Optimal Digestion Blueprint Part III

<—–Part II     Part IV —->

I’m Fernando,

Fernando Bernall.

I’m a certified functional medicine practitioner and a doctor of oriental medicine. I’ve been in practice for over thirty years. And for the last ten years or so, I’ve focused my practice in helping women get rid of the abdominal pain, reduce bloating, and enjoy food again.

I am a licensed acupuncture physician in Florida and in Colorado. I’m certified functional medicine practitioner.

I’m a national board certified, certified in applying functional medicine in clinical practice by the Institute of Functional Medicine, certified in blood chemistry analysis, GI MAP certification as for stool testing.

I love physiology. I am a perpetual student and an educator.

But even though I am now a sought after practitioner and currently my brick and mortar practice is focused on gastrointestinal conditions, I want you to know that things certainly weren’t always this way.

 Let me show you what I mean.

 Back in the late seventies, I had been a vegetarian, borderline vegan for over ten years. During that time, I worked as a contractor, and I trained in serious martial arts, and I and I ran around fifteen miles every day as I was preparing to run for the Chicago marathon.

I was young, and I could get away with it.

At some point, I noticed that my injuries sustained during training or during construction work were not healing as quickly as they should have.

And I did not know at that time that I was already setting the stage for problems to come. Keep this in mind because I’ll address that later.

I decided that a vegan vegetarian diet may not be provided the necessary nutrients and protein to heal my injuries.

 So I decided to return to eating meat.

One day, I came across this West Indies restaurant. Now, this restaurant was in the north side of Chicago, which at that time was a bit on the rough side. So it was probably not the best choice of a restaurant to return to eat a meat, but I did anyway.

So I went in and ordered this awesome smell and appetizing dish. It was like a stew as I recall. And from that day on, my digestion was screwed up. It was never the same. The next day, I didn’t feel great, but like most guys, I said, heck, it’ll go away.

But it didn’t.

I was not regular, whereas before, I was like clockwork.

Not anymore. I was bloated after eating. Going to the bathroom was unpredictable. Sometimes it would be diarrhea, but more often than not, it was constipation.

This went on literally for years, and I kept it to myself for all those years.

 I try everything. Like you, I try everything.

I changed my diet back to being a vegetarian.

I try every laxative that you can find.

I tried colon cleanses, you know, the so called master cleanse where you drink all this water with salt and pepper and maple syrup. Well, that drove my blood pressure sky high. So, someone told me that I’m massaging my abdomen clockwise will help.

Nothing worked.

 I remember the moment when it all fell apart.

It was during a Thanksgiving dinner, and I could not eat. I was bloated within minutes of starting to eat. I had to excuse myself.

 I had become chronically constipated. My doctor prescribed more laxatives, more fibers. He was astonished when I told him that it didn’t work.

I could go several days without going to the bathroom. And when I did, it could have been diarrhea or a lot of straining to evacuate. I was miserable. I gained weight, always in a bad mood, afraid to eat.

I should have bought stock in prune companies. I ate so many of them to keep me somewhat regular.

 So after much suffering, it sent me on a journey to find answers.

Someone asked me once, why didn’t I get a colonoscopy?

Well, keep in mind that at that time, mid-eighties, doctors were not prescribing colonoscopies to their patients as much as it is done now.

 And when it was, it was mostly for those over the age of fifty, which I was not.

Because, really, colonoscopies became more popular around nineteen eighty five after president Ronald Reagan, his doctor insisted on the president getting a colonoscopy because he saw some abnormalities of the president’s labs. And eventually, that led to the president doing a colonoscopy and revealed that he had colon cancer, and it saved his life.

But for me, not being a president and not being fifty, there was no colonoscopy.

So to find answers, I decided in nineteen eighty nine to, go to medical school.

I enrolled in a local university and did my pre-med studies there.

And then later, I chose to focus on natural medicine, and I enrolled in a Chinese medicine school.

After graduation, I started my practice and took a deep look into the GI tract.

With whatever information I could put my hands on beyond what I already had learned while in school.

Now keep in mind, this was before the World Wide Web.

 There was no YouTube or Google, Facebook, etcetera.

None of that.

No one was talking about the gut as we do today.

And what you and I are doing right now, where you are seeking help by watching this master class, and I’m here to provide it by way of a computer hooked online, was impossible on those days.

 You might remember.

That was sci fi, James Bond, Star Trek material.

It was more about going to the library and bookstores, and even that information was limited.

And at that time and even today, the average doctor was not then or even now really aware of the impact the microbiome has on human health.

For that matter, the term microbiome was seldom ever used. It wasn’t until two thousand and one that the term was used in the gastrointestinal literature.

There was no talk about the gut brain axis or gut adrenal axis or gut heart axis.

None of that.

Look. The Human Microbiome Project, when they began to sequence the genes and the microorganisms that in our is in our guts, the bacteria, didn’t start until two thousand and seven and ended around two thousand and sixteen.

That was four years after the human genome project where they sequenced our genes, ended in two thousand and three.

And that Human Microbiome Project provided the first glimpse of the microbial diversity in the human gut and began to consider the possible relationships between some human diseases and the microbiome.

But before that, forget it.

We’ve come a long way since then.

 So after endless frustration, I finally discovered and understood that silent offenders had disrupted my gut microbiome.

In my case, which silent offenders?

Well, the food that I ate at that restaurant certainly played a role in my digestive symptoms.

But that was just a straw that broke the camel’s back.

The silent offenders had been at play way before that day.

Do you remember back when I said that I was already setting up the stage for a problem in the future and that my injuries from work and martial arts were not healing as they should have?

And I’m sharing this with you so that you understand that not all digestive problems arise from what we eat or don’t eat.

That’s why I said earlier it is not your fault.

You’re not to blame. There are other factors at play.

Let me share with you three key players that led to my digestive problems and my overall health.

These actor’s were:

The excessive exercise,

 the stress of running a construction company,

 and a poor design vegan diet.

And you may ask, why exercise?

I thought exercise was good for you.

Well, it is, except when it is prolonged and too strenuous.

So from the journal, Frontiers in Nutrition, the title gives it away.

Is there an exercise intensity threshold capable of avoiding the leaky gut?

Now let me read this for you here.

 While low to moderate intensity is associated with positive effects on the gastrointestinal tract, including mucosa preservation and improved intestinal motility, ischemia and hypoperfusion.

Now we’re talking there about lack of oxygen supply due to low blood flow.

Ischemia and hypoperfusion associated with extraneous exercise are commonly associated with reduced gastric motility.

Epithelial injury, disturbed mucosal integrity, enhanced permeability, impaired nutrition absorption, and endotoxemia with local and systemic low grade inflammation.

That tells the story right there.

So here I was running an average of fifteen miles per day after a long day of construction work,

 followed by at least three times per week of martial arts training.

Yeah. I was young, so I could get away with it,

but I was depleting my reserves,

my physiology

I was taking money out of the bank and not putting any back into the savings, if if you know what I mean.

And and I loved to run.

I really understood what runners meant about the runner’s high.

There is this, state of euphoria after a long run that is addictive.

But without me knowing it, I was already developing what I later learned was called the runner’s gut.

So now we’re dealing with the stress effect on the gut.

 And this paper from the Journal of Physiology,

it says, human studies indicate that acute psychological stress can increase GI permeability in the small and large intestines.

So that’s a keyword we keep seeing, GI permeability.

Because when the the integrity of the cells become compromised for whatever reason, then we’re allowing that outside world into our inner being, and that’s what causes a lot of this inflammation and endotoxemia, the the toxics into our bodies released by bacteria that dies and and and the the waste product goes into our system.

 So I had my share of stress.

But you see, my own digestive system should have been able to deal with whatever little bug I got that day at at that restaurant.

Few days of maybe diarrhea or constipation or just indigestion, But my body should have been able to get rid of it, but it didn’t.


Because I was already depleted, and the stage had already been set up for this problem to develop.

And now we talk about my diet, the vegan diet that I was doing at that time.

When you’re eating a vegan or vegetarian diet, and for that matter, any diet, but in my case, primarily vegan diet, occasional fish here and there, an occasional egg, but pretty much vegan.

 And there is nothing wrong with a vegetarian or a vegan diet if you do it right.

That’s the key. To be honest, if one is not well educated in nutrition, which at that time, I was not, one can potentially make dietary mistakes that can, in the long run, affect your digestion and overall health.

So I really did not know anything about the need of vitamin b twelve. This vitamin is primarily found in animal products.

So vegans need to find fortified foods or take supplements.

Or the fact that high levels of consumption of grains could inhibit absorption of zinc, iron, calcium, magnesium, and other minerals due to the high content of Phylic acid.

Or that non-heme iron, iron derived from plants, is not well absorbed in the absence of vitamin c, unlike heme iron, iron from animal source.

So my diet, although apparently healthy being plant based, was really a problem waiting to manifest itself.

Again, nothing wrong with this diet, but you have to do it right.

I didn’t.

And once I had that realization, I finally figured out a better way to solve it.

Armed with the knowledge about how my microbiome had been disrupted by those silent offenders and having taken a serious study of the available literature in the intestinal bacteria that was available back then, I decided to take a look, if you will, into my gut.

Sometime around two thousand and two, I found a company that had developed a stool test that would give the practitioner or the patient a better look at the composition of his or her microbiome, the intestinal bacteria.

And although I was a little apprehensive, I took it.

The test had been developed by a company called Doctors Data, a company that had been providing functional labs since nineteen ninety nineteen seventy two.

And their stool test gave a comprehensive evaluation of my GI microbiome using what, at that time, were considered advanced laboratory techniques.

And back then, the test was not as comprehensive as it is now, but it gave me a view of the condition that my gut was in.

That ignore human organ that Bocci called the gut, was in despair, and that’s what turned it around for me.

I was no longer guessing.

 I had quantifiable data of my intestinal environment, and life is a whole lot better now

I took action on what I found in my stool test results.

I was no longer guessing.

I started making my own yogurt, kefir, fermented foods, and prokinetics, and through trial and error, I fixed the problem.

I made use of some natural antimicrobials that I had learned about in Chinese medicine school.

I learned about the right prebiotics to take.

Now my gut feels amazing, and I’ve made it my mission to help others feel just as good before my days are over on this earth.

 It took time, perseverance, and a vision.

You see, I’m not just the author of this program. I’m also a client.

And best of all, I’ve done all the work and experimenting so that you don’t have to anymore.

And don’t worry. You won’t have to make your own yogurt or kefir if you don’t want to.

There are awesome companies making pre and probiotics in capsule or powder form that will do the job.

I just like the ritual of making yogurt, and I find it soothing. But you don’t have to.

But if you decide to do it, I can teach you.

The key is to be a good landlord with our tenants, the microorganisms that live inside of us, to provide them with a suitable environment to live so that they can thrive.

In turn,

 they pay the rent by giving us good digestion, vitamins, protection against pathogens.

 And like all symbiotic relationships, it is a win win kind of deal.

What it really takes, what I’ve learned from this journey, is that you don’t have to be a scientist to achieve the results you want.

You just have to be committed.

And the fact that you are here taking the first step towards your bigger future says a lot about your commitment.

So great job, and let’s just keep going.

ust imagine what life looks like when you no longer have to struggle with going to the bathroom multiple times a day or not going for days at a time.

 Just imagine how amazing it feels to enjoy food normally again.

Imagine what it feels like to finally improve your digestion and lose some weigh