Gut-Brain-Axis Optimization for Peak Performance – Interview with NeuroPeak Pro

Here is a interview that I did with the great Joe Martinez at NeuroPeak Pro.


Hunger Buster Smoothies

Heading into the end of January – I can HEAR your stomach growling!

This is the time of year when a lot of people start to fall OFF their New Year’s resolutions to lose weight and get in shape – and a BIG reason for that fall off is because you’re HUNGRY!

I visited KUTV’s Fresh Living on Thursday (Jan 23) to talk about foods that can help reduce appetite – you can see the segment HERE.


Both of my Hunger Buster Smoothies include specific foods that are known to enhance SATIETY (reducing overall appetite and increasing feelings of fullness for longer).

Each of these foods is high in a phytonutrient called Falcarinol – it’s a naturally-occurring plant compound that helps to protect vegetables and herbs from insects – so in some ways it’s like the plant’s own natural insecticide.

Among the highest falcarinol-containing foods are carrots, parsley, celery, fennel, and mint.

In small amounts, falcarinol protects plants from bugs, but it also inhibits important appetite centers in the brain (CB1 receptors) – so we feel less hungry and more full for longer – which is exactly what many of us need to help us stay on that healthy eating plan.

Here are two of my go-to simple smoothie recipes – they only take a couple minutes to blend together.

The first one is really more of a morning Green Detox Juice – and the second is a more substantial Chocolate Mint Protein Shake.

Green Detox Juice

  • 1 stalk celery
  • 1 stalk fennel
  • 1/2 apple
  • 1 handful fresh parsley
  • 1 pinch each of paprika and salt
    • Blend together with 1 cup of cold water and handful of ice cubes

Chocolate Mint Protein Shake

  • 1 cup milk (of your choice) and a handful of ice cubes
  • 2 scoops Amare GBX Protein (Chocolate)
  • 1 carrot
  • 2 fresh mint leaves
    • Blend together with 1 cup of milk (of your choice) and a handful of ice cubes

Amare Product Overview (Jan 14, 2020)

Here is a recent video and slides (Talbott Amare Product Training SHORTER) from our regular weekly zoom call – where I cover an overview of how the Amare products help improve Mental Wellness by naturally modulating the Gut-Heart-Brain-Axis.

We do this call every week (and lots of others) – which you can find out how to join at HERE (hope to see you there)!

Project b3 on WTMJ Milwaukee

Had a nice visit with the hosts of The Morning Blend to discuss Amare’s unique approach to both physical health (weight loss) and mental wellness (mood, energy, stress).

See the segment here =

Mental Wellness Revolution in Grand Rapids MI – Saturday January 18


PDF version here = GrandRapidsMI-Jan18

Mental Wellness Revolution in Pewaukee WI – Thurs January 16



PDF version here = PewaukeeWI-Jan16

Mental Wellness Revolution in Southern CA – December 14

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Holiday Stress and Mental Wellness

Well, here we are again – the HOLIDAYS – the MOST STRESSFUL time of the year!

Halloween is done – and Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Year’s are looming ahead – AHH!

Stress, as we all know, can come from a variety of sources – and at this time of year, turkey with the in-laws, hanging Christmas lights, and opening your post-holiday Visa bill are just some of the many sources of our escalating stress levels.

During the holiday season, research surveys routinely show that more than HALF of us feel overwhelmed by the stress of the Holidays – meaning that all this holiday-cheer causes us as much stress as do dentist visits and speeding tickets!

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), more than half of all women (51%) and men (43%) in the United States experience heightened stress during the holidays – enough stress to put them at increased risk for physical and mental health effects.

Juggling work and added family responsibilities, such as planning for holiday gatherings, shopping for gifts, and cooking for extra guests, leave many of us feeling like we can’t take time to relax while we’re struggling to get everything done for the holidays.

Survey findings show that added holiday stress, on top of already high stress levels associated with work and the economy, makes it hard to relax. Cited as “multiple stressors” in the APA research are lack of time (69%), lack of money (69%), and pressure to give or get gifts (51%).

In addition, men and women who experience elevated levels of stress, rate their psychological and physical health lower than those who are not experiencing stress – and are more likely to experience a range of health ailments and symptoms such as sadness (59%), sleep problems (56%), and lack of energy (55%).

I hate to sound like a Scrooge (because I truly love the Holiday Season), but it’s interesting to note that when New Year’s Day rolls around, “reduce my stress levels” is second only to “lose some weight” among the most popular New Year resolutions. This is encouraging, not only because stress is associated with a higher risk for many diseases, but also because of the many very effective, very easy-to-follow strategies that can help control stress and improve Mental Wellness.

The link between stress and disease is partly due to the fact that stress generally encourages us to eat more and exercise less – which is exactly the opposite of what we should be doing when we’re under stress. It also appears that these higher stress levels also cause a direct change in the body’s metabolic machinery – so brain cells shrink, immune cells shutoff, and both mood and energy levels plummet. Think about it – this means that holiday stress is making us feel moody, fatigued, bloated, confused, irritable, and sick – not exactly the type of “holiday cheer” you’re probably looking for in your stocking…

A key culprit in these metabolic changes appears to be an imbalance between body’s microbiome, immune system, adrenal (stress) system, and gut-brain-axis. The latest science is showing us that imbalances between these vital systems appears to be at the heart of the epidemic of depression and fatigue that we see (in men and women) across all parts of our modern society.

Luckily, we have a lot of options for controlling stress. Stress management, regular exercise, and a balanced diet can all help to control the stress response and keep metabolic balance right where it should be – but, what else can you do to help maintain metabolic balance during the Holiday Season?

Here are my “Top 5” ways to resist the detrimental health effects of Holiday Stress:

  1. Love Yourself First – Have an “outlet” (a hobby or some diversion outside of work…
  2. Practice Gratitude – being thankful can lower your stress hormones by ~25%. Learn to tell the difference between “big” issues and “little” issues… and learn to “look on the bright side” (really) – as simplistic as it sounds, the fact that you can look to “what is improving” in a given situation can help to psychologically buffer the stress in others areas of your life…
  3. Connect with Others – Hang out with friends (avoid social isolation) – tough times are always easier when you’re around other people – and the Holidays are the perfect time to get together with family and friends…
  4. Give Back – altruistic behaviors release endorphins – giving a gift feels better than getting a gift!
  5. Supplement Strategically
    1. Kanna (South Africa) increases stress resilience by 60% within 3 weeks and provides rapid anti-stress effects after a single use.
    2. Rafuma (China/Japan) – reduces depression by 30% within 4 weeks and 50% within 8 weeks.
    3. Ashwagandha (India) – reduces stress by 70% and cortisol exposure by 25%.
    4. Magnolia Bark (Africa) – reduces negative mood states such as anxiety, tension, and irritability by as much as 42% within 4 weeks.
    5. Prebiotic Fiber such as galactomannan (India) and galacto-oligo-saccharide (England) can help to reduce cortisol (primary stress hormone) and improve stress resilience by “feeding” the good bacteria in the gut.
    6. Enzyme-treated Asparagus (Japan) – induces the production of natural anti-stress molecules called Heat Shock Proteins that can protect cells from stress and support mood and cognitive function.
    7. Guayusa leaf (Amazon rainforest) provides energy and endurance without the jitters or crash common with high-stimulant or high-sugar energy drinks.
    8. Pine Bark (New Zealand) can help to calm the tense/anxious/stressed “monkey mind” that keeps us from concentrating and performing at our mental peak.
    9. AHCC (Japan) – stands for “active hexose correlated compound” derived from cultured mushroom mycelia, which supports microRNA signaling between the microbiome and the brain to reduce anxiety.
    10. Ginger & Artichoke (India) reduce feelings of discomfort and bloating after eating a meal and the combination improves overall GI function by 24%.
    11. Probiotic Bacteria (Canada) – specific strains such as Lactobacillus rhamnosus R0011 have been shown to reduce stress by lowering cortisol exposure and improving levels of GABA(relaxing neurotransmitter).
    12. Pomegranate (California) – improves overall brain activation in areas of the brain associated with memory/cognition and areas associated with calming/relaxation – delivering a combined benefit of “engaged focus” when you’re most stressed.
    13. Theanine (Japan) is an amino acid naturally found in green tea leaves that can help shift brain waves away from tension/anxiety (beta-waves) and toward “relaxed alertness” (alpha-waves) within as little as 30 minutes.
    14. Saffron (Spain) – has been shown to be as effective as Ritalin for focus and Prozac for mood – both of which can be in short supply during the height of Holiday Stress!
    15. Corn Grass (from North America) helps you fall asleep 33% faster while increasing REM rejuvenating sleep by 24% and boosting overall sleep quality by 40%.

In bringing this physical and mental balance into our Holiday Seasons, we’re better able to resist the detrimental health effects of stress and less likely to suffer the “Bah-Humbugs” that so many of us succumb to each year. By maintaining metabolic balance during the most stressful time of year, we’ll all be happier and healthier in the New Year. Happy Holidays!

About the Author: Dr. Shawn Talbott received dual Bachelor’s degrees in Sports Medicine (B.S.) and Fitness Management (B.A.) from Marietta College, his Master’s degree (M.S.) in Exercise Science from UMASS, and his Ph.D. in Nutritional Biochemistry from Rutgers. His research is focused on natural products to support human performance and psychological vigor (physical energy, mental acuity, and emotional well-being).

Dr. Talbott’s recent projects include two academic textbooks, an award-winning documentary film, and several best-selling books translated into multiple languages. His work has been featured on The Dr. Oz Show, the TED stage, and the White House. He serves as the Chief Science Officer for Amare Global, The Mental Wellness Company.

Boswellia Helps IBS

The exact same boswellia extract (Casperome) that we use in Amare Relief+ (for reducing pain/stiffness due to soft tissue inflammation) has recently been shown to also alleviate symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) – a condition associated with inflammation in the gut.

No wonder that many people who use Relief+ often report feeling both physically and mentally better – likely due to improvements across their entire gut-brain-axis.


Minerva Gastroenterologica e Dietologica

2019 March;65(1):30-5

Oral administration of a lecithin-based delivery form of boswellic acids (Casperome®) for the prevention of symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome: a randomized clinical study

Antonella RIVA 1, Luca GIACOMELLI 2 ✉, Stefano TOGNI 1, Federico FRANCESCHI 1, Roberto EGGENHOFFNER 2, Maria Chiara ZUCCARINI 3, Gianni BELCARO 3

1 Indena S.p.A, Milan, Italy; 2 Department of Surgical Sciences and Integrated Diagnostics, University of Genoa, Genoa, Italy; 3 IRVINE3 Vascular Lab and Physiology, Chieti-Pescara University, Pescara, Italy

BACKGROUND: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the long-term efficacy and the safety of a lecithin-based delivery form of boswellic acids from Boswellia serrata (Casperome®) for the prevention of symptoms in otherwise healthy subjects with mild irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

METHODS: The study included 69 otherwise healthy participants with a mild form of IBS who completed a 6-month follow-up period. In total, 34 subjects were assigned to the standard management (SM) group: diet and, if needed, hyoscine butylbromide (Buscopan®) or papaverine hydrochloride + 10 mg of Atropa belladonna extract; 35 subjects were assigned to supplementation with the Boswellia serrata lecithin-based delivery form (one tablet/day; Casperome®). IBS signs and symptoms were evaluated at inclusion (T0), after 3 (T1) and 6 months (T2). The numbers of patients who needed rescue medication were recorded. Adverse events were also evaluated.

RESULTS: At baseline, the groups were comparable in terms of demographic and clinical characteristics. At follow-up, compared with the SM group, the Boswellia group showed lower mean score values for almost all self-assessed IBS symptoms.

A significantly lower need for rescue medications and consultations or medical evaluation/admissions was found in the Boswellia group compared with the SM group. The incidence of minimal adverse events – mainly stipsis – was significantly higher in the SM group. Oxidative stress at T2 was significantly decreased in Boswellia-supplemented subjects.

CONCLUSIONS: Boswellia serrata lecithin-based delivery form (Casperome®) appears to be effective and safe in improving signs and symptoms in IBS subjects who are otherwise healthy, particularly in comparison with symptomatic drug treatment that may cause side effects and stiptis.

KEY WORDS: Irritable bowel syndrome – Boswellia – Abdominal pain – Boswellic acid

Probiotics seem to have reached a tipping point?

For the last several years, there has been a LOT of hype around probiotics – also known as “good” bacteria that you can now find in all manner of supplements and fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, kombucha, and increasingly in a lot of junk food like sweetened cereal and ultra-processed energy bars.

Recently, I’ve been noticing a growing number of articles along the lines of, “Do probiotics actually work?” – and “Could probiotics actually be ‘bad’ for you?” Including the recent story in the Wall Street Journal – pasted below with my highlights and comments.

In an effort to set the record straight, I want to tell you that probiotics are neither automatically “miracles” nor “dangerous” – but the specific types of probiotics that you choose could make all the difference in whether they “work” – or not.

The “right” probiotic supplement can help you…

  • Enhance gut function (less gas/bloating and better digestion)
  • Improve mood
  • Recover from exercise
  • Bolster immune system function
  • Reduce inflammation

The “wrong” probiotic supplement might…

  • Do nothing at all (good or bad)
  • Interfere with normal microbiome balance (e.g. taking too many of the wrong strains)
  • Lead to more gas/bloating (rather than less)
  • Set off an immune system or inflammatory reaction

Choosing the “right” probiotic supplement involves selecting one that…

  • Uses specific strains that have been clinically validated for the benefit you’re seeking
    • For example, some strains help with mood, other strains help with digestion, others with immune function, etc – and most products don’t even tell you the specific strains contained – so buyer beware!
  • Combines probiotics (the bacteria) with prebiotic fibers (“food” for the bacteria) and with phytobiotics (plant nutrients that support microbiome signaling)
    • The combined approach seems to be much more effective in generating end-benefits compared to simply relying on the typical “just bugs” approach of gulping isolated bacteria, yogurt or kombucha? Again – buyer beware because not all formulas that have “more stuff” deliver a true synergy of benefits (see below).
  • Has scientific evidence for benefits of the specific finished product
    • While it makes good sense to combine bacteria with their preferred food source and with nutrients to protect them and enhance metabolism, you have to study the end product – because maybe combining one bacteria with another causes them to fight each other for resources? Maybe adding the wrong prebiotic fiber will starve the bacteria you’re trying to grow, versus enhance its growth?

Here’s a recent article from the Wall Street Journal where a very knowledgeable writer – a physician and director of an integrative cancer program – makes many of the mistakes I note above in their choice of probiotics. My highlighted version appears below (red is highlight blue is comments) – and the original article is at WSJ =

Those Probiotics May Actually Be Hurting Your ‘Gut Health’

The newly fashionable pills and foods meant to increase the variety of healthy bacteria in our bodies can actually have the opposite effect

By Lorenzo Cohen   Oct. 10, 2019

The idea of “gut health” entered the personal health world just a few years ago, but it has already become one of the biggest trends in nutrition. The new focus on the living microorganisms in our digestive systems has particularly fueled one fast-growing market for foods and supplements: probiotics.

Are probiotics actually good for us? Over the past decade, U.S. consumption has more than quadrupled, and in the next 10 years global sales are forecast to nearly double. But the most recent research suggests that over-the-counter probiotic supplements—the hottest growth area—could have a detrimental effect.

Correct – IF to take the “wrong” ones – or even if you take “too many” of the “right” ones. Right now, many consumers choose their probiotic products by looking for whatever is on sale (bad idea) – or products that have “high” CFUs (colony forming units – the “strength” of the probiotic) – or list “more” different types of bacteria than another product. NONE of these is a good reason to select a probiotic supplement – you need to choose base on the benefit you’re looking for and select the strain that delivers that benefit.

Probiotics are microorganisms, such as bacteria or yeast, intended to confer health benefits. They can be ingested in supplements such as pills and capsules, or in foods and beverages that are naturally rich in them or infused with them, including yogurt, kombucha or fermented vegetables. The health claims made for probiotics range from preventing tooth decay and eczema to treating diarrhea and inflammatory bowel diseases, ulcers, vaginal and urinary tract infections, and even cancer. They are most popularly associated, however, with maintaining overall gut health.

When we talk about gut health, we’re really talking about the gut microbiome, made up of the hundreds of kinds of microbiota such as bacteria, parasites and viruses that are routinely found in and on our body. The increased attention to the health of our gut microbiome is undoubtedly good. An unhealthy microbiome has been linked with a growing list of diseases and conditions, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, psoriasis, childhood-onset asthma, gastrointestinal disorders and neuropsychiatric illness like depression and anxiety. Some research also points to a link between gut bacterium and key hormones that regulate appetite and can contribute to obesity.

Correct – but the specific strains on bacteria that help with obesity are different from the strains that help with depression, which are different than the strains that help with gut health. It’s vitally important to understand the concept of “strain specificity” – that certain benefits are delivered by specific strains (and not by any “generic” probiotics).

Studies over the past 10 years have shown that the greater the diversity of our microbiome, the better our health outcomes. Such diversity is also linked with lower overall body fat, reduced insulin resistance, better immune function and decreased inflammation—all important for fighting diseases.More recent research has shown connections between the microbiome and a number of different cancers, including colon, liver, pancreatic, lung and breast; emerging data also link it to melanoma. In a landmark paper by my colleague Dr. Jennifer Wargo at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center that was published in Science last year, melanoma patients with the healthiest gut microbiomes—that is, the greatest diversity of microorganisms—showed enhanced systemic and antitumor immunity as well as significantly increased odds of responding to immunotherapy. The microbiome has clearly become part of the puzzle of how cancer develops and how patients respond to treatment.

I’ve spent most of my adult life dedicated to cancer research, so when I was diagnosed with advanced melanoma just over a year ago, I felt confident that I knew exactly what I needed to do. Alongside my conventional care, my first step was to get my gut microbiome—already in good shape from my mostly vegan, high-fiber diet—as healthy as possible.

I started eating and drinking more foods that are rich in probiotics. My gastrointestinal tract felt great and everything was going along smoothly (pun intended). I assumed that the kinds of bacteria in these foods increased the diversity of my microbiome, as each one would contribute something different. But I could find little actual information available to make certain of that: Probiotics may list multiple bacteria in their ingredients, but they usually come from no more than five different major strains and often only the same two, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.

After about six months, I expected my gut microbiome to be in great health. Instead, its diversity was less than before I started.

I also stopped eating refined carbohydrates (white flour, white rice, etc.) and ate less whole grains, because I wanted to lower my overall glycemic load. Extensive research shows that dietary glycemic load—a reflection of the amount of sugar in your diet—is linked with cancer risk and worse outcomes after a cancer diagnosis. We also know that spikes in insulin, due to rapid increases in glucose when eating a refined carbohydrate-rich diet, leads to inflammation—which also raises cancer risk and has other negative health consequences.

After about six months of this modified diet, I expected my gut microbiome to be in great health. Instead, to my shock, its diversity was less than before I started the diet. I had actually made the health of my microbiome worse.

My personal results were mirrored by a study that our MD Anderson team had just presented at an international meeting. The provocative findings received a lot of publicity. The preliminary results showed that patients who reported taking an over-the-counter probiotic supplement had a lower probability of responding to immunotherapy as well as lower microbiome biodiversity. But those eating a high-fiber diet were about five times more likely to respond to immunotherapy and had high gut bacteria diversity, including bacteria previously linked to a strong immunotherapy response.

It turned out that taking an over-the-counter probiotic pill could inadvertently decrease microbiome biodiversity. A study last year from Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science similarly found that taking an over-the-counter probiotic supplement delayed reconstitution and recovery of the gut microbiome in mice and humans after antibiotic treatment.

To get my microbiome back on track, I reduced the probiotic-rich foods I was eating and drinking and I started to add more fermentable fibers from healthy whole grains like oats, buckwheat and barley and from seeds such as hemp, flax and chia. The results were startling. Not only did the diversity increase, the change completely reversed the negative effect of the probiotics-rich, low whole-grain diet and even improved my gut health over my previous vegan diet.

These type of improvements in microbiome diversity and resilience that we have seen in studies of Fundamentals and Project b3 – two product packs from Amare Global that combine specific probiotic strains, with matched prebiotic fibers, supportive phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, etc. In short, the ”right” way to nourish your microbiome is NOT to overload it with any one type of probiotic intervention, but to provide a range of supportive nutrients (including a background diet that is generally high in fiber and brightly colored fruits and vegetables – aka the “Mental Wellness Diet” that is based on the Mediterranean Diet).

In my case, we do not know for sure what caused the increase in biodiversity—decreasing the probiotic-rich foods, increasing healthy whole grains and seeds, or a combination of both. It’s possible that too much consumption of a narrow band of probiotics may disrupt an otherwise diverse and healthy microbiome. (Exactly!) Or it may be more important to keep up the consumption of grains because they are the main food source for beneficial bacteria. What we do know is that a low-fiber diet is associated with low biodiversity and a scarcity of healthy bacterial species, and that the microbiome flourishes with a high-fiber diet that includes fermentable fibers from whole grains and other foods.

The market for probiotic-rich designer foods is huge, and the supplement industry and technologies to manipulate the microbiome are ever-expanding. Yet I now believe that the cheapest and safest way to improve our microbiome and gut health is to make simple dietary changes to feed the development of good bacteria and crowd out the bad. There is no pill, special food, unique diet or quick fix for what ails our health and diet. The key is simply to focus on eating a diverse, whole-food, plant-centered, high-fiber diet. (Wrong! The key is to have that as your background diet – AND then to supplement in a targeted fashion to optimize your benefits).

—Dr. Cohen is director of the Integrative Medicine Program at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and the co-author of “Anticancer Living: Transform Your Life and Health with the Mix of Six.”