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Functional Medicine for Individual Health & Wellness | Dr. Will Cole

Functional Medicine for Individual Health & Wellness | Dr. Will Cole

decorative image with the episode title and a picture of Dr Will Cole

There’s no one-way ticket to health and wellness. The journey looks different for everyone. Unfortunately, our collective American healthcare philosophy doesn’t always support our individual differences when it comes to health. That’s where functional medicine comes in.


Dr. Will Cole uses Functional Medicine to individualize medical care. And it works.

Growing up with health-conscious parents, Dr. Will Cole was always interested in wellness. But he intuitively knew that the traditional medical approach wasn’t exactly effective for everyone. As one of the leading functional medicine experts in the country, Dr. Cole consults people worldwide via webcam. And no, this didn’t just start because of the pandemic. He was about a decade ahead of the rest of us when it comes to telehealth.

decorative image with the quote People need to realize that we have a lot of agency on our health.

Dr. Cole specializes in clinically investigating underlying factors of chronic disease. He then customizes a functional medicine approach for thyroid issues, autoimmune conditions, and a whole laundry list of chronic medical conditions. Besides his medical accolades, Dr. Cole is also a bestselling author of Ketotarian, The Inflammation Spectrum, and his latest book, Intuitive Fasting.

In this episode, Dr. Will and I explore the effect food has on autoimmune conditions and health as a whole. Now, I know he advocates for a keto diet, but we didn’t discuss that in our conversation. We may disagree on the consumption of animal products. Still, we agree on so much nutritional information that I think you’ll find fascinating. We both feel more emphasis needs to be put on the effect healthy whole foods have on our systems. We also need to take more responsibility for how different foods make us feel. Getting rid of foods that make you feel crappy isn’t restrictive. It’s smart! So if you’d like to know a bit more about functional medicine and how you can apply these types of principles to your health, this is the episode for you.

  • How Dr. Cole first became interested in functional medicine
  • Little known facts about autoimmune disorders
  • The 4 Core foods that lead to inflammation
  • How Intermittent fasting can help the healing process
  • The circadian rhythm of your gut microbiome

The Darin Olien Show is produced by the team at Must Amplify. If you’re looking to give your brand a voice and make sure that it’s heard by the right people, head to to see what Amplify can do for you.

Episode Transcript

Darin: You are listening to the Darin Olien Show. I’m Darin. I spent the last 15 years exploring the planet looking for healthy foods, superfoods, environmental solutions, and I’ve had my mind blown along the way by the people, the far off places I have been, and the life-altering events that have changed my life forever. My goal is to help you dive deep into some of the issues of our modern-day life, society’s fatal conveniences. The things that we do that we’re indoctrinated into thinking we have to, even though those things are negatively affecting us, and in some cases, slowly destroying us and even killing us. Every week, I have honest conversations with people that inspire me. My hope is through their knowledge and unique perspectives they’ll inspire you too. Together, we’ll explore how you can make small tweaks in your life that amount to big changes for you, the people around you and the planet, so let’s do this. This is my show, the Darin Olien Show.

Guest Intro Text Comes Here

Darin: From your perspective, define functional medical doctors.

Dr. Will: So, just a little bit of background. I started one of the first functional medicine telehealth centers in the world over a decade ago. So I’ve been consulting people via webcam like this for a decade from 8 AM to 6 PM, that’s what I’m doing. And there was no, like, pre-meditated, like, this is gonna be the future of healthcare. It was just born out of necessity because I was in LA, I went to Southern California University of Health Sciences. My wife’s from Los Angeles. We lived out there, but then we’re like, okay, we’re gonna go back to Pittsburgh. I’m from Pittsburgh. So, we went back. We just wanted a simpler life, live in the country, and I was speaking about this field of healthcare a decade ago about functional medicine. So, there’d be other people in different states and countries, I don’t live in the epicenter of wellness, still don’t, but it has come a long way. I love Pittsburgh, but the reality is they needed access to this field of healthcare and I was the one speaking about it really early on. So, we drop-ship labs and we did consulting in webcam. We didn’t even call it telehealth. We called it virtual functional medicine clinic, it’s what it was. So, anyway, what the heck is it? If I had to really break it down, first thing, we interpret labs using a thinner reference range. So, everybody that’s listening out there, they know when they go to the doctor or they go to a lab per request, and we use all that data too. We use conventional labs, but that reference range, that extra white interval that you’re being compared to is largely based on a statistical bell curve average of the population of that specific lab. And you’ll see as you go to different conventional labs, that reference range, that “normal” range that you’re being compared to will vary. It’s non-standardized. People that are predominantly going to labs sadly are people with health problems. So there’s a lot of people that go, intuitively they know something’s not right, like my fatigue isn’t normal, my weight loss resistance isn’t normal, my fill-in-the-blank, different inflammatory symptom isn’t normal. They go to the doctor, the doctor with great intentions runs the labs, these basic labs come back “normal.” But what they’re unintentionally telling you is you’re a lot like the other people with health problems that you’re being compared to. And just because something is common doesn’t necessarily mean it’s normal. And chronic health problems are sadly ubiquitous, that’s not normal. So comparing yourself to that is no litmus test or baseline to see where you should be. So, we use a much thinner range within that larger reference range. So this is what the Institute of Functional Medicine, IFM who’s trained all the doctors at the Cleveland Clinics Functional Medicine Center that’s training myself and my team. So this is a standardized, like, where does vibrant wellness, where does it feel freaking amazing, where does that reside within our human physiology. So that’s what we do. We interpret labs using optimal range, not just a huge lab reference range. Second thing, we run more comprehensive labs so the training and the standard model of care to your point and question was the training and the standard model of care is largely to diagnose a disease, learn how to do that, and match it with medication. So, everybody with chronic health problems are put into these boxes of I see you can or diagnosis codes if you’re outside of the United States, and they’re given x, y, and z, and they’re all medications, different brand names, generics but basically, they’re all given the same tools for the diagnosis code. But the reality is we ask the question why would have the problem in the first place? Ultimately, nobody is sick from a medication deficiency. And we want to find out what’s the core problem that’s going on there. So, we go upstream. We want to go to the core of what and typically it’s a confluence factor but we want to substantiate that with labs. They were looking at things like microbiome issues and toxicity and chronic infections or nutrient deficiencies or hormonal imbalance. I could go on forever, but it’s based off a health history. So we’re not being superfluous with labs, we shouldn’t be, but we should be comprehensive without being excessive with labs. So we get multiple labs’ perspectives from their vantage point, why is this person struggling with these issues? So I deal a lot with clinically with people with autoimmune conditions, that’s really serious stuff and they’re left to really largely fend for themselves. They’re told it’s autoimmune and they’re given immunosuppressants, steroids maybe, and by the time someone’s diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, research estimates it’s about 4 to 10 years prior to when they are diagnosed is when things are brewing on this larger inflammation spectrum. So, we want to say wherever you’re at on that trajectory, what can you do today to start having agency over your health and understanding the components through your pathophysiology to the components of your health problems. And then we realize we’re all created differently in functional medicine, either there’s no cookie-cutter one-size-fits-all approach to getting healthy, just asking the question, what is your most effective option that causes you the least amount of side effects. And if that question was asked more often, we would find a completely different group of tools in the toolbox.

Darin: I mean, I love the foundation story for you. You’re in medical school. Did you come in with that awareness? Or did you have the epiphany within it and/or how did that get discovered, and I really love the fact that you’re a decade ahead of anyone in this stuff, and to me, you seemed young. You must have jumped on this right away. So talk to me about that because I can imagine there had to be something that just kind of got your bloody attention.

Dr. Will: Thank you. I appreciate it. So I’ve always had a passion in health and wellness. So I grew up in a home, my parents were interested in wellness. My dad was into bodybuilding in the ’80s and ’90s. So I thought it was normal to have your dad in turquoise speedos, lubed up in baby oil. My mom with that massive camcorder getting the pose just right. So I would go to these competitions and not that everyone in bodybuilding is into wellness in the way that we would consider it, but my dad was in both. He was into both. So that was really early on going to the co-op and getting the healthy food and seeing the difference of how we ate it home, more or less, and how my friends ate. And that was really, obviously, informative time as any kid is for those years. So then that evolved into me wanting to learn more and more about this. I remember being a teenager in high school and reading Jordan Rubin. For people that don’t know, he was a major part of Garden of Life, and then now Ancient Nutrition with Josh Axe. He wrote a book, it must have been in the late ’90s, called Patient Heal Thyself. He had Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis or something like that and that was when I first really owned for myself of fasting and writing about that now, but I did it back then as a teenager and worked at the finish line at the local mall and selling shoes, but I used my paychecks to go buy random healthy things at the health food store. So that was me as a teenager and then that evolved to me wanting to be trained. So I went to an integrative medicine school or alternative medicine schools, so it’s Southern California University of Health Sciences outside of Los Angeles. And I head of a guy called [00:12:21] who had gone to my school. He was older than I was, but he was talking about this field of healthcare called functional medicine. So that’s when it really honed in for me as being more targeted in this space of functional medicine. And I graduated knowing that this is my calling and my lane. So we started out seeing people very early on within the first couple of months to a year, seeing people via webcam. So it’s been a cool journey and it’s really cool to see these things that I’ve implemented on my own life that I researched and the real-life implications of this is profound because people are hurting, people are isolated, meaning that a lot of these chronic health problems especially autoimmunity, it’s so isolating because they look normal on the outside most of the time and people don’t realize what it takes just to get through the day. So to be a lifeline to those people, my team and I, we take that extremely seriously. That always served us too to be telehealth because they oftentimes can’t get out of bed, they don’t have the energy to do it. It’s just a lot more convenient for somebody that’s struggling different inflammatory problems. So it wasn’t always a geographical thing as much as a practical thing for the people we’re serving.

Darin: So people listening, because obviously every time something expresses itself, it’s been doing, you know, pushups in the parking lot and then it finally expresses itself, I know there are several different expressions of autoimmune, but from your perspective and what you see, what is certainly you can say from a diabetes perspective type 2, there are pre-diabetes and there are indicators that start showing up and you’re like sprinting towards full-on diabetes and this why and this is what’s going on. From autoimmune perspective, what are you seeing, like even pre-autoimmune and maybe people listening are going, yeah, I’ve got some things going on that I haven’t quite been able to get to, what are some of those things that you’re seeing that can maybe thwart some of the sufferings that people are maybe going towards right now, as it relates to autoimmune?

Dr. Will: So, there’s is this larger autoimmune inflammation spectrum where on one end it’s the silent autoimmunity. Meaning, if you ran labs, you’d see antibodies being positive, those are flags for destruction. But if the person’s not symptomatic, they feel fine, no doctor would say they have autoimmune conditions and you’re just finding it randomly on a lab. It actually doesn’t happen very often where you find that. And then stage 2 is autoimmune reactivity. That sadly are millions upon millions of people because they have autoimmune components to their case, they are not feeling well, and they know what their feeling is not normal for them, but they’re not going to fit the mainstream medicine’s criteria to be labeled. That’s the problem, that’s stage 2 and stage 3. Stage 3 is the autoimmune disease where it’s been bad enough, enough of the body has been destroyed by the immune system when mainstream medicine will say, this is lupus or Sjogren’s or MS or Parkinsons or ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s. There are over 100 different autoimmune diseases. And then 40 above that 100 that signs recognize this is having at least an autoimmune component, and you and I both know that another 10 years, sadly, we’re gonna find more autoimmune components to diseases we don’t even consider autoimmune today because we don’t even know the mechanisms for all these diseases. Because just to be clear, we know most chronic diseases are inflammatory but just because something’s inflammatory, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s autoimmune, but all autoimmune issues are inflammatory. So when the immune system is actually attacking certain parts of the body, tagging it as a virus or bacteria and destroying it. So with attacking the myelin sheath, for example, and MS or attacking the villi in the gut, like celiac or the colon with ulcerative colitis or the joints with rheumatoid arthritis or the thyroid with Hashimoto’s disease, that’s autoimmunity. But by the time someone is diagnosed, it’s again 4 to 10 years prior to their diagnosis. So there’s a lot of people, just to give numbers here, 50 million Americans are estimated to have an autoimmune disease. But can you imagine how many millions more are not diagnosable but are on that continuum of 4 to 10 years later I’ll be diagnosed? That’s a lot of people. And that’s not to say that everybody in that autoimmune reactivity stage, symptomatic but not diagnosable, that doesn’t mean every one of them will even become autoimmune disease. There are some people that you and I probably both know, and everybody that’s listening can think of someone in their family or friend that’s stuck in that stage 2 maybe for the rest of their life, and they’re labeled with things like chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia or you’re just depressed or chronic pain, and they completely fallen through the cracks and they’re just given bandaids in the form of medications for the rest of their life. So these are the common symptoms, I guess, to answer your question. It doesn’t mean everybody with these symptoms have an ongoing autoimmune condition but you should start asking questions. If you have a family history of autoimmunity, if you are doing everything your doctor’s telling you to do but you’re not getting better, if you are having food reactions and foods are like turning against you and you don’t even know what foods are healthy for you or not because every food makes you feel miserable, if it changes from day to day, if your symptoms come and go like relapsing and remitting, they come in flares and you have flareups, if you have panic attacks, anxiety attacks and you don’t know why, if you have sore muscles and joints that come in flares too, these are some signs that we should at least look into what’s going on. We don’t know what’s going on but those are check engine lights and we should into it.

Darin: Many of you who follow me know I’ve spent most of my life searching for the healthiest foods on the planet from the Amazon jungle to the Andes of Peru, to the Himalayas and Bhutan, to the deserts of Africa, and everything in between discovering hundreds of plants and herbs and superfoods like this is my passion. Things like sacha inch, an Incan treasure, wild [unintelligible 00:31:41] mushrooms, things like Maya nuts, another Aztec superfood, wild cocoa moringa, many adaptogenic herbs and on and on and on. If you look hard enough, there are a few unknown extraordinary foods around the world that people still don’t know about. And a few years ago, I came across my favorite superfood discovery of all time, barukas nuts. Why is that my favorite? Well, when I first tasted them, my eyes lit up. I was blown away. They’re so delicious with notes of popcorn and cocoa and chocolate with peanut butter, and with this amazing crunch, so the taste alone just absolutely blew me away. But after sending them to the lab, which I do, and getting all the tests, I realized they’re the healthiest nuts on the planet. No other nut even compares. They have an unusually high amount of fiber, which is critical for healthy digestion. We’re all getting way too low of fiber in our diet and it’s good for the healthy bacteria and microbiome. And they’re off the charts in super high antioxidants, and have few calories than any other nut. It’s jam-packed with micronutrients. And what they don’t have is just as important as what they do have because they’re found in the forest in the savanna what’s called the Cerrado biome of Brazil, not grown on a plantation or a farm. They’re untouched by industrial pesticides, larvicides, fertilizers. They’re truly a wild food. But they’re not just good for you, they’re really good for the planet. Most other nuts require millions of gallons of irrigated water, not to mention, using bees and shipping them across the United States and just horrible sustainable practices just to grow certain nuts annually, but Baruka trees require no artificial irrigation. At one time, the Cerrado’s forest were made up of millions of these trees. These trees are incredible. They’re nitrogen fixers. They give back to the other plants in the forest. Their grandfather of sacred trees, but most of them were chopped down to make way for cattle, soy, and corn production. When you’re down in Brazil, it can be absolutely shocking. And actually, I’ve cried several times with miles and miles of deforested land filled with soy farms. This beautiful Savanna filled with soy farms and cattle grazing. Our mission is to reverse that. And the long term goal is to plant 20 million new baruzeiro trees throughout the Cerrado. And if that wasn’t enough, we are also providing highly beneficial and fair jobs for thousands of indigenous people so they can stay on their land and they can thrive with this consistent income every year forging and working with Barukas. Barukas are truly good for you, good for the planet, and good for the world community. It’s a win all the way around. I really think you’ll love them, so I’m giving all of my listeners 15% off by going to That’s B-A-R-U-K-A-S dot com backslash Darin, D-A-R-I-N and using the code “Darin” at the checkout. I know you will enjoy.

Darin: What are some of the things, maybe just focus on food for a second and also what people could start looking towards in eating and also what they can start taking away in terms of that?

Dr. Will: People need to realize that we have a lot of agency on our health. So that’s one thing that’s still being doubted. It’s interesting, in the autoimmune conventional world, the food has nothing to do with it. Eat whatever you want, food has nothing to do with it.

Darin: It’s so crazy. I mean, let’s just pause on that for a second because any doctor who’s smart, intelligent, quote the hypocritic oath, like they’re not dumb people. But the fact that you’re opening your mouth up to the world and there’s no outcome from that, that there’s the fact that you can say that out of your mouth in 2021 is utterly ridiculous.

Dr. Will: It is.

Darin: And so check the ego. You haven’t studied food. Okay, fine. You don’t know what to say about it, but don’t say that.

Dr. Will: You’re absolutely right. It’s happening less and less. Over the past decade, I feel like in the beginning, what I was saying was like more radical and ruffled more feathers, but now it’s less so because it’s kind of increasingly obvious that that old line isn’t working for people and I think largely the fact that the internet and the democratization of conversations on podcasts. People are just not taking that party line anymore. And that’s part of the reason why they like to censor people as well, I think because it’s just a little bit to equipping people with having agency over their health can be a scary thing, I think, for some interests. But the reality is that every food we eat either feeds inflammation or fights it, some in benign small ways, negligible ways, but some in big sweeping ways. And the heart of functional medicine, one of them is bio uniqueness, it’s the individuality. And we all have different microbiome balances and immune modulations and genetic components that all play a part in that interconnected dance of how we react to things and how different inflammatory pathways are expressed. But the reality, and also too, it’s an important part here is that, what researchers are looking at in the medical journals, in the scientific literature. Is this epigenetic-genetic mismatch, that our genetics haven’t changed in 10,000 years. Like you said, these modern things that 99% of our DNA hasn’t changed in 10,000 years but look at our world has changed very dramatically in a very short period of time when put in the context with the totality of human existence. So our food supply, soil depletion, environmental toxins, technology. It’s amazing we’re connecting with people around the world, but a lot of this stuff unfettered comes with a price tag for people. So it’s so much bombardment that’s awakening these genetic predispositions for things like autoimmunity. They have been there for 10,000 years but our being awoken like never before because of this onslaught of epigenetic stressors. So that’s what really researchers in the conventional journals are really exploring is explaining how are we seeing these epidemic rises of autoimmune conditions and brain health issues and metabolic issues and other chronic health problems. So going back to my statement of foods, there’s no Switzerland meal, it’s doing one thing or another for your physiology. For foods that are most likely to drive inflammation and you should at least consider reducing or eliminating them would be grains, predominantly gluten-containing grains. Obviously, there’s nuance conversation about that. There are better forms of grains but mainly the gluten-containing grains. There’s wheat, rye, oat, barley, spelt, they’re gluten-free oats, there’s an exception there but a lot of oats have cross-contamination. Then we have industrial seed oils. So a lot of soybean oil, a lot of cannola oil, a lot of these in dust that is fined in the whole food form but then they’re process and refined and not healthy. And then third would be added sugar which most people know that, but look at even the euphemisms for sugar that sound so pretty on the label. It doesn’t look like sugar but it’s just a different word for it. So educate yourself on reading labels. And fourth would be dairy, specifically conventional dairy. You can get better types of grass-fed milk and we have a nuanced conversation about goat’s milk but for the sake of simplicity, dairy. That’s what I call the core 4. Those are four foods that raise inflammation in the body mainly by disrupting the microbiome which is 75% of the immune system. So when you’re dealing with inflammation which is the product of the immune system, you want to look at where the predominance of the immune system lives which is in the gastrointestinal system and all the trillions of bacteria. So eliminating those and then bring in foods that really support a healthy microbiome. So lots of fruits and vegetables. If you have a sensitive gut, if you’re dealing with gastrointestinal problems or any inflammatory problems specifically with autoimmunity, I find that those people tend to do better with more cooked vegetables, more soups, and stews because these healthy foods, they’re not even digesting these healthy foods well because their gut is so impaired. So really, soup, stews be cooked, even pureed vegetables at first. Gentle things on the gut and healthy fats are really helpful, so things like avocadoes, extra virgin olive oil, polyphenol-rich healthy fats, as well as wild cut fish if you eat meat. Soaked nuts and seeds if you tolerate those, but soaking them makes them more digestible if you have a sensitive gut, that you get the healthy fats from them. And then low-fructose fruits, so things like berries and any sort of low-fructose fruit would be fine. Have more of those and then something that I’m exploring in, Intuitive Fasting, my latest book. It’s the power of fasting and it’s completely free. And the quote that comes to mind is Paracelsus, the father of toxicology. He was known as the Martin Luther of medicine in the late1400s early, 1500s in Switzerland. He called fasting the physician within, which I think is so cool. This imagery of this doctor that you can tap into and awaken these pathways that have been lying dormant, the healing pathways, to repair things, and it’s completely free and you just by slight modifications of your food, you can really lower inflammation in a powerful way.

Darin: You said you have to acknowledge where you’re at. If you react in the food, that is not what you need to do right now. You need to calm down your body because what you’re doing now doesn’t mean you can’t do something later. It’s like that snapshot, even the microbes, even the testing that you’re doing, the biochemical individuality, you’re taking a snapshot and it’s acknowledging what’s going on now. And there’s nothing better than the litmus test of like eating something and like, “Do I feel good” or “I don’t feel good.” And I think that’s very important what you just said.

Dr. Will: Yes, it is so true. People need to realize that and maybe have heart that the fact that if they’re having troubles with food right now, to your point, just to echo it again is that it’s not gonna be your destiny per se. There are foods specifically vegetables, I’m saying this, is that it’s not the food’s fault as much as your body’s reaction to them. So if your body’s so weak, it can’t digest these foods, meet your body where it’s at, give it time to repair, and then over time, we can work on reintroduction or you can work on reintroduction on your own. So that is so true. And also I think it’s important to say that your gut when you’re dealing with chronic inflammatory GI issues or chronic autoimmune issues, research estimates, and I’ve seen this clinically too, that the most people in that category, their gut takes about 18 to 24 months to really get to the place of either close to optimal function or at optimal function. That’s a lot longer than most people think. They think, okay, I’m gonna get this in 30 days. Look, I want you to be feeling better in 30 days but you have a journey ahead of you. And when you’re talking about 4 to 10 years prior with this trajectory starts to degrade slowly, 18 to 24 months isn’t that long, actually. But that’s kind of where most people find their sweet spot of having like, well, I have way more good days than bad days, we start decreasing the severity and the frequency of their flares, they happen less and less and further apart but that’s the journey they’re looking at if you’re dealing more with food reactions and autoimmune problems.

Darin: Because there’s so many, as we’ve kind of dove in a little bit on this modern convenience and inconvenience that we’ve created ourselves, we’ve created all these foods that are combined weird and processed weird and then we start eating them and there’s a reaction to them. And if you find, because I find it, they run against this, this is the classic I want to just live, I want to be able to eat whatever I want. And at the same time when they do that, it’s like punching themselves in the gut. They’re just pouring on the gasoline to the inflammation. And so you’re setting yourself up to have a really bad problem, and you’re dealing with your littler problem now but you’re not actually handling it, you’re just living in this false reality of like I just want to eat whatever I want, that’s too restrict for me. And that’s the challenge. As humans, we wait too long and then we get the crap beat out of us. It’s probably the most people are coming to you going, my hands are up in the air, I need to do something. What would you say to people about– I mean, it’s the billion, trillion dollar question. What would you say to people that are– and having food sensitivities, I’m having food allergies, what can I do to then thwart my wanting it now to then maybe push it off a little bit so that you can maybe reintroduce it later. I mean, what’s the magic here that we step in to this human flaw that we have that we wait until before alarm fire?

Dr. Will: I think that my experience and I have heard just about every excuse under the sun, I’m sure you have to, I’ve heard every pontification of why they should put an offer, this isn’t right for them, name all the things that we hear. But the reality is we have to at least start, not that they’re gonna solve this but they have to start at least asking why am I doing what I’m doing. And if you get the why right and shift your perspective from all the things I can’t have and this is so restrictive to let’s focus on all things that I can have. And what I see is whether they get this realization now or after some time showing up for themselves and giving their bodies time to heal is that they have this aha moment of loving to feel better more than a messed up food that made them to really lousy, then it’s not this argous punitive thing. It’s like no, I really hated feeling like that and now are motivated and excited. Because look, avoiding foods that make you feel like crap is not restrictive. It’s really not. And if you start shifting your perspective and like seeing those foods that really cause the flareups or try the symptoms and seeing is like, no, that’s gonna make me feel bad. Let’s eat amply, let’s eat really delicious filling foods but let’s shift on things that actually what our body loves because when you start seeing that, I think that there has to be a paradigm shift and start healing your relationship with food and healing your relationship with your body and your perception of food because a lot of times, we were trained very young to eat when you’re bored or eat when you’re stressed or this is what you always eat and it has a lot of emotion when it comes to that. But to start to have mindfulness and awareness around the foods that you eat and why you’re picking it, doesn’t mean you’re gonna be perfect all at once. It doesn’t mean that at all but at least we start doing more of the good stuff and less of the bad stuff. And the more of the good stuff that you do, you start feeling better and that motivates you and then this ball starts rolling and it’s really nice to see because then it’s not this thing that because Dr. Will Cole said to do it or this isn’t a book, this is like no, this is second nature. It’s intuitive because you want to continue doing the things that make you feel great.

Darin: I think so much to what you said is so powerful. So right now just for people listening to this, before I ask some other questions, your telemedicine, can people get in contact with you and your crew if they’re lost, if they’re in middle america and they’re like, I have no doctors that I even know of that has access to anything of what you’re saying, how can peopledo something right now and how can they get connected?

Dr. Will: Totally, I get that. I’m in middle america, I’m in Pittsburgh. All of our patients are online and have always been and then barring the pandemic, sometimes people would drive in or fly in if they wanted to because they like the old fashion thing which I like too, but that’s not realistic on a day-to-day basis to do it so they can be anywhere on ongoing basis. They just go to We offer a free webcam or phone health evaluation. My team is Leanne and me. We are meeting every day. We go over case reviews. I do all the main consults, still myself, 10 hours a day. And my head functional diagnostic and nutrition practitioner, there are some too if people want to get in with her sooner. So it’s something that we live and breathe, we love, it’s a passion of ours. It’s a joy really and a sacred responsibility to be a part of these people’s journey. But there are other resources too beyond us. They can go to If they want someone else, they can even find someone locally there that maybe just telemedicine too. is the institution for functional medicine site as well.

Darin: So for years, maybe most of my life, people have been asking me, “What kind of foods do you eat? What kind of exercises do you do? What kind of water should I drink?” All of these things and so much more we put into a 21-day program so that can take you through a theme every day of knowledge, action, and then eating these delicious meals, working out, getting support, anchoring in these new habits so you can do what? So that you can kick ass. So you have the energy, the vitality to live the kind of life that you really want. That’s what it’s all about. So all in this app, we have grocery lists, we have education about real hydration and what greater oxygenation and the balance of alkalinization. All of these things we are diving into as you’re heading down this hero’s journey of implementation into a new life to give you the kind of life that you actually want. So join my Tribe. All you have to do is go Sign up, and you get three free days. Join me on this hero’s journey. Join the Tribe.

Darin: If people don’t feel like they have a choice, then they just kind of throw their hands up in the air. I’m from Minnesota so I talked to my brother and my brother would have no idea where to go, what to do at all. And if people are listening, there’s always an option. That goes back to the question, ask yourself, okay, how can I get better? What do I need to do? What do I need to understand? Who can help me in this way? So all of this stuff, like I have a deep desire to continue to help change the damn paradigm without opening up pandora’s box too much. We’re in this place right now where the answer is gonna be this vaccination that technically does not even fit the definition of vaccination, so that’s for another conversation of whatever these companies are creating, and they can’t even prove that it’s actually vaccinating, but this whole, again, if I take this, I’m fine. And I just talked to a friend of mine in the healthcare space who’s talking to one of the top researchers. They don’t even understand the sequencing. They’re hands are in the air and they’re like, we don’t have enough time to understand the DNA-RNA sequencing to even know from a broad prospective what this thing is even doing. Literally, I got off the phone like an hour ago. My point to that is not to go, do whatever you want. If you want to have vaccination, if that’s fine for you, whatever. That’s not the point. I’m not here to make a statement of what you need to do. The point is it’s so complex. Back to the individuality thing, my question is to you because I’m fascinated with it that I think the foundation of the American Medical Association based on germ theory is fundamentally off because the environment, individuality, the terrain, all of that stuff, so I’m setting you up a little bit in terms of– So a couple of things. What do you think if I said, doc, how would you change the medical system? What would be some of the things that you would do to start creating a different way for people, for mass people, for us to actually take care of the people? How would you change the healthcare system?

Dr. Will: I think that it’s interesting, it’s so complex and I think there are so many things that need to be overhaul, but if this is my how I see on a personal level and then I talk about a broad leve. What I love about my job, I love how we both do this on an individual basis when we’re seeing people and coaching them or clinically monitoring them, however, we are one person at a time. Changing the hearts and minds, educating them, empowering them, informing them about their health and then they go and tell their partner or if they’re married, they’re kids. Making healthy contagious from the grassroots side of things is really cool to see. And then you think about the people that you and I have seen over the decades, time that we’ve doing this, it’s really cool to think that or platforms like this, this long-form conversations on podcasts or shows, articles I have written. Whatever the case, books that we write. It’s really cool to see the conversation, and I think in many ways a healthy revolution that’s happening. I think when you look at mainstream institutions that now have functional medicine clinics, I think the world in some ways we’ve asked why is that happening? Why isn’t the Cleveland Clinic opening up a functional medicine center years ago? Why? It’s because they see for themselves, the mainstream institution sees for themselves what this could do for people. They’re not a fringe group. They’re not like gonna throw millions of millions of dollars on a functional medicine and they’re on quackery. This just speaks for itself. And I think that that applies in so many levels that when you, like I said, a lot has changed and then a decade of doing this, just here more than ever. People’s mainstream doctors saying, hey, I don’t know what you’re doing but keep on doing it because who can lie, who can argue with improved markers on labs? Who can argue health restored and seeing the light come in their patient’s eyes? You’d have to be a very negative person, a very malicious person to be against and have such a god complex that you think that that’s a bad thing. So I would say, the proof in what’s going on right now, the amount of people that are taking agency over their health individually or with functional medicine practitioners or coaches in their life or nutritionists in their life is really remarkable to see. So I have a lot of hope for, not the system changing at large, but pockets of positivity happening within a system that will probably destroy itself. So I think that’s my overall thought. But we need to start looking at food and educating people about food. We need to start teaching nutrition in medical schools. We have to empower doctors to know this stuff. So even though they can’t go on like deep converstation on it, they can at least do something, and doing something in the right direction is better than doing nothing. So I think we can start with just teaching nutrition in medical schools. That’s an easy move.

Darin: You would think that that is something that they would actually do at this point. But I think what you said is so important too. I look at your day in the life, so you’re 10 hours a day working with people, getting results, helping people feel better, and that’s going on all over the place. And so those are happier healthier people that are getting results that are not increasing their side effects based on drugs that are just hoping to create some ease in someone’s life. It’s never creating health. So that’s encouraging that you exist, that your team exist. We underestimate I think one on one on one on one and over time, it’s like how many referrals do you get. You know what I mean? If you are creating health– I have some functional medicine doctors, friends of mine, and as soon as someone said something, I’m like cool, go to that person. Get some labs, get some tests. I never send them to the guy that has no functional medicine training. So I think what you said is right. And I also, from a political standpoint, not that I’m making this political, but I think that’s the same thing that we kind of see is happening. There are systems that are not working. And that’s why this kind of new proliferations are occuring where people, they’re not getting their answers, they’re not getting the results, and they’re not feeling better. And I think everyone can know that by taking medications for the rest of your life is probably not a great idea because those medictions just increase. You’re just getting more and more of them, so that’s the most important thing. So, if you could say, I mean, I hate reductionism and at the same time I’m reducing things down to questions. Like you’re seeing the same types of things over and over and over again. What are the three top things that you would say to people to either do or not do right now?

Dr. Will: Well, number one, I would say decrease the amount of those core four that I talked about. So the added sugar, grains, industrial seed oils, conventional dairy, decrease the amount of those. Increase the amount of those healthy things that I talked about. And cooking, having soups and broths. Stew if you deal with digestive problems. Having more cooked real foods specifically for a time at least. And then third, I would say introduce some flexible intermittent fasting because you need to give your body a break. We talked about the gut, like research that I explored in intuitive fasting is this circadian rhythm of our microbiome which I found fascinating that our microbiome has a circadian rhythm just like our cortisol rhythm does. So certian colony forming units, certain neighborhoods of bacteria are higher in the morning in our gut, some are higher in the evening and it is profoundly fascinating. Fasting has been shown, just light flexible intermittent fasting has been shown to reset that circadian rhythm on our microbiome to find that balance again. Remember that’s 75% of our immune system. So we have to deal with so many health problems. We have to deal with gut issues and fasting is an easy way to reset that, and it’s something that anybody can do because we’re not talking about long hard dry fast or water fast. This is just light time restrictive feeding windows. It gives your body that physician within, the Paracelsus I referred to. So I would say those three things, if you added a fourth one, I would just say really work on acts of stillness in your life. Whatever that looks like, it could be mindfulness, meditation or breathing, getting out in nature, like doing something that’s silent and still, calms the reactive mind because so much of– food is important, fasting is important but also stress management is important because these things, inflammation will spike from chronic stress too. So I would say bring some things, like dettach yourself from technology and connect yourself with yourself and stillness or getting out in nature I think is profoundly important. And one more thing, I would say is a lot of times autoimmune issues and inflammatory problems have to do with mental-emotional trauma side of things too. So sometimes we’re so focused on the nutrition stuff, we don’t realize that the trauma we have as a kid or in a relationship in the past is living itself currently in our bodies in a form of chronic inflammation. So that will be five things. I know you asked for three, but I had to keep going.

Darin: I mean, touching on that is massive. I asked a friend of mine who deals a lot with heavy cancers and stuff like that and I asked him one day, I said, how many from big to small of physical things that you deal with have an emotional component. You know what his answer was? 100%. So everything on some level is tied because we’re not cutting the pieces, mentally, physicall, emotionally, spiritually, that’s just language that we’re using to point at different things but it’s all this holism. And so yeah, you have an unresovled shame, fear, sadness, anger, resentment, underlying something, guess what? It can express itself physically, chemically. So that’s a very important piece that maybe next time we can unpack more. I mean, you have several books out. And you write many articles, you’re into research, all of that stuff. How can people follow you and find out and know what’s going on?

Dr. Will: Thanks, man. Everything’s at My Instagram @drwillcole. Yeah, they can order Intuitive Fasting, it’s my latest book. Where I’m really exploring is concept of intuition and getting in touch with your body but using flexible intermittent fasting to get that. So all the science we talked about, resetting our microbiome, lowering inflammation is something that the science is compelling, exciting and anybody can do it.

Darin: I love that. I think that combination of intuitive fasting bridges the exact thing that we were just talking about, like just take some break. Just listening, going in, empowering yourself, listening to the signs, the signals, the nuances that we so just easily bullrush and blow off. And isn’t the body always communicating to us?

Dr. Will: So true. I mean, I think the world in many ways is in deep need of a pause and I think more and more people are knowing that, and I think fasting is an interesting way to say, I want to give myself a little pause to just allow that physician within to rise and repair. And I think globally that’s kind of going too. And it’s interesting, the silver lining that we’re hearing so much and I’m sort of hearing this too is like, of course, all this crazy sadness is going on around the world, but a lot of people are saying the silver lining is I’ve slowed down, I’m having a pause. And this fast is this proverbial pause that we need and we’re connected to the world in so many ways. And we need to cultivate ways to bring that inner stillness in our bodies.

Darin: I love that. The rise of the physician within. I love that. Doc, it’s been such a pleasure, man. Let’s stay connected. I love what you’re doing. We could do a few rounds of this I’m sure.

Dr. Will: I’d love that. I’d be honered. Thanks, man.

Darin: Super fun. So thank you and we’ll get this out and empower more people.

Darin: That was a fantastic episode. What was the one thing that you got out of today’s conversation? If today’s episode struck a chord with you, and you want to dive a little deeper on a variety of topics, check out my live deep dives on More episodes are available on as well. Keep diving my friends, keep diving.

Darin: This episode is produced by my team at Must Amplify, an audio marketing company that specializes in giving a voice to a brand and making sure the right people hear it. If you would like or are thinking about doing a podcast or even would like a strategy session to add your voice to your brand in a powerful way, go to That’s

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