the best TV watching ever.

Christopher:    Yeah, yeah.

Clay:    Quiz.

Christopher:    Julie hates it. It gives her kind of flashbacks to university. It's interesting, that position, as well because she was sort of forced I suppose to learn biochemistry at university. She did a master's degree in Dairy Science. That the stress and the pressure of having to remember all and regurgitate in an exam nearly killed her as I'm sure it nearly killed a lot of students.


    The reason it nearly killed her was because she had no reason or care about it so why the hell would I care about this pathway? Glycolysis, like why would I want to remember that? It doesn't mean anything to me. But, yeah, once --

Clay:    When your health is failing --

Christopher:    Yeah, and you've just got back.

Clay:    -- relates to what you're doing.

Christopher:    Yeah. Exactly. And you just got back this test result that shows that it looks like you have a problem with something and then at that point you have a real reason to want to understand this stuff and then it gets exciting.

Clay:    Yeah.

Christopher:    Cool. Thank you so much for coming on and telling us this story. I think it's pretty amazing. The journey you've been through is not unlike my own so it's fantastic. So even now, so we're struggling to make this a business, right? Can we be profitable doing diet and lifestyle coaching? It's really an open-ended question. We're not sure.

Clay:    Yeah.

Christopher:    Even if like we jack it all in and I go back and maybe I'm lucky enough to land a job at Google as a programmer again or something like so we've even just helped one person it would have been worth it, right? So, yeah, it's fantastic.

Clay:    Your own Christmas card list forever now. Yeah. It's huge. It's life-changing. When you look back and you have the days where you're willing one foot in front of the other and stuff like that and you think it's like, gosh, I'm just not trying hard enough and stuff and then you fast forward to, wow, the process is in the body, we're not going right and food is so powerful, your mindset is so powerful. If you keep digging and you have to turn the knobs and flip the switches to see what works and doesn't, when it comes online, it's amazing and I feel like I'm just now beginning to open that door. It's been a long road but it's cool because it's your life and you have to do it for the rest of your life and so you have to figure out what doesn't cause you a lot of stress but makes you a well-adjusted, energetic, vital human.

Christopher:    That's really great advice. Well, Clay, thank you so much for your time. I really, really appreciate it. Yeah. Thank you.

Clay:    Thank you.

[0:47:22]    End of Audio

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