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Most people have heard of the evils of gluten. What if gluten isn’t the problem? Medical doctor and heart surgeon, Dr. Steven Gundry, left his prominent and prosperous position at Loma Linda University to teach people how to eat. He is not teaching people to eat gluten free. He says the culprit is lectin, which is in many of our American “healthy” foods including many fruits, vegetables, beans, and conventional dairy products.
Monkeys Prove the Point
Give peanut oil to a monkey and he’ll get heart disease. Take lectin out of the peanut oil and the monkeys are good to go. No heart disease. A body free of inflammation is a body that doesn’t get lectin. Traditionally we would never imagine an Italian eating whole grain pasta or a Frenchman grabbing a whole grain baguette to take home for his supper. They eat hulled grains because the lectin is in the hull. Lectin is also found in the seeds, grains, skins, rinds, and leaves of plants. It is in foods to protect them from predators; including humans.
This will inflame you!
There is plenty of data showing how the weed killer, glyphosate, is destroying our food supply. Glyphosate has even been found in California wines, including some Organic wines; that is something to whine about. Dr. Gundry’s on going research and fight to help end lectin intolerance continues. He teaches that what millet and sorghum have in common and why you want to know. He talks about white rice, what kind to buy and how to cook it to make it safe.
Improved memory? That’s something to root about!
Dr. Gundry also shares great news about fat (pass the olive oil please) and how it keeps your brain healthy, including improving your memory. Remember to eat plenty of tubers. Roots and plants are the go to foods. Take the pressure of your mealtimes and buy a pressure cooker. Imagine, lectin safe lentils in 8 minutes! More solutions can also be found in his New York bestselling book The Plant Paradox.
– Hey, welcome back to The Urban Monk, Doctor Pedram Shojai, hanging out in-studio. Lots of things hitting the news lately about medicines that we could take that might possibly be increasing our chance of heart disease, whether it’s Advil, asprin, all that. So it is happening right now, it is trending in the news and my guest today is Doctor Steven Gundry, who is a medical doctor, a heart surgeon, who is predominantly talking about how you can avoid chronic diseases, and he’s doing a lot of work with autoimmune disease right now in his clinical practices in Palm Springs, in Santa Barbara, California. He’s one of these go-to guys, who knows what he’s talking about and is talking some real sense out there, so I’m happy to have him on the show, Doc, welcome.
– Hey, thanks for having me, pleasure.
– Yeah, thanks for doing the work that you do. There’s a lot of work to be done in heart surgery, but I think the bigger work is in preventing heart surgery, right?
– Yeah, I absolutely agree. That’s why I pretty much resigned as chairman and professor of cardiothoracic surgery at Loma Linda University 17 years ago, when I found I could reverse people’s heart disease by teaching them how to eat. That was a bad day for me, because you can make a lot of money as a heart surgeon, and not so much in teaching people how to eat, but it was the best day that ever happened to me.
– [Pedram] Yeah.
– ‘Cause I could watch people take control of their health.
– Yeah, what an inconvenient pay cut, right? Doing the right thing. Yeah, it’s tough, it’s tough. The money is in sick care, the money is in interventions. Big interventions, expensive interventions. Talking about eating plants and, you know, going for walks and all the stuff that doesn’t cost any money. That’s not the most popular message, but it should be.
– Yeah, you know it’s interesting. A few years ago, I was consulted by several businesses in the Michigan area, a very large city, and they wanted me to come in and teach their employees how to eat, then I said, well, you’ve got a very famous medical center there in town, it’s a university, and why don’t you work with them? They said, yeah, we’ve gone and met with them and their response was, look, we’re in the sick care business. And being in the healthcare business, even though it says health sciences university, is exactly opposite of what our mission is. And if we work with you, then we lose business. And this is a true story, so unfortunately, that’s how we’re structured.
– Yeah. I remember, in my 20s, getting to sit at the table with a bunch of hospital CEOs and I asked the guy how he was doing, and he said, terrible. I need it to rain or something around here, I need some people to fall off the roof, ’cause business is slow. And it basically shuddered me to realize that we would be wishing ill will upon humanity to keep the business of health care alive. So there is a real paradigm shift that we’re standing in right now. And we understand a lot of things that we didn’t then, and you’re out there, you’ve got a book, I think I saw you on the New York Times Bestseller List, yes?
– Yeah, just landed on the New York Times Bestseller, number 2 in the nation, The Plant Paradox, yeah.
– Good for you, good for you. The Plant Paradox just came out, you’ve got Doctor Oz, you’ve got Terry Wahls, who I know, Tony Robbins, you’ve got some good endorsements so you’ve been around the block and people are paying attention to what you’re saying, which is fantastic. One of the things that you’re doing with your work that’s interesting to me, is really calling out some of these supposed healthy foods. ‘Cause I think a lot of people go through the halfway house of the crappy stuff before they end up realizing what they should actually be eating. So I would love to get into that.
– Yeah, so one of the things that got me very interested, I had a major at Yale University as an undergraduate in human evolutionary biology. Where I basically defended a thesis that you could manipulate a great ape’s food supply, change his environment, and predict you’d end up with a human. And I actually got an honors for my thesis and long story short, when I started doing this, I actually went back to my original research to investigate foods that we were actually evolutionary adapted to. And one of the things that’s really happened to us, really in the last 10,000 years, and more importantly in the last 500 years is the foods that we’re adapted to and our genetic adaptation, and more importantly the microbiome, the bugs that live in our gut are adapted to. We come from tree-living animals and we ate leaves and we ate a lot of tubers. Quite frankly, we ate a lot of shellfish, but that’s a whole different story. We’re not designed to eat grasses or the grains of grasses, we’re not designed to eat beans, they’re lethal unless they’re cooked properly, as are grains. Rats are designed to eat these things, grazing animals are designed to eat these things, and they have a completely different stomach system and a completely different microbiome system. So what I found was that if we eliminate modern foods, many of which are considered healthy, that we can actually restore the functioning and communication between the gut and the rest of our cells. So 10,000 years ago, none of us ate grains or beans, those are two of the biggest lethal things in our modern diet, but one of the fascinating things is we forget that all of us, in America, are not from America. We’re from Europe, we’re from Asia, and we’re from Africa. So that means none of us were exposed to an American plant until 500 years ago, when Columbus started trade. And getting to know a new lectin, a protein in plants, the plants defend themselves and 500 years is like speed dating in evolution. I kind of laugh at some of my paleo colleagues who think that our African ancestors ate tomatoes. Tomatoes are an American nightshade and none of us ate a tomato until 500 years ago. In fact, the nightshade family, potatoes, eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, and gogi berries are modern foods. Traditional cultures have dealt with these, the Italians and French peel and de-seed their tomatoes, because the peels and the seeds have the lectins. The Southwest American Indians, actually, roast their chilies, peel them and then de-seed them before they grind them into chili powder or eat them as chilies. One of the things I ask my patients to do is open a can of green chilies and look for the peels and seeds. And they’ll notice they’re gone. Because traditional cultures have known how to deal with the lectins in these plants. The squash family are American plants. Cucumber, zucchinis, pumpkins. And the peels and seeds have a lot of lectin. Sunflower seeds are a real mischief maker, they’re an American plant, pumpkin seeds are a mischief maker. Chia seeds, my good friend Loren Cordain sent me a few papers a couple years ago showing that chia seeds promote inflammation in humans. And our perennial favorites, peanuts, and cashews. These, of course, are not nuts, they’re beans. They’re in the legume family. And 94% of humans carry a preformed antibody to the lectins in peanuts. In fact, as a heart surgeon, one of the best ways to produce heart disease, in a Reese’s monkey, our cousin, is to give them peanut oil and the lectin in the peanut oil causes heart disease. If you take the lectin out of the peanut oil, and give the Reese’s monkey his peanut oil without lectin they don’t get heart disease. And the other thing I like to get on my high horse about is whole grains. I know gluten is a big fad right now, and I take care of a lot of people who have celiac disease, but most people who think they are reacting to gluten are actually reacting to a much nastier lectin called wheat germ agglutinin, and it’s abbreviated WGA. The other best way to produce heart disease in an animal model, is to give them wheat germ agglutinin. So wheat germ produces heart disease. And “It’s so healthy.” and it’s no wonder that for 10,000 years we’ve been trying to make bread white and only the poor people got the brown bread. And it’s no wonder that 4 billion people who use rice as their staple go to the trouble of eating white rice, taking the hull off of the brown rice. It’s because, traditionally, we’ve been getting rid of the hulls on seeds, which contain the most of the lectins. So that’s what I do.
– So going back to, this is fascinating, because it’s wrapping around this paleo argument with a lot more intelligence. When we started to realize this, so let’s just say, the Hopi Indians start peeling their peppers and de-seeding them, how do they know this traditionally? I mean, it’s getting passed down, are they watching anecdotally, are they watching for symptoms in people? How is this passed down in that kind of lineage?
– I think it was passed down in stories and I think people noticed what was happening to them. For instance, 10,000 years ago, at the dawn of agriculture, the average human stood 6 feet tall, men and women. And our brain was actually 15% bigger than it is today, and everybody says, whaaa, wait a minute we were little bitty people and now we’re getting bigger, well in fact, that’s not true, from the skeletal evidence. What happened at the dawn of agriculture, is that we shrunk about a foot and a half in 2,000 years from eating grains and beans. And it’s really only been in the last 100 years, that we’ve had this tremendous growth spurt. In fact, traditional Asians, up until the last generation, have been very small, because Asians traditionally eat a much higher plant-based diet than Western Europeans. The plant compounds have actually stunted their growth.
– [Pedram] Interesting.
– So white rice, brown rice, just being one of those in the family, but you’re talking about plant compounds that are newer, the 500 years or newer ones, the lectins that we have less ability to process, or stuff that kinda crosses over into both?
– Yeah, it crosses over into both, but the idea that an Italian would eat whole wheat pasta is just a travesty. They’ve been throwing the hull away for as long as they’ve been using wheat. Same way with the French, the French don’t eat whole wheat baguettes, they eat white baguettes. They don’t eat whole wheat croissants, they eat white bread croissants. It’s because, I think, cultures have figured out that when they eat the whole grain or these other things, they feel worse. I mean, for instance, the Italians refused to eat peppers, I mean, not peppers, tomatoes for 200 years after their native son brought them back. Because they thought they were toxic, and they were actually right.
– [Pedram] They were right, yeah.
– My mother, my mother’s mother was French, and my grandmother taught my mother to always peel and de-seed tomatoes before she sliced them. It actually wasn’t until I went away to Yale that I ever had a sliced tomato with peels and seeds and I thought it was the oddest thing that I’ve ever seen.
– And by the time you’re old enough to recognize that, who knows whether or not it’s the bills you’re worrying about, the hangover from last weekend, or whatever that’s making you feel a little off, right? It’s subtle.
– Yeah, these are very subtle things. Although, in my book, I talk about a group of people who I call my canaries, who really, minute exposure to lectin containing compounds or foods sets them off. Whether it’s with asthma, whether it’s with migraines. I’ll give you a wonderful example of a lady who’s in the book, who’s originally from Lima, Peru, and she moved to LA when she was 40, for a job. And she decided to continue to try to eat her traditional Peruvian diet, which contained a lot of quinoa, and she did and she got really horrible IBS. And a friend of a friend sent her out to me in Palm Springs and I started to talk to her about quinoa, about how the Incas had detoxification processes to get the lectins out of quinoa, how they fermented it. And her eyes got really wide and she says, oh my gosh, my mother told me you can’t eat quinoa without pressure cooking it, first, because it’s so toxic. And I didn’t believe her, I thought it was an old wives’ tale, so when I came to LA, I’ve been eating quinoa just cooked. And my mother actually arrived three weeks ago and bought me a pressure cooker and said, you stupid girl, didn’t you learn anything? So she said, my mother was right. And I said, call me in a month and let me know, and she did and sure enough, once she started pressure cooking her quinoa, all of her symptoms went away.
– Amazing, amazing. Your book is called the Plant Paradox, which is perfect because there is so much advice that we’ve been given about quinoa, amaranth, all these ancient grains. I mean, the older the sexier, right? So you take the baby with the bathwater and you have no idea what’s happening here.
– That’s exactly right, you know there are a couple of grains, speaking of ancient grains, almost all grains have hulls and the hull actually contains the lectin. And it’s the defense system of the plant to protect its babies from being eaten. And millet and sorgum don’t have hulls, so in my book, if you’re gonna eat grains, millet and sorgum are your go to grains.
– What about downstream, like white rice or something like that, is white rice, is it clear?
– White rice, if you’re going to eat a traditional grain, it’s by far the safest, but what I do is I ask people to get white basmati rice from India, yeah. And it’s actually the highest resistant starch of the rices, and then cook it and then cool it. Put it in the refrigerator and then reheat it. And just the process of cooling it really activates the resistant starch of white rice even better.
– Interesting, interesting. So you’re having people have to unlearn a lot of things that they thought they knew, which is never an easy job.
– No. But I’m assuming the real sword that you have here that you draw and charge with is the fact that they run on faith, they listen to you for a minute, and all of a sudden they’re feeling a hell of a lot better, so you’ve got their attention.
– Yeah, not only that, but when I started my practice, I had the luxury of having some relationships with some very sophisticated labs that I used when I was a university researcher on transplant immunology, so every three months we send a host of labs up to the Bay Area, to Richmond in Virginia, to Texas. And we can look at inflammatory cytokines and we can look at other markers of inflammation and it’s shocking that about 25% of people who just visit me for any particular reason, have markers of lectin intolerance and I’ve published this data, I presented it at the American Heart Association. And if we take these foods away from them, we can actually show them in their labs that all these markers of inflammation and of inflammatory cytokines have completely dropped to normal. And then I’ve also written a paper where we’ve reintroduced these foods to people, either on purpose or quite by accident and their inflammation markers go up. So there’s actually deep published science behind this, it’s not just feeling better, although that’s the obvious consequence.
– Sure as hell helps. So let’s talk about this gluten thing, I mean, there’s all sorts of sophisticated lab analysis now. They’re looking at all the different kind of gluten-like compounds, and just going down this gluten track, trying to figure out which of the gluten family people are allergic to. So you’re saying that, in your experience, it’s oftentimes the lectins. And what’s the difference for the leyperson? Gluten, lectin, what is this stuff?
– So gluten is a lectin. It’s actually a minor lectin. Gluten, interestingly enough, is contained in the endosperm of wheat, rye, and barley. And in almost all my patients who go gluten free and are eating oats, they’re getting gluten in their oats even if they’re certified gluten free, because there’s a cross-reacting lectin in oats. The key about gluten is, on the endosperm, it’s in the inside. The hull is the major protective part of the grain. And so plants actually invest most of their firepower in the hull. And that’s where, for instance, wheat germ agglutinin is. And what I’ve found, I definitely have people who carry the HLA markers for celiac disease, and I have a number of people with celiac disease. But most of the people I see with celiac disease have been gluten free, and yet all of their inflammation markers are still very high. And there’s a beautiful, actually there’s several beautiful papers of taking celiac patients, having them gluten free for two years, and biopsying their small bowel again and 83% of these people still have celiac by intestinal biopsy, two years after going gluten free. And that’s because most gluten free foods are actually full of more mischievous lectins than gluten is and I think that’s been a fundamental mistake in all of this gluten free interest.
– [Pedram] Fascinating.
– Yeah, the other thing I talk about in the book, we actually have bacteria that enjoy eating gluten. They digest gluten. But if you go gluten free, these bacteria leave, they have nothing to eat. And so they actually leave our intestines. And then when you re-eat gluten, expose yourself to gluten, you actually have no defense system against gluten. The other thing I try to get people to realize is there are traditional cultures that eat pure gluten. The Indonesians, their protein of choice is setan, which is pure vital gluten. And of course the French, and the Italians, and most Europeans eat large amounts of gluten in their white bread and white pasta. But they don’t have that much gluten issues, because, two reasons, number one, they have gluten-eating bacteria, and number two they don’t have Round-Up sprayed on their foods. And I go into, in quite detail, how Round-Up glyphosates actually potentiates gluten sensitivity. That’s been one of the big changes, I have a number of people in the book who, we’ve gotten all cleared up of their autoimmune disease or their IBS, and they go home to their native land, I’ll use an example, a woman in Eastern Europe, she was able to eat the breads there without any problems, she was able to eat yogurts there from what are called A-2 cows. And she thought she was cured. And she came back and began eating the same things in America and immediately her IBS returned, her autoimmune disease returned, and when we took the American equivalent of what she was eating away from her, she was fine. So now she eats her traditional foods when she’s in Eastern Europe, but she doesn’t come near them when she’s in the United States, because our food supply has been so poisoned by what we’ve done.
– Brought to you by the people that made Agent Orange. Yeah, glyphosate is a big deal and I was just on a phone call yesterday, actually, with a group that’s doing a bunch of research into this. And there’s very few labs that even test accurately for glyphosate levels, so it’s really even hard to know how much your exposure is, there was that Swedish study that was kind of fun that came out, the family that just ate organic for a week and they looked at all their toxins, which was interesting. But we’re just not even geared up to know how bad it is, in most people.
– Right, in fact there’s a study, just recently released on California wines, and there’s actually remarkable amounts of glyphosate in California wines. And even some of the organic wines have glyphosate in ’em, which shows how it spreads from one vineyard where it’s sprayed and happens into an organic vineyard.
– [Pedram] God damn it.
– It’s a huge problem. It’s a huge problem.
– God damn it. Okay, so here we are, we’re better dressed apes who used to eat tree leaves and the such, and so you’re telling me now tomatoes are off the menu, quinoa you’ve gotta put a bunch of work into, rice you gotta cool down. The first kind of question comes up for people, is okay, Doc, what the hell do I eat? How do I live now?
– So you’re designed to eat leaves and a lot of fat and quite frankly the only purpose of food is to get olive oil into your mouth. If you look at the Spanish studies, studies of Sardinia and Crete, these people consume a liter of olive oil per week. To give your listeners an idea, that’s 12 tablespoons a day, and a beautiful Spanish study released last year looking at 65 year old people, the punchline is the people who used the liter of olive oil per week after five years had better memory than people eating a lowfat Mediterranean diet. And the women in that group had a 67% less incidence of breast cancer than the lowfat Mediterranean diet. So have a lot of olive oil. Eat a lot of leaves, eat tubers, we’re designed to eat roots, things like sweet potatoes, things like jicama, things like turnips, rutabagas. the more root vegetables you eat, the better, these are resistant starches that your gut bugs love. Use jicama to dip with guacamole, Believe it or not, true guacamole does not have any tomatoes in it, and Trader Joe’s makes one, Costco has one called Wholly Guacamole, which i mentioned in the book. So there’s a lot of options for that. the other thing is, a pressure cooker makes destruction of all lectins except for the gluten molecule. A pressure cooker cannot destroy the gluten molecule. But it’ll destroy the lectins in beans, it’ll destroy the lectins in tomatoes and peppers and eggplant. The modern pressure cooker is not your grandmother’s pressure cooker that exploded and filled the kitchen. It’s a one touch device, it’s just like a rice cooker and the amazing thing is, pressure cookers make anything so fast. I mean, you can have a wonderful plate of lentils that you pour olive oil over in about seven minutes in a pressure cooker.
– Unbelievable, no soaking, no nothing needed.
– no soaking, no nothing. Bam, lectins are destroyed.
– So what happens with denatured, destructed lectins? Is that a problem, or can we just assimilate it once they’re broken up?
– Yeah, once they’re broken down. Lectins are very large proteins, they normally, actually, are kept out of our system by our intact intestinal wall, but coming back to your lead story that you led in with. Our intestinal wall is normally, as you know, one cell thick and these cells are bound together by what are called tight junctions. And the surface area of our intestines is the equivalent of a tennis court. And so when people are gonna watch the French open or Wimbledon in a few weeks, imagine a tennis court that’s inside every one of us and there is only one cell separating us from everything we swallow. so lectins are so big that they can’t be absorbed, but what lectins do is actually pry open these tight junctions and then not only do lectins go through, but also they are accompanied by the other evil empire, which are pieces of bacteria that are called liopolysaccharides, they are abbreviated LPS. And I don’t swear, but in my book, I can’t help but calling them little pieces of shit. Because that’s actually what they are. When these guys get into our bloodstream, our immune system actually thinks we’re under attack by bacteria and we actually thicken our blood and we actually attack the surface of our blood vessels because lectins actually attach to our blood vessels and incite inflammation. In fact, I’m convinced that most heart disease comes from lectins doing this, and if you swallow an Advil, or you swallow an Aleve for pain, you should know that even a few days of doing this has now been proven in the British Medical Journal, published two days ago, that you increase your risk of a heart attack by 30 to 50% just by taking Aleve or Advil for three to four days for pain. And it’s because, we didn’t know it, but drug companies knew that Aleve or Advil is like swallowing a hand grenade. And it blows giant holes in the wall of your gut. And lectins and these little pieces of shit go right on through. Drug companies knew this, we didn’t know it because our gastroscopes didn’t go far enough to see the damage they were doing and it was only until we had the pill cameras that we realized what was actually happening.
– Oh my goodness. So once this happens, all of a sudden you have this barrier and the immune system is attacking, do you get some of the same stuff with the lectins, with autoimmunity and these challenges with the immune systems saying, okay, is this friend or foe, and then creating antibodies?
– That’s exactly right, and it’s called molecular mimicry and one of the fascinating things about plants, I’m a big fan of plants. I’m also a big plant predator, don’t get me wrong, but you gotta know who you can eat and who you can’t eat. You gotta know who you can trust. So plants have had 400 million years to work out a defense system. And we forget that most of our drugs actually began as plant compounds, so plants use chemical warfare. And one of the clever things plants do is they make the proteins in lectins look to resemble other proteins in our body, particularly our vital organs and when lectins get into our system, our immune system starts looking for these proteins. And they see a protein that looks very similar, like on our joint, the synovial surface, or in our thyroid, or on our pancreas, or quite frankly, on our nerves. And we attack it, thinking it’s a lectin, not wanting to make a mistake, we’d rather shoot first and ask questions later. So this is molecular mimicry, and a plant that has you shoot yourself in the foot, so to speak, wins, because you’re basically a disabled predator. And anything that a plant can evolve to ensure its survival, and more importantly, ensure it’s babies’, it’s seeds’ survival, always wins, evolutionary. So they’ve had 400 years to work this out.
– [Pedram] 400 million.
– [Steven] Yeah, 400 million.
– 400 million, so okay.
– 400 million years.
– So these proteins that we then denature that we can then assimilate better without the molecular mimicry, ’cause now we’ve destroyed them, great. We’ve got a nice source of pressure cooked plant protein, what about eating the grazers that are eating the grains? The big protein question comes in next, what are you seeing with animal meats and how those are effecting us?
– So I grew up in Omaha, Nebraska and actually in Milwaukee, just above you. And a couple of meat and cheese capitals of the world, and I hate to say it, but animal protein is really mischievous to us, particularly beef, pork, and lamb. Number one, all of these animals have been fed grains and beans, which are not their natural food. And I’ve shown that people who eat even free-range chicken, which is not free range in the least. It’s kept in a warehouse and fed organic corn and soybeans, which will in fact incite an inflammatory response in my patients.
– Because chickens are insectavores, they’re designed to eat bugs. So there’s a big section in the book on if you’re going to eat animal products, try to eat wild shellfish or wild fish as your go to choice, but there’s a big part of the book that animal proteins in fact age us quite dramatically. I show some of my research and other research into why this happens. And there’s certain amino acids in animal protein that turn on the energy sensing system in our cells called mtor and these proteins, ammino acids are far less prevalent in plants. In the Adventist Health Study, and I was a professor at Loma Linda, the longest living of the Adventists, and the Adventists are one of the blue zones, the longest living people in the world. The longest living of the Adventists are actually vegans and the second longest living are the Adventist vegetarians who are lacto-ovo vegetarians. The next down are the pescatarians and then there’s the real cheating Adventists who eat chicken and beef, and they’re further down.
– [Pedram] Fascinating.
– It’s unfortunately not good for you, plus in the book, people will learn about a sugar molecule in beef, pork, and lamb called Neu5Gc that incites an autoimmune attack on our blood vessels. And it also incites cancer cells to protect themselves and it’s fascinating research. I was involved in it at Loma Linda xenotransplantation and my editor at Harper-Collins allowed me to put it in the book, ’cause it’s pretty scary stuff.
– Yeah, I’ll say, so then the question that kind of comes with that is okay, what happens with food combining to get enough protein? There’s all this kind of fuss about getting enough protein.
– I spoke with many gorillas and chimpanzees, they don’t have to worry about food combining. Gorillas eat 16 pounds of leaves every day. They have more muscle than we will ever have in our imagination. Horses, all they eat is grass, they all have more muscle than we will ever have. All the largest animals on earth are herbivores, they just eat grass and leaves. And we have to forget, we evolved from that system. We share 99% of our genes with chimps and gorillas, at our fundamental, we’re an herbivore, we’re actually a leaf eating herbivore. Now, do I think we need a lot more fat than gorillas? Yes, but people should realize that a gorilla, even though he eats all those leaves, actually absorbs a 60% fat diet, because the bacteria digest the leaves, and the bacteria actually produce fats and proteins that the gorilla absorbs. We absorb plenty by letting our gut bacteria do the work for us, by eating leaves and quality fats like avocados or coconut oil or, my favorite, olive oil.
– Yeah, a pint a week. And so when we talk about leaves, I mean, we’ve got romaine lettuce. Gimme more, right? What are the leaves that we can get into?
– Any of the lettuces, any of the brassica vegetables. I’m a huge fan of inulin-containing leaves, of things like radicchio and Belgian endive, Jerusalem artechokes are one of my favorite, chicory has a lot of inulin. Eat flowers, broccoli and cauliflower are flowers. Eat artichokes, they’re flowers. Eat shoots, asparagus is a great plant to eat. All of these things we have been eating for millions of years, in one form or another and that’s actually what our genes have been designed to interact with and what our gut microbiata have been designed to interact with.
– Raw versus cooked or steamed?
– Yeah, great question. I’ve done raw food for nine months and had fantastic health, quite frankly. It’s almost impossible to sustain long-term, even some of the best of the raw food chefs have reintroduced some cooked food into their diets, just because it’s so hard to sustain. One of the things we should realize that made us human, is fire.
– Fire, yep.
– And there is some interesting evidence out of China that vegetarians who eat a large proportion of their vegetables raw have a higher incidence of Parkinson’s disease than vegetarians who eat their food cooked. And that’s because there’s very good experimental evidence that lectins cause Parkinson’s disease, so I think we have to have a balance between raw and cooked and we do have to remember that cooking really enabled us to become the modern human with a smaller gut than a gorilla.
– Fair enough, and so what about nutrients, what about supplements? Is there anything that, when you look at the modern diet, and everyone’s like, we don’t have access to that crap anymore, the soil is dead, whatever, whatever. How do we supplement?
– Yeah, that’s very true. One of the things that we have to realize is that our ancient ancestors ate and interacted with 250 different plant species on a rotating basis. And these plants were all in loam soil, there it was, eight feet deep, they had their own microbiome in the soil, they had huge amounts of magnesium and trace minerals in the soil and that’s all gone. And even my organic patients, if you really think that you can duplicate 250 different plant species on a rotating basis, I’ve got oceanfront property here in Palm Springs to sell you. It can’t be done. And I used to think supplements made expensive urine, I literally used to tell my patients that. But I can tell now, from these blood tests, whether someone is actually taking a supplement, that will actually dilate their blood vessels or eliminate the stickiness on the inside of the blood vessels, I can tell if they’ve changed brands and they’re flabbergasted. I’ll go, ehh, you’re not, did you change brands? Yeah, how did you know? I said, well, because look, see this is doing this now. About last summer, I decided after sending people to Costco and Trader Joe’s and please, you can go to those places. Or Amazon, I decided to make my own line of supplements and it’s at Gundry MD. I finally founded a company where I could control everything that goes in it. No one tells me what to do, so the things that people need to get in their diet, supplement-wise. Almost every human being is deficient in vitamin D, as in dog. Vitamin D, there’s no such thing as vitamin D toxcity, there’s very strong evidence that, from my lab, and other people’s labs, that most people with autoimmune disease have profound low levels of vitamin D. Often, bare minimum is 5,000 international units a day, I think everyone should have a vitamin D level of at least 70, preferably 100. I run mine at greater than 120. Most people with autoimmune disease are sitting in the 20s 30s, or 40s. Secondly, we are profoundly deficient in fish oil. There’s some very good studies in aging now, that people who have the highest levels of Omega-3 index, have the largest brains and the largest areas of memory, the hippocampus, compared to people who have the lowest levels of Omega-3, they have the most shrunken brains and the smallest areas of memory. And this is one place where vegans, and I take care of a lot of vegans, have to understand, you cannot make long chain, Omega-3 fats from flaxseed oil. It’s impossible, we do not have the ability to do that. Take algae-based DHA, and there is now algae-based EPA as well, and get your levels up. Next, polyphenols. Polyphenols are these plant compounds in dark fruits and dark vegetables that do an amazing thing when activated by gut bacteria. I’ve written papers on how polyphenols increase the flexibility of blood vessels. Get polyphenols in your life. Things like grapeseed extract is cheap, things like Pycnogenol, just to use an example, green tea extract has great polyphenols. Coffee has great polyphenols and extra dark chocolate. Try to get above 80% if possible, 70%. Chew on some cocoa nibs. Green phytochemicals, the green things in plants. People don’t eat enough of phytochemicals in plants. Get a supplement for it, but beware green drinks. Almost all green drinks have wheatgrass and barley grass. I got news for you, you weren’t designed to eat grass. Just follow your dog’s example, if you eat grass, you’re designed to throw up. And that’s what Ann Wigmore invented wheatgrass to do at her Hippocrates Institute, was to try to make her patients vomit. Not a great idea. So those are the biggies, magnesium is so deficient in Americans. As a heart surgeon, I have to give people two grams of magnesium intravenously every six hours for 48 hours to get their magnesium up. We forget that insulin has to have magnesium to work, so take a magnesium supplement, soak in epsom salts, put magnesium oil on your skin. Get magnesium back in your system. The other thing that is amazing is, we’re seeing a profound iodine deficiency in people who are using sea salt. Sea salt doesn’t have any iodine, and one of the only smart things that the federal government ever did, was mandate iodine in salt in the early 1900s. Get iodized sea salt or take some iodine drops, or do what I do, I take spirulina which is an algae. It’s cheap, you can buy it at Trader Joe’s, and it’s a great source of iodine.
– Take it daily.
– Those are all.
– No, I love it, love it.
– Yeah, take it daily. Those are a few.
– Yep, that’s a treasure trove of information. I’ve learned a lot today, I’ve really, I’m gonna be reading this book this weekend. There are a lot of things that you said are very compelling, I’ve been in this world for a while, lookin’ at all this gluten stuff, and a lot of these patients don’t get better and there are lots of kind of open items in what we know and so I think that part of what you’re talking about here, with the lectins and also just really starting to emphasize the leaves and the things that we have evolved to eat are huge game-changers. And you’re seeing it, obviously, in your clinical practices. How long before people start to feel a difference, if I were to pull off all lectins and start eating like a gorilla? A week, two weeks, three weeks?
– Yeah, most people notice in a week or two, people with autoimmune disease or really leaky gut, it’s gonna take longer, ’cause their microbiomes are really pretty screwed up. Let me give you the example, most of the gut healing protocols out there are basically, if you’re out in a boat on the lake and water is coming in through some holes in the bottom of your boat, you can bail with a bucket, and keep the water out of your boat, but if more water comes in, you’re gonna need a bigger and bigger bucket. And most of these gut healing… Excuse me. Protocols are just bailing water. So what I like to do is seal the holes. And once you seal the holes, you don’t need a bucket anymore. And I’m convinced that things like lectins, things like NSAIDs, are really the cause of these holes and getting lectins out, first and foremost, allows you to heal yourself.
– Do you have a list of all the lectin, high-lectin foods in the book?
– Yep, yep, there’s a just say no list, and then there’s a just say yes list.
– Love it.
– And then there’s a list of the seven deadly disruptors that have really let lectins on the loose in our body and it’s pretty fascinating what some of these are.
– Yep, I love it. The book is called The Plant Paradox, Doctor Stephen Gundry. Only about an hour and a half away from me, out in the desert, here in California. I am out there now and again and one of these times, I’m gonna come pay you a visit. I’m gonna read the book first, because there’s a lot of things in here that I need to know, and a couple of things that just immediately come to mind with my wife and my mother-in-law who are having some issues and my mother-in-law’s been gluten free for a while and she’s still not resolved. So it’s like, okay, hold on.
– Yep, that’s what many of the people exactly who I see. They don’t understand, you know, they’re gluten free and stuff are still happening.
– Yep, yep. Thank you for doing the work that you do, thank you for not doing heart surgery, and going the harder road and playing the educator. It’s a big transition to put in that kind of work, so I commend you on the honorable decision that you made to be able to help more people this way.
– Well thanks a lot, and a pleasure. I enjoy your work as well and please stop by and see me.
– Will do, I’ll be paying you a visit. Let me know what you think and get the book, read the book. I’m going to read the book this weekend and I’m gonna start making some changes, I’ll report back to you, let’s do this together. It’s Doctor Pedram Shojai, the Urban Monk. I will see you next time.