Episode 162 with Naveen Jain
What’s up everyone? It’s me, Drew Manning, your host of the Fit2Fat2Fit Experience Podcast. Thank you guys for tuning in today. Today I have an awesome episode. Some of you guys might know this guy named Naveen Jain. He is a the CEO of a company called Viome that does microbiome gut testing. Super interesting conversation with him, we go into great detail about the gut and how a lot of the chronic diseases today all start in the gut and how to fix that. Viome is one of his products that he is hoping to change the healthcare industry. He kind of talks about the story at the beginning of how he had grown up and he was used to change and he became comfortable with the uncomfortable. I think that’s a lesson for all of us to learn. Being comfortable with things that make us uncomfortable, like change, right? That’s kind of how he has come into these different industries and totally changed the game from an outside perspective. Because he doesn’t just think outside of the box, he creates a whole new box. So when he looked at the healthcare industry, he saw some things that need to be fixed with the healthcare system and basically how we are thriving in an industry of making people sick over and over and over again. There is nothing that is actually improving and it’s a money making machine, truly a multi-trillion dollar industry. It’s insane. His solution is this thing called Viome. We go into the individuality of how different foods work for different people. I think this is something that needs to be preached about more in the health and fitness industry, because even for me, I am a big fan of the keto diet. I think the keto diet can help a lot of people, but is it right for everybody? I don’t know. It probably isn’t. What’s good for me, might not good for you. And what’s was good for me years ago, might not be good for me today. So I think that’s why this conversation needs to be had with Naveen. He is helping to shape the healthcare industry and you can hear his passion in his voice when he talks about it. I think you guys will really find this episode interesting. Now let’s go talk about Viome with Naveen.
Drew: Alright, Narveen, welcome to the show. How are you doing today?
Naveen: Amazing. How about you?
Drew: I am doing amazing as well. I really appreciate you coming on. I really appreciate your time. I am super excited to have you on. I’ve heard a lot of good things about you from other people in the industry. I feel very lucky and fortunate to have you on my Podcast.
Naveen: I think that most of the other people are just very, very kind. *laughing*
Drew: *laughing* Maybe they are, maybe they aren’t. We will see! No, I definitely trust these people. I really appreciate you coming on. I kind of want to dive right in, Naveen and introduce you to my audience. My first question I have is what type of environment did you grow up in that helped to shape who you have become today?
Naveen: Well, I think as we all know, our early childhood, to some extent, shapes who we become. My childhood was a really humble beginning. Growing up in India, many times we didn’t have food to eat and we didn’t really have a place we called home. We moved from village to village. To a large extent, one would argue that was a tough life, but I really think that was a foundation of who I am today. A couple of things that I learned from it, the change became so routine that I got comfortable with change. So while everyone is afraid of change, to me, the change was something that happens all the time. Really being comfortable in a new situation, new location, new people, it’s something that became a part of who I am. That really to a large extent, when I look at my life as a professional now, I have done seven companies in seven different industries.
Drew: Wow. *laughing*
Naveen: And every time I enter an industry, it’s never like, ‘Oh my gosh, I know nothing about it.’ No, that means I am going to be one of the most dangerous people this industry has ever seen, because I know absolutely nothing about it. This means I’m going to challenge the things that no one ever challenged before. The best you can do to make an incremental improvement, you can improve by 10% or 15%, but if you want to change something ten times or a hundred times, you have to come from an outside the industry looking in. It’s not thinking outside the box, it’s really thinking in a totally different box.
Naveen: That’s what allows you to do things that no one has ever taught. Become an expert by thinking the foundation of the industry is guarded and they can never challenge it, because that is what makes them an expert, right?
Naveen: I think coming from that perspective, I have really benefited. The other thing that I really benefited from was the fact that we were poor was because my dad decided he wanted to be an honest man and keep the values of what matters. That meant really going through tough times but never sacrificing who you are as a person. To me, that became the key to who I am today. That means that you never compromise the integrity of the things that you do, whether it is in a company and making sure the science you are talking about is a really solid science or the decisions you are making are the decisions that are always going to be creating value for someone else. To some extent, if you get something from someone and you didn’t deliver the equal or more of the value, then you are a parasite on humanity. That should never be the goal.
Drew: Wow. That is beautiful. That is so powerful, Naveen. I have so many questions. The first question I have is about coming from poverty, what was the first win that you had to help shift your mindset to make you believe that you could do big things? Because I think a lot of people that grow up in poverty are stuck in poverty, a lot of it is a mindset. So, what was your first win that made you believe in yourself?
Naveen: I don’t think there was really a moment that this lightswitch went on, these are really the continual improvements that you see in life, right? Life teaches you alot. So when someone asks me who is my mentor I say, ‘It’s life. Life never stops teaching. Sometime we stop learning.’ *laughing*
Drew: That’s true. *laughing*
Naveen: So my point is as an entrepreneur I realized very early in my life, the life of an entrepreneur is like a heartbeat. If it’s not going up and down, you are already dead. You never want a smooth line. You want the ups and downs of your life. When the things are down, all you have to do is hunker down and know that the next beat is going to be up. When you are on top of the world just remember, if you don’t keep your friends close and you get to cocky, the winter is coming. My point is that is really how one always looks at life. My mindset became everything is possible because the survival means that everything is possible. The fact that you can survive in this environment, it allows you to see you have nothing to lose. You can roll the dice anytime and say, if worse comes to worse, I won’t have food to eat. Been there and done that. I won’t have a place to stay, been there, done that. *laughing*
Drew: *laughing* That is what I love about your story. There are so many people in this industry that are shakers and movers that come from outside these industries. You, yourself, Elon Musk, Henry Ford, these big names that have kind of taken us so far because they have come from outside this industry. I think it’s beautiful. Tell us how you got into health, biomes specifically. Tell us that story specifically. What was the thing you saw specifically that needed to change?
Naveen: Yeah. First of all as you know my other company that I was working on is a company called Moon Express and that is literally the only company in the universe that has permission to leave earth’s orbit and land on the moon, right?
Naveen: Now we are launching our first mission to the moon. The only reason I mention that is when you are doing literally that moon shot, what do you do for an encore? *laughing* You do another moon shot! *laughing*
Naveen: So, in this case, when I was getting ready to launch our mission to the moon next year, I started thinking about what are the biggest problems facing humanity? One of the reasons I do that is that I feel that God has been very kind to us. Society has been very kind to us. We came from nothing and everything we have today is because so many people in my life helped me when I was down. I look at the stuff and say how am I ever going to pay my debt back to the society? The people who helped me, don’t need my help. I can’t just pay them back. The only way I know how to pay my debt back is to essentially pay it forward. So, if you can’t pay back, you pay it forward. My whole life is now dedicated towards doing things that can help billions of people around the world. Now, coming back to answer your question, I looked at the two biggest problems that I found meaningful enough for me to go look at was education and health care. It turns out that the more time I spent on both of them, the problems are very, very similar. In a sense, our education system, everyone believes it is broken, just like our healthcare system. People believe, for whatever reason, the system is just not working for them. They think there is nothing we can do other than keep fixing this broken system. What really is the crux, neither one of the systems are actually broken, they simply have become obsolete in a sense that they are doing the job that they were designed to do and they do that extremely well. Our needs today are really different than needs were when we were actually designing these systems. So, the education system was designed to teach us skills. We could do these skills for the rest of our life and life was wonderful. We live in this world of expedental technology that means it doesn’t matter what we learn, by the time we graduate the skill we learned become obsolete. So now we have to rethink our education system and say, ‘Ok, how do we create a system that is about learning to learn? Learning to use the technology to solve a problem?’ You can’t be unidispleranary, because problems don’t tend to be unidisciplinary, right? So you have to be multidisciplinary. The whole idea of working together to solve a problem. If I say, ‘Hey Drew. I am doing an exam, what do you think is the answer?’ People say, ‘Oh you are cheating!’ But when you do the same thing at work, people say, ‘Oh, he is a good team player.’ *laughing*
Drew: *laughing* It’s opposite.
Naveen: The point is, I really thought that was a problem that I wanted to fix. Then I started to look at healthcare and thought, this is the only industry where the more money we are spending, the worse the customers of this industry are getting, right? The only industry where you find that every stakeholder does not benefit when the customer gets better. If customers lives are better, everyone in the industry suffers. So the whole purpose is how can we victimize our customer as long as we can so we can make the most money. Especially if you think about the chronic diseases. We spend almost 90% of all our healthcare dollars on chronic diseases. Everyone loves for you to have a chronic disease. The minute you are young and say, ‘I’ve got diabetes.’ The rest of our lives we have a subscription business for the pharmaceutical company, for our doctors, for the hospital, for the insurance company. Everyone benefits. The interesting thing is what I started to do was the first thing, not knowing anything about the industry, the first thing that I do …. I am just going to give you the things of how I went about doing it. So everyone listening can say I know what to do.
Naveen: The first thing I did was if the healthcare industry is what I want to fix, and the reason I wanted to fix this is it’s a multi-trillion dollar industry. You and I both know if you want to make a billion dollar company, it’s pretty simple. All you have to do is solve a 10 billion dollar problem. You want to make a 10 billion dollar company? Go out and solve a 100 billion dollar problem. You want to clear a 100 billion dollar company, solve a trillion dollar problem. Here we are looking at a multi-trillion dollar problem. *laughing* So, let’s go solve that, right? It turns out that so first thing I do is I start reading a lot. I knew nothing about his industry. I probably must have read fifty to hundred books on what is causing people to be sick. Then I probably read at least a thousand to ten thousand research articles and it became pretty clear to me that everything you look at, it is becoming clearer that every single chronic disease …. we call them a disease, but they are really a set of symptoms that we name them. These symptoms that we call diseases, everyone of them has the same root cause, that means chronic diseases are caused by chronic inflammation. The chronic inflammation is caused by the imbalance of your gut. That was the thing. If you google today and you saw Parkinson’s and microbiome, you will see that actually your Parkinson’s starts in your gut. Fifteen years before you see the first symptom ever. Same thing with depression, anxiety, obesity, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, right? You go through the hard diseases, you start to look at cancer. Now they have research on pancreatic cancer, lung cancer, liver cancer and also the other breast cancer that is being caused by the microbiome, the imbalance of microbiome. So much so that even the cancer therapy, whether they work or don’t work, depends on your gut microbiome. There was a research paper that just came out that shows that whether the immunotherapy works or doesn’t work depends on your gut microbiome. Whether the chemotherapy works or kills you, depends on your gut microbiome. I’m starting to think, if everything is connected to your gut, why is it no one has done something about it? It turns out they are a whole bunch of scam artists. They are already doing the microbiome testing. So I am thinking what is wrong? If the people are doing microbiome testing but nobody seems to be getting better, why? What I learned was what they were focusing on and doing was literally going to do no good to anyone. Here is why. The microbiome testing so far has been so far focused on the organisms. What organisms exist in your gut and most companies that are even looking at that are such high level. They are …. 99% of the companies that do microbiome tests today, they all use a technological 16 S.
Naveen: 16 S is one of the ancient technology that can never …. so 16 S, just a tiny bit of scientific info here. It is a fraction of a gene that only exists in bacteria. So by definition you are not going to see any virus, any yeast, fungus or any mold. Even with the bacteria, it has a small portion that tells you what gene this bacteria belongs to. At the genus level every single human being has identical genus. That means genus bacteria in your gut is the same as mine and anyone else in this world.
Naveen: At a genus level, someone asked me, ‘Hey, what is a genus level?’ I say, if you were to ask me, say, ‘Hey Naveen, you are from India. Can you give me the genus level of what India is?’ I would say, ‘Oh of course. There are some men. There are some women and some young people. There are some old people. ‘ You would say, ‘Well, that’s just like America.’ And the answer is yes. The only difference is there may be more women in India than there are in the U.S. And then people say, ‘Oh, I see that. I heard there were a lot more crimes in India.’ That’s really the whole science and what it used to be. The point was they were really not doing anything meaningful. Then people say, ‘Oh what if you could look at all, not just genus species, but the strain levels? Wouldn’t that solve the problem?’ Then the people came up with microgenomics. They said they could look at all the strains. But the problem is none of that thing actually does much for you because what you want to do is look at the functional microbiome. That means what are they actually producing and this was the insight that I got, was you can find hundred of thousand different organisms doing exactly the same thing. When you look at the taxonomic level you say, ‘Oh this person has A, this person has B, the other person who is sick has C. There is nothing here.’ What we don’t realize is that all three of them, A, B and C are producing lipopolysaccharide and that’s causing inflammation. It’s not the organism. It is about what they are doing. The criminals do crime. You can’t say anybody whose name is Paul is a criminal.
Naveen: We started looking at are they producing butyrate? Are they producing things that are nutrients like folic acid or the vitamin K? Are they producing things that are actually inflaming your gut? That whole thing is called basically a functional biome of what is being done. So once I see that is really the key, well I know nothing about it so what do I do?
Naveen: It so happened I was at Los Alamos National Lab, as you know they are famous for developing the atomic bomb. This is where all the stuff happens. It used to be called Manhattan Project. It wasn’t done in Manhattan, I can tell you that. It was actually done at Los Alamos. So these are the guys who do all the national security stuff. They were working on a project so I was meeting with them on a completely different topic. The scientist was telling me that he was working on this biodefense technology. We can now find out every organism. If there was a bad actor who can get hold of something nasty and suddenly bad things happen. How would we know what was making people sick? You know what we did? We can now look at any body fluid from stool, your urine, from your blood, from your saliva and we can find out every organism and we can tell you what they are producing. Because we need to know what they are producing. That is the only way we will cure it, right?
Naveen: Holy cow! If you are able to tell me what is making people sick, why can’t I keep people healthy? That was the genesis. So we got the exclusive license for that technology and it started this. Amazing things happened, Drew.
Naveen: Coming from the world that I had come from, you really hear from people that say, ‘You changed my life.’ Everyday, we get hundreds of emails. People saying, ‘My gosh, my life has completely changed. I used to have anxiety and it’s gone. I used to have depression and I am no longer depressed.’ Two women, two of our customers went on the Dr. Oz show. One lost 71 pounds and one lost 49 pounds. We don’t focus on losing weight. We don’t focus on depression. We don’t focus on anxiety. We have people who are telling us that their joint pain is gone. Their autoimmune diseases are disappearing. These are all the symptoms and all we are doing is keeping your gut balanced and reducing the inflammation. When you reduce the inflammation, the symptoms go away.
Naveen: The thing that surprised me most was one woman posted on our Facebook group, ‘You know my eyesight has really improved. I wonder am I just hallucinating.’ Then two other women jumped in, ‘You know, I wasn’t going to say it, but my eyesight is better too.’ So, I am thinking, eyesight? Really? But there you have it.
Drew: That is an amazing story Naveen. I just really want to say I have a lot of respect for what you have done. I think the thing that paralyzes a lot of people, or entrepreneurs, is the how. Like how am I going to do this? I don’t know, so I might as well give up. I think if you have a ‘why’ and you have a purpose and the persistence, the how is going to figure itself out. You’ve done that and you’ve made it unique to what your vision was. Skipping ahead, I just want to say really quick, for people listening to this, I think the future of the health and fitness industry, which is where I come from, we try to put people in a box. Like hey, here is the keto diet, it will fix all these problems. But it’s very bioindividual and people don’t realize that. I think what you are trying to do and what you are doing and I think the future of the healthcare industry is customizing it to each individual and that’s kind of what is going to change people, in my opinion. Go ahead, I know you want to say something.
Naveen: No, no, no Drew. I am just listening to you and I am thinking you are one of the first few smart people who actually understands that. Because everybody in the fitness world has this what I will say, ‘fad diet’. You follow my modified keto diet. You follow my paleo diet. You follow my atkins diet. You follow this diet, right? The problem is, as you pointed out, we as humans are very, very different. Each one of us are unique. In fact there is no such thing as universal healthy food. If food that is good for Drew, may not be good for Naveen. In fact the food that is good for me today, may not be good for me 3 months or 4 months from now, because my body is constantly changing and adapting.
Drew: Yes. Right.
Naveen: So what we did was very smart. We analyze your gut and we say, ‘Oh you are producing these things and you are not producing the good stuff. Now, if you have these organisms what do we have to feed you that will allow you to produce the good stuff and what do we have to stop feeding these organisms so bad stuff doesn’t get produced. I am going to give you a couple of really interesting examples. Most people believe, like my wife, I am eating healthy. Healthy is that I am eating spinach, I am eating broccoli. I’m eating oats. I’m gluten free. I’m doing low fat diet or whatever that happens to be. Interestingly, it turns out that more than half the people can not digest the spinach. So, spinach as both you and I know has oxalic acid. Oxalic acid, unless it can be detoxified by our gut, at best it ends up as a kidney stone, or worse it starts causing inflammation. Same thing happens by the way with almonds. You are talking about raspberry. You are talking about pomegranate juice. These things that people believe are antioxidants. It turns out neither one of them are actually antioxidant. They all contain something called ellagic acid. Ellagic acid is not antioxidative. What happens is our gut microbiome, if you have the right enzymes and peptides, can work the ellagic acid into something called ULA. ULA when it is absorbed in the body is what really makes it antioxidative. So it’s not the food. It’s what the food gets converted in to, that is what makes its nutrients. It turns out that almost half the people who actually are taking pomegranate juice or are eating almonds or doing raspberry, believe they are eating healthy. In fact, they are probably pissing off their money or worse causing inflammation, right?
Naveen: Another example I was going to give you was that one of our customer who is very famous, has been really, really sick. They went to five doctors and she sent me a testimonial. She said, ‘Oh my gosh, I went to five doctors. I took all these antibiotics. I have been throwing up, diarrhea and I don’t know what to do. I have just been eating healthy. I cut everything down and I was only going to eat the healthy food.’ When we did the test, we told her to avoid certain foods. She said that these foods we told her to avoid changed her life. It was spinach, broccoli and corn. Because she was eating gluten free diet, eating corn! She was eating spinach and broccoli because popeye said spinach is good for you. My point is, those three foods were the ones that were causing all her issues. My point is that simple changes that we understood what was causing inflammation, completely changed her life.
Drew: That is amazing. That just goes to show how bioindividual our diets need to be. The problem I think people have is they just want to be told what to do. They just want it to be simple. They don’t want to think about it. Because to customize it or to go get blood testing, is really hard to do. So, what I want to do next …. oh, go ahead. Go ahead.
Naveen: You don’t have to do blood testing anymore though, right?
Naveen: This is the part that we eliminated all of that stuff. We made it so simple. I think I have it right here.
Drew: Right here.
Naveen: No, those are old ones.
Drew: Oh, those are old ones. Ok. *laughing*
Naveen: So, this is the new kit.
Naveen: Beautiful and silver.
Drew: That is beautiful.
Naveen: So this box, you open it up with a magnetic lock. Look at it. That is all you need. Remember in the old times you had to do the finger prick and you had to do all the glycemic response tests. We completely changed that now. The reason is we actually did a massive clinical trial of 1000 people. We put on continuous glucose monitoring and we fed them some whole foods. 55,000 different foods and we saw that based on what your gut microbiomes are producing, how does the glycemic response is coming on the side. We build a complete machine learning model. So we can now predict that when Drews gut is producing this stuff or these genes are active, when you eat almonds, you are going to have a very high glycemic response. Whereas for me, the almonds may be perfect. It may be that white bread is better for you and whole wheat bread is better for me. It’s really amazing to see that. The people say, ‘Oh my gosh, are you crazy? White bread?’ Yes, white bread because a lot of people are sensitive to the lectins that are on the skin of the wheat and when you are actually take that out and you are eating the white flour, then you actually are removing all of that stuff. So, for some people that is actually better. So, another thing that surprised me was …. I am going to give you some of the learning coming from outside the industry that I found. I found it fascinating and I thought that your audience might find it fascinating. There are more foreign cells in our human body than the human cells. So, think about that for a second. We as humans, we are more foreign than original or what we get from mom and dad. But that’s nothing, our human DNA only produces about 20,000 genes. Whereas the gut microbiome produces about 2 million to 20 million genes.
Naveen: That means at best we are 1% human. When it comes to the gene expression in our body, we are less than 1% human.
Naveen: The thing that is really interesting is we somehow find this whole idea of these gut organisms like creepy. ‘Like, oh my gosh! They are inside us. You are feeding them! What are they doing?’ What we don’t realize is we evolve as an ecosystem. We evolve as a walking, talking, living, ecosystem. Where microbes and humans work together, so much so that if you think about all the foods and the detoxification that happens in our gut. When we eat the food, they actually digest it. They convert them into nutrients. They work with our immune system to essentially find and keep the immune system clean. In fact the reason we have all these chronic diseases is because our immune system goes out of whack and it goes out of whack for two reasons. Microbiomes are not cleaning the immune system or we have a leaking gut that is leaking the food into your blood and creating all the inflammation. The reason you have a leaking gut is because of many reasons. You have a lot of inflammation. Or this is surprising to all the keto guys, don’t kill me!
Naveen: When you are fasting and you are not feeding your gut microbiome, many of the microbes in our gut start to eat our gut lining, the mucus. They synthesize the mucus as a carbohydrate and feed themselves and they are going to eat the gut lining.
Naveen: And when you start to eat the gut lining, you start to break the barriers.
Drew: Interesting. So, you are saying that fasting could be unhealthy for you?
Drew: Ok, so does that mean everyone should avoid fasting? Because I have been of the belief that religion has had fasting for years and it’s been around for centuries. Are there any benefits to fasting?
Naveen: Absolutely. The very interesting thing is that there are some people who will benefit from what I would say is a full day or two full days of fasting. Other people actually would be harmed by that, but they will benefit by fasting for 12 hours or 16 hours.
Drew: Ok, gotcha.
Naveen: There is a difference. You need to know according to your body, are you better off fasting for 12-16 hours or do you go on a two day fast. It’s not religion so much. A lot of things with religion came about because they learned intuitively or I would say, trial and error what is good for you.
Drew: Hmmm. Interesting.
Naveen: So for example, in the religion I come from, it says you need to eat before sunset. You say, why sunset? Because generally the sun will set and then you will be awake for 3 or 4 hours after that. Now we know we shouldn’t be eating right before going to bed because our digestive system shuts down when we are sleeping. My point was they came up with this whole idea that made it easy for someone to say, sunset no eating. But the point was what they were trying to say was don’t eat at least 3 or 4 hours before you go to sleep.
Drew: Gotcha. Interesting.
Naveen: The other thing I found really fascinating as we were looking around is now we have tens of thousands of people taking the test. Some very interesting thing we learned that some of the people who have been vegetarian for a very long time, we find that their microbiome actually has a wall that can convert carbohydrates into branch chain amino acids. Think for a second. Our microbes are converting carbs into precursor to a protein. Who would have thought that? So a lot of people who are vegetarian, they may not get a lot of protein, but their microbes are changing that.
Naveen: Another thing we learned was our microbes actually detoxify the things that we tend to eat. For example, if you are living in a society that eats a lot of MSG, the microbes start to grow and they detoxify MSG and you have no impact. You and I go eat in a Chinese restaurant with MSG, we get a headache, because our microbes cannot detoxify that. We see when we look at …. well, your poop, we can actually tell you what drugs you are taking. Where you might have been, because we can see this particle and toxin came from this certain area. We can tell you what type of foods you are eating, what macronutrients you are eating. We can tell you if spinach is good for you or bad for you. Is pomegranate juice good for you or bad for you? Another thing that we saw that was really surprising to us was our microbiome are producing hormones and we always talk about how hormones are produced in the human body. We never realized that testosterone and estrogen, our microbiomes are producing as well. That is really interesting in that we see a lot of people who have been on a diet and how suddenly changing the diet, their hormone balance changes. So people who have thyroids, people who have autoimmune diseases can essentially be fixed by balancing their gut.
Drew: Gotcha. That is amazing. I have heard of that before. I think some people realize, the way they look at food is that this hamburger and fries is going to make me gain weight and this salad is going to make me lose weight. But rather than what its doing to our gut and how it’s going to change us as a whole on a cellular level and what it is doing to our hormones. People have such an outside perspective sometimes when it comes to food and health and fitness and looking skinny, right? I think this is a great way of changing your perspective of what the food you are eating and how it affects you.
Naveen: Can I say one more thing?
Drew: Yes. Go ahead.
Naveen: The meat you talk about, everyone believes the red meat is somehow bad for you.
Drew: Yes. *laughing*
Naveen: Basically if you ate some foods that have choline and those choline goes into our gut and there are certain enzymes and peptides that can kind of work them into TMA. The TMA gets absorbed into the blood and the liver kind of works them into TMAO, which is TMA oxidized. That is the one that causes the heart disease. Interesting thing is, many people in the gut cannot work the choline into TMA and if it’s not happening, you can eat all the damn red meat you want, it’s not going to have any bad effect on you. That’s why we see a lot of people who can eat red meat and they don’t have problem with that. And other people eat red meat and they get heart disease. What is it? That is the thing that our gut is determined whether the choline gets turned into TMA or not.
Drew: Wow. And you guys can tell this just from these tests, right?
Naveen: Yes. So what we do is look at all the strips and we can tell you if they are producing TMA or they are producing LPS, butyrate and all the different pathways. That’s why we call this a functional microbiome test.
Drew: So, let’s walk people through this. I know this is old packaging, so they have the test at home. Ok, look at that one, that one looks more beautiful. *laughing* So, let’s walk them through this. Obviously it involves poop, right?
Drew: So, they get a sample. Let’s walk them through the beginning to the end.
Naveen: Yeah. Basically you order the test. The kit comes in and this kit has a box. Inside the box, a toilet seat and a test sheet. The toilet seat you put on the toilet. Then the test tube, you touch the top of the test strip in the tube and shake it up and you put it in the prepaid envelope and you send it to us. Two weeks later all your results and all the personalized recommendations come on your app. Your app can specifically tell you exactly what is happening inside your gut. But more importantly, it will tell you every single food, is it good for you or bad for you. In the next version of our app, when you touch on each food, it will tell you why we told you it’s good for you and why we are telling you it’s bad for you. So, no more black box, because we believe it’s bad for you. We will tell you scientifically why this is bad for you.
Drew: Gotcha. I think some of the feedback, when I told people I was going to have you on, was like how do they know specifically based on the recommendations. I think that’s beautiful that you are going to be able to do that so people can know the why behind it, rather than just here is what to do and what to eat. Just believe us, right? *laughing*
Naveen: We know because we were using all the underlying and understanding of what is going on inside the gut and we were using AI. We finally said, you know what, let’s just open it up and show people why. Because we have this whole glycemic production, glycemic prediction model. For example, we have people who actually get massive glycemic response from almonds, even though most people believe that almonds are low glycemic response and anytime you want a snack, you grab some almonds. It turns out, like my wife works out every single day. She eats healthy and everything. I was telling her you really should do the biome test. She said I eat healthy and I don’t need to worry about it and I look fine. I’m not going to argue about it. *laughing* Finally I was able to convince her and told her what’s the harm? You should do the test and get the results. I told her to just try it for three weeks, that’s all I asked her. In three weeks she comes to me and said, ‘You know I used to always get tired in the afternoon. I thought that was just normal and that I just needed to get rest for about thirty minutes and I would be fine. But I was always tired. Now that I avoid the foods, I just don’t feel tired anymore.’ I asked her what she was avoiding. She said, ‘Exactly what Viome said, I shouldn’t be eating dairy and almonds.’ Those were the two big things for her and after she cut them down she doesn’t get tired. She starts telling me that all the baby fat she said was gone. I said, ‘What baby fat?’ *laughing*
Drew: *laughing* That is awesome. I think that’s what is going to …. my hope, the way I see it, is to bring peace into the health and fitness industry. Maybe from an outside perspective you can observe this, but sometimes people get too dogmatic about the way they eat thinking this worked for me and saved my life, then I should preach this to everyone else and it will save their life too. Then they become …. it almost becomes a religion to them. They look down on other people that don’t eat the way they do. So if we could just all accept that it is bioindividual and if you can find a way to customize it through something like ‘Viome’ and then customize your diet to you, then you don’t need to look down on people and say, ‘Hey I know my microbiome and I know what’s good for me.’ Even though an expert might be saying you shouldn’t eat white bread, it can kill you. It can cause inflammation. But now you can actually back it up with scientific data, right?
Naveen: Yes. That is very interesting. It really is not that I don’t trust you if you tell me, Drew, that I need to avoid dairy and almonds and I felt better and you should too. I am going to be like, ‘No, no, no, God bless you. I am glad it worked for you but it’s not going to work for me.’ Maybe for me, my foods that were really bad for me were spinach, oats and avocado.
Naveen: Everything that I would have thought was healthy for me. *laughing*
Drew: Do you find that some people get disappointed? Like with avocado, I know some people just love it, right? And if they find out that it’s bad for them, it’s probably hard for them to let it go, but it’s probably something where it’s in moderation or something or maybe ….
Naveen: It’s minimized. You eat sometimes, but here is the best part of it, Drew, things that are bad for you today, are the things that are good for you. As you change your diet, you are feeding different microbes and you are not feeding others. The balance changes and it is quite possible when you do the next test in 3 or 4 months, it will say now you can eat all the avocado you want. It will be fine. Think of your gut as a ecosystem, it’s not individual. So it’s like a see-saw, it’s imbalanced and you start to feed and now it’s in balance and if you don’t stop, it’s going to go imbalance the other way, right?
Naveen: So, you have to constantly straddle and keep it balanced. You tune your car once a year and you’ve got to tune your body at least a couple of times a year or it’s going to end up in the repair shop called an Emergency Room.
Drew: So how often do you recommend people doing a biome test? Once a year?
Narveen: If people have chronic conditions, I really believe you really want to get your gut in balance really fast. You should be doing every few months or so.
Narveen: As you start to get your chronic conditions in more or less a good place, then you can do twice a year and then you move on to once a year. But you really have to in the beginning, make sure you get the good balance rather than going up and down, up and down. Because if you don’t change, you essentially will have the inflammation. It’s not the bacteria. One of the things we learned was it’s not the bacteria that are good or bad, it’s the ecosystem that’s good or bad. So, just last week there was a really interesting research paper that came out that e-coli is actually helpful in your gut in allowing you to absorb iron in your mitochondria. Mitochondria need iron to produce ATP for the ATP cycle to produce energy. It turns out it is the e-coli that actually allows the body to absorb iron. Now everyone thinks that e-coli is bad.
Narveen: But same thing with C-diff. C-diff may be bad if it takes over, but every one of us has C-diff and it’s actually kept in balance with other organisms. If you don’t have any bacteria that are bad, your immune system is actually not active at that point. Your immune system is basically not primed so that when something happens, your immune system jumps on it. So you have got to keep your immune system primed and that is why you need the whole ecosystem. You can’t just have all good stuff.
Drew: *laughing* So you are saying, it’s ok to have some bad stuff every once in a while to provide balance?
Narveen: Because the ecosystem needs it to be in check. But what happens if you take antibiotics and you throw the nuclear bomb inside the body and the bad stuff takes over and that’s when you have a problem?
Drew: Ok, gotcha. It kind of disrupts the balance of it there, right?
Drew: Oh man, that is so awesome. What kind of feedback are you getting from the healthcare system, because that is what you are trying to fix. Doctors and all, how is it going with that industry?
Narveen: It’s very interesting, as you know we started the conversation with that. Everybody in the healthcare system wants you to stay sick, because that is the only time they make money. You go to them and say you are sick, oh ‘Cha-Ching’. The doctor makes money. The hospital makes money. The pharmaceutical company wants you to be sick. As a matter of fact, there was a CEO of a pharmaceutical company who said the best drug they double up is the drugs people have to take for the rest of their life. In other words, the drugs that don’t cure anything but keep people sick are the best drugs. Now I wonder how that person stands in front of the mirror and hasn’t shot himself yet, because that is a crime.
Drew: Wow. Yeah.
Narveen: The pharmaceutical companies have become a parasite on humanity. Now you and I in the humanity have to come together to kill these parasites. If we don’t kill these parasites, they are going to keep us sick. That is one reason, Drew, that instead of working with the healthcare system that is wanting to kill us, we decided we are going to go directly to the people who are sick. We are going to empower every person to become the CEO of their own health. I want you to take control of your own health. We want the health coaches, the nutrition coaches and people like you, Drew, who are getting this message across. It is people like you who are going to change the system. It’s not going to be the doctors and the hospitals, they are too committed to keeping people sick. So I salute you for what you do to bring the knowledge to people so they don’t feel victimized. When you are helpless and you are sick, you don’t know what to do. Guess what happens anytime you are helpless, someone is going to victimize you. That happens to be our healthcare system. I love what you do, Drew, bringing this knowledge to people so they don’t feel helpless.
Drew: Thank you. I really appreciate that and that’s why I am such a big believer in helping people become their own self experimentation and that comes with knowledge and learning how to do that. Viome, I think is a great way to give people that power to become the CEO of their own health, rather than I’m sick, go to the doctor. I am sick, I go to the doctor. They tell me what to take and I take it just blindly some times. That’s my hope and that’s my message so I really appreciate that. That’s why I am grateful to have you on my Podcast to further spread this message that this is the way we are going to change the healthcare system is by empowering people with that knowledge that they need and the tools that they need to become the CEO of their own health. I think it’s hard for people because they just want to be told what to do sometimes, but I think that’s how we are eventually going to change and break out of this situation we are in. I really appreciate that Naveen. Thank you for the kind words. *laughing*
Narveen: I really mean it. If you think about it, look, our current healthcare system, when you have a chronic disease, they never want to understand what is causing it. They simply want to suppress the symptom. We know it is inflammation. They don’t want to know what is causing inflammation. You have autoimmune disease, what do they do? They suppress the immune system. I have a headache, well let’s not worry about why. Let’s just suppress the headache, right? Every single thing is about suppressing the symptom. When you have a flame, the inflammation, the flame is burning and you suppress it here, it’s going to pop up in other places. So every time you have a chronic disease, you take one of their drugs, it causes a few more symptoms. Now you have nine more symptoms, they have a drug for all of them. By the time you get old, you are taking more pills than blueberries and that is a problem. That is really what our healthcare system does. Here is another thing that most people probably don’t know automatically. The best drugs, when they talk about efficacy, at the most they have efficacy of 20-25%. What that really means is that 75-80% of the time the drug you are taking is going to do absolutely no good to you and is only going to harm you. Remember the efficacy is only 25%, that means 75% of the people will have no good other than harm. Even the 25% of the people who benefit will also be harmed. Imagine any industry where you can go sell your product and say, 75% of the people are only going to be harmed by it. Other ones can be benefited but also be harmed by it. Can you buy my product please? *laughing*
Drew: *laughing* It’s crazy to think about it that way. If you change your perspective and see it from a different perspective, it really opens your eyes and kind of allows you to get out of the matrix. You have seen the movie the matrix, right?
Narveen: Oh yeah. You live in your own world. *laughing*
Drew: Exactly. So, last couple of questions, because we want to be respectful of your time. What about like very specific foods, like spinach, almonds, basic foods. But when it comes to aspartame or sucralose or these artificial sweeteners, are you guys expanding the data base of those foods?
Narveen: We actually have all of them in our database, but the fact is any of these artificial sweeteners, so you know how they work. When you actually eat something sweet, as soon as it touches your tongue, it releases the enzymes in our body and it says the sweetest stuff is coming. It starts releasing the insulin. Guess what happens? It goes down and guess what in the gut? They don’t see any of the stuff they are looking to digest, now we have all this insulin and eventually you become insulin resistant. So if you are drinking diet coke, what is going to happen is it is going to make you more fat than actually keeping you slim. The diet coke is actually makes you fat, because your body becomes completely insulin resistant because it essentially is expecting the glucose to come down and it doesn’t see the glucose coming down. All of this artificial stuff, other thing you probably saw all the things that are pesticides that they are putting in our food. What are they supposed to do? They are supposed to kill the organisms. Guess what? When you put them in your body, it’s killing those organisms that are keeping us healthy. Other research that is very interesting came out that you may really enjoy is about a month ago there was a paper published that said mothers microbiome during pregnancy has an impact on autism of the children.
Drew: Wow. Wow.
Narveen: Microbiome of the mom. Remember its producing the neurotransmitters. Serotonin, it’s producing gaba. It’s producing GDF. All the stuff that is being produced in your gut is what is actually allowed during child growth to develop the brain. If you don’t have the right microbiome, you are going to essentially have a child that is going to deficient in some of the good factors that it needs. During the first week of mothers breast milk, it contains mostly colostrum, that cannot be digested by the human body. It is there only to feed the microbiome. So imagine what nature is telling us. I just created this offspring, the best way I can keep it healthy is not to feed it but to feed them, right?
Drew: Hmmm. Interesting.
Narveen: Interestingly, if you think about us as basically a portable container for trillions of these organisms and they essentially created us for their own benefit. We really are a micro-organic organisms containing a multitude of these organisms. *laughing*
Drew: I know. It’s so amazing to think of that. When you said we are less than 1% human, if you think about it, it’s insane! *laughing* At the same time, it opens up people’s eyes. Anyways, Naveen. Thank you so much for coming on. One last question that I have for you, is Viome the only project you are working on or are you still working on these other projects? You talked about going to the moon next year, are you going to be going to the moon or is that just something you are working on?
Narveen: This is the only company that I am currently the CEO of. I am a chairman of Moon Express and we actually are going to be launching our first mission to the moon next year. The first mission is going to be an unmanned mission, but I am raising my hand that as soon as they go to the moon, I am going to be one of the first ones to go to the moon.
Drew: Ok. *laughing* Cool. Just curious. I had to ask that question. Really quick, how can people go find Viome and get their test kit? What is the quickest and easiest way for them to do that?
Narveen: The Indians can not pronounce the letter “V”. So, now you have to spell it. How do you spell Viome?
Drew: *laughing* ‘V-i-o-m-e’ Did I spell it right for you?
Narveen: That’s perfect. You can go to Viome.com and you can find and sign up for Viome. If you want to reach out to me, you can find me on social media on Twitter and Facebook. If you want to send me an email, my email is my first name and then ‘.’ last name @gmail.com. Feel free to reach out to me. I always answer every email. I read every email. I look forward to hearing from you, so please do reach out to me.
Drew: Wow, Narveen. You are awesome. Thank you so much for what you do. I really appreciate it. A lot of respect to you. Thank you for coming on and we will put all of this in the show notes.
Narveen: By the way, this is another one. This is my book coming out on October 1. “Moonshots”
Drew: What? Oh man! That is …. ok, we will put that in the show notes too. Moonshots. Really quick, what is it about?
Narveen: This is about how do we solve global challenges using technology and how you and I and a small group of people are capable of doing things that only the super powers could before. How entrepreneurs pick up super power.
Drew: Wow. Perfect timing, because this episode will come out right around that time. I will be looking forward to that Narveen, everyone make sure you go check out Moonshots. Narveen thank you for coming on. I really appreciate it.
Narveen: Thank you. Thank you.
Drew: Have a good one.
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