027: Dr. Steven Gundry on Why Everything You Know About Diets Are Wrong

Our episode is something different for our usual type of guest. I’m interviewing a gentleman who’s going to make a significant impact on your life. No matter what you think about diet and food, this next guest is going to change that forever. He’s a renowned cardiologist, a New York Times best-selling author and medical researcher. During his 40-year career in Medicine, he had performed over 10,000 heart surgeries and developed life-saving medical technology and is the former president of the American Heart Association. With all that success, you think he would have been content but something wasn’t right. People were coming to him with their internal organs in terrible shape, with autoimmune diseases, severe allergies and worse. In other countries, many of these conditions didn’t even exist. A simple thought turned into a big question. One day a patient who was denied surgery because his heart was so occluded actually came back and explained that a new diet and supplement program dramatically improved his almost fatal heart condition while losing 45 pounds of fat. My guest was skeptical, but tests proved he really had. How could that happen? This doctor knew supplements don’t work. Down the rabbit hole he went and he never looked back. He quit his job and opened a wellness center focusing entirely on healthy eating as the solution to all that ails us humans. Then he wrote two critically acclaimed books on the subject. His most recent The Plant Paradox, reached number one on the New York Times Best-Seller list.

Dr. Steven Gundry on Why Everything You Know About Diets Are Wrong

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The Plant Paradox: The Hidden Dangers in “Healthy” Foods That Cause Disease and Weight Gain

Let’s welcome, Dr. Steven Gundry to the show.

Thanks for having me on. I appreciate it.

I’m so excited about your work because this is this thing that has driven humanity, food, basically all of existence. For some reasons as you’ve pointed out in your book, as we get older we seem to wear out this body maybe even faster than we should. I was thrilled to start reading your book and frankly, in the first 20 or 30 pages, my mind exploded. I couldn’t believe the things you were saying. I want to explain one single thing you said that really blew my mind. I heard you say this in another interview. You said, “I rarely come across a profoundly healthy vegan.” You want to explain that?

I was a professor at Loma Linda University, which is a vegetarian institution for many years. In my practice currently, I do see a lot of vegans and vegetarians. It’s so, so unusual to actually meet a vegan who either actually has good health or on their blood test isn’t just a giant walking ball of inflammation. It’s really because we’ve forgotten that plants were here first and as strange as it may seem, do not want to be eaten. They actually have a life. They not only don’t want to be eaten but they don’t want their babies, their seeds, eaten. The amazing thing about plants is they can’t run, they can’t hide and they can’t fight but their chemist have incredible ability. They use chemical warfare on their predators, us. We’ve forgotten or really have ignored the effect that plants can have on us trying to protect themselves.

That’s not a new concept. The idea that plants are alive and that they are there to protect themselves. I’ve heard that before. To me the part that blew my mind was the fact that there are certain types of plants evolved to create poisons to destroy the human entity because after all they are the predator. Can you explain a little bit about that?

We’ve evolved actually from treeshrews. We’ve been used for 40 million years to be eating primarily the leaves of trees and fruits in those trees. We’ve actually gotten used to these chemical proteins in plants called lectins and our immune system has actually been educated by the bugs that live in our gut, the microbiome that, “We know these lectins. We know these plants. They’re no big deal. We’ve known them for millions of years. We can chill out, not get excited about them.” Fast forward to 10,000 years ago when agriculture started, all of a sudden we started eating and interacting with two completely foreign set of plants and their lectins. One is the grasses and seeds of grasses like wheat, rye, oats, barley just an example. We had never interacted with the lectins of grasses. We’re not horses or cows or elephants. The lectins in grasses are totally foreign to the bacteria in our gut. Our bacteria had not evolved to handle these.

The second thing we began eating are beans. Beans interestingly enough cannot be consumed raw. You could actually eat five raw kidney beans and it will coagulate your blood and kill you in about five minutes. Your listeners probably know the famous espionage poison ricin, the white powder we send to our elected officials and probably a lot of ricingoing around. Ricin is the lectin of the caster bean and only a couple of molecules of ricin will actually kill you. The point of all this is plants arm their babies to make their predators ill or not feel good or not thrive. The idea is that a smart predator will say, “Everytime I eat these things, I’m not doing well. I’m going to go somewhere else.” My research at Yale University as an undergraduate was in human evolutionary biology. Most of us don’t realize that up until agriculture, humans were actually very tall creatures. We stood over six feet tall, men and women. Our brains were actually 15% bigger than they are today. Everybody goes, “We were very small people and now we’re getting bigger.” That’s actually not true. 2000 years into agriculture or 8000 years ago, we had shrunk to four-foot ten-inches all because we began eating these plants that we had never eaten before.

If you think about it from a plant standpoint, having you be a smaller predator is a lot better than a bigger predator because you’ll eat less. One of the things I’d like to point out to people, up until the last generation, I’ve always assumed that Asians as a general rule are very short people. We just felt that they were genetically short. In the last generation, we’ve seen that Asians have rapidly caught up with Westerners in height. It’s because the traditional Asian diet was primarily grains and legumes pulses. As the Western diet has taken over around the world, they’ve actually lessen that portion of their diet and so the lectins in these plants were keeping them short. Now that they’ve been gradually reduced, they’ve shot up to their “normal heights.” They’re not small people at all, the plants were keeping them small.

Dr.Gundry, we evolve, people evolve. After 10,000 years, has our body not gotten used to these lectins that are in things like tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers?

None of us in America are from America. We’re European, Asian or African. Believe it or not, even Native Americans are from Asia. There are actually no Native Americans. We never encountered a plant from the Americas with its lectins until 500 years ago when Columbian trade started. Getting to know a new lectin in 500 years is like speed dating in evolution. I don’t think it can be done. The problem is a lot of our most treasured plants and vegetables are American and we shouldn’t be eating them. Example the nightshade family, potatoes, eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, even goji berries are actually from America. Then the squash family things like zucchini, pumpkins and cucumbers. Then the American beans; peanuts and cashews are actually beans. The cashew is actually a part of the poison ivy family; then the American seeds; pumpkin seeds, chia seeds and sunflower seeds. There are actually two human studies that show that chia seeds promote inflammation. Then there are the American grains and pseudograins: corn and quinoa.

These are actually all very foreign to us and incredibly modern to us. For instance, the Italians didn’t eat tomatoes for 200 years after their native son brought them back because they knew how deadly they were. To this day, Italians always peel and deseed their tomatoes before they make sauce because the peels and the seeds have the majority of the lectins. Go to a grocery store and buy a glass jar of Italian bell pepper strips, red pepper strips and you’ll notice that there aren’t any peels and seeds because they’ve been removed. Even the Native Americans who use chili peppers always roasted, peeled and deseeded them. In fact, you can prove this at the grocery store by opening a can of green chilies and you will find no peels and seeds because that’s where the lectins were and traditional cultures have been removing them. We’ve been inundated with a lot of foods that we just shouldn’t be eating. The thing that’s impressed me in my career for the last fifteen years is these seemingly harmless foods are the cause of almost all the ailments that afflict us. I did not want to believe this.

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These seemingly harmless foods are the cause of almost all the ailments that afflict us.

They’re responsible for everything that ails us?

Everything that ails us can be traced back in one way or another to lectins hacking our immune system or hacking through the wall of our gut. Either getting into us as foreign particles or as I talked about it in The Plant Paradox, allowing some bacterial particles called LPS’s that actually incredibly excite and inflame our immune system. People talk about inflammation and that inflammation is the root cause of all disease and I completely agree with that. The problem is, where is the inflammation coming from? It doesn’t just happen. Luckily, I’ve had thousands of people who volunteered to let me take a lot of blood out of them every three months and send them to labs around the country looking for why inflammation starts. As we started taking away these seemingly innocent foods, then we saw that in fact people’s inflammation went away. For instance your chronic case of sinusitis is caused, believe it or not, because we produce mucus to trapped lectins. Lectins are proteins that seek out sugar molecules. They are sometimes called sticky proteins. One of the first lines of defense against lectins is the mucus that we make in our nose and mouth and sinuses and it acts as a barrier to trap the lectins. I get a kick out of the fact that if you eat spicy food, your nose starts running. It’s even got a fancy medical term called gustatory rhinorrhea. What’s happening is you’re producing more mucus because your body has sensed literally a lectin attack and you’re trying to grab them before they get into you.

What I want to do is slow this down just a little bit because we’ve covered a lot of ground here. I have read your book so I can fill in the gaps, but I don’t think others can. Let me go back a step here. If we eat these vegetables which you claim are really fruits because they have seeds: the cucumber, the tomato, the bell peppers, the zucchini, these have the substance called lectins, which are harmful to every human. Help me understand why we can eat them, enjoy them, feel great afterwards and not suffer these dire effects that you talk about in the book.

We have a selection of patients who I call my canaries. You may remember if you’re old enough that coal miners would carry canaries in a cage in the coal mines because they could smell the lethal gases. Canaries because they had a high metabolic rate, they would be affected much quicker. If the canaries stopped chirping, they ran for it. I have a number of patients who literally, a simple exposure to these sorts of compounds causes them to, for instance, have a migraine headache or have a burst of rheumatoid arthritis or lupus or depression. They react almost instantaneously. I call them my canaries. Most people don’t have that immediate reaction but we can actually measure that reaction in blood test. It may take 10, 20, 30 or 40 years for that ongoing reaction to manifest in the form of arthritis, in the form of heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, memory loss, Parkinson’s. You choose the condition and as I show in The Plant Paradox, there’s very good solid research, not only mine but many others that implicate plant lectins as behind each of the diseases that I have just mentioned.

What I was impressed about in the book is the research that you’ve done; the actual studies that you’ve conducted on lectins and how they affect people in this way. The part that was most surprising was that you could take somebody with 40 years of damage and in a matter of months reverse most of that. How does that work?

The amazing thing is we regenerate about 90% of all the cells in our body every three months. In fact, our skin turnover is even quicker. It takes about six weeks to completely regenerate your skin. Every three months, you actually do a complete turnover of almost all the cells in your body. If you stop harming those new cells and you give those new cells the building blocks to be a very good functioning cell, I wouldn’t have believed any of this seventeen years ago but I get to see it every day in the office. Not only do we see it by people telling us they cancelled their hip replacement or their knee replacement or they’removing their hands again that were frozen from arthritis, the difference is this could be a placebo effect, but we can see it on the blood work. That all of these inflammation markers or markers of autoimmune disease have completely returned to normal.

If the blood shows that the systems have returned to normal and the symptoms themselves go away, does that mean that the disease is gone?

Yeah. It means the disease is gone. Do you have a propensity for those diseases? Yeah, you absolutely do. I just returned from giving a paper at the and that’s a whole other subject. Long story short, we had a group of patients who we would remove lectins from them and look at the stickiness on the inside of their blood vessels. We can actually do this and we can look at how flexible their blood vessel wall is. We removed lectins and the stickiness goes away and the flexibility returns. Then in 57 patients they decided to reintroduce lectins either because they forgot or they decided they were feeling so well they might as well start branching out. In all 57 people, their blood vessels got sticky again and their blood vessels got stiff. When this was pointed out to them, we took lectins away and their blood vessels got slippery again and their blood vessels got flexible. We can actually watch this happening.

Not only is it confirmed in blood tests but in medical observation using medical technology. What you’re basically saying is that you can see the effect of lectins even in a localized area over a short period of time. In a way, that’s good news and bad news. For someone like me, I love Mexican food, I love Thai food and spicy foods. Does this mean that’s the end of those types of foods for me forever?

No. There are absolutely ways around this. Interestingly, most cultures who have used peppers and spicy foods ferment their peppers. For instance, Tabasco sauce is fermented. Sriracha sauce is fermented. Fermentation is a time-honored way of letting bacteria and fungi actually eat the lectins in the food. The lectin content dramatically decreases. The other thing you do is you peel or deseed tomatoes or peppers and eliminate the lectin problem. Lastly, a pressure cooker is one of the greatest devices designed by whoever to destroy lectins. Pressure cooking destroys all lectins except the lectin gluten. Interestingly enough, gluten happens to be a lectin. It’s actually a minor lectin, there’s far worse. There are ways to get rid of these things. Speaking of Thai food, four billion people use rice as their staple. Yet four billion people go to the trouble of taking the hull off of rice and eating their rice white. That seems dumb because everybody knows how good brown rice is for you. In fact, the hull of the grains have the lectins and these clever Asians for thousands of years have been taking the hull away. I like to study traditional cultures and see what they do to eliminate lectins. For instance, the Incas had three detoxification processes to get the lectins out of quinoa. They soaked it for 48 hours then they fermented it, they let it rot and then they cook it. It’s not on the package directions.

There are maybe intuitive ways that ancient cultures have used forever to eliminate the problem and probably with nothing other than the understanding that, “If I eat this, I get sick and if I do this to my food I feel well.” That’s all it took basically.

Giving you a personal example, my grandmother on my mother side was French. She taught my mother to always peel and deseed tomatoes before she sliced them and serve them. It wasn’t until I went to Yale that I actually had a sliced tomato with peels and seeds. I thought it was the oddest thing that I’d ever had. Looking back throughout my career at Yale, I suffered from sinusitis nearly constantly. I didn’t know any better that perhaps it was all those tomatoes with peels and seeds I was eating for the first time. I’ll give you another example. The French banned corn as unfit for human consumption in 1900 because of an outbreak of mental retardation in Northern Italy when the Italians adapted corn as their grain of choice. To this day, it’s rare to see corn on a menu in France. They actually decreed that corn should be fed to pigs to fatten them for slaughter, which makes a lot of sense.

The corn not only fattens the pigs, it fattens the people. Since you mentioned corn, I want to go down this path. You also mentioned in the book that eating traditional protein such as chicken maybe even beef and particularly the standard white and black cow beef is also not healthy for humans to consume. Explain why.

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It’s sad to tell people that as a general rule, animal protein is not our friend.

I grew up in Omaha, Nebraska and Milwaukee, Wisconsin where meat is king and cheese is king. It really makes me sad to tell people that as a general rule, animal protein is not our friend. Also I found through my research that about 2,000 years ago, Northern European cows suffered a genetic mutation. They started to make a protein in their milk called KCNA1. The normal protein is called KCNA2. It’s present in Southern European cows, goats, sheep and water buffalo. Unfortunately, the KCNA1 cows are heartier and they give more milk. Almost all cows in the world including ours are the wrong breed of cow. They’re the black and white Holstein primarily. What others have found and I have confirmed is that the KCNA1 protein is a lectin-like protein that actually attacks our pancreas. People who think that milk gives them mucus or that they’re lactose intolerant, interestingly enough it’s actually the KCNA1 that’s the problem. When we switched them over to goat yogurt or goat cheese or sheep cheese or cheeses in general from France, Italy or Switzerland or water buffalo, they don’t have any of these reactions. We can actually see this in blood work that we do on people.

Back to beef, most of our cows, pigs and lamb in this country are fed corn and soybeans. I didn’t want to believe this, but when you feed these animals unnatural lectins, lectins that they’re not used to eating, the lectins will actually be incorporated into their flesh. In the book, I talked about a number of people who their organic free-range chicken was the cause of their autoimmune disease. That’s number one. I’m infamous or famous for doing a lot of xenotransplantation work, which is getting one species to accept another and transplant them. I get a lot of pig to baboon heart transplant in my day. There is a sugar molecule that lines the blood vessels of beef, pork and lamb that we react to with an immune response to our own blood vessels and attack our own blood vessels. Also, the sugar molecule is used by cancer cells to evade our immune system. They use it as a cloaking device. That actually explains why every study that’s ever been done suggest that there is a strong association with red meat eating and cancer incidents and heart disease that has nothing to do with red meat. It has to do with this crazy sugar molecule. This sugar molecule is not present in chicken, fish or shellfish. It also is one of the reasons that chicken and shellfish consumption has less association with cancer and heart disease. It’s all because of this dumb sugar molecule.

If you stop eating beef and continue to eat other meats, does that keep you safer?

It keeps you safer from heart disease, but here’s the spoiler alert. I spend a lot of time in the book talking about longevity and what we know and don’t know about staying young. There’s sadly very, very convincing evidence that specific amino acids in animal proteins and that includes fish and chicken turn on an aging receptor that’s called mTOR. This receptor actually senses nutrient availability and it’s very sensitive to certain amino acids that are far more present in animal protein than in plant proteins. As much as I hate to say coming from Nebraska and Wisconsin, the less animal protein you eat, the less this receptor is turned on. We can actually measure the downstream expression of this in what’s called insulin-like growth factor-1. We’ve taken animal protein away from people and their insulin-like growth factor-1 has plummet.

Let’s go back to the first statement I made when we began talking. I asked you about vegan. I wondered why because this has been said before, “Take meat out of the diet and you’ll keep people healthier,” but you said vegans are not healthy.

Vegans in this country are what I call pasta, bean and grain-atarians. A vegan should be eating vegetables and none of those are vegetables. The interesting thing is that the vegetables that vegans are eating are actually not vegetables at all. They’re fruits. The nightshades: tomatoes, the peppers, the eggplant, the cucumbers, the squashes, the zucchini noodles, they’re all lectin-containing fruits from America. The amazing thing is when I take those away from vegans, they get better. In fact, I did a podcast with quite a famous vegan author. She has a best-selling book. To her credit she said, “Your book was very intriguing to me because I’m a vegan and I really feel like I have thriving health of following this diet compared to what I used to do, which was the standard American diet. I was intrigued so I put myself on The Plant Paradox for a month. You were right. I did not think I could feel better but infact, I feel lighter. I have far less feelings of funny things going on in my gut that I just thought was normal. You were right. I’m really altering my vegan diet. I’m still going to be a vegan, but now I’m going to take away these plants that don’t like me.”

The other important thing for vegans and vegetarians to realize is that they have to get a source of long-chain Omega-3 fatty acids. Most of us get that from fish or fish oils, but vegans and most vegetarians won’t do that. They’ve been told erroneously that flaxseed, which is a short-chain Omega-3 will be converted to the long-chain Omega-3 DHA that we need for our brain, but in fact we don’t. My vegans and vegetarians are profoundly deficient in DHA. The good news for them is that you can take DHA from algae sources now. The really scary thing for vegans is that your brain is actually about 70% fat. Half of that fat is DHA. There are studies in vegans that show they unfortunately have smaller brains and they have smaller areas of memory centers, the hippocampus. It’s all because they’re deficient in this Omega-3 fat that your brain is made out of.

Is this something that you can verify with medical testing?

Yes. We check what’s called the Omega-3 RBC index every three months in all of our patients. They all have dangerously low Omega-3 indexes. When we supplement them with algae DHA, they all come up to normal. I’ve yet to meet a vegan with a normal RBC Omega-3 index.

I will definitely make sure my vegan friends listen to this interview because it’s important. One other thing I wanted to ask about, in the book you talked about being allowed to have eight ounces of animal protein per day. Explain how that fits into the diet.

We start people with eight ounces. If you’ll notice as we go along, we rapidly take you down and down. We only need twenty grams of protein per day. That’s all we need. The book really explains how those calculations came about. They’re my calculations but also confirmed by Director   Longo who’s the longevity researcher at USC. We need very, very little animal protein. What’s twenty grams look like? That’s two and a half eggs. That’s a small can of tuna. That’s one scoop of protein powder. That’s one Quest bar or protein bar. That’s three medium-sized shrimp and that’s a half a deck of cards of salmon. In 24 hours, that’s all we need. That’s not much. One of the things that’s impressive to me is we are over-proteinized in this country. There are two very large worldwide studies that have now concluded that animal protein is equal to the effect of sugar in promoting obesity and diabetes in the world. This is one of the things that Atkins did not know. My first book was bought by Random House and my editor had done all the Atkins books and all the South Beach books.

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Animal protein is equal to the effect of sugar in promoting obesity and diabetes in the world.

What I proposed in that book was the mistake Atkins made. We have no storage system for protein. We use it for wear and tear repair. We don’t waste energy. We’re very economical. We convert excess protein into sugar. It’s called gluconeogenesis and why we do that? Because we got a great storage system for sugar. It’s called fat. One of the amazing things I see a lot of high-protein dieters or Atkins dieters and many of them are diabetic despite the fact that they’re not eating any carbohydrates. They’re very faithful. What they didn’t realize is that all that protein was being converted to sugar. That’s one of the reasons I have a problem with the standard Paleo diet, which does a lot of smart things like taking grains and beans away from people but instead they replace it with large amounts of meat and animal protein. To think that our ancient ancestors were dining on the side of a Macedon everyday of our lives is rather naive. We subsisted on tubers and leaves and the occasional scorpion.

I want to get back to this one thing about the vegan lifestyle. You’re saying that if you supplement with DHA and vitamin D, then a vegan lifestyle can be healthy. Is that what you’re saying?

Yeah. In fact, I call myself a vegaquarian. I eat mostly vegetables but more importantly I eat the oils that come from fruits like olive oil and avocadoes. I personally feel the only purpose of food is to get olive oil into my mouth. In terms of vegans, I’ve had the pleasure of working with the cardiologist Gary Murray who’s been tracking the Adventist Health Study, which has been ongoing for many, many years. Here’s the bad news for meat eaters. The Adventist are one of the Blue Zones. They’re some of the longest living people in the world and the vegan Adventists have the longest life span followed by the vegetarians who don’t eat much animal protein but eat cheeses. Followed by the cheating Adventist who eat fish, the pescatarians, followed by the real cheaters who add some chicken to their diet. The really striking thing is and this agrees with all the animal data that sadly animal protein is one of the key factors in aging. I disagree with the author of , Dan Buettner. I think he’s a great author. The thing that makes all Blue Zones the same, he would like you to believe that it’s because they eat grains and beans, which is absolutely not true. What unites all of these very different cultures is they have very limited animal protein in their diet. It’s a tiny fraction of their diet. That’s what every experimental model confirms including the model of Rhesus Monkey aging. It makes me feel sad because I grew up to meat-o-centric communities.

If you eat wild fish, you can consume protein that is safer than the traditional farm meat protein?

Yes. In fact, one of the conundrums of everything that I’ve just told you is there’s a village in the south of Italy that I visited last month called Acciaroli. It has become famous. The Blue Zone guy did not know about them. They have the largest percentage of centenarians, people over 100, of any population in the world. About a third of this town’s population is over 100. These guys eat anchovies for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They eat huge amounts of rosemary. They chew rosemary. They cook with it. They consume large amounts of olive oil. They drink quite a bit of wine and interestingly enough almost all of them smoke. They are like the group that I talk about in the book as well. The Kitavans, this Pacific Island nation who follow much the same process except they eat a lot of taro root. They smoke like fiends. They live into their 90’s with no medical care and they never had a case of heart disease or a stroke documented in these people. The folks in Italy are being studied extensively because they eat a lot of little tiny fish, which are basically huge amount of Omega-3 fats.

Clearly, there is the indicator right there in real life. Without the scientific studies, here’s a population that focuses on the Omega-3 from anchovies, which are wild. I don’t think you can farm anchovies. The olive oil, I think you stated in the book that the Italian’s drink about a liter a day of olive oil. That’s amazing.

They drink a liter a week. Twelve to fourteen table spoons a day. The Crete’s do this, some of the oldest living people, the Sardinians do this. There was an amazing study that was done in Spain that was completed about a year ago. They took 65-year-old people and they divided them into three groups. The original part of the study was to look at memory and they had people eat a Mediterranean diet. One group was made to use a liter of olive oil per week. The second group was given the equivalent amount in raw walnuts in terms of calories. The third group ate a low-fat Mediterranean diet. They were followed for five years. The olive oil group and the walnut group had not only preserved memory at the end of five years, but the olive oil group actually had better memory. The low fat group had deteriorated memory but when they started breaking down things, they found that the olive oil group actually lost weight compared to the other two groups, even though they were consuming a liter per week. The women in the olive oil group had 67% less breast cancer than either of the other two groups. A new study of the same study has shown that the incidents of heart disease was lowest in the olive oil and the walnut group and highest in the low-fat Mediterranean diet group.

Very consistent with so much of what we’ve heard over the years. Here you are pulling all of this together. Before we get off this topic of fruits and vegetables, I have one question. If you remove the seeds from a bell pepper, is it then safe to eat that bell pepper or it still has the skin?

You’ve got to take the skin off of it as well. You go to the Hatch Chile Festival in New Mexico, that’s why they’re charring their chili peppers and pulling the skin off. They’re not doing it for fun. We showed Dr. Oz how to peel and deseed a tomato on his show. If anybody is interested, they can go to Dr. Oz and go to the July 10th where I teach Dr. Oz how to peel and deseed a tomato.

I have a feeling a lot of people are going to see that. We all enjoy the benefits of tomatoes in terms of taste but not the dangerous side of it. Now at least there’s a way to avoid that. That’s good to know. Let’s move on to a topic, which I know is going to be controversial. You say that eating fruit is like eating a bowl of Skittles that is pure sugar, pure candy and it’s bad for you.

Here’s the deal. Long ago, we only ate fruit once a year in the summer, in the jungle. Fruit ripens only once a year even in the jungle. Great apes only eat fruit once a year. Believe it or not, great apes only gain weight during fruit season. That’s the only time they gain weight. The sugar in fruit is converted to triglycerides, which are then stored as fat. It was a good idea for us to eat fruit because we could fatten up for the winter, which was a time of less food, whether it was a dry, cold or any season. What happened is that we now have 747’s that can bring blueberries to Costco in February from Chile. That’s completely unnatural. One of the things that people should realize is we run a very, very old computer program. In fact, our operating system runs version 1.0. As your good friend and mine, Tony Robbins, would say, “We run version 1.0 and we have to understand what that version understands.” If you’re eating blueberries in February, your computer does not think it’s February. It thinks it’s August and that it’ssummer and that you should be storing fat for the winter.

The other thing that happened is that we have bred fruit for sugar content. I was at the Santa Barbara Farmers Market and there are organic blueberries for sale that are the size of grapes. That’s not natural. Blueberries are these little bitter things that when I was growing up you had to put a half a cup of sugar on to make them edible. We’ve taken everyone of our foods and supersized it for sugar content. We have a honeysweet apple that’s the size of a grapefruit. We eat one apple not realizing that in 1950, the current apple would be equivalent to about five apples. We’ve lost touch with what fruit was used for and that was to store fat for the winter. We eat fruit now at our own peril. Can you have it? Sure. You can have it in the summer when it’s grown locally in organic conditions but there’s no human need for fruit. Just ask an Eskimo. They eat no fruit in their traditional diet. There have never been a case of diabetes or heart disease or cancer in a native Eskimo that eats their diet of blubber.

Fruit has a lot of bad side effects. American Cancer Society a few years ago did a five-year study of women with breast cancer looking for breast cancer recurrence. One group was advised to eat five to seven servings of fruits and vegetables a day and the other group was not advised to do that. When people are told to eat fruits and vegetables what do they eat? They eat fruits because it taste better. The vegetables they choose to eat are actually not vegetables, they’re fruits. They are tomatoes and peppers and squashes and zucchini and cucumbers. What they found out in five years was that the group who ate the five servings of fruits and vegetables actually had a higher recurrence rate of breast cancer than the people who were not told to do that, American Cancer Society.

I get what you’re saying. It’s the fact that we have basically distorted fruit into something that now is saleable. We do this to fruit so that we could sell more of it not because it’s more nutritious or because it’s good for us.

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The Department of Agriculture who makes recommendations of what we’re supposed to eat is in the business of selling agricultural products.

Remember, two-thirds of our tongue is sweet receptors, sweet taste buds. We did that it was incredibly advantageous for us to like the sweet taste of fruit and eat lots and lots of it because if we did that, we’d be fatten up and make it through the winter. We’ve never reprogrammed our brain. We’ve never had an upgrade. When a sweet taste hits our tongue, our brain says, “You just won the fruit tree lottery. This is not going to last very long. You better eat some more.” This just constantly drives us. The Department of Agriculture who makes recommendations of what we’re supposed to eat is in the business of selling agricultural products. It’s not in the business of taking care of our health.

In fact, the thing about many of what these so-called governing bodies tell us, the problem is their studies are sponsored by the very companies that are producing the type of products that we’ve been talking about. It makes it suspect to begin with. Dr. Gundry, this has been so fascinating to me. If I could I’d like to see if I could summarize this. What it comes down to is that if you stay away mostly from most grains and you said white rice was okay or did you not say white rice is okay?

If you’re going to have rice, I recommend white Basmati rice from India. It’s actually a much more resistant starch than American Basmati rice or a different strain. The other option is to cook it and then cool it. Put it in the refrigerator and then reheat it. It actually turns it into more of a resistant starch.

That’s a good tip for those of us who love rice. If we stay away from the other grains, I personally know how bad gluten is for me and we stay focused on eating less and less animal protein, more and more vegetables that are not actually fruits, then we could regain and retrieve our lost health. Is that right?

That’s absolutely right.

If someone is listening to this and says, “This is a pretty radical shift in what I’m doing right now.” If they were to start in this direction and overtime move more and more of the seeded vegetables out of their diet and start lessening the amount of animal protein they’re eating, will that allow the gut bacteria to still repopulate or do they have to completely stop inorder to do that?

It will repopulate but it will be slower. There are several very good studies, one that I referenced in the book, that three days of following what I call the quick start cleanse will totally change the gut population in your gut from bad bugs to good bugs. The minute you go away from that, the bad bugs return and the good bugs leave. It’s actually a fascinating research.

In a way, I think what I’m hearing you say is that there’s no cheating.

The less you cheat the better.

For those of my listeners who have never even heard of you or don’t have a clue about what we’ve been talkingabout and think it’s all weird and crazy, what I would suggest is that they would get the book, The Plant Paradox. That can get them started on understanding you philosophy. For anybody who reads that book, what you’ll start to understand is that when someone like Dr. Gundry make these claims, he didn’t just make this stuff up. It comes from clinical trials. It comes from real world life experience working directly with patients. Even my wife who was super critical of any of these fads is now understanding that, “If this guy is really doing it and proving it in his clinic, then maybe there’s something to all this.” I would highly recommend that we get The Plant Paradox book, read it. One other question, you talk a little bit about the fruit and the fact that it’s bad for you but you also mentioned that polyphenols are important and good for you. What do you do about that? It sounds like a paradox.

What I like people to do, if they’ve got to have their fruit is get out your juicer and juice your fruit. Throw away the juice and then take the pulp that’s left behind which has all the polyphenols that you’re looking for. Then mix that in with coconut, yogurt or just put it in your smoothie. You can go to my website and get yourself some Vital Reds or Primal Plants. You can get all the polyphenols you need that way.

Dr. Gundry, I can’t tell you what a pleasure it’s been to have this chance to talk with you and really understand this diet. More importantly, understand the effect that you personally can have on our planet. I believe that we’re all here to change world in one way or another. It’s so clear that you, in doing your work, can change the world in such a wonderful way. Thank you for everything you’ve done. Thank you again for your time.

Mitch, thanks for your kind words. I am out to change the world in this way and it can be done with people like you getting out the message.

We’ll talk to you again soon, Dr. Gundry.

Thank you.

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