Steven Gundry, MD’s diet advice has helped thousands of patients lose weight and regain their health from really tough challenges. The surprise is that he didn’t offer the standard advice to eat less, limit fats and to consume whole wheat and brown rice. The notes below are a quick review of a few key points from his interview on HBN last week. (If you didn’t hear the show, I urge you to do so.)
- While “inflammation” is often credited with being at the root of most degenerative diseases, he says that in a way it is another layer of symptom…“leaky gut” and its counterpart, “leaky brain barrier”.
- The gut lining is supposed to keep junk out of the blood stream. When it is porous, pathogens, pieces of bacteria, toxins, and incompletely digested food can get into circulation and annoy the immune system. Trouble then starts when the immune system can’t tell if something is a threat or not. Allergies, autoimmune conditions (think rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, MS and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis), heart disease, Alzheimer’s and a great many other problems can result, but can be reversed.
- Plants make “lectins” (a sticky protein) that stick to the lining of animals’ gut wall, blood vessels, joints and spaces between nerves. They make animals feel bad and therefore stop eating them…except humans who are not paying attention. Lectins are a major threat to the gut lining.
- Foods highest in lectins are wheat, most grains (even quinoa but not sorghum and millet), beans (including peanuts), nightshades (tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, peppers and goji berries) and cashews. Peeling tomatoes and removing the seeds limits their lectin content. Wheat causes the creation of zonulin which in turn loosens the tight junctions between intestinal cells. While probably still not great, sourdough bread is better because it has had most of the lectins removed making white flour and fermenting reduces them further.
- A protein called WGA from the heart of wheat can get through the gut lining even if it is not leaky. WGA can then cause trouble by occupying insulin receptors but failing to deliver fuel to muscle and brain cells. Dr. Gundry says this is one reason that we are fat, tired and not thinking clearly. He points out that smart societies have been eating white flour and white rice for thousands of years. And remember, today’s grains are a big source of agricultural chemicals like glyphosate in Roundup that kill our good bacteria and independently damage the gut wall. Oat products (e.g. cereal and granola–even some organic) also contain glyphosate.
- Cooking in a pressure cooker or Instant Pot (on pressure setting) deactivates most lectins—except those containing gluten (wheat, rye and barley) and oats which contain a similar component.
- Aside from foods that have had the lectins deactivated as noted above, the safest diet is what humans ate 10,000 years ago before the advent of grains and beans. That was largely leaves, root vegetables, pasture-raised meats, a minimum of seasonal fruit, wild seafood and shellfish. Corn, nightshades and quinoa were only in the Americas until about 1492 when they started being exported to the rest of the world. Today, Americans are composed of about 70% corn carbon atoms, whereas Europeans are about 5%.
- In the summer, many plants create fructose because that makes their fruit appealing to animals who then spread their seeds far and wide as they poop. This also serves to fatten up the animals for a lean winter. Humans, however never have a lean winter and can eat fattening fruit all year long. Excess sugars, even fruit sugar, feed intestinal yeast and that can be a big problem. In his new book, Dr. Gundry says that patients who reduced fruit intake lowered their cholesterol and had better kidney function. Unripe fruit is worse and producers gas them to appear ripe.
- Folks that live extremely long lives have a different and richer assortment of intestinal bacteria. He calls them “gut buddies”.
- These gut organisms (as I also discuss in my book, The Probiotic Cure: Harnessing the Power of Good Bacteria for Better Health) are home to about 100 times as much DNA as in our own cells. They are a crucial part of our body’s instruction manual and they help keep the lining of the gut healthy.
- He says we aren’t “what we eat”, but rather “we are what our gut buddies digest”!
- Everything we do affects these critters. They like most vegetables, sunshine, and exercise (moderate). They are harmed by stress, most medications, chlorine in the water, herbicides like Roundup in the food, artificial sweeteners, preservatives and tens of thousands of other chemicals.
- Resveratrol (the red wine molecule) helps our gut buddies and has a great many other health and longevity benefits. He thinks that Longevinex is the best and has taken it for many years.
If you have an autoimmune or other serious degenerative condition you may want to buy his books and adhere strictly to the program. Most people should at least make some baby steps toward reducing lectin intake and improving gut bacteria balance. (I also recommend giving your gut a boost with Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotics.)
His series of books include The Longevity Paradox: How to Die Young at a Ripe Old Age and The Plant Paradox: The Hidden Dangers in “Healthy” Foods That Cause Disease and Weight Gain. Coming on 11/19/19! = The Plant Paradox Family Cookbook: 80 One-Pot Recipes to Nourish Your Family Using Your Instant Pot, Slow Cooker, or Sheet Pan.