Can you improve your longevity, health and overall well being just through lifestyle factors alone?
Or are we doomed to the fate brought on by our family history and genetics?
To help us find out, today we’re here with Dr. Steven Gundry, a bestselling author and former cardiac surgeon who put himself out of business, and is now known as—I love this—the “No More Mr. Knife Guy.”
In 2002, Dr. Gundry founded The Center for Restorative Medicine based in Palm Springs, CA where he teaches patients how to live healthier lives through diet and lifestyle choices with the ultimate vision of helping people avoid the kinds of surgeries he performed for over three decades.
On today’s show, we’re chatting about:
- How to improve longevity with a few simple tweaks
- Elimination diets, like the Drinking Man’s Diet, and why they work
- The importance of vitamin D
- What’s the deal with peanuts and cashews
- How physicians can be detectives
- The benefits of snake oil (really)
- And tons more…
Let’s go hang out with Dr. Gundry.
Dr. Steven Gundry: No More Mr. Knife Guy
Abel: Alright, folks, Dr. Steven Gundry is an award-winning cardiologist, bestselling author, and inventor.
He’s also known as “No More Mr. Knife Guy.”
Dr. Gundry, thank you so much for joining us today.
Hey, thanks for having me on the program.
Abel: So, we were just discussing that you’re actually one of the only nutritionists who lives at least next door to a Blue Zone.
Yeah, actually most of my career I spent as professor at Loma Linda University, which is in Loma Linda, California—the only blue zone in America, North America or South America, for that matter. So it’s fun.
In my new book, The Longevity Paradox, I talk about Blue Zones and what unites them and what’s actually very different about all those communities.
Why You Should Stop Blaming Your Genes
Abel: Yeah, and well you can, especially when you travel around the world a little bit, you can see that humans age in dramatically different ways.
There’s some people in their 20’s and 30’s hobbling around; other people in their 90’s are scrambling up cliffs, especially in other countries.
So, let’s just start generally with, how do these lifestyle factors actually play into our health or longevity and well-being?
Yeah, that’s a great place to start. I talk about this in my new book.
There was a study that was published in Nature late last year that looked at factors in longevity and in disease processes.
And a lot of us think our family history, our genetics, are going to determine most of our fate.
But this paper looking at humans showed that genetics, actually our human genetics, have very little to do with our fate.Probably only 6% of what's going to happen to us is from our family history, from our #genetics. @DrGundry Click To Tweet
And the environmental factors and the food we eat and, believe it or not, our gut microbiome, is going to determine most everything that’s going to happen to us.
In fact, I reference a twin study taking identical twins who were separated and got adopted into different families.
And the fate of these identical twins had almost nothing to do with their genetics, but with the family that they were raised with.
In fact what’s interesting is, when I take a look at family history now, what I’m actually finding out is—number one, if you lived with your parents and you ate what your parents ate, and one or more of your parents got diabetes or heart disease or cancer, then you actually inherited their eating habits and you actually inherited their gut microbiome.
And it’s those factors that actually drove you getting diabetes or heart disease or cancer rather than the genes your parents gave you.
Abel: Very interesting. So when people say they blame it on the genes, whatever it is, that’s just a tiny, tiny, tiny little piece of it. It’s not really an excuse that we can use anymore.
Yeah, and actually, not only is it a lousy excuse, but it’s actually very empowering to realize that your fate is not the fate of your parents or your siblings. That you can actually take steps to correct your fate really at any step along the line.
And that’s part of The Longevity Paradox. When we look at getting old, it doesn’t look very good.
We all want to live a long time. But then when we look down the road and like you say, you look at folks and go, “Hey, I don’t want to end up in a nursing home.”
Or, “I don’t want to have both of my hips and knees replaced, and I don’t want to get sliced open by Dr. Gundry and get bypass surgery. That just doesn’t look very good.”
We want to die young quickly at a ripe old age, that’s how we want to go.
Abel: Die young quickly at a ripe old age. I really like that.
Yeah, that’s exactly right.
So, these super successful agers, and I profile a lot of them in the book, including the woman who was a real mentor to me in a lot of ways, Edith Morrey.
Her picture is right inside the cover of the book.
That picture of her and me with The Plant Paradox book in her hands was taken when she was 105 and a half years of age.
Abel: Oh my god.
And when people see that picture, that hair is actually her head of hair—it’s this gorgeous bushy mop.
Everybody thought it was a wig, but I could assure you it was not a wig.
But Edith, in that picture, was actually in 2-inch heels when I met her in her early 90’s. I actually thought she was 65 when I first met her.
She was actually in 3-inch heels in her early 90s, and she had been influenced by one of the great nutritionists in this country, Gayelord Hauser.
And if people haven’t heard of Gayelord Hauser, you do need to google him.
He actually ran all the Elizabeth Arden fat farms around the United States. And he had clinics throughout Europe, in Zurich, in Paris, in Los Angeles.
He had a clinic, actually, here in Palm Springs, and Edith heard him speak when she was 20 years of age.
He basically said, “Go home, throw all white foods out of your pantry and never eat a white food again.”
And she actually believed him.
She was married twice, and buried both husbands.
Her second husband was a physician who told her her way of eating was idiotic, and of course, he’s long dead. And Edith made it just shy of her 106th birthday.
And like you just mentioned, she went to sleep and that was it. And that’s what I think we all want.
Abel: Yeah, and one thing that I love about that story because, I think you mentioned it even in one of your books, 10 years ago, right? She was the 94-year-old.
I mention her in every book. Yep.
Longevity Starts in Your Gut
Abel: Is that she has been following basically good advice that went against what physicians and what conventional wisdom has been telling us.
But she did that for decades and just stubbornly stuck with it because it was working, or whatever her reasons were.
What were her reasons actually?
Well, I think she was profoundly affected by Gayelord Hauser, and she had every book that he ever wrote, and she would give me his books.
This was early in my transition from being a world famous heart surgeon to being a nutritionist who tries to not operate on people.
And it was when I started reading his books, I went, “Oh my gosh, it’s like I wrote this book, it’s like how did he know all this stuff?”
Because we didn’t know about the microbiome, we didn’t really know scientifically how, for instance, what happens when our gut impacts really everything.
In fact, I try to remind people that Hippocrates 2500 years ago, said,
“All disease begins in the gut.”
And I mean, how present is that, is like, how did this guy know this?
Abel: Must have been a time traveler.
Yeah, because we’ve only sequenced the human microbiome in what, five years now?
So it’s like this guy knew this a long time ago and people like Gayelord Hauser knew this.
Interestingly enough, Gayelord Hauser cured himself of tuberculosis of the hip by changing his diet.
He actually went to Switzerland and learned how to eat, he was an American, and returned.
He got into trouble with the AMA as so many people do in association with promoting himself as a doctor.
Now he was [not a doctor] of any sort, but he was probably one of the greatest doctors of nutrition that we’ve ever had. He did pretty well for himself.
Abel: And one of the things that it seems like these folks have in common, whether you’re looking back 2500 years or someone like you now is…
Instead of seeing the human body as a collection of parts that we can kind of tinker with, it’s much more, we’re looking, we’re looking at a system.
There are a lot of things that make a car go forward, and it’s not just the engine.
And so if we use that with a human body, I’d be interested in hearing you talk about that a little bit just because you did work specifically, or do work specifically on the heart.
But it’s not just the heart that’s making us alive. Right?
Yeah, exactly right.
We’re unfortunately, almost to this day, although we’re beginning to see a shift in medical school curriculum, we’ve had divisions.
There’s cardiology, there’s gastroenterology, there’s hepatology, there’s oncology, and we’ve all kind of lived in our little worlds, and we’ve been taught that the heart really has nothing in common with say the liver or the heart has nothing in common with the brain.
And we’re going to study one thing, I’ll give you a really interesting example.
Years ago, at Loma Linda university, I was developing beating heart surgery where we would work on the heart while it was still beating.
And that’s like that old, old joke of the car mechanic and the surgeon and the car mechanics as well.
We both work on engines, and he says, “Yeah, but how often do you work on the engine while it’s running?”
So, we were working on beating heart surgery and we noticed that we would have a little catheter in the radial artery to manage your blood pressure.
And we noticed that this artery would go into spasm, and we also noticed that the blood sugars would go up when we were doing the sort of surgery and you got such a pain in the neck we’d put a bigger catheter in the Femoral artery to manage things.
And one day I’m walking down the hall with a neuro-surgeon colleague and I’m saying, “You know this is really interesting. Blood sugar goes up during these operations and the artery goes into spasm.”
And he says, “Oh we use that in brain surgery all the time. We actually give them huge boluses of glucose and their blood sugar goes up and the arteries in their brains go into spasm, so we can actually work on the brain.”
And I said, “Why don’t we know about this?”
He said, “Well, because you’re not brain surgeons, you don’t need to do that.”
But the point is actually well taken, for instance, because of my interest in heart disease, I was very interested in a gene that a lot of people know about now that is the APOE4 gene, the “Alzheimer Gene.”
And about a third of us carry one or both of the mutations, the four mutation, so that’s a large percentage of the population.
And this gene not only correlates with Alzheimers, but it also correlates with developing coronary artery disease.
So I got initially very interested in this gene because so many of my heart disease patients had this gene, and so I worked on a diet that would mitigate the effects of having this gene.
And it wasn’t until years later that I was introduced to Dr. Dale Bredison who wrote The End of Alzheimer’s, and who’s a neurologist and has now become a close friend.
And we were introduced in a meeting, and I had studied his work because his work was on the effect of the APOE4 gene on the brain.
And we both say hi and we both simultaneously say, “Oh, I’m a big fan of yours.” And, “Really?”
And he says, “Oh, yeah. Do you actually have the best diet for the treatment of APOE4. and I actually use your diet in all my patients.”
And I said, “Oh, you’re the world expert on how the APOE4 gene works and I read all your stuff.”
And I think that’s what we’re beginning to realize is that, all of these areas are interconnected and we are a unifying organism.
And I think what’s exciting about the longevity paradox, is that what we should be really focusing on is this incredible life force that is our microbiome that lives in us, that lives on us, that’s even in the air around us.
We actually carry a cloud of bacteria around us, and we actually, as I mentioned in the book, may select our mating partners by exchanging the bacteria in our mouth, and the bacteria actually decide whether you and I are compatible with each other’s microbiome.
And it gets kind of du du du du, but it’s probably true.
Why the Carnivore Diet Works (Temporarily)
Abel: Well, we think that we’re driving here we think that our consciousness is in full control, and that’s why, that’s one of the reasons anyway, it can be so alarming when people take on a new diet, say, with little understanding of how it actually works within the body.
So one thing I’ve heard about, heard you speak about recently is, especially with all the popularity of keto and kind of popular keto, popular Paleo, these popular versions of the diets, what’s the problem that most people are making?
Because let’s just, take some example of someone who may have actually lost a lot of weight by kicking out all vegetables, all sugar, and all they’re doing is eating meat now. What’s the problem with that?
Yeah, the carnivore diet. Well the carnivore diet, I get a kick out of these sorts of diets, the carnivore diet works because quite frankly you’ve eliminated all lactant containing foods.
Just like the original Atkins diet which I mean, come on, folks, the carnivore diet is an Atkins diet, give the guy the credit.
He wasn’t the inventor of that diet either, it was actually developed as The Drinking Man’s Diet that I talk about in the book by Robert Cameron.
Abel: That’s a great name for a diet.
Yeah, I know. The Drinking Man’s Diet, and believe it or not, this diet and this is aside sold literally two and a half million copies.
And this was the diet actually before Atkins, Atkins actually learned from this diet.
And the diet was actually vilified by Harvard Medical School as a murderous diet, that he was called a mass murderer by Harvard Medical school.
And the hilarious thing is that he actually lived to 96 years of age, he actually lived to see the 50th anniversary publication of his book.
And I guess he had the last word. So getting a carnivore diet.
With my first book years ago, Dr. Gundry’s Diet Evolution, I actually started with a very high protein diet as the first part and then actually morphed to a much more plant-based diet.
And people accused me of suckering people in this diet and then I was secretly turning them into plant eaters, and how dare I do that?
Abel: It sounds like a good plan.
But what happens is protein, digesting protein is really energy expensive.
We lose about 30% of the calories in protein just in breaking it down.
And it’s really [a matter] of heat. And as I talk about in the longevity paradox, that heat is clearly our enemy long term.
Now, if we want to lose weight, heat is great.
And kicking up Thermo-Genesis is a wonderful way to lose weight, and there’s people all of a sudden say,
“Oh my gosh, the carnivore diet, you lose all this weight.”
Well, I’m sorry. This has been known for well over 50 years. This is not new information, and suddenly it’s new information.
This will make you lose weight. Plus you are eliminating lectins.
And I personally think that it’s the ultimate elimination diet, you just eliminate all plant material and most of the lectins are going to be in plants.
In fact, humorously, my first book was bought by Random House, and Random House had done all the South Beach books and all the Atkins books.
And so when I’m meeting with my editor, the actual diet that they bought is the diet in The Plant Paradox.
And my editor said, “Well, so you’re going to re-work this because in phase two, we’re going to introduce healthy grains and beans.”
And I go, “Well, no we’re not.”
And she said, “Well, yeah, we are. And here’s why. Because everybody knows how healthy grains and beans are.”
And I said, “Well, wait a minute you don’t understand when Atkins and the South Beach diets, in phase two, re-introduce healthy grains, and health, a huge number of people started to gain weight. And what did they do?”
“Oh, well, go back to phase one where we take these things away.”
And I said, “Don’t you get it? That’s what caused the weight gain.”
I grew up in Omaha, Nebraska and any farm boy knows to make an animal gain weight you give them grains and beans. That’s how you do it.
So they said, “No. We’re selling books here, and you read your contract. We get to say what’s going in there.”
Abel: Yeah. Welcome to book publishing, right?
Call it Dr. Gundry’s Diet Evolution because… Yeah, I didn’t know these things then.
So, actually when The Plant Paradox came out and HarperCollins bid for the rights.
The first thing I said. I said, “You are not touching what are the good foods and the bad foods.”
And they said, “Oh no, we love this. This is so crazy. We love this.”
So, sometimes it helps to be crazy.
Abel: Sometimes it does. But this also brings up another good point that oftentimes diets, and I don’t want to say diets as much as dietary changes, don’t work because of what you’re eating, but what you’re not eating.
And that’s so important for people to internalize because that’s what will save your life.
Even not knowing what’s ahead in the five, 10, 20 decades, all of the head… All the years that are ahead of us.
We’re going to have to learn how to navigate and it’s more important, I would say, to know what not to eat, than even what to eat.
Yeah, that’s the first principle in The Plant Paradox and in The Longevity Paradox, and that is what I tell you not to eat is far more important than what I tell you to eat.
I quote LaLanne, really one of the great nutritionists and actually one of the great fitness experts of all time.
He literally invented fitness in America. And I got to know him in his later years and… “If it tastes good, spit it out.”
What he meant by that is we really should be eating not for our taste buds, but for actually our gut microbiome.
And again, he was so far ahead of his time that if we eat for them and they actually constitute almost all the genetic material in us.
They constitute 90% of all the cells within us.99% of the genes within us are bacterial, viral, protozoan, not human genes. So why wouldn't we eat for them? @DrGundry Click To Tweet
Abel: Yeah, and this is kind of a random question, but since medicine and science tries to quantify everything.
How much out of 100 do we actually know? 100%, how much can we say this is truth?
And we need to do this specific thing for our bodies, as opposed to a more general rule, which is we need to feed our body as an ecosystem, the gut bacteria like you said, we need to follow the cues of our gut intuition, right?
Because we actually do get cues from our bodies. Can you tell us a little bit how we can maybe hone in on that more intuitive way of eating that might be informed by your bacteria?
Yeah, I think that’s a great point. And actually, this gut sense that women have I think is actually real.
And the more we look at the interaction of the microbiome with the wall of our gut and also with the gut-brain connection, the more we see that women do have a gut sense of what’s going on.
And I talk about the lining of our gut is actually our sixth sense.
And the information that is passed between the gut microbiome and the wall of our gut, and the immune system and the nerve cells that are lining the gut. This is the next frontier.
And I take care of a large number of women with autoimmune disease.
Autoimmune disease is now about 70% of my practice as a heart surgeon.
But I was a transplant immunologist throughout my career, so I used to fool the immune system.
And so when people started with autoimmune disease coming to see me, they’d say, “What do you know about autoimmune disease?”
I’d say, “I don’t know anything about autoimmune disease, but I know how the immune system works and if you want to play, let’s play.”
So it’s amazing. Again, women, and I preach this on my podcast, I preach this in my writings.
Women have this gut sense. They know what is wrong.
And one of the things I urge all people, particularly women, make somebody listen to you.
In fact, I just saw a woman yesterday who’s 59, not from this area, flew in to see me.
We looked at all her labs. She has several markers of autoimmune disease.
And she burst out crying, and she says, “You mean I’m not crazy?”
I said, “No, no, you’re not crazy. This isn’t in the head, you’re feeling these things. Look, here are these markers and no, you’re not crazy.”
And she spent her life going from doctor to doctor, basically all the basic labs told her, “Oh, you’re healthy as a horse.”
She knew something was wrong. She had chronic fatigue all of her life.
And kept getting, “Oh, you know, it’s all in your head, you’re crazy.”
Abel: Well, that’s pretty typical isn’t it?
Isn’t that what most people are told about, I don’t want to call it a self-diagnosis but even if you’re saying to yourself, “You know, something is wrong.”
If your doctor can’t put a finger on the exact diagnosis that’s in a book, then you don’t have anything, right?
You have some unspecified thing, or you have nothing and you’re crazy.
So, if people are in that position right now and have been told that before, what’s the best way to navigate their way out of that and toward healing?
Well, so, as you know, what’s called functional medicine is definitely getting a toehold. I have no idea what functional medicine means.
I use the term restorative medicine in my clinic. I just like it better.
And just as an aside, Hippocrates felt, and I write about this, that all of us have this. The translation from Greek is kind of nerdy, it’s green life force energy, it sounds very Californian.
Abel: Yeah, it does.
That wants the creature to have perfect health.
There are external factors, Hippocrates postulated, that were preventing the expression of this green life force energy.
And the physician was supposed to be a detective, and the physician was supposed to remove these external factors or teach the patient to remove these external factors.
And then the patient would actually heal him, or herself.
And again, how this guy knew this, but Hippocrates was absolutely right.
And I think whether we call it functional medicine or whether we call it restorative medicine—and Jeff Bland is an old, old friend, of mine—but we find those external factors, I personally focus a great deal on food.
I think there’s a lot of plants who don’t like us.
And kind of pulling full circle around the reason the carnivore diet gets good results for a lot of people with autoimmune disease, is not some magical mystical property of meat, it’s the fact that you’ve done a pretty impressive elimination diet.
You’ve gotten rid of all these plant guys.
Abel: Now, once again, the meat thing, I just want to emphasize that again because one piece of your message is don’t overeat meat.
It’s not necessarily, in and of itself, always bad, but there’s certainly some that are.
And one thing that I don’t think a lot of listeners have heard before is, especially if they’re buying organic free range chicken, thinking that it’s good for them.
Could you just fill us in on a little bit, why that might not be so?
So, the second rule is you are what you eat, but you are what the thing you’re eating ate.
You are what you eat, but you are what the thing you're eating ate. @DrGundry Click To Tweet
And we forget that up until literally 50 years ago, all of our cows ate grass and weeds, all of our chickens primarily ate bugs, and so on and so forth.
All of our plants, long ago, were grown in six feet of loam soil and the soil contained huge amounts of minerals and nutrients, and the microbiome of the soil absorbed those nutrients.
Now, our soil is dead. So a plant, a piece of lettuce, could still look like a head of lettuce, but it’s not the same.
A chicken can look exactly like a chicken, but if you feed a chicken mostly corn or soybeans, that chicken will not be a chicken anymore. It’s basically an ear of corn with feathers.
Now, how did I learn that?
Well, I learned that from my patients, and I wrote about one such woman. I’ve got several more since that time.
A woman, a psychologist in Los Angeles who had lupus and she was on two immunosuppressant drugs, and she realized that was not a good long-term option.
As an aside, I tell patients with autoimmune diseases on immunosuppressant drugs that, “You do not have a heart or kidney transplant, so what are you doing on an immunosuppressant drug?”
So, this woman wanted to get off of them, and we got her off the meds by following the recommendations in the book.
She said, “You know, everything’s great. I’m off all the meds, but I’ve got this little bit of eczema on my upper eyelids.”
And so we go through a list of foods to see what she’s eating.
And she goes, “No, no, no, no, no, of course I wouldn’t eat that.”
We get to chicken and I said, “Okay, now you’re eating pastured chicken, right?”
And she said, “Oh yeah, I’m eating organic, free range chicken.”
And my eyes go wide, I went, “Wait a minute, organic free range chickens are kept in a warehouse with 100,000 other chickens.”
I go, “You can open the door for 5 minutes every 24 hours, so they have the potential to go outside. And they’re fed organic corn and soybeans. That’s not a pastured chicken, even though the labeling law says you can call it a free-range chicken.”
I said, “Let’s do an experiment. Stop your chicken. Call me back.”
A month goes by. She calls me back.
She said, “It’s the chicken. My eczema is gone.”
And so I started actually reading some of the alternative literature, and there’s this description that you are what you eat, but you are also the thing you’re eating ate.
And these proteins are incorporated into the meats of these animals, and it makes so much sense.
Because for instance, we know that lectins can be absorbed from the GI tract and go to joints. So we know that wheat germ and gluten is one of the worst lectins in the world.
So it’s like, “Well, duh! Of course these things are in these animals.”
And I have a number of women, particularly women, where the organic free-range chicken that was their culprit.
The Case Against Corn
Abel: Isn’t that fascinating. And I read in your book, as well, that there was a hair analysis done, and just in case anyone’s doubting how much corn we’re eating, whether we’re eating corn itself or not.
And it said, “In Europe about 5% is corn. But even, Sanjay Gupta says, in the US, Americans came out at about 69% corn.”
Yeah, yeah. Corn has a unique carbon atom, it’s called a C4 carbon.
So you can actually trace where the carbon and a carbon-based life form came from.Americans are basically 70% carbon from corn. @DrGundry Click To Tweet
And what’s really scary about that is, we have to understand that Americans actually didn’t eat corn until about 500 years ago.
It’s one of the most modern foods that there is, and yet 70% of us is corn. It’s pretty scary.
Abel: But we’re not corn because corn is healthy for us. In fact, it’s quite the opposite, isn’t it?
We’re eating lots of corn because corn was one of those foods that actually is most successful in fattening us up, fattening cattle up, as is true with squash and some other foods.
The neolithic, new foods to us, right? Are made to fatten us up. And that’s why they’re so successful.
They’re profitable and they make us fat, and that’s why they’re here.
And as you and I know, sadly, sickness is really good for business.
And one of the things that shocked people when I resigned my position as Chairman of Heart Surgery at Loma Linda, was I had to put myself out of business.
It’s really dumb. It’s not a good long-term strategy.
One of the things that I like to remind people out there, the great muckraker of the last century, who wrote The Jungle, which many people have heard about.
Sinclair has this great quote and it’s basically, “It’s difficult to get a man to understand something if his salary depends upon him not understanding it.”
And so I think we have to understand, for instance, I get family practice residents who rotate through my clinic in their third year and to a person who, they’ve never been exposed to this.
They come to me and say, “Oh my gosh. This is why I went into medicine. This is what I want to do. How do I do this?”
So I say, “Well, it’s going to be difficult.”
And so, they go back to their counselor, their professor.
And the professor goes, “Well, you can’t do that. You’ve got to see patients every 10 minutes, and you got to have 40 – 50 patients a day to make a living. And you have $250,000 – $300,000 dollars of medical school debt—there is no way that you can spend an hour with a patient and make a living. So, forget about it.”
And unfortunately everybody wants Medicare for all. I got news for you, Medicare is going bankrupt, and unless we change this whole paradigm, we’re screwed.
Abel: Yeah, but it’s not all doom and gloom, because there are certain things that you can do in your own way of eating and living that will get results quickly, even if it’s just kicking out some of the worst foods.
But especially in the keto / paleo communities and some of the stuff that’s just tearing up the internet right now, people don’t necessarily associate peanuts and cashews with foods that might be harming them.
So let’s talk about that just a little bit.
So, peanuts and cashews are New World plants; nobody ate a peanut until 500 years ago. Nobody ate a cashew.
The Amazonian Indians always throw the cashew nut away and eat the fruit because they know how dangerous it is.
Believe it or not, cashew pickers get burns on their hands. Cashew is in the poison ivy family, and why anybody would want to eat poison ivy is fascinating to me.
When The Plant Paradox came out, I was doing a podcast, an interview in Santa Monica, California, and a young lady working at this company listened to me.
They had me back a couple of months later, and she walks over to me and she says, “You changed my life.”
And I said, “How was that?”
And she said, “Well, I was eating so many cashews, cashew milk, cashew butter, and I always had this kind of upset stomach, and my bowels were never right.”
She said, “I kept eating more, because it’s so healthy. And I heard you talk about cashews, I gave up cashews.”
And she says, “Within a couple days my bowel was right.”
She said, “I was eating poison ivy.”
“Yeah, you were.”
Abel: Why though—I’ve wondered about this one, I think it’s just a dirty trick—why are peanuts and cashews so delicious if they’re so bad for us?
I mean, yeah, I love peanuts. I went to medical school in Georgia, it’s the peanut state.
And I get some pushback from some of my critics about the lectins in peanuts being so bad for you.
Yet three well-designed papers in monkeys, Rhesus monkeys, red velvet monkeys, show that the peanut lectin is a major cause of atherosclerosis.
You take the peanut lectin out of peanut oil and repeat the experiment, you don’t get atherosclerosis after removing the peanut lectin.
I talk about this in The Longevity Paradox, that lectins are, in my opinion and others, a major cause of arteriosclerosis in humans.
And I have a paper coming up in May of this year for the vascular biology meeting of the American Heart Association.
I can’t tell you all the details because it’s embargoed, but basically I make a very strong case based on blood markers that lectins are a major cause of coronary artery disease, and that when we remove lectins from humans that the markers for developing coronary artery disease subside.
Abel: Are there any other ones like that that stick out, like the organic chicken, maybe the peanuts or the cashews?
Because there’s a long list of foods that can hurt us, that have lots of lectins or things that aren’t necessarily good for us.
But for people coming to see you, there must be themes of certain foods that are quick wins to kick out, right?
Yeah, well, I think the nightshade family is certainly way up there on inflammatory foods, and unfortunately they are some of our favorite foods as well.
There are potatoes, there are tomatoes, peppers and eggplant, that in general, peels and seeds have the lectins in them.
And when you look at traditional culture, they have traditionally gotten rid of the peels and seeds.
The Southwestern American Indians, who were the original users of peppers, always char and de-seed their peppers before they either eat them or grind them.
I was in Sicily last fall interviewing chefs. Sicilian cuisine is heavily tomato-based.
And we forget the Italians actually didn’t use tomatoes for 200 years after they were brought back by their native son, Columbus, because they knew how poisonous they were.
To a chef, they all said, “Well, anybody knows that you have to take the peels and seeds off of tomatoes to make them safe.”
And I go, “Well, how does everybody know that?”
They’d go, “Well, my mother taught me and my grandmother taught her,” and so on.
And just fun fact, the Roma tomato—that oblong tomato—that was bred by the Romans to have the most pulp to peel and seed ratio.
And what you do with a Roma tomato is you blanch it really quickly, cut it in half, pull the skin off, and squeeze out the seeds, and throw it in the pot.
So it was bred for efficiency and getting rid of the peel and seed.
Abel: Yeah, and it just brings up one more thing that, it seems, especially in the past few decades, like you said, my mother told me, my grandmother told her, and it was passed down.
Those things, we’ve started to skip those steps, especially as industry has come in, and that’s one of the reasons that some of these foods that otherwise might be edible if they were prepared correctly, like the ancients may have, or even just our parents or grandparents generation may have.
Those are the things that are actually hurting us because even though it may look the same as the food that was prepared correctly, the tomato sauce may look the same, same as that chicken which may look quite similar.
But looks are very deceiving, as far as our health is concerned, and ignorance is not bliss.Ignorance is not bliss when your health is concerned. Click To Tweet
Are Supplements Just Expensive Urine?
But one thing I’d love for you to speak about, because you mentioned that our soil is dead, or at least it’s much more dead than it used to be.
So, some people say, “Why would you ever supplement? That just seems like a huge scam and completely unnecessary. And all of our food’s fine and I’m fine, too.”
Let’s poke some holes in that thinking.
So, I used to think supplements made expensive urine, I really did. And now I have a supplement company.
So, number one, you can’t believe me, I’m a snake oil salesman.
Believe it or not, snake oil actually has the highest amount of DHA and EPA.
Abel: You’re kidding me?
No. And yeah, it’s actually true that at the turn of the last century snake oil became popular because it was a major treatment for rheumatism, for arthritis.
And so it got so popular that obviously pretenders appeared selling snake oil that wasn’t snake oil.
So when people accuse me of being a snake oil salesman, I say, “Thank you very much. It’s an incredibly good product.”
So, getting back to supplements. We can look at, actually, modern day hunter-gatherers like the Hadza, for instance.
They eat different species of plants on a rotating basis. They don’t eat them continuously 365 days a year; they aren’t in season.
And all these plants are in six feet of loam soil, and the animals are also eating these plants.
So, if you think, even if you’re eating an organic diet, and you’re doing the best you can with grass-fed, grass-finished beef or pastured poultry or wild fish, you don’t have a chance of acquiring all of the polyphenols, all of the micronutrients that our ancestors did and currently do.
So, I’ve looked at replacing the polyphenols in humans, and published results about changing the stickiness on the inside of blood vessels.
I’ve published results on the flexibility of blood vessels, and I’ve taken these away from people and then shown that blood vessels get sticky, and blood vessels get stiff.
And then we reintroduce these things and show that the opposite occurs.
This is in humans, and it’s published in circulation, in the American Heart Association journal.
So, when people tell me that supplements make expensive urine, I just go, “Well gee, in humans, I can prove that it doesn’t make expensive urine.”
And in fact, one of the fun things, we repeat large amounts of blood work on our patients, and I’ve gotten to the point, not only can I tell when they’re not taking a supplement, but I can often tell when they’re changing brands.
I’ll go, “Oh, you changed your B12.”
“Oh, yeah, they had a sale, and I started taking this other one.”
“Well, look, your homocysteine’s up, your vitamin B12 level’s lower.”
And they go, “You knew that?”
And I say, “Yeah, there it is, it’s right there.”
Abel: Wow. So there are just a handful, really, of quick-win supplements, or at least nutrients and minerals that we’re missing right now.
What are the main ones in your mind?
We are really, really deficient in vitamin D3.
And I can’t tell people how important vitamin D is to us. Vitamin D is not produced in your body at all.
For instance, in The Longevity Paradox, we know that people with the highest levels of vitamin D have the longest telomeres, those little caps on the end of chromosomes.
And if you like the telomere theory of aging, then why wouldn’t you want long caps on your telomeres?
So the higher the level of vitamin D, the longer your telomeres.
Number two, almost every person who walks through my door with autoimmune disease has a low vitamin D level, and I don’t stop until I get their vitamin D levels 100-120 nanograms per milliliter.
Vitamin D is essential to stimulate stem cell production in the lining of our gut, and I talk about that in the book.
Lastly, the University of California in San Diego showed dramatically that most people with cancer have low levels of vitamin D.
And in fact, their recommendations are that the average American should be taking 9600 international units a day to have an adequate level, and their evidence says that 9600 international units a day. You cannot get vitamin D toxicity.
I’ve run personally my vitamin D greater than 120 for the last 13 years to basically prove I’m not dead. So far, so good.
Where to Find Dr. Steven Gundry
Abel: So far so good. Well, we are getting close to time, Dr. Gundry, but before we go I want to make sure that you have time to talk a little bit more about your new book and where people can find you.
Okay. So the new book, The Longevity Paradox: How to Die Young at a Ripe Old Age. It’s available wherever books are sold. Please visit your local bookseller, but it’s on Amazon.com, Barnesandnoble.com.
Come listen to my podcast, the Dr. Gundry Podcast, wherever you get your podcasts, and I’ve got a YouTube channel, The Dr. Gundry YouTube Channel, where I’m always doing something or cooking something.
Abel: I’ve got to say, I’ve seen a lot of YouTube channels and a lot of podcasts, and there aren’t many that I would watch or listen to myself, and I had a lot of fun going through yours.
So anyone who’s out there who needs another podcast to listen to or YouTube channel or anything like that, be sure to check out Dr. Gundry’s work.
It’s so very much needed right now. Dr. Gundry, thank you so much for coming on the show.
Hey, thanks so much for having me, it’s been an enjoyable hour with you.
Before You Go…
Here’s a note that came in from Freda. She says,
Hi Abel, I have to let you know that your program, and the book, are AMAZING. The book is really well-written, and very newbie-centric. I found most of my questions answered just as I was starting to form them.
I have already been “dieting” for the past six months, and have managed to lose 35 lbs, but I am very dissatisfied with centering my life on counting calories.
I went Paleo long ago when I just thought of it as “the way I eat when I’m seriously working out”, but ultimately drifted away from it because eventually it too became BORING.
From my preliminary examination of the Wild Diet, and all the really creative recipes it includes, plus its wisdom with respect to working out, I’m confident that it ain’t boring.
I’m going to be 66 next month. It may take me awhile to lose the rest of my load (I’m 5’5″ and I want to weigh 150), but I’ll definitely get there. And I feel confident that I will have a great assist from the Wild Diet.
So: thank you! I think the best is yet to come.
Freda, thank you so much for writing in, and I agree with you, the best is yet to come.
I did my best to make The Wild Diet, in particular, very newbie-centric as you mentioned.
So if there’s someone around you who you appreciate and you think might be receptive to opening a book like this or trying a couple of the recipes with real food, it’s a great way of getting people into this healthier lifestyle and health-nut way of life.
Because we need to stick together, and we need to be the weird ones.
And if you just follow the crowd, they are going straight off a cliff right now. So good on you Freda for making it happen.
Now, when you’re talking about The Wild Diet, that was one thing that we really wanted to bake into it, so to speak, is making sure that we could keep our favorite foods going so we don’t have to give up things like homemade bacon cheeseburgers, grass-fed steak, chicken parmesan, chicken enchiladas, cheesecake, chocolate cookies, all these different things.
There are ways of making them with real food. So we do our best to make it creative and fun for you folks.
If you’re ever looking for free recipes as well, make sure to check out our Recipes section here on fatburningman.com.
We’ve been running this website for about 10 years now, and boy, we have a lot of resources here for you including full write-up transcripts of over 300 episodes of these shows without outside advertising, without sponsored posts interrupting your feed as you scroll down or anything like that.
You can just come here and get this information straight from the source.
Also, make sure that you’re also signed up for the newsletter because we have a whole bunch of massive giveaways coming up and they’re exclusively accessed oftentimes through our newsletter.
And if you need more help or motivation, we can help you reach your goals in the Fat-Burning Tribe where we have meal plans, quick-start videos, a recipe library and tons more to make burning fat fun and easy.
No more calorie counting or gloom required.
Right now, you can actually try the Fat-Burning Tribe for free for seven days.
Cancel any time and keep all of your Tribe downloads as a thank you for giving it a try.
Again, from any device just head on over to fatburningtribe.com right now to get ridiculously tasty recipes, hundreds of them, meal plans, Q&A videos and tons more. We’ll see you there.
What did you think of this conversation with Dr. Steven Gundry? Have you ever tried snake oil? Drop a comment below to share your thoughts!