zach bush

Episode 326: Saving Humanity and the Planet with Dr. Zach Bush

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"We should be building our understanding of the immune system as a relationship. It's a balancing act. It's a symphony of micro-ecosystems communicating with one another, not a war-like mentality that the human mindset has brought to this scientific belief system.”

Dr Zach Bush

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If we lose our planet, the human race doesn’t survive. As a species, we are in the midst of a major extinction event, as our systems of food, housing, and medicine have decimated our earth, its natural resources, and its biodiversity. In fact, in the worst-case scenario, we could see the end of humanity within just 70-120 years. I don’t know about you, but as a father, that’s about as concerning as it gets for me. 

However, all is not lost. My guest today, Dr. Zach Bush, is as an MD who specializes in internal medicine and endocrinology, who is also an internationally recognized thought leader on the importance of microbiomes when it comes to health, disease, and nutrition. He’s doing remarkable work to save our planet, and he believes that we still have an opportunity to reverse the damage done and create the most verdant, biodiverse planet to have ever existed.

Today, Zach joins the podcast for a deep dive into how we can cultivate extraordinary relationships with ourselves, each other, and the Earth.


  • Why Zach is optimistic about the future of our planet despite the massive challenges and changes we’re facing now – and will face in the decades to come.
  • What we can learn about our planet and each other from the coronavirus crisis – and how this challenge has revealed what’s at stake for our future. 
  • How to let go of what’s beyond your physical control and tap into states of elevated consciousness.
  • The reasons the microbiome is foundational to our health and the health of the planet. 
  • Why probiotics probably aren’t quite doing for you what marketers want you to believe they are.


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COMMENT QUESTION: What is your big takeaway? Write it in the comments below.

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Hal Elrod: Goal achievers, hey, welcome to the Achieve Your Goals Podcast. Members of the Miracle Morning community, welcome, welcome, welcome. This is Hal. You’re about to hear a pretty, pretty deep, I'd say that's a good word, deep conversation with Dr. Zach Bush or Zach Bush, MD. is his website. So, let's go with Zach Bush, MD but, Zach, if you don't know who he is, he's a physician specializing in internal medicine, endocrinology, and hospice care. He's also an internationally recognized educator and thought leader on the microbiome as it relates to health, disease, and food systems. What's to me most important is the work Zach is doing is relevant to you, to me, to the future of humanity. I mean, he's literally on the frontlines trying to save our planet because if we lose the planet, we don't survive ourselves.

In fact, one of his first answers to one of my first questions that you're about to hear was about how we are headed towards extinction, that we've got 70 to 120 years before we are extinct unless we make some major changes and you will hear him talk about those changes and why he is more optimistic than he is pessimistic, which is good because it's a pretty heavy start to the podcast but ultimately, you're going to learn a ton today. He shifted my mindset around the definition of consciousness, first of all, which is something that I'm elevating consciousness and what that means and what that looks like and why we technically don't elevate consciousness. We really kind of more tap into it or align with it. He talks about the microbiome, how it is foundational for our health and health on the planet, and why probiotics, which I don't know about you but I've been marketed to that probiotics are what we need to optimize our gut health. Why he'll tell you why that's not true, it's not accurate, and probiotics are not doing for you quite what you think they are doing.

You're going to hear about the coronavirus and the pandemic that that's going on and why that's a wakeup call for all of us and what that wakeup call is. I asked him how he deals with knowing that there's so many problems, so many challenges that we are facing as a species that our planet is facing, and then what do we do? How do we deal with that? What do we do as individuals? What do we do as a society? So, Zach is a wealth of information. In fact, I would say this is not a podcast to be listened to haphazardly. This is wondering you want to actually be like focused with a notepad. Zach goes really deep. He goes really, really deep. Anyway, so I feel a debt of gratitude to this man. Now, knowing the work that he's doing, where he's coming from, again, it's relevant to you, to me, to our planet, to our species. Zach Bush, MD, ladies and gentlemen, I think you're going to really, really enjoy this conversation as much as I did. Hope you do.


Hal Elrod: All right, Zach Bush. We're ready to roll. How you doing, buddy?

Dr. Zach Bush: Really glad to be on your show. Thanks for having me, Hal.

Hal Elrod: No, I'm excited to have you here. In fact, I want to start with this. Where are you right now? Where are you? How are you? And what is your primary focus right now?

Dr. Zach Bush: Awesome. I am based in Virginia with my clinic and my for-profit operations and then live in Oahu part-time and my nonprofit is based in Southern California with our leadership there. And we have projects going all over the world with that nonprofit working on the intersection between human health and soil health. In some ways, none of our messages has ever been more relevant to the world than it is right now in the midst of this pandemic.

Hal Elrod: Yeah. I don't think I've ever done as much preparation for a guest on the show. You and I are just meeting today for the first time. And as I started to dive into your stuff last week, you're so deep in so many topics, in so many relevant, really important topics that are crucial for humanity, if you will. And so, because you speak on so many topics from pesticides and the use, how it's over the past few decades damaged our soil, which has coincided with the explosion of chronic diseases we're facing. You're an expert on the microbiome, which I definitely want to dive into today. And I think the bigger one is just how our current way of life and the systems that we rely on are not sustainable. And if we don't change, we're facing really grave consequences. So, what are the topics that you feel strongly that everybody listening right now if you're a human being living on planet Earth, what do people need to hear about right now?

Dr. Zach Bush: Yeah. I think that everybody on the planet at this moment showed up on purpose and you had to because you picked a tipping point of human history. We've been here for a brief 200,000 years in a geologic record of the planet that dates back 4.5 billion years. And so, we're just a scratch on the surface of planetary activity and we've seen in that fossil record five great extinction events and we've seen anywhere from 87% to 97% of life wiped out with those extinction events, and they've always been cataclysmic geologic events like massive volcanic eruptions and disruptions of tectonic plates to asteroids that have struck the surface of the earth. We've inspired ice ages and the ending of ice ages through those sorts of cataclysmic events. And now we're halfway through the sixth great extinction and this time the cataclysmic event is humans. We have decimated the biology of the planet through our consumptive and destructive relationship to Mother Nature herself. And we've done this perhaps most profoundly in our food systems but certainly, our medical system.

We always see ourselves in opposition to Mother Nature and we've built our technologies against her. We built houses against her. We build artificial environments and hospitals against her. We're always trying to create these comfortable niches that block nature out and in that isolation of our species, both of the molecular microbiome level as well as at the larger levels of the air we breathe and everything else, we have really deciphered the perfect extinction event for ourselves and the planet. And so, if you showed up right now, you showed up at a moment at which we will in our lifetimes see the collapse of human civilization. We are 70 years away from an extinction event where human life could end as soon as 70 years out. It could be as far as 120 years out but nonetheless, we're one generation away from a lifespan of experience to see the end of our species. And with it, we would see the collapse of tens of thousands, if not, hundreds of thousands or millions of species going with us. And so, it's going to be a fascinating next century, even if we continue to do the wrong things. If we do the right thing right now, we could completely reverse that story and we could actually over the next 100, 200 years, create the most verdant and biodiverse planet that has ever existed here.

We could literally participate in the explosion of life and we know this based again on fossil record. Every time we've seen a big extinction event, it is immediately followed by millions of years of explosive biodiversification and increase of intelligence of life on Earth. If we aren't able to interrupt our current extinction, which we've wiped out about 50% of life on Earth over the last 40, 50 years, and so we're halfway done. But if we were to, in the next 10 years, say, throw the brakes on that and managed to only lose 60%, 65% of life on Earth, we could then see an explosion of biodiversity, and it will accelerate for our own participation, which I think is fascinating. Well, it took millions of years for the Earth to recover from the last big extinction event with the dinosaurs, that asteroid devastated topsoil levels, which then screwed up our ocean systems and we lost life and it took many, many millions of years to recover that ecosystem.

With the damage that we've done, we've set up the world that even in the next eight years, the scientists out of Davos are telling us we've got eight years left to save the species because that eight years, the oceans reach a point of acidification, which is a tipping off point for biology on the planet. And the scientists at Davos this past year were really saying that we could see extinction events start, again, going into logarithmic growth. We've already seen a 10,000-fold increase in extinction baseline over the last 30 years. They think it could make another leap to 100,000 to a million times faster than the previous baseline. And so, we could see even in the next few decades, something catastrophic happened to the planet. And so, we need to avert that. We need to be a part of the solution instead of the problem that's driving this collapse. And believe it or not, I wake up most mornings really hopeful that that's going to happen and I usually go through a few crises during the day of hopelessness of like how can we possibly make this kind of change this fast and how can we change a $17 trillion American consumer mindset? How can we change a $35 trillion global consumer mindset and behavior?

And the answers keep coming back that Mother Nature's got the answer in consciousness. We can make a leap in our philosophy on life itself. Why are we here? What are we here to do? And where are we going? Those three questions can start to be answered for the first time in the context of a non-human experience. And we can start to see ourselves as a small participant within a biology that's capable of not only recovery but regenerative genius and biodiversification, and so this is the playing field. This is the chessboard that you showed up on when you decided to be a human right now, and I believe you are part of the solution.

Hal Elrod: That's heavy, first of all. It's also very insightful. I want to ask you, it brings up something for me that I've struggled with. I'd love your thoughts on this because you said a few things in there, number one, that you wake up hopeful. So, what you shared initially is like, “Oh my gosh, this is catastrophic and the end of the world is coming,” and then you just wake up hopeful most days. So, here's what I want to ask you. And probably about a year ago, I started really going down the rabbit hole of what are all of the problems that humanity is facing? And I started watching documentary, the garbage of the world on plastic in the ocean and started looking into documentaries on child trafficking and poverty and global warming, all of these issues, and I decided, I go, "Look, as a human being, it is my responsibility to solve every problem that humanity is facing.” And I thought as a leader, I need to help lead that charge and get everybody on the planet to take on that level of responsibility.

That led to what I might call a nervous breakdown. I came to my next team meeting or team call, we're spreading this Miracle Morning around the world and I thought, “All right, you guys, hey, our mission just got way bigger.” We have to solve every problem that humanity is facing. And so, what I want to ask you, there's a few questions in here. One is with you, I can tell you feel this, it feels to me that you feel this strong sense of responsibility to do everything in your power and you're doing it through your nonprofit and through Farmer’s Footprint, through Non-Toxic Neighborhoods, through your product, ION Health, all of the things that you're doing are really to alleviate and to solve what you just talked about, the potential downfall, if you will. So, what I've struggled with and I think I'm representative of probably a lot of people listening this right now is what do I do about it? So, that's the first question I have is what do we do about it as individuals?

Dr. Zach Bush: Yeah. The answer is really simple in the end, the what you do about it is create new relationship. And for the first time perhaps in our experience, I mean that on a much bigger level than human relationship but we can begin at human relationships. When you look at the current response to the pandemic, we exemplified everything that we're doing wrong as a species in our response to this pandemic. Instead of saying, we need to reconnect to nature, we need to get out and start to commune around the real problems at hand, which are climate change, collapse of our agricultural systems, collapse of our healthcare systems. Instead of having town hall meetings, instead, everybody needs to hide away in their house. And if they're going to go outside, they need to stay away from each other. Nobody can gather in groups and talk and think together. Nobody can speak with their neighbor without wearing something to cover their face and their purpose.

Everything that we did was contrary to what is really needed right now. So, in answer to your question, we need to do the exact opposite of what we just did for three months. But at the same time, we need to do the same thing of what we did in the last three months, which is for the first time Planet Earth as a whole, the entire humanity paused. We shifted a multi-trillion-dollar transportation industries, energy industries. Overnight we cleaned up air quality, we cleaned up the soil quality, we cleaned up ocean waters and river systems and like the speed at which Mother Nature responded in recovery is indicative of just how BS the whole story of what we can't change and it's too hard and we can't. We literally changed overnight. And so, the silver lining on our missteps and misperceptions around this pandemic, I think are really elucidating the reality that we can change everything tomorrow, with today's media and our connectedness through cell phones through Sub-Saharan Africa all the way to Europe to South Asia and into the US. It's the same cell phone that can get you connected to all of that. And so, we are at a unique moment where we can coordinate human behavior on a level never done before that can be used for very malicious and civil liberty eroding practices, as we've perhaps seen in recent months. Or it can be used to coordinate an extraordinary explosive new relationship to one another, and to the planet itself.

And so, what we need to do next is build relationship, community, connection with the goal of finding a new level of consciousness. And we see this taught to us by the microbiome, bacteria and fungi when they grow in colonies. When they get to a certain level of biodiversity and population, they suddenly take on a superintelligence. They start to act as a coordinated ecosystem rather than a single species of bacteria. They start to coordinate complex genomic swapping through things that we call viruses and through electrical signaling and then the rest, the whole system can communicate. Viruses are nothing more than that communication network at the genetic level. We also talk through microRNA which are tiny little strands of nucleotides that don't make proteins like the viral RNA or DNA does but these act as signaling molecules to tell the genes of the viruses or the genes of the multicellular organism on the other side, how to behave for adaptation and survival.

And so, here we've demonized the very communication network of biology that's allowed us to be creative. Our genome as a mammal is 50% derived from insertions of bio-information over time. 10% of our genome is actually inserted by retroviruses like HIV. And so, we over the last 30 years believe we are at war with the very things that built us and those are the relationships we need to start to fundamentally change. We need to find out that we are here as an immune system to battle against and isolate away from nature. As an immune system both at the biological level as well as the psychological and philosophical levels, we shouldn't be building immunity against nature. We should be building our understanding of the immune system as a relationship. It's a balancing act. It's a symphony of micro-ecosystems communicating with one another, not a war-like mentality that the human mindset has brought to this scientific belief system.

And so, there's a real opportunity for relationship and our response coming out of this pandemic to rephrase the goal. Our goal is now human connection at a level where quorum sensing or hyper-intelligence can start to be manifested. And we can start to at the genetic level as well as at the energetic level start to manifest the human species that has never thrived before in longevity or in conscious impact because we were acting as isolated factions within the human experience. We have taken every opportunity to fight against our neighbors across the fence. We've taken every opportunity to fight against our community of leaders who have taken every opportunity to fight against a nation of creed against creed, religion to religion. If we can find a divisive aspect, we’ll exploit that for a war-like mentality on one another. That's the human experience that we need to dissolve. And if we can dissolve that war-like mentality, we are going to see the opportunity for a completely new civilization and I want to be part of that.

Hal Elrod: Beautiful. I relate what you're talking about on a personal level. When I had cancer, it's always fight cancer, right? That was always the rhetoric was you’ve got to fight cancer, you're battling cancer. And I thought, “I'm healing cancer. I'm healing my body.” That was always my language in my affirmations and even in prayer. It was always thank you for this cancer and for the lessons that I'm inevitably going to learn from it and any other benefits that I might not be aware of but, yeah, to what you're talking about, changing that paradigm of that we've got to kill this and fight that and defeat this and battle against that.

Dr. Zach Bush: You're spot on. My research was in chemotherapy development and so I can tell you the rhetoric was the same on my side. So, 2005, 2010, I was doing research and development of chemotherapeutic agents at the University of Virginia, working on vitamin A compounds and it was exactly that mentality that I was going down of like I need to figure out how to kill more cancer cells. And every morning I woke up with this sense of like, how can I kill it better? How can I attack it better? How can I do a sneak attack on the cancer? Thinking so strategically as if I was some sort of military strategist going after this thing. And then a couple of years into that process, I had a pretty extraordinary moment where I was looking under a microscope at a tumor encroaching on healthy tissue and kind of being an amazement of how much it looked like Los Angeles from 20,000 feet when you're flying over it. It looks like a municipality with its highway systems and supply systems, bringing it back all the nutrients back into the core of this tumor and the way it invades the countryside through suburban sprawl.

Everything else is identical to the way in which our human behavior looks on the planet is a tumor growing into healthy tissues and invading that and extracting resources from that healthy tissue to the demise of the healthy tissue. And I suddenly realized I was running late for clinic, jumped up, ran over to clinic, sat down at my endocrinology clinic and there's a new patient there that I hadn't met before, urgent visit on my schedule. He was coming in for a diabetic ulcer on his ankle. So, within a few minutes, I've got this big ankle ulcer toes and I'm breathing the dead tissue and cleaning this thing up. And suddenly there was this moment where I'm looking down into this ulcer and see almost what felt like the same image that I just saw on the microscope of cancer. And I suddenly realized, "Oh my god, it's all the same thing.” It's all a disruption of healthy nutrient distribution, healthy resource management, healthy relationship to one another.

It doesn't matter if we call it a diabetic ulcer or cancer, or heart disease or diabetes. It's actually all a lack of communication. And it's this breakdown of mechanism of cooperative and life bringing cooperation at the tissue level that breeds cancer, so then you suddenly have to flip your thing. It’s like nobody's at war. There is no war. There's just confusion and isolation. And so, your approach was precisely what we train every patient into my clinic now which is step one is lose fear. You're on a journey. You’re in process. This is part of your body. This is the journey that you chose as a soul when you leaped into this body was to have this cancer part of your journey. It didn't show up in it to attack you. It is actually your own body becoming isolated as a human cell becomes disconnected from its organized organ system or whatnot, then it becomes a cancer cell. So, this is the loneliest and most damaged cell system in your whole body, and it needs to be reconnected. And as soon as it reconnects, it kills itself.

That was my area of expertise in chemotherapy with something called apoptosis or a programmed cell suicide. You don't even need immune system to find the tumor because the tumor simply kills itself as soon as it reconnects to the larger organism to find out that it's an unhealthy part of a healthy organism, it will replace itself with healthy tissue. And so, your approach of I am healing cancer is a very beautiful statement there. What we train our patients into really is they come in terrified because they have failed chemo, they failed this or that, and they've given a death sentence now and they come in and they're like, is there anything else we can do? And we say, “Well, first of all, we must lose fear because are you actually afraid of dying? And as soon as you actually really go into detail about that, most people actually aren't afraid of dying. They're afraid that they're losing their loved ones. They’re afraid what will happen to their loved ones if they go but it’s not actually the fear of death they're fearing.

So, you help them get down below that and once they realize they're not afraid of death, they recognize death as maybe some sort of rebirth and there's a continuation of energy on the other side. And this isn't 100% of individuals but I'd say it's in the 95% range of people that have some sort of ethos belief system that supports the realization that we're not biologic beings. We're energetic spiritual beings and having a human moment here. And so, once you get past all that, you go and realize, “I need to love this tissue back into my body. This is literally my most lonely and damaged cell system in the body. If I love that back in, it will eliminate the problem. It will become part of the ecosystem again in a cooperative fashion, either repair itself or eliminate itself.” And that's a beautiful journey and when you watch people coming in for their first visit, and they're exhausted and they're toting a whole suitcase of medications and medical records and imaging, it's just like this burden of proof of their own demise that they're carrying, and they walked out an hour-and-a-half later like skipping, often forgetting their suitcase in the lobby because they feel free of this thing now.

And it's just that that's where the healing begins is changing that mindset and we need to do that same thing for ourselves because we are the cancer on the planet. We have become the malignant process on the surface of the planet and we need to love ourselves back into the larger organism which is the planet itself. We need to love ourselves back into biology Planet Earth and find deep healing for us. More guilt about the havoc we've reaped is not going to help us. More fear of the pending crisis. We're humans and our demise is not going to help us. And so, you have to lose the fear and guilt and realize we have to love ourselves back into a larger organism. And then nature will take over in an extraordinary healing of that.

Hal Elrod: Yeah. Loving my cancer personally, I think that was a big part. I want to ask you because, for me, I am no scientist, I am no doctor, and for me, the way that I understand things is in layman's terms, if you will. And so, what I want to ask you about is the mind-body connection and I think we both just kind of touched on it through that interaction. So, the way that the layman's term that I describe it to folks is I'll say our body has trillions of cells, and whatever we tell them through our thinking through our emotion, they're kind of impartial and they do whatever we say. And if you're living in fear that you're going to die, then you're telling them, "Hey, we're going to die,” and they go, “Okay. I guess we'll do that.” If you say, "Hey, we're going to live. We're going to heal. We're going to love,” then they're like, “Okay, I guess that's what we're doing.”

So, that's my really simplistic explanation of the mind-body connection. I would love for you to speak on that because what you're talking about that you do in your clinic with people where the first thing you do is remove fear. And I think for me, that was my superpower is that I wasn't living in fear throughout that cancer journey. So, I'd love to hear more about that, just more about how the mind-body connection works. And for anybody watching this right now, that's in fear over coronavirus or cancer or just life, how do they deal with that and how do they overcome that?

Dr. Zach Bush: Yeah. I think losing the sense of responsibility for the healing process is an interesting part of losing the fear. So, we feel like whether it be a pandemic or cancer, like you say, or even more insidious and difficult is something like major depression, major depression can take over your whole identity. It's not in such an insidious and damaging way and so can anxiety disorders and the like and you suddenly think you're an anxious person, when in fact, that's just a momentary experience that a very healthy person is having. Same with major depression. You're not a depressed person. You actually experience a lack of energetic input and communication at the neurological level, which gives me an experience but dulled and lifeless perception of what's going on in your life around you. And so, in all of these things, it just feels insurmountable because you don't know why these things happen to you. You don't know how they happened, what factors were there so there's no way you know how to reverse the process because it happened to you. It's not something that you can figure out how you created it.

And so, it gives this rapid set vicious cycle of hopelessness, like how can I possibly fix this and all that, and I can do this like, while I feel very competent in areas of science and communication and all this around science, I feel very incompetent in social interactions, whether it be with my spouse or with my kids or with the public. I can find myself very confused over social processing, like I have a hard time teasing out what emotions people are having and why they're having that and what my relationship is to that emotion and what my reaction should be. And so, I can develop a sense of hopelessness over that kind of experience and I know that that's similar to what my patients feel when they start delving into something that feels like a science-like complicated biology problem that's happening in their lives, and it just feels like this born black box of confusion. And I think that when we feel like when we're told we have to fight against cancer or we have to overcome depression, it's like, well, okay, I'll put on the armor but I don't have the first idea of how to swing a sword at this one because I don't even know what it is. I don't know what the problem is.

It's just like this ethereal crisis that you can’t wrap your hands around. And so, I think the first step for my patients is to tell them, "There's nothing you're going to do that's going to heal this thing. Nature heals itself. All you have to do is align yourself with something much larger than yourself and the problem will go away for that, not because you somehow became the best juicer in the world or you drank more kale smoothies than anybody else on the planet, and therefore your cancer went away. It doesn't work that way.” In my experience, often the patients that feel like they're most in control of their recovery and are doing more than anybody else are the ones that actually do the worst because they've missed the larger point. They see this as a personal victory, when, in fact, the victory has nothing to do with your personal experience. The victory is one of a biologic planet doing its regenerative work, and you happen to align yourself with that and it's Mother Earth that's going to heal herself and her children if given the opportunity.

And so, that just changed the equation all sudden drastically where you no longer have to beat yourself up over the fact that I didn't do my enemas or my smoothies or whatever intensive cancer program you might be on. Instead, it's like, oh, I'm doing that to bring myself into alignment with nature so that I can be healed. And it makes it much easier to do the thing as well. Because ultimately, at the conscious, subconscious level you know damn, well, that smoothie is not going to heal you today. And so, then it's hard to do it. But when you realize that smoothie is not to heal you today but instead to bring yourself at once again into alignment with a nature that is capable of healing you today, through mechanisms much bigger than that smoothie, that just changes the whole equation. Suddenly, it's a lever you're pushing on to leverage something much larger than yourself, much larger than your human biology to become a healing part of nature is a very exciting shift of perspective there.

Hal Elrod: So, it sounds like if I'm trying to echo back what I heard, it's a letting go of control where you're trying to force things to happen and more of an allowing things to happen. Is that right? Allowing the healing to happen whether its nature, higher consciousness, God, right? Am I on to kind of what you're saying?

Dr. Zach Bush: Yeah. I think surrender is a huge piece of it. I think that's often when anybody says, “Well how do you do consciousness or how do you do self-development? It's always surrender. Surrender is always the right answer because what we're surrendering is a very frail and very surface-oriented human perspective, human philosophy when we're turning our attention to something or creating a solution for something. Whereas if we surrender, the matrix of we surrender our sense of the problem, our sense of the solution of problem, and we instead see every action that we take, aligning ourselves with something much larger than ourselves, much more profound in capacity than ourselves, then it gives you a real sense of relief. It's a lot like going from having to do a thesis paper and you slave away for years trying to write this damn paper and you come to your own conclusions all that and you finally get done with your thesis or your dissertation and you graduate.

And then suddenly you get hired by a company and they're suddenly a team of experts that all are bringing their own unique experiences. And same thing with an entrepreneur, where you bang away for five years trying to raise capital and get your idea off the ground. And you're bootstrapping it and wearing five different hats for which you're not even good at doing and you're just in this exhaustive self-perpetuating machine of energy to get your company off the ground. And then suddenly, you have funding and you can hire the right consultants and they reorient the ship and suddenly, what felt like pushing a massive ball up the hill with a toothpick, suddenly it's like rolling down the hill and everything suddenly got much easier and your whole viewpoint changes because you have the right people involved on this journey towards healing. You're not getting people involved. You're getting billions and trillions of microorganisms involved that are the actual healing machinery of nature. And so, you're re-engaging the microbiome of the gut and the tissue.

We now know that the breast has its own microbiome and the microbiome in the breast helps breast cancer recover. Methylobacterium radiotolerans is the bacteria in and around breast cancers that are trying to stabilize a damaged ecosystem, and fuel management and acidic environment, and everything else. Methylobacterium if killed by chemotherapeutic or antibiotic regimens in the midst of it, once you sterilize that tumor, your chances of dying from the cancer goes way up. And so, in our isolation, we will die. That is for sure. We've proven that out and so it's really with reconnection to nature that we reengage experts in the fields of healing and tissue repair and energy manufacturing. That's all done by the microbiome, bacteria and fungi ease all that that are in our gut, in our skin, in every single organ system. We now know that there's microbiome within the human brain.

So, all of this system that we used to think was this sterile environment that was kept sterile by this immune system that was fighting against every last bug in the universe, we now realize that was wrong. Our immune system is welcoming organisms into every organ system to help nursemaid the health of the body into a cooperative ecosystem. What an extraordinary shift for medicine to take and obviously, that our response to the pandemic right now is showing that we haven't learned our lesson very well yet. We still have a 150-year-old belief system about germs. We have a 150-year-old belief system about the immune system. So, we've forgotten to update our behaviors with the science that's really developed over the last 30 years to retrain our philosophy but it hasn't happened yet. But an opportunity is there to employ this massive workforce of the micro-ecosystem. And interestingly, it doesn't stop at tissue repair and cancer management.

We now know that the microbiome of the gut, for example, is responsible for producing 90% of the serotonin, 50% of the dopamine for the human neurologic system. And interestingly, that microbiome doesn't do that single-handedly. It does it through a cooperative relationship with enteric endocrine cells lying in your gut. And so, there's a co-creative, cooperative relationship between microbes in your gut and the lining of your intestines that then produces the neurotransmitters for your brain. It’s this trippy reality that we're starting to realize is we can't even have human thought or mood stability or consciousness experiences as an isolated human. We have to have the relationship of diverse ecosystems within us to even achieve what we would call mood stabilization or thought or consciousness. It’s a really beautiful thing unfolding now.

Hal Elrod: I want to hear more about that. And I think for, well, let's start with simply I'd love for you to define what is the microbiome? And I have a general understanding and so asking for a friend here. But what is the microbiome? That is you're a thought leader and an educator in the microbiome as it relates to health, disease through even food systems. So, what is the microbiome? And then something that you mentioned a few minutes ago, and you also touched on this before we started recording today, which is how it relates to elevating consciousness. So, if you could talk about in as simple terms as possible, what is the microbiome? Why should we care? And how does it relate to elevating our consciousness?

Dr. Zach Bush: One nuance there and it's something that I do all the time. I talk about the rise of human consciousness and all this and I'm trying to retrain myself because I'm starting to really embrace the realization that consciousness is not human and it's not something to elevate. It already exists at its highest form. So, consciousness, I'm really coming to believe is a flow of information that moves in the atomic field of the fabric of the universe, which is, of course, atomic structure, and most of that being the vacuum space. So, vacuum space defines 99.99% of the entire universe, including the computer in front of you or the carpet you're standing on. It's all vacuum space. And so, the tiny amount, the 0.0079% that is actually solid, namely the particle state of the electron or the proton, neutron in their ethereal quantum states, that tiny bit of physical structure within the vast volume of an atom is very much in response to you. The solid part being the minority is answering the call and the structure of the vacuum and the vacuum is full of light energy.

And so, light energy has the highest density of everything else in the universe. It has the capacity to change in shape and matter. And the relationship of matter whether that be a biochemical reaction between sodium and chloride to make salt or the reaction of hydrogen and oxygen, pumping through the wall of a mitochondria to make ATP fuel for the human system, all of these things are light energy events that are moving electrical energy through vacuum space to change relationships. So, that's kind of the fabric of the universe. So, what is consciousness? I think consciousness is a vibration within that electromagnetic field in a vacuum that carries all the information stream of what we would call the universe or nature or perhaps God or whatever it is, that we've got this reality that everything is vibrational energy. Within that energy, we know there is structured information. We've seen that in black holes. It's called Hawkins particles discovered by Stephen Hawkins who was the first to define this particle information flowing out of black holes in the center of galaxies.

And so, black holes that are connected through wormhole-type physics told one another and so all of the billions of galaxies that are in the universe at that astrological level are then mimicked in their structure and mathematical behavior at the proton level inside the atom of a human atomic structure of our cellular makeup are tiny little black holes. And so, all these black holes communicate with one another. They flow information in and out of them. Stephen Hawkins held that it was just chaotic information for most of his life but other scientists and then finally Stephen himself agreed at the end that this was structured information. And so, when we say what is consciousness, I believe that we're approaching understanding it at the atomic level, at least from a mechanistic standpoint even if we don't understand its real content yet, I would say that consciousness is a flow state of the universal information coming in and out of our experience and at the atomic level at the level of our atoms.

And so, there is no rising consciousness and there's no consciousness to try to like create together. We're not going to get together and create consciousness. Consciousness exists at its highest form in its highest state of energy. We just are disconnected from it just as a cancer cell is disconnected from its larger organism. We have disconnected ourselves from consciousness as much as we've disconnected ourselves from Mother Nature. And so, I think that the exciting thing is consciousness is already there and we simply need to reach our hand out, and you've experienced this. If you've done meditation, breathwork, prayer, spiritual song, chant, all of these are mechanisms, plant medicines, ayahuasca, and the like, all of these bring people to that experience of dipping your toe into the river of consciousness. And suddenly you can see the entire universe and you see or your role in that universe, you realize you're connected to everything.

All of these experiences that I see in the ICU with patients nearly dying or dying and then being resuscitated back into their bodies, they all report the same things. We are stepping out of these bodies right back into the flow of consciousness and a collective experience of acceptance and real purpose within the universe. And it's instantaneous on the other side of the limitations of human philosophy and mindset. And so, consciousness is not something to be achieved. It's something to be tapped into. And so, that's exciting because that could be done in a split instant. And so, if I thought humans had to go and create some new consciousness to guide a new civilization, I'd give up. There's no way we're going to be able to do that where we can't even agree on a political decision around anything, let alone tackle something like consciousness together. So, I'm excited by the possibility that all we have to do is start to recognize nature, beauty within that nature, and the experience of love that we get from seeing that beauty. And if we start to do that, we will fundamentally change our relationship to our nature. We will make different decisions in our day-to-day, minute-to-minute, and we will start to really reshape the future of mankind and the planet in our simple reconnect, reconnect to nature, reconnect to consciousness, and the rest.

Hal Elrod: So, I want to ask you, I want to go into the microbiome but something that just came up for me is it really circles back to one of the first or second question I asked about the idea that there's so many issues going on in the world. What do we do? How do we not get overwhelmed, so on and so forth? With regards to a lot of what you just talked about and as people wake up, as individuals wake up, I guess here's my question and I think that I speak for a lot of people. I don't want to be arrogant and think that I do that but I think that I do just from what I've seen posted around whether it's social media, conversations by the watercooler if you will, the idea, do we as individuals have the power, meaning I know we have the power in our own lives, of course, but I guess, I saw even India Arie, the famous singer, India Arie, posted an Instagram video probably a month or so ago, and she was crying and she was just like, "For decades, I've been putting music out there to elevate consciousness to inspire people and I've been preaching from stages around the world, that if we all change, we can change the world. We can change the course of this planet, of humanity, so on and so forth.”

And maybe she was just having a bad day but she was in tears just going, “Now, I'm not so sure. I don't know if the people in power if they have too much power and there's nothing we can do about it,” and she said, “I just don't know anymore.” And it was a reality check and kind of like a heartbreaking moment. But that's my question for you is I guess there's two questions in there which is, number one, what are your thoughts on can we make a difference if those in power, political power, corporate power, if they're making that they're swinging the bigger levers that are making the impact on the planet versus I can go garden, right? But if somebody signs a bill that allows for whatever industry, 5G, the oil industry, whatever, to do something that has a radical impact across all of humanity, whereas the thousand people listening to this podcast or 10,000 people if they go start a garden, that's great, and everything's helping in the right direction. I just hope I’m not convoluting the question too much but the point is, what are your thoughts on the powers that be that are swinging the big levers and how we can make an impact and if the gap is too big and/or what we need to do?

Dr. Zach Bush: The answer, I think, is multifaceted there and one we cannot discount at all the power of starting a garden. Food systems is ultimately the ultimate wealth. That's why to give you a sense of this scale, the entire military budget in the United States is around $700 billion. And so, that's all of our military, Homeland Security, all of our defense budget, basically, at $700 billion range. That's more than any other country in history.

Hal Elrod: Not annually?

Dr. Zach Bush: That's annually. But in perspective, our food system in the United States is $1.5 trillion. And so, we are twice as big as a food system as we are as a military system. And so, food is massive. It is a huge piece of the puzzle. The only thing that really blows away food is our current cost of our healthcare system, which is 3.5 trillion a year. And so, we are spending twice as much on medicine and medical care of chronic disease than we are on food. We're spending twice as much on food than we are military. So, really what we have to do is change the food system so that we make obsolete a $3.5 trillion healthcare industry. If we succeed in those two steps, secure food, therefore solve the healthcare crisis, which is a lifestyle mediated crisis, we will fundamentally change the largest economic drivers in our country. And things like 5G, it's a simple reality that the consumer is going to control that decision. If you don't like 5G then don't buy the Internet of Things. Don't buy a toaster that can report back to the internet. Maybe you can just make a piece of toast though.

Be aware of your social media consumption. Be aware of what platform is your email on. Who are you supporting in these small decisions in your day? If you're supporting the Googles and the Amazons of the world, you're putting your dollar vote into, “Yeah, I want convenience over planet. I want convenience over ethical behavior. I want convenience over civil liberties.” You're making a huge decision in every single one of those things. Every time you go to Amazon and order something, you're supporting a destructive consumptive mechanism of human behavior driven on artificial intelligence advertising and your data is being sold for the enrichment of Jeff Bezos to drive your money towards consumer products that you don't even need. And so, you are a voluntary participant in these largest of sectors, I would say. Amazon is our largest mechanism now. He's richer than any man in history now. And so, you've got this juggernaut that's been created. If you aren't keeping track of recent news, the US Postal Service with this recent pandemic is going out of business.

Hal Elrod: Really?

Dr. Zach Bush: Not the first time we've seen the US Postal Service do this. They went into bankruptcy a number of years ago and had to have major reorganization, big capital infusions to save the post office. This time, the US government has made it clear they're not going to bail out the US postal system. And so, Jeff Bezos has stepped up to offer to buy the US postal system. And so, that's what's happening at the geopolitical socioeconomic level that you and I are participating in, and we are the driving agents of. We've created that beast. Well, I don't care about the US Postal Service as far as somebody to save because all I can tell is they send me tons of junk mail and so that's not a good use of neo-commerce anymore. It's not a good use of our trees and everything else. We need to eliminate direct-to-consumer print advertising. That’s stupid. That's killing the planet itself. So, I don't care if the US Postal Service goes out and I don't care if Jeff Bezos owns it.

So, my point being, we have participated in an economy that has risen to that kind of scale, that government organizations are selling themselves back to the few personalities that are controlling all of commerce on the planet now, and 40% of Christmas spending was done through Amazon this past year. So, it's an obscene amount of trillions of dollars of commerce being poured through the hands of a very few people. We need to take that back and you can do that most easily by starting with food. And once we start growing a garden, you realize, "Why am I buying all this packaged food?” Like I should drop by the farmers market more. I love fresh tomatoes and I love fresh squash in the summertime. You can do that and so it changes your behavior on that level. Also, we need to start looking away from grocery stores and back towards farms. I'm very delighted by the silver lining that's happened to our farmers that we've been working with who have developed their own direct-to-market brands and mechanisms for getting products into consumer hands.

They grew by 300% to 1,200% in four weeks in the month of March this year, as the pandemics set in and supply chains became vulnerable and people didn't want to go to grocery stores or couldn't go to grocery stores, or grocery stores were sold out of stuff. Suddenly, they had to go to the farmer. And so, our farmers who were in that business sector and broken into a consumer marketplace, they accelerated their business plans by 8 to 10 years in four weeks. And so, it's just like really thrilling that the solutions are so close to home. The solutions for creating new economy are in reconnecting yourself to humans rather than consumer product convenience mechanisms. And so, get back out into your community. When this pandemic is done, make sure you respond opposite of what we've been told to do, and go and hug as many people as you can find. Go and wrap up your arms around trees, go breathe the microbiome back into your body to consolidate the intelligence of nature within you, and make different decisions in regards to your foods, your consumer products, to the stuff you think you need in the home and keep buying and the priority list need to change radically to participate in this evolution rather than revolution kind of mindset of where we need to go as a species and as a co-creator within nature.

Hal Elrod: Yeah. I couldn't agree more. So, we started to garden during the pandemic. We have four families that live in our neighborhood that are all really close friends, and we've all completely quarantined and isolated and we agreed we would do that for two weeks, and then we would be able to hang out with each other because we would get past the point of the two-week incubation period, right? So, we've actually been hugging and hanging out and we don't go anywhere so we're self-isolated and all of us have started gardens too, which is really cool. So, if we can, I'd like to talk about the microbiome. What is it? Why should we care? And then I'd like us to kind of maybe wrap up with some action steps in terms of you've touched on a lot of them, changing buying behavior, growing your own garden. I listen to your interview on the Rich Roll Podcast talking about just simple things that we can do as such as getting out in nature every day.

So, I'd like to wrap up with maybe some actionable a handful of, hey, right away, when you turn this podcast off do this, do this, do this right, put these things in your schedule. Before we get to that, I would love to hear because this is your expertise and you've talked a lot about it throughout the podcast but what is the microbiome? And again, how does it impact us and what can we do? And I'll just insert in there, I read your blog post about probiotics being ineffective like that's not the right way to go about it. So, if you can tie all that in, what's the microbiome? How does it impact us and what do we do to optimize it, if not probiotics?

Dr. Zach Bush: Excellent. Microbiome is a description of the microorganisms that create the ecosystem of nutrient delivery, fuel production, and communication on the planet. So, the microbiome was the beginning of multicellular communication, allowing for something like an earthworm or a human to emerge. I came out of the advancement of genetic intelligence and genomic swapping capacity. Genetics are swapped across species for adaptation purposes. Mother Nature is always trying to do more biodiversity every second, and she does that through the transfer of genomic information across species constantly and we do this in the form of something called horizontal gene transfer where a cell butt a nearby cell and passage directly genetic information into it or it can do it through what's called exosomes, which is just like a simple envelope to go across a short distance of maybe an organ system or maybe within the body, or maybe even within human beings or other animals that are in touch with you relatively directly.

And then if you need to go further distances, then you use the viruses. And so, we use direct gene transfer, exosomes, and viruses to do genomic updates, genomic adaptation. And so, that's ultimately what the microbiome is built is life on Earth. It's built every single tree, every single plant, every single animal, flora or fauna that you can think of has been developed by the cooperative swapping of genomic information and advancement of intelligence within that architecture of biology over time. And as I said, with each extinction, we see an explosion of new diversity and all the rest. Because during an extinction event, as systems break down, the messages of adaptation go exponential meaning that as the level of stress in the organism, it sends out more and more different variations of its own biology in the form of viruses and exosomes and the like to create some sort of avenue for solutioning around the adversity that's happening on the planet to cause the great extinction event. So, once there's a stabilization there, there's so much genomic information on the planet with so much new variation due to the stress we've created. And so, that's where we are today. That's why we have pandemics. That's why we have everything else is we're putting such stress on the organism of planet Earth. It's creating solutions rapidly. It's putting out more and more genomic information.

This isn't something to be demonized and feared. It's something to be embraced because it is the answer to life. And so, as we start to think about the microbiome, we need to consider it as the most intelligent of creative forces on the planet and we need to align our medical experience with that. We need to rethink our vaccine approach. We don't need to outlaw vaccines. We need to rethink vaccines. We need to think about what does a human immune system looks like that we now realize is supposed to be in relationship and in fact is the result of the relationship with microorganisms instead of just fighting and killing them. And so, we need to make that transformation and embrace the microbiome as part of the solution rather than the enemy. Microbiome ultimately functions as the mechanism of action within healthy soils of an agricultural system or your backyard garden and in the exact same way functions as the organic soil within your gut to nutrify of a root system of intestinal lining that’s sucking nutrients, water, and electrical energy out of the food that you're consuming to deliver that into the body through a healthy soil system.

So, the microbiome is the mechanisms of life. It is the builder of life. It is the theater of life. And so, that's the journey that we have. So, then we step in with the probiotic industry a couple of decades back to say, hey, there's good bacteria. That was helpful at the time because, at that time, we thought that all bacteria were bad, so that was a necessary baby step beneath the reality of the microbiome is good for us. It fell drastically short of creating a healthy microbiome, right? So, your typical probiotics, three species or seven species, couple on the market now at 25 species or 100 species but I don't care if it's three species or 100 species. That pales in comparison to 30,000 species of bacteria, 5 million species of fungi, 300,000 species of parasites, all in communication through a viral network of genomic adaptation. That's supposed to be your soil. And so, as you start to take a probiotic, you've missed the point of biodiversity, you've missed the point of the genius of an intelligent, diverse nature. And unfortunately, you do damage.

And so, in 2018, great studies came out in the journal, Cell. You can look these up by googling cell science journals. So, C-E-L-L, science journal, probiotics, September 2018. Write that down and search that and you're going to find two articles, one done in mice, one done in humans, showing that after two weeks of antibiotic usage, there's an 80% collapse in the microbiome. And then the addition of a probiotic actually freezes the recovery of that and will suppress the microbiome at the same potency that the antibiotic did for 45 days. That study ran in mice with absolutely no recovery of the microbiome. It ran for six months in humans. And while there was slow recovery of the microbiome in the human study, that even at six months, they had not recovered back to baseline levels of microbial diversity in the probiotic arm. Interestingly, in the placebo arm, both mice and humans were completely back to normal at 30 days. And so, we now know that there's a $47 billion healthcare supplement industry that needs to be replaced by nothing.

And so, how do we start to instead participate in the more diverse concept of microbiome cooperation? And so, that's what our company has been working on for years. So, this part is as conflicted by my own efforts here with my company but the science is not conflicted. We have a product that's come out of fossil soils. We went back in time to predate the previous extinction event which was caused by a death of the topsoil by an asteroid. And so, peeking back in time beyond that last extinction event, we find that there was a topsoil health and diversity that hasn't existed since. The depth of the topsoils was extraordinary. The nutrients grew ferns that were larger than houses. I mean, there was just this verdant planet that was exploding with nutrient density and we haven't quite recovered to that pre-extinction rate after 55 million years.

And so, we are pulling the network of communication. We discovered a carbon matrix of communication in 2013. The way in which carbon is used to traffic information between bacteria, fungi in the soils of your garden, or your gut are very beautiful. It's done through something called redox signaling. It's a wireless communication network between the species and so we've been putting into action that wireless communication network in the form of liquid supplements that you can use in your sinuses or swallow orally. And as soon as you introduce these into cell systems, you see a cooperative regenerative experience occur under the microscope or in human clinical trial we see repair happen at extreme rates of the gut lining that's leaking from the ubiquitous roundup in our environment that's killing us and all the rest. We can see nature heal all of those grave mistakes we've made as a technological species. Mother Nature's got solutions to it and the solution is in communication, not through micromanaging a diverse microbiome through probiotics.

So, we've been really overjoyed to see the impact of cell-cell communication as particularly microbial cell-cell communication happens in human health cell systems to repair human gut linings, vascular linings, blood-brain barrier, kidney tubules and beyond. So, it's just been a real journey into understanding nature's genius and it's humbling again to find out that human health is not the right result of human cells. It’s actually the result of a diverse micro-ecosystem taking care of that limited participation of the human cell to do something that we would call human health, human intelligence, human consciousness, all of that stemming from this extraordinary cooperative behavior of a microbiome within us. So, that's been our journey. Product line is ION Biome, used to be called Restore, and is still available in some places as Restore on grocery store shelves. But Restore and ION Biome have become kind of our marching orders for the planet, which is not to buy supplements but instead to return our soils to a point where the soils can once again produce this without the need for supplementation.

And so, I really believe we could, through our regenerative farming create that verdant soils that haven't existed in 55 million years. I think we can participate in the recovery of that level of biologic intelligence on the planet. And so, all of our resources and profits from those companies and our supplement industry are pointing back into root cause solutions for the planet, everything from cleaning up plastics, bioconversion of biodiesel, all the way to our nonprofit that's teaching farmers how to transition from chemical farming into regen and that's the Farmer's Footprint that you mentioned earlier. And the Non-Toxic Neighborhoods Project that we've launched at scale with Kim Konte out of California. She's been a phenomenal leader in this space on how to help counties and cities ban roundup from soccer fields, parks, and city systems. So, it's real exciting to see the science inspiring consumer changing behavior around gut health and that then going on to impact community health and farm health and farm futures as we start to imagine a regenerative planet, regenerative food system, elimination of a multi-trillion dollar healthcare system through healthful living of our peoples again. So, that's kind of the journey we've had and it's been a joy and a real honor to be a part of it.

Hal Elrod: Well, I can endorse your product. I took it this morning and before lunch. I take it before every meal and I took it when it was called Restore. So, my cancer journey, I had stream amounts of over 700 hours of chemotherapy. I was on IV antibiotics because when you're on chemo, you have no immune system to fight anything so, they have to prop it up with antibiotics. So, yeah, so when I looked into how do I restore my gut bacteria, my microbiome that's just been destroyed through these pharmaceuticals, I came across Restore and it came highly recommended. It was highly rated as well. And then now I know it's ION Biome, and if anybody's interested in this, I highly, highly recommend that I think for everybody, I just think it's almost whether you've taken pharmaceuticals, antibiotics, and you've had to restore your gut health from that or you've just simply been eating the food that is being grown in soil that's not as nutrient-rich as it once was, go to ION unless you have another website but, is that right?

Dr. Zach Bush: That's right.

Hal Elrod: So, I-O-N B-I-O-M-E dot com. And again, I've been taking this on and off for three years now. So, yeah, so I thank you for the work that you're doing. I mentioned when I was introducing you in the beginning, Zach, that topics that you talked about and you talk about them because you live them. You're not just a talking head like you've got the Farmer’s Footprint, the nonprofit, the documentary. You've got the Non-Toxic Neighborhoods project. You've got ION Health. You've got the M Clinic which, man, I wish all things knowing what I know now, I wish anybody who is diagnosed with any sort of chronic illness or even acute illness just knowing the way that you approach healing, I would have gone to you guys probably first. And then, of course, you also have the petition for healthy childhood immunity and vaccination that I saw on your website as well. The best place to get in touch with him assuming is Is that right?

Dr. Zach Bush: Yep. That's going to be the educational site and so you're going to be able to find topics ranging from health during pregnancy all the way to major depression and other things. So, lots of information there for you to dive into. There's a petition pre-designed around reformulating our understanding of child health, healthy child immunity, and vaccination there that you can sign up for us to really show our legislators that there's a need for really restructuring our understanding of our relationship to the microbiome for our children and their immune systems and the rest. So, feel free to dive in there. Lots of other resources on the site as well as far as insights into the projects we're doing around the world and all of that. So, we'd love for you to engage either through that or the nonprofit website, which is

Hal Elrod: On your site, as I mentioned, I've done more research and prep for our conversation because I was just diving in. I just was personally like, “Oh, this applies to me. Oh, this applies to me. Oh, this is very interesting.” I mean, yeah, I was just diving in.

Dr. Zach Bush: Awesome.

Hal Elrod: Yeah, man. So, thank you for the work that you do. I really appreciate you leading a lot of these charges that are making an impact for the rest of us. You're on the front lines if you will, and we're all benefiting by the work that you're doing so thank you for that.

Dr. Zach Bush: Awesome. So grateful for all of you as an audience and really looked to all of you to be part of this massive solution that is presenting itself as a huge opportunity. So, thank you, Hal, for your leadership and the voice that you carry out into the world and your personal journey of recovery and health, beyond health, going into the real thrive state in your own life. So, thank you for Miracle Mornings and the vision for helping everybody tap into their full potential through that, that simple mechanism.


Hal Elrod: You're welcome, brother. I appreciate that. It's been a pleasure. And everybody listening, thank you for tuning in to another episode of the podcast. I hope you enjoyed this conversation even half as much as I did because that would be a ton. You check out Zach's website, If you're like me, you'll spend hours there because there's really a lot to unpack. So, goal achievers, I love you. I appreciate you. I will look forward to talking to you all next week. Take care, everybody.


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