Michael T. Murray, ND: You’re Only as Healthy as Your Gut

Hippocrates asserted that all health, as well as all disease, begins in the gut. Natural health author and Bastyr University Board of Regents member Michael T. Murray, ND, wholeheartedly agrees.

“I really think that in this day and age, we need to rediscover the importance of gut health,” this modern-day Hippocrates affirmed.

There’s a growing awareness in both the scientific and lay communities of the importance of the microorganisms that reside in the intestinal tract. This microbiome plays a significant role not only in gut health, but also in mood, cognitive function, metabolism, and more. Our society faces an urgent need to focus on how we can improve digestion and build a healthy microbiome.

Signs and Symptoms

Signs of poor gut health range from gas, bloating, indigestion, heartburn, and constipation to more serious conditions. The deterioration of digestive health that is evident today can be blamed on a combination of factors, including consumption of poor quality food and the indiscriminate use of proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) that impair nutrient absorption — drugs that Dr. Murray predicts will remain on the market for only another 5 to 10 years.1-3

Excess stomach acid that PPIs and other drugs suppress may not always be a culprit in the development of gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms. If symptoms occur within 15 to 30 minutes after eating, the problem could be that the stomach isn’t producing enough acid. For these individuals, digestive enzymes and betaine hydrochloride supplements may help support healthy digestion.4, 5

Digestion and Enzymes

Food intolerance is a condition one hears a lot about these days. In many cases, it isn’t so much the type of food that’s consumed but the impairment of the ability to break down the food that’s the culprit. Inadequate secretion of digestive enzymes or poor digestive enzyme activity share some of the blame. With aging, the body’s production and secretion of digestive enzymes can decline.6 Supplementation with high-potency digestive enzymes can come to the rescue by breaking down offending food particles.7

Dr. Murray believes that many of the symptoms people seek to treat with probiotic supplements would be better addressed by digestive enzymes. Probiotics are critical when it comes to overall health, immune function, and more,8 but they don’t digest food. Poor digestion can lead to an imbalance in the gut bacteria in favor of those that thrive in the presence of undigested proteins and carbohydrates.9,10 The focus should be on improving digestion to feed the beneficial bacteria. With the proper breakdown of food, we naturally encourage a healthier microbiome.

The approach to digestive health is based upon a failed model. It’s founded on suppressing symptoms and not addressing their underlying cause. It’s not one that promotes health.

To the many Americans who suffer from GI symptoms,11 Dr. Murray offers reassuring words: “There are answers out there.”

Like what Dr. Murray has to say? Listen to the Live Foreverish podcast of Life Extension’s Dr. Michael Smith, with featured guest Michael T. Murray, ND, chief science officer of Enzymedica, as they discuss gut health, by visiting LiveFOREVERish.com.

If you like what you hear, please take a moment to give Live Foreverish a 5-star rating on iTunes!


  1. Hess MW et al. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2012 Sep;36(5):405-13.
  2. Lam JR et al. JAMA. 2013 Dec 11;310(22):2435-42.
  3. Lam JR et al. Gastroenterology. 2017 Mar;152(4):821-829.e1.
  4. Kines K et al. Integr Med (Encinitas). 2016 Aug;15(4):49-53.
  5. Majeed M et al. J Med Food. 2018 Aug; doi: 10.1089/jmf.2017.4172.
  6. Roxas M. Altern Med Rev. 2008 Dec;13(4):307-14.
  7. Felicida-Reynaldo RF, Kenneally M. Medsurg Nurse. 2016 May-June;25(3):182-5.
  8. George Kerry R et al. J Food Drug Anal. 2018 Jul;26(3):927-39.
  9. Carding S et al. Microbial Ecol Health Dis. 2015 Feb;26:26191.
  10. Gericke B et al. Mol Cell Pediatr. 2016 Dec;3(1):2.
  11. Drossman DA et al. Dig Dis Sci. 1993 Sep;38(9):1569-80.


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For these individuals, digestive enzymes and betaine hydrochloride supplements may help support healthy digestion.4, 5

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