Dr. Gundry's private practice: (760) 323-5553

Speaker 1 (00:00):
Welcome to the Dr. Gundry Podcast. The weekly podcast, where Dr. G. gives you the tools you need to boost your health and live your healthiest life.

Dr. Gundry (00:13):
Welcome to the Dr. Gundry Podcast. Well, I’m sure you’re all familiar with one of my favorite herbs, the delicious basil plant. It’s actually wonderful for making pesto and sprucing up any salad. But, how many of you have actually heard of basil seeds? Well, my guest today is here to tell us about this little known superfood, which is one of my favorite foods of all time. Because she is the first to bring this amazing prebiotic fiber rich food to the US market. Which is both lectin free and according to my guest research, is two times more nutritious than chia seeds, so pay attention. She’s Shakira Niazi founder of Zen Basil, an organic basil seed company. So stay tuned to find out how you can incorporate these tiny but powerful seeds into your diet to reap the benefits from maintaining healthy weight, to smooth digestion and more. Will be right back. Can you share with the audience a little bit of your background, where you originated from and how you ended up in the United States?

Shakira Niazi (01:29):
Of course. So I’m originally a refugee from Afghanistan. Escaping that war torn country when I was a child about 10. Faith would have it, that we survived and I ended up immigrating not only to US, but I grew up here in California and went on to get myself educated. I obtain a bachelor’s in finance, after business school, I got into banking and real estate, zero intention of getting into health or wellness or food and beverage industry. But faith would have it and a couple of awakening moments in my life basically forced me or encouraged me to reevaluate the purpose of my life. I went on to start a socially responsible brand, The Water initially making a difference around the world, building waterwells with its mission. Which was great, but then it wasn’t so great on the planet, so I had to revisit my mission and that led me to the healing powers of what now as Zen Basil.

And for anyone who might not be familiar with Zen Basil, basically they look like chia. On a ground to ground comparison, these little seeds have nearly two times the fiber, calcium, potassium and iron over chia. So, of course, the magical part is 10 times more prebiotic over chia. And if a superfood is going to be a superfood, it has to be anti-inflammatory, which means it has to be lectin free. Right? Dr. G.

Dr. Gundry (03:08):
Absolutely. Absolutely. Well, okay. So wait a minute. So now you’re a refugee, you probably got exposed to the standard American diet and you probably incorporated the standard American diet into your lifestyle. And then what happened?

Shakira Niazi (03:33):
Well, like you said, as all immigrants, when we get here, we think everything… We’re just so happy to be alive, to survive. And of course, everything in America, the richest country in the world is a privilege and honor, and must be way better. So I had no idea that there was any issues with our food system. McDonald’s and Burger King, these were our favorite fast food, which we called it a meal, dinner. My entire family loved it. We enjoyed it, it’s delicious. So we lived off of your typical Western diet. And when I experienced weight issues in my teens, there was the cleansing method. You juice for a couple of weeks, drop 10 pounds, no problem, you get back to it. And that yo-yo cycle continued in my 20s. Then I found that over the counter, appetite suppressant. And just when the weight would creep up, you would get on couple of pills and then you were fine.

And in my 30s, my own health advocate would actually, my doctors would prescribe weight management prescription appetite control pills, which must be safe because my doctors are giving it to me. So basically I had no idea, I had a eating disorder, this yo-yo of, I was up 20 pounds up and down, up and down all the way down to my 40s. And in my forties, everything kind of broke and it wasn’t working anymore. I realized that I’m 35 pounds overweight, which literally put me in a obese category and I had no idea that I’m obese, I mean, I was in a denial. And the health factor of what I was experiencing, which I thought it was normal. Because, everyone puts on weight when you’re in your late 40s and fine, that these appetite control pills are not working and actually was messing up my mind.

And then my son’s health, my mother’s health, all of this was happening essentially, it took three decades to get there. But it was a lot of awakening to say the least. And that’s when I start digging a little further into what is really wrong. And of course the conclusion is we are not broken, you shouldn’t fall apart at 50, you shouldn’t accept what I was accepting at 50, you should focus on healing and that healing comes from food, not prescription. And whether it’s over the counter or wherever it’s coming from, that is not healing, that’s bandaiding and giving you a lung side effect. So there was a lot of awakening that I experienced in my late 40s, essentially, that it’s obvious. I mean, so let’s talk about the fact that our food system is broken.

When I start digging a little further in, so here’s the statistics that shocks me. 40%, my family was not alone, my weight is not isolated case. 40% of Americans today are in the obese category. We know what obesity crisis is doing to our health and how it contributes to just about every single disease under the sun and we can’t accept that. So then you look into even further, especially when we went through the epidemic, 50% of us are prediabetic. And according to CDC, 80% of us are not even aware of it. So I’m thinking, 12% of Americans are metabolically healthy. That is a scary statistics, especially because we live in the most abundant, richest country in the world, [inaudible 00:07:50], we should not be okay with this. So I strongly think that we have a food system that is basically empty calories, missing nutrients.

Dr. Gundry (08:01):
So you’re like almost everybody else in America. What did you do? What happened to you to say, “Okay, this is not working, I’m going to do something else?”

Shakira Niazi (08:15):
Well, as I was learning from amazing educators like yourself, I ran into plant paradox early on and thought, okay, my gut feeling, our food system is really broken. But that wasn’t really moving me until this last procedure that my son had to go through. So let me backtrack a little bit. As like I said, immigrants, we accept everything is shiny and perfect here. So when my son was born and of course as a mother, we don’t think so much of taking care of ourself, but our children, now that’s where things move. I mean, I always explain how motherhood explained or defined the true meaning of love for me, the unconditional, the definition of what true love really means is when I became a mom. And my son, he had common allergy that went on to become labeled asthma. Then he was put on antibiotics and this is two, when he’s just two. He’s put on antibiotics, he’s getting steroids, he’s getting this version of antibiotics and that, and he’s constantly running, flaring up into some kind of infection. And then he needs antibiotics.

And of course, pediatrics are prescribing it, I’m accepting it, this is normal. His little body went through so much procedure, so many health issues that the finale was this one particular operation that he was going through and things didn’t work out, things went wrong. And that was a moment that I knew things shouldn’t be accepted. This is not, at that point I had educated myself, what I didn’t learn in school, but just basically searching for better way. I knew that there are things that are broken way further in and we need to focus on healing, we need to focus on getting to the root cause of what is it that this child of mine needs to be on antibiotics for? We did the math, there is not a month, every other month, he was prescribed some form of antibiotics for 20 years of his life.

I don’t have to tell you now, Dr. G. and your audience are familiar. On what that level of antibiotics does to a young man’s body and microbiome and health. So I’m learning all this and then, if that wasn’t enough and like I said, a couple of moments of life just really woke me up. My mom health started to deteriorate so dramatically that currently she’s basically trapped in a 90 year old body when she’s only in her 70s. It started off with a little gut pain and the next thing we know, it’s one pill to 15 pills and 15 pills twice a day. And every single organ in her body has failed. And it’s heartbreaking to watch that.

Dr. Gundry (11:32):
Yeah. Okay. So the whole family is a mess. And so, again, where did you start? Obviously, now this is a crisis, this can’t go on. You’re watching a parent go downhill, you’re watching your child go downhill, you’re watching yourself addicted to diet pills, et cetera, et cetera. And you’re a big financial wizard, but you can’t even manage your own body, right?

Shakira Niazi (12:09):
Or, well, like I said, I was chasing the American dream, little did I put any kind of a concentration on the importance of health because in my opinion, back then that’s taken care of. We have one of the finest health system in the world. So, you have a pain, you go to a doctor and you get a pill and you’re good. So, it was my ignorance really for this space that no, your health is you not in the hands of others. So once I started to really educate myself around how broken and how much my family is not isolated. So I’m understanding the importance of value of food and healing, that’s how we get to the root cause of issues. And I’m running into statistics like, 95% of us are missing the most important nutrient, fiber. 95% of Americans are malnutrition on fiber that like…

And then it goes on, 50% of us are missing key nutrient magnesium. 40% need supplement in calcium. So that should be from our food, not from supplements. The latest study I just run into now is Columbia says, “Nope, 30% of us are iron deficient.” So these are basic nutrient that we must run on and yet the entire population is affected. So I’m searching for healing concepts. And I had no idea like, no expectation that I was going to run into this treasured seed. But in the early days, I had heard a lot from my late father in regards to a gentleman who had lived in our region, actually he was born like a thousand years ago. You might know, his name is Ibn Sina in our culture, in my language. I don’t know if you’ve heard of his book, The Canon of Medicine.

Dr. Gundry (14:21):
Oh yeah. Mm-hmm.

Shakira Niazi (14:21):
Okay. So his name was translated later on, I think it’s in the 13th century. His work, he’s still regarded as the father of modern day medicine because it was Canon of Medicine that created or established the early days of medical school. So he left many books and my father would always talk about Ibn Sina of this and Ibn Sina of that. I ran in and I’m searching for healing ingredients. I ran into one of his books, literally called, The Book of Healing.

Dr. Gundry (14:59):
Good name.

Shakira Niazi (15:00):
So it’s kind of like it was sent to me. So I’m going through this material and he’s talking about what we call basil in our language Rehan. So there’s a whole section around basil, just the plant. And how it’s healing, how it’s good for your gut, your mind, your heart. It gets rid of parasites and he goes on and on and on how the concentrated nutrient are in the seeds. Now, early on, when I had seen chia, I was sure it’s basil seed or Tukhm e Rehan because we didn’t call it basil seed we called it Tukhm e Rehan. So chia was a foreign name too, when I first saw it in the market, I thought for sure, that’s Tukhm e Rehan, which in my language, basil seats. So long story short, it was the work of Ibn Sina that actually clarified no, no, no, no, chia has nothing to do with basil seeds.

And even when I was going through his work, I kept thinking, I probably will find chia. There was no mention of chia, in fact, chia is not native to our culture or environment, but basil is. And so that’s how this whole idea of let me dig a little further in, what is he talking about in terms of basil seed healing powers? And how could this one thing be good for your gut and your mind and your heart? And then the people in my culture would always talk about how these seeds, once I established no, no, no, these are two different seeds, how is these seeds good for your hair, nails and skin? That part was puzzling. It was too good to be true, I didn’t believe it. I’m like, yeah, that’s old wife tail. I mean, how could this one little seed be good for your hair, nail and skin. And then I run into your work and of course I understand it’s all about gut health. And so the motivation kept digging in, gearing me basically, guiding me that no, no, you need to look further into this area.

Dr. Gundry (17:14):
Yeah. So was really, I mean, this was your culture teaching you that one of the answers you’re looking for has been known about for thousands of years basically. And why the heck, aren’t you looking into this? It’s an interesting story. Years ago, I had a patient who son had a chia seed company. And I actually had a big bag of chia seeds in my office that I would show patients. And I was on the phone to a colleague Loren Cordain the father of the paleo diet. And we were talking about things, we were thinking about writing a book together. And I said, “We got to talk about chia seeds, because they’re so important and they’re so good for you.” And he says, “Don’t you read the literature?” And I said, “What are you talking about? Of course, I read the literature.” And he said, “Well, I’m going to send you two papers. And it’s the last time chia seeds are ever going to go in your mouth.” And I said, “What?”

So he sent me a couple of papers, human studies, where humans, we wanted to find out chia seeds have a short chain omega-3 fat, which is true and that’s why they’re so healthy. And so they gave these to people and they looked at their omega three fat levels, their alpha-linolenic acid levels and in fact they went up. And supposedly that’s very anti-inflammatory but low and behold, the groups that got the chia seeds, even though these anti-inflammatory compounds went up, their inflammation markers as measured by C-reactive protein actually went up rather than down. And so he was lecturing me over the phone saying, “You see, it’s not what people think.” He said, “So get that bag out of your office.” And I’ve never let anybody have them again.

And when I started researching chia seeds, low and behold, they contain lectin. And I said, duh, well of course, and the mommy plant wants to protect her babies and that’s one of the ways of doing it. And you’re right, basil seeds are totally different than chia seeds. But your brilliance is that, basil seeds act like chia seeds in the way they behave in water and in puddings and in yeah, there you go. They get this wonderful gelatinous fiber that anybody can see. But as opposed to chia seeds, look at that, these things are actually a phenomenal source, a prebiotic fiber that feeds your gut. So you’ve done some nutritional analysis of basil seeds, right?

Shakira Niazi (20:25):
Yeah, I have. Actually, I need to thank you again for highlighting that human study on chia because, had it not been for your highlighting? I wouldn’t have even discovered that. Like I said, in the early days, about 20 years ago, when I saw chia, I personally thought that, that was our version of Tukhm e Rehan, basil seeds. In fact, just yesterday, one of my friends also from Afghanistan, popular on social media and he’s like, “Yeah, I thought chia was basil seed too.” So my family and friends still call my brand chia. “Oh, you’re doing the chia thing.” They say that until today, “You’re doing the chia thing, you’re talking about chia.” No, “It’s not chia.” And this is a common theme. I still go through and find YouTube videos of individuals talking about basil seed in their language, because in India, it’s called something else, in Pakistan it’s called something else and Afghani, et cetera. And Egypt is called something else.

So areas that are historically familiar with the values of basil and basil seeds, they are translating it to chia. So the actual, I mean I literally run into a YouTube video with over 2 million views and the healer was talking about basil seed and his language and the translation of the YouTube video was chia, chia, chia. So when things become popular in the US, we lead the way, it becomes popular across the world. So right now, if you go into other parts of the world, they’re still going to say chia is more healthier, better for you, even though historically there’s no track record of this ingredient existence. And in history, I mean, it’s been popular for the past two, three decade, primarily in America and Europe. But go back 200 years and it didn’t exist.

And then to backtrack, when I was reading The Book of Healing, basil, by itself, as you highlight so well in regards to the leaf has been well studied and there’s no doubt in regards to its nutrient and values and healing and polyphenols. But the chia seeds’ leaves were only known as [inaudible 00:23:10]. So there’s really no concentration… When people say, well, how’s this superfood? I say, well, and your paper actually helps me validate that point. If a food is considered superfood, it should be rich in nutrient and it should be healing. It’s both. If it’s rich and nutrient, but inflammatory, it’s literally counterproductive. Right?

Dr. Gundry (23:38):
Right. Exactly.

Shakira Niazi (23:39):
So that’s basically how I would identify. If the natural healers said it’s healing, if the Aveta medicine and Chinese medicine, all validate it, which was all in regards to basil seed, clearly, this is where the magic is. So all of that education for me, was peeling off this onion that whoa, there’s something bigger than me and my family here, we’ve gotten this wrong. So then I went back in the early days, this is over five years ago. I literally started testing, what was only available was in these little Asian stores that no one knew and there was name something else like sub chia seeds. So I started testing. So I’m doing some basic lab work. Not a whole lot of nutritional value coming out.

So I’m still confused, so a lot of data says, chia is better for you, a lot of health advocates are promoting chia, so chia’s good for you. But then the natural healers, Ibn Sina said, “No, it was basil, basil seeds.” So I had to continue to research and then I found out, no, there’s over 150 different basil plants to source from. The seeds and the regions and the forming practices all make a unique, different attributes of its healing and its [inaudible 00:25:10] of nutrient count. So that’s when I knew that this had to be explored and I kept investing my time, my life, my career, to make sure that this is captured. And that’s when I discovered the seeds that now you see, as in basil [inaudible 00:25:29].

When the lab results came from this string and we’re looking at over 50% fiber, I knew that this is going to be a magical thing, because I knew fiber’s the most important nutrient for our metabolic health, according to you and Dr. Lustig’s metabolic health and so many other health advocates that have educated us about fiber. So that’s where… Until today I still have so much miscommunication around this subject, but I kept digging into various different string so I can basically find a baseline. Whereas and I have to establish that, that’s another talk about nutritional panel. So when I first started Zen Basil, this was my package. And I said, Zen Basil, basil seeds, 100% organic basil seeds.

I didn’t do any chia comparison. People still ask me questions like, “Are those for planting? Are those for eating?” And I’m like, “No, no, no, no. Here, look at my nutritional panel on the back. It’s got way more fiber in fact, nearly two times and it’s got way more calcium, way more iron and potassium and it hydrates faster, et cetera.” It was a deep, slow, long conversation to go from, basil plant, does this smell like basil? No, it doesn’t smell like basil. It’s not like the leaf, it’s more the concentration of the nutrient. So it was a deeper conversation. And then from there I went on to put it right in the front loud. Zen Basil, looks like chia, but it’s not, it’s got nearly two times the fiber and in one survey you get 15 grams of fiber. And that’s when the conversation got a little bit more exciting because people recognize that, oh, so it’s got more fiber. I want fiber because somebody said I need fiber.

And it got a little easier, but the nutrient count, this is literally my third baseline that I’ve created in terms of nutritional fact sheet. So I’m constantly testing, establishing that baseline, because to give you an idea of how these panels are created, traditionally in the US, if I wanted to build a brand, I go to the US database and all of the popular ingredients, including chia is in the US nutritional fact sheet database. You extract what you need, slap it on your label, and off you go. In my case, I had to establish this category. I had to test and retest and then send my food science lab results to my FDA label agency authority. To confirm and then validate and verify. So it’s been a journey to come up to this point.

Dr. Gundry (28:36):
All right. So I noticed, you’ve mixed it in water and clearly it makes a wonderful gel. So, what do you do with that? Am I just going to throw a bunch in my mouth and crunch it or? And the reason I’m doing that, because as you know, in my most recent book Unlocking the Keto Code, I’ve got a tropical basil seed pudding in there. But tell me how you started incorporating this into your diet and how do you teach others to do it?

Shakira Niazi (29:11):
Well, I have a host of recipes that’s online for free and I’m constantly coming up with new recipes and I share that on Instagram. So I encourage anyone who’s interested in other ways to fall along on Instagram with me. But basically the nutrient is locked into these seeds. So the simplest way that you would want to incorporate it is simply hydrate it and water as I just did, pour in your favorite, I like it with coconut milk, bam, that’s it, it’s a pudding. Whatever addition you want to add, the pistachios or all the other healing mulberries, these are by the way, super foods in my culture that you’re constantly sharing. So by the way, the book of healing speaks about so much of what you’ve been promoting from pistachios, to walnuts, to mulberries, and so-

Dr. Gundry (30:07):

Shakira Niazi (30:08):
Yeah. But basically, water, yogurt of your choice, milk of your choice. And you got yourself, a nutrient rich that is not just fiber rich, we’re talking about calcium, potassium, iron magnesium, so many incredible healthy enzymes, the prebiotic aspect of it. In fact, one published paper was validating exactly, that 10 times the prebiotic fiber over chia. Now that we understand microbiome, I know how did the natural healers in my culture said, this is good for your gut and mine. Because the whole concept of microbiome understanding of this philosophy is rather new. But somehow those guys a thousand years ago knew that if you take care of your gut, chances are the rest of it will be doing really well too.

Dr. Gundry (31:02):
No, that’s absolutely true. Hippocrates, the Western father of medicine 2,500 years ago said, “All disease begins in the gut.” And I’ve actually got a Buddhist scholar who’s recently become one of my patients. Then he’s actually gone back and look at the ancient sanscript translations of the Buddha. And one of the things he shared with me that, the Buddha said that enlightenment begins in the intestines. And then you go, wow. So one of the great thinkers of Eastern thought was saying the same thing as the father of Western medicine and they were actually contemporaries. And so all these guys and in the African culture, all these guys knew this, how they knew it is amazing. Because they didn’t have the sophisticated lab tests that we have now, but they were right. And one of the things that’s important that I’ve emphasized is that, the reason these prebiotic fibers are important is that this is what our bacteria, our probiotics eat.

And they in turn make these compounds that are now called postbiotics that actually are a huge part of the gut brain connection. And so, so much of our not only gut health is really correlating now to our brain health and our mental health and our levels of depression and anxiety, which are through the roof, it’s because our gut health is so poor. So anything we can do and you got twice the fiber at chia seeds and again, we’ve known you’re right, the healing powers of basil have been known by almost all cultures. And to think they can be concentrated in these little BD seeds that you’re right, do not taste like basil. Everybody goes, “I’m not really wild about the taste of basil.” They don’t taste like basil.

Shakira Niazi (33:15):

Dr. Gundry (33:16):

Shakira Niazi (33:16):
Exactly. No, it doesn’t. Not only that, I think that’s probably one of our biggest problems. We have been marketed and convinced that you lead with taste. And the problem with taste is the fact that we’ve re-engineered or taste buds so excessively that the true nature of what basil, forget, these are wholesome so it’s not going to have any flavor by the way, if you haven’t tried some basil seeds yet. But if you taste, perfect example, what you talk about in blueberries. Blueberries in season versus blueberries raised under a certain likes.

But then we’ve taken it to another level. We have these things called natural flavor, that’s really one ingredient that comes from 100 different enhanced remanufacture, recreated to make you get hooked on some illusion of a flavor that doesn’t even exist in the nature. So now we’re convinced that’s what strawberry’s supposed to taste like, when in fact it’s a whole nother story, so. But yes, we have really done a number in terms of concentrating on taste and then the manufactured version of a taste is, we’ve forgotten that food is supposed to nourish us. The purpose of food is not to always taste amazing, but to be a source of energy. To feed your mitochondria is to-

Dr. Gundry (35:00):
Feed your microbiome.

Shakira Niazi (35:00):
To make you healthy, to make you energized. Energy’s not sugar.

Dr. Gundry (35:09):
Yeah. I’ll tell you an interesting story. I had dinner a couple weeks ago with a very famous plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills, who is a big fan of mine. And he actually hands my book to all of his patients. And so he wanted to have dinner with me. And so we were talking and he said, “Let me tell you a story.” He says, “I’m from Canada, I’m from Montreal.” And I hope that doesn’t give who this person is away. But he said, “We would go out blueberry picking in the fall with my mother. And we’d go out to the blueberry patches. And my mother, we’d come to the first blueberries and my mother said, ‘No, we’re not going to pick here. We’re going to climb up the mountain and we’re going to go to the top of the mountain.’ And he’s going, ‘Mom, they’re right here.’ She said, ‘No, no, no. They struggle up there and they’re smaller and they’re concentrated and that’s what we need to eat.'”

And he says, “And I’m complaining. ‘Mom, they’re right here, come on.'” And she dragged me up the mountain. He says, “Now reading your stuff and other stuff, I know why mom drag me up the mountain. Because all the polyphenols were up there.” And so this ancient wisdom and it was just his mother’s ancient wisdom. But this has been passed down from mothers, to mothers, to mothers. And we stopped listening to all this because now everything is marketed for taste rather than health benefit. So good for you.

Shakira Niazi (36:54):
You reminded me of really important kind of awakening. Yes, mothers who gives the first dose of our mitochondrias.

Dr. Gundry (37:06):
That’s right.

Shakira Niazi (37:07):
And I think that, and when I discovered that and learned from you and Dr. Sinclair talking about the importance of having fruit and seats and food that has weathered the storm, basically, capable of raising in a stress climate. Well, that’s exactly what… Basil seeds, the fact that they have these enzymes locked in them, they have a protected code that protects them from the harsh climate of the cold weather, the excess heat. In fact, they have to have that extra strength that, we’re talking about metabolic flexibility these days a lot. That comes from having those type of foods that have the capability of being raised in a stressed environment, now we’re nourishing at a deeper level. So of course I was doing the basic comparison of chia seeds versus these seeds, some basil seeds. I call them some basil because not whole basil seeds are the same. I did the testing and I did a lot of validation, that’s a whole nother conversation to get into. But the importance of having stressed seeds or food that is capable of exactly what you just described, top of the mountain.

Dr. Gundry (38:37):
And your basil seeds are obviously organic. And where the heck do you grow basil seeds?

Shakira Niazi (38:46):
Well basil seed, the magic thing is that, it is such a universal ingredient, it’s grown everywhere from California to Afghanistan. So pick a region, there’s not a region, as long as it’s a warm climate, it does require a certain type of a soil, it does require a good amount of sun. Because again, it’s that stress environment, so wherever you can find your sweet basil plant, you’re going to be able to find the seeds. The problem is, just like I said, we lead in the world. The hardest part for me was tracking down and finding organic and not only finding organic, but also getting the organic to be established in the US market, I mean, that was a whole nother, literally took me three years to accomplish that project alone.

To find the Pacific strength that these seeds are, and then to have it be officially certified in the USDA organic database. So, I’m so proud and thrilled that not only I launched the whole idea that basil seeds for eating, but Zen Basil is the only USDA organic certified and verifiable in the USDA Organic Integrity Database. So that’s the part that I get extra excited, because I’ve learned so much from you, Dr. G. what’s the value of having something that is supposed to be healing if it’s sprayed with Roundup. If it’s treated with chemicals… So yeah.

Dr. Gundry (40:32):
No, you’re right. Now we share one other very common interest, and you mentioned it when we first started. You have a nonprofit that drills wells for people who have no water access. And as you know, I and Gundry MD, our favorite charity is Charity: water, which does the exact same thing in… The world is suffering from a lack of not only available water, but clean water. And so good for you. So how did you get interested in that?

Shakira Niazi (41:19):
Well, that was my initial awakening. As being a survivor from a war torn country I felt like with this privilege of being raised, and one of the richest parts of the world comes responsibility. This was not in vain and I need to give back. So I started my charitable contribution through my previous brand, which carried on to Zen Basil. And like I say, generally, as long as I’m alive, I’m going to be committed to this cause. And the reason why for me, at this point, it goes back to what my late grandmother would say. She would always use this one statement saying, “Throw it in the river,” in our language. It doesn’t translate really well. But in my later years, I realized the value of that statement. When you do good, we understand karma. But what she was saying was even deeper than karma.

It’s kind of like, if you do good to someone that is completely forgotten and do it without a condition, not a PR, none of that. But from the heart to someone that you’ll never meet, it will come back to you in tenfold. And honestly, when I get testimonials from my customers, I believe the fact that we give back to these forgotten women and children, especially in Afghanistan and my projects by the way, are primarily in Afghanistan, because obviously everybody knows how devastating that part of the region of the world is. And it’s the least week I can do in my small capacity. We completed about five clean water projects two years ago. And right now I’m doing six clean water projects, despite the harsh condition and challenges and difficulties that they’re going through. So I’m committed to being some form of an assistant. And I believe that comes back, enhancing the nutrient count of my product. And so when I get the testimonials, I know it wasn’t just the surface level. There’s a throw it in the river, comes back to you in tenfolds.

Dr. Gundry (43:38):
That’s a good point. What kind of testimonials are you getting from? Can we share with you?

Shakira Niazi (43:46):
Absolutely. I would love to actually read to you one that I recently got on Amazon and it just made me so emotional when I get some, especially I’m not in the health… I was not a doctor so you probably get this all the time. But when I get a, this one particular testimonial get me all emotional so I have to read it for you. “I’m a 34 year old woman who struggled with extreme fatigue, brain fog and constant sickness for the past two years. Needless to say, this has all left me, pretty terrible mood every day, leaving. I felt like I was just dragging through life. I started Zen Basil seed one month ago and in the last three weeks, I suddenly noticed drastic reduction in my fatigue, increased energy, I mean, this is not sugar, increased energy and major boost in my mood. I like it was validating everything what I knew the seed is talking about. I honestly can’t believe it, I can’t believe the difference when you actually have energy and you feel happy, like a normal person it’s insane. And I didn’t realize I was going through life in such funk, such for so long. Wow. Just wow. Totally life changing. I highly recommend Zen Basil seed.”

I got so emotional reading, I actually shared that on Instagram and she reached out and she said, “You were reading my review.” So I know exactly who she is now because her initials were just NZ. But I was so moved with her testimonial. And there’s so many of this caliber. My favorite is hunger killer. Because I started this journey because I know we were eating way too much, right? And we’re eating empty calories. We’re not getting nutrient clearly, because 95% of us are not even getting the basic fiber, but we’re eating constantly. So all of this is kind of putting it together for me and it’s coming in full circle. Which is my new product line that I hope you tried it doctor.

Dr. Gundry (46:12):
Oh yeah. Thanks for sending that. Appreciate it.

Shakira Niazi (46:16):
Well, actually your research is always helping me, I’ve learned so much about the value of our cellular health, the understanding of mitochondrias. And then I run into the research from Harvard, how they were basically injecting NADs into mice and then the reverse of the age by 20 years. Can you imagine what that would mean to my mom’s health? So now my new question is, how, well, this is what this formula is all about. How can we make NAD organically? Wouldn’t that be an amazing through food? Which the researchers are validating, that’s exactly what happens when you reduce, recycle, reuse. That’s by the way, my new mantra for Zen Basil cellular hydration. We need to reduce our eating consumption and of course the window restrictions that you talk about in terms of eating is absolutely, not only to the point, but it’s been a huge support from my own health.

And then allowing ourselves to break down that old stored, stubborn, what we call stubborn fat, but it’s really stored obesigens. But the good news is that, we can reverse this. The good news is that, we could actually have a better hopeful tomorrow by just doing small little tweaks.

Dr. Gundry (47:53):
And now it’s time for our review of the week. This is from Arsenia Ventura on YouTube. “Dr. Gundry, the world needs more people like you. You are a gift for humanity.” Aw, shucks. “Thank you for all the educational knowledge you shared in all your videos. I am trying to listen to all of your YouTube videos and podcasts. For me, you are the best. I always look forward to your website. I always forward your website to friends and relatives here in Canada, Asia, and some friends in the middle east.” Well Arsenia, thank you very much for writing. It means a lot to me. That’s why I do this seven days a week to get the message out that you can use. And probably more importantly, thank you for sharing this information with your friends and family. This is a worldwide effort and the more we can help people from around the world, the more excited I get to keep doing this. And because as you know, I’ll keep doing this because I’m Dr. Gundry and I’m always looking out for you. We’ll see you next week.

Thanks for joining me on this episode of the Dr. Gundry Podcast. Before you go, I just wanted to remind you that you can find the show on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher or wherever you get your podcast. And if you want to watch each episode of the Dr Gundry podcast, you could always find me on YouTube at youtube.com/drgundry. Because I’m Dr. Gundry and I’m always looking out for you.