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Live Dirty, Eat Clean: Robynne Chutkan, MD on Everything Microbiome

By November 8, 2015January 19th, 202414 Comments
Episode #192



Our bodies are comprised of about ten trillion cells.

But our microbiome— all the bacteria, viruses, and fungi that live in or on our bodies – outnumber human cells by a factor of 10. Therefore, it can be said that we are far more microorganism than human.

We choose to believe that we are sentient beings, responsible for our health, moods and decisions. But the crazy truth is that to a large extent, our emotional state, propensity for disease and even our specific food cravings can all be traced back to the nature of our gut ecology.

Most of these microorganisms are symbiotic. Maintaining a healthy culture of the right microorganisms is fundamental to good health. But should the quality of your microbiome go awry, health havoc ensues.

This week on the show we delve deep into the nuts and bolts of this fascinating and quickly evolving field of medicine with respected gastroenterologist, microbiome expert and avid marathoner Robynne Chutkan, MD ( @DrChutkan ).

A graduate of Yale, Dr. Chutkan received her medical degree from Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York, where she also did her internship and residency and served as Chief Resident. She completed her fellowship in gastroenterology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York and has been on the faculty at Georgetown University Hospital since 1997.

There is no question that the number one food to eat to grow a good gut garden is plant fiber, and there really can be no debate about that.


In 2004, Dr, Chutkan founded the Digestive Center for Women, an integrative gastroenterology practice that incorporates nutritional optimization, exercise physiology, biofeedback, and stress reduction as part of the therapeutic approach to digestive disorders.

Lecturing throughout the United States and Europe, Dr. Chutkan has authored dozens of journal articles; serves as medical consultant and on air talent for the Discover Health Channel; is a member of the medical advisory board for the Dr. Oz Show (where she has appeared as a regular guest); and has also made national appearances on The Today Show, The Morning Show, and The Doctors.

Consistently named one of the area’s best doctors by Washingtonianmagazine, Dr. Chutkan is also the author of two bestselling books, Gutbliss* and most recently, The Microbiome Solution*.

Specific topics covered today include:

  • what is the microbiome?
  • The regulatory functions of the microbiome
  • the perils of over-sanitization
  • why you should avoid a c-section birth
  • the problem with prophylactic antibiotic prescription
  • the hygiene hypothesis & modern plagues
  • the affluence effect & overmedication
  • the nexus between antibiotics & autoimmune disorders
  • behavior/cravings influenced by the microbiome
  • eating disorder impact on microbial makeup
  • why you should rethink the flu shot
  • rewilding your microbiome
  • the efficacy of probiotics & fermented foods
  • products and environments that disrupt our body’s ecosystems
  • fecal bacteriotherapy

Live dirty, eat clean.


I’ve known Robynne for a couple years. Delightful and whip smart, she’s an absolute expert when it comes to effectively communicating her experience and understanding of microbiome health in a way that is relatable and easily understood by the lay person.

This is an absolutely fascinating conversation on all facets of gut and skin health that just might change how you eat; how you shop for consumer hygiene and cleansing products; how you bathe (or don’t bathe); and simply, how you live.

Change your microbiome, change your life. Or as Dr. Chutkan is fond of saying: live dirty, eat clean.

Today we find out how and why. I sincerely hope you enjoy the exchange and look forward to your thoughts in the comments section below.

Peace + Plants,

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For a complete list of all RRP sponsors, vanity URLs & discount codes, visit my Resources.

Connect With Dr. Chutkan: Gutbliss Website | Twitter | Facebook

Check Out Dr. Chutkan’s Books:

Background, Context & Reference:

Recommended Gultbliss Blog Posts by Robyn:

Notable People Discussed in today’s podcast:

Patronize Our Sponsors: For a complete list of all RRP sponsors and their respective vanity URLs and discount codes, click “Sponsors” here.

Production & sound design by Dean Menta. Music by SrimatiTyler Piatt. Additional production by Chris Swan. Graphic art by Shawn Patterson.

*Disclosure: Books and products denoted with an asterisk are hyperlinked to an affiliate program. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.


  • joeyodonnell says:

    here cousin is john barnes FWIW !!

  • Tommy F says:

    In the treatment of a symptom-specific condition, your doctor prescribes a medicine, which comes from a (pHARM)aceutical company, instead of a FARM.. Then it’s a sure sign it’s time to find a new doctor.

    The gut micro-biome is beyond real. Chemical and processed food companies have been aware of its existence for years, and capitalize on that knowledge by creating products which hold us prisoners to their chemicalized, synthesized and over-processed products. We “think” it’s our own choice and decision making, but the hungry ghost within our gut is actually pulling the strings connected to our thinking minds.


  • Brenda says:

    The US would be a much healthier country if there were more doctors like Dr. Chutkan. Rich – I hope you have more doctors like her on to discuss the McCarthy-like atmosphere gong on right now where even the mention that we need to rethink the overuse of vaccines can lead to the loss of a medical license among other types of backlash. The same thing is going on in the cancer industry where any mention of an alternative to chemo is derided as quackery.

  • Patricia says:

    Thanks so much for this, Rich! Invaluable! I always recommend your podcast to others, but I am going into overdrive recommending this one. As an aside, and apropos of the GMO conversation last week, the way that glyphosate operates as a herbicide (i.e. the way it kills plants) is by disrupting the shikimate pathway, the metabolic pathway in plants that produces aromatic essential amino acids. Monsanto said Round-Up was safe for humans because we don’t have the shikimate pathway. However, every single one of our trillions of bacteria do! (And glyphosate disproportionately disrupts our beneficial bacteria.) No need to go into all the potential consequences, but one can see how massive amounts of glyphosate in our soil, air, water, GM foods AND in crops sprayed with it in order to desiccate them prior to harvest (especially wheat) could really damage our microbiome. Another piece to add to the puzzle.

  • Matthew Labrise says:


    You never cease to amaze and positively influence my journey. Bless you, brother. Thank you!! I love you!!!

  • Sue Miller says:

    My new favorite RRP episode. Thank you SO much for putting this up; PLEASE have her back on again. I have ordered her book and will spread the word. VITAL info in this podcast.

  • Brianna says:

    Hi Rich!

    This was one of the best interviews ever because of the in depth content. Also because of the topic itself. I’ve been a huge fan of bacteria for quite some time now.

    Have you ever heard of GAPS? Gut and psychology syndrome from Dr. Campbell McBride?

    Also, I do have a few questions:
    + About replenishing bacteria and if there are any studies about gene expression after bacteria are restored.
    + And, can we ever really restore our flora to the maximum potential? Curious to know.
    + Does cell phone radiation or EMF destroy bacteria?

    I’ve been on anti-biotics since I was a baby. Should I be tested for auto-immune or thyroid issues? I’m really focused on restoring my gut health more than ever now.

    Thanks for the amazing content! Been sharing it like crazy,

  • Troy says:

    How does Dr. Chutkan recommend using and interpreting the uBiome results? I was interested in getting it done but there doesn’t seem to be much useful and actionable things you can do with it.

    Also, she mentioned a checklist to use before taking antibiotics. Where is this checklist found and what are her recommendations regarding antibiotics before going surgery?


  • Brett Sanborn says:

    “When surgeons are pulling plaque out of arteries, that’s not kale, that’s straight lard”

    best line ever

  • Elizabeth says:

    I was really enjoying the podcast until you strayed in to vaccination and began recommending reading Robert Kennedy and mentioning thimerosal, As you each say, you are not immunologists so please stick with your areas of expertise. Vaccine immunology is very complex and if you don’t understand it it would be best to stay away from it.

  • alana white says:

    best podcast ever. I am busy sending it to all my doctor friends because as she said, a lot of them dont know this stuff, which when you think about it, is sad.

  • Jillian says:

    I loved this discussion! As a weekly listener, this was one of my favorites. Many of my friends and family are doctors and nurses- I am so excited to share this with them over Thanksgiving! Robynne did a great job of explaining the issues/interest with out being too confrontational.

  • Jes says:

    One of your best ever – Dr Chutkan is a brilliant speaker and you asked some really thought provoking questions. Got me through a run-commute AND a delayed train journey the following day 🙂

  • Amy Tamborlane Steffen says:

    I loved this episode — actually, I love all of them — but it was the first podcast that encouraged me to purchase something. I did the UBiome kit and hoped for some interesting answers. It took the full 4 weeks and that was fine. However, I could hot get any useful information from the report. I did not know what I was looking at and I am a trained health care professional. When I queried the company, they told me to provide it to my PCP at my next visit. This seems ironic as the message from the conversation was that the general medical professional does not have the training in this arena. Where should I go from here? I’m an ultra athlete with some GI issues (probably typical but annoying and troubling at times.)
    Thanks RRP! Even though I regret the $$ spent on the kit, I do not regret one second of inspiration I gain from this podcast. At 3:30 am, it is nice to have a friend on the road!!

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