Longevity with Dr. Steven Gundry: Rational Wellness Podcast 133

Dr. Steven Gundry discusses Longevity with Dr. Ben Weitz.

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Podcast Highlights

5:05  The subtitle in Dr. Gundry’s new book, The Longevity Paradox, is How do you die young at a ripe old age?  Most of us want to live a long time but we don’t want a future that includes coronary stents or bypass surgery, joint replacements, living in a nursing home, and not remembering your name.  We want to remain healthy and vibrant for as long as possible.  Dr. Gundry said that we need to make sure that our microbiome is healthy, since this has a major effect on our health.  And this approach resonates with the Functional Medicine approach which usually prioritizes the gut as the focus of our health.

8:35  Dr. Gundry recommends taking prebiotic fibers to help the microbiome.  He explained that while probiotics that are sold are generally not native to our gut and many are dead by the time we consume them and they make their way into our guts.  And even if they are alive, they only become temporary visitors to our microbiome.  Prebiotic fibers are actually the fertilizer to help our native bacteria in our microbiota to grow, so this may be more important than taking probiotics. Eating fermented foods is good because these contain probiotics and the fermentation process breaks down the lectins.

13:04  One of Dr. Gundry’s most controversial positions is his recommendation to avoid eating foods that contain lectins.  But there are many foods that are generally considered to be healthy and that are commonly eaten that contain lectins that Dr. Gundry recommends avoiding, like lentils and other legumes, whole grains, potatoes, tomatoes, and cucumbers, among others.  Dr. Gundry advocates that most people should avoid the major sources of lectins, since this will reduce inflammation in their bodies, including in their arteries.  He mentioned a paper that he presented at an American Heart Association Vascular Biology meeting, Remission/Cure of Autoimmune Diseases by a Lectin Limited Diet Supplemented with Probiotics, Prebiotics, and Polyphenols where he demonstrated that removing lectins in 102 patients resulted in vascular inflammation subsiding and 80 out of the 102 were able to be weaned off of immunosuppressive and/or biological medications without rebound.  Dr. Gundry also pointed out that one of the reasons so many of us are sensitive to lectins is that our microbiome, which enjoys eating lectins, has been damaged from broad spectrum antibiotic use in us and in the animals we eat and from pesticides and glycophosate.  Another reason is our lack of stomach acid from the common use of stomach acid reducing medications. Dr. Gundry does think that pressure cooking beans and lentils that inactivates the lectins are ok to eat and he mentioned the Acciarolis in Southern Italy, which are one of the longest lived societies, who have a diet consisting mostly of anchovies, rosemary, olive oil, wine and lentils, though they do not eat bread or pasta. Dr. Gundry mentioned that lentils are good source of polyamines, which are interesting longevity compounds, also found in mushrooms and Parmesan cheese.  Dr. Gundry recommends cooking with a pressure cooker like Instant Pot or a Ninja Foodi.

20:53  The concept is that plants produce lectins to prevent animals from eating them.  But don’t plants want animals to eat them and poop out their seeds in a different location to promote their propagation?  Dr. Gundry pointed out that the plants that produce fruits that they want to be eaten by animals cover their seeds with a hard shell, like an apple seed or a flax seed, neither of which we can break down in our digestive system. These plants do want animals to carry their babies off someplace else and poop them out away from the mother tree. But grasses don’t want their babies carried away. They’ve got an open space and they want their seeds to fall directly to the ground. They use a system, primarily lectins in the hulls, to dissuade predators from eating their babies.

24:05  Dr. Gundry believes that the positive aspects of the Mediterranean diet, (often touted as the healthiest way to eat), which are the emphasis on consuming red wine, olive oil, fish, fruits, and vegetables, are balanced by the negative aspects of this diet, which are the grains and beans.  So Dr. Gundry does not recommend the Mediterranean diet.  He points out that even though the Sardinians are one of the Blue Zones (the areas in the world where people live the longest), they have the highest incidence of autoimmune disease in Europe because they eat large amounts of grains in their diet.  Another Blue Zone region is the Okinawans and it is often said that they eat a lot of rice, but 85% of their diet is actually purple sweet potatoes and only 5% of their diet is white rice. White rice does not contain the lectins that are in brown rice. The other 5% of their diet is fermented soy in the forms of miso and natto.  So only a very small part of the Okinawan diet is grains and beans. And another Blue Zone is the Seventh Day Adventists in Loma Linda, where Dr. Gundry used to teach medical school.  The Adventists’ primary protein source is texturized vegetable protein, which is defatted soy meal that’s extruded under high heat and high pressure, which pressure cooks it, which removes the lectins.  Dr. Gundry points out that the common factor in all these Blue Zones is that they eat very little animal protein.

28:03  Dr. Gundry is a big fan of consuming a lot of olive oil and he also recommends cooking and frying with it as well.  Even though olive oil has a low smoke point, it is the least oxidizable oil of any oil studied and it beats coconut oil and avocado oil in terms of oxidation.  One of the main benefits of olive oil is the polyphenols and everyday olive oil has about 10 times the polyphenols of extra virgin coconut oil.  Unfiltered olive oil has even higher polyphenols.  If you cough a lot when you gargle the olive oil, this indicates a high polyphenol content. Dr. Gundry sells his own olive oil, which has the highest polyphenol content of any olive oil on the market: Gundry MD Olive Oil.  The American taste is for a very bland olive oil, which has a very low polyphenol content.

35:31  Dr. Gundry recommends nuts, but he does not recommend peanuts, cashews, or almonds, the most commonly eaten nuts in the US. As we all probably have heard, peanuts often have aflatoxins from the fungus that often grows on their skin. Dr. Gundry noted that a lot of his patients react to a lectin in the peel of almonds.  Blanching almonds will remove this. Cashews are from the ivy family and there is even a cashew picker’s disease where the hands of the cashew pickers get burned from the toxins and lectins in the peel of the cashews. He has found that he has had a number of patients that when they stopped eating cashews, their GI distress improved.

37:20  Too much animal protein can contribute to reduced longevity.  Dr. Gundry recommends limiting animal protein to 20-30 gms per day, though vegetable protein is unlimited.  Dr. Gundry said that his colleague at Loma Linda, Gary Fraser, has shown that incremental increases in animal protein incrementally decrease our health span and longevity.  Higher animal protein leads to an increase in the IGF-1, which is associated with more disease and lesser longevity. Dr. Gundry said that his older patients who are doing well are typically running lower levels of IGF-1, such as below 100.  Dr. Gundry argues that consuming higher amounts of protein does not improve muscle mass. He says that sarcopenia occurs because our gut wall has been damaged by eating lectins and when we repair our gut wall, albumin and total protein levels, if they were low, dramatically increase.

44:57  Dr. Gundry recommends intermittent fasting by skipping dinner one day per week and eating dinner early on a regular basis so that when you sleep, you activate the glymphatic system in the brain that squeezes toxins out of the brain, such as beta amyloid, and produces a brain wash.  You want to have at least a 3 hour period of time between eating dinner and going to sleep.  In fact, Dr. Gundry says that from January through June every year he fasts for 22 out of 24 hours of the day.  He said that almost all human societies until the present time went through prolonged periods of not much food, which usually correlated to the winter.  Humans are the fat ape and have the ability to go extended periods of time without eating.


Dr. Steven Gundry is a cardiovascular surgeon who has changed his focus to a Functional Medicine/Integrative approach. He is the director of the International Heart and Lung Institute in Palm Springs and the founder and director of the Center for Restorative Medicine in Palm Springs and Santa Barbara.  He is the best selling author of Dr. Gundry’s Diet Evolution, The Plant Paradox, The Plant Paradox Cookbook, The Plant Paradox Quick and Easy, and his latest book, The Longevity Paradox.  Dr. Gundry can be reached through his website, DrGundry.com or by calling his office at (760) 323-5553.

Dr. Ben Weitz is available for Functional Nutrition consultations specializing in Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders like IBS/SIBO and Reflux and also specializing in Cardiometabolic Risk Factors like elevated lipids, high blood sugar, and high blood pressure and also weight loss, as well as sports chiropractic work by calling his Santa Monica office 310-395-3111 or go to www.drweitz.com.


Podcast Transcript

Dr. Weitz:            This is Dr. Ben Weitz with the Rational Wellness Podcast, bringing you the cutting edge information on health and nutrition from the latest scientific research and by interviewing the top experts in the field. Please subscribe to the Rational Wellness Podcast on iTunes and YouTube and sign up for my free ebook on my website by going to drweitz.com. Let’s get started on your road to better health.  Hello Rational Wellness Podcast podcasters. Thank you for joining me again today. For those of you who enjoy listening through our Rational Wellness Podcast, please go to Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts and give us a ratings and review. Also, you can find a video version on YouTube, and if you go to my website, drweitz.com, you can find complete transcripts and detailed show notes.

                                Our topic for today is longevity with Dr. Steven Gundry. Longevity refers to length of life. There’s a bacteria that’s over 250 million years old. There’s a type of clam that can live up to 500 years. The longest living mammals are whales, which can live for over 200 years. It’s generally thought that the limit to human lifespan is approximately 125 years with only 48 people in recorded history making it to age 115 and one recorded person making it to 122. The average lifespan is the longest in Hong Kong at 84.7 years, though I suspect that may be changing there with all the stress associated with what’s happening. The average lifespan in the US is approximately 78.8 years.

                                What may be more important than the lifespan is the health span, which is the number of years a person is healthy. Others make a distinction between chronological age, which is the number of years you’ve been alive and biological age, which is a measure of your physiological age and of your functional and health status. This may be measured with a test called the telomere length test. Anti-aging medicine can mean different things to different anti-aging clinicians. For some, anti-aging refers to improving the appearance of the skin with special creams and treatments and even surgery, while for other anti-aging specialists, the focus is on restoring the body’s hormones to the level of the 25-year-old by taking bioidentical hormones like estrogen, progesterone, testosterone and even growth hormone. For others, it means research and the reasons why aging occurs and finding interventions, whether they be changes in diet, lifestyle, exercise or the use of medications or nutritional supplements to positively impact these biological pathways and processes.

                                Dr. Steven Gundry does not really need an introduction, but he is a heart surgeon, professor and researcher who has changed his focus in his medical practice to nutritional and preventative medicine. He’s the director of the International Heart and Lung Institute in Palm Springs and the founder and director of the Center for Restorative Medicine in Palm Springs in Santa Barbara. He’s the bestselling author of Dr. Gundry’s Diet Evolution, The Plant Paradox, The Plant Paradox Cookbook, The Plant Paradox Quick and Easy, and his latest book, The Longevity Paradox. Dr. Gundry, thank you so much for joining me today.

Dr. Gundry:        Hey, thanks for having me on. Looking forward to this.

Dr. Weitz:           Absolutely. I just wanted to start by saying I’ve been following your work since listening to an interview that you did with Dr. Bland in 2011 on his Functional Medicine Update. It was before podcasts were popular and I was a subscriber for 25 years. At first, we used to get these little cassette tapes that we would pop in and then we would get these CDs. Anyway, I remember you came on and you talked about this patient, Big Ed, and he had all this coronary plaque and you looked at his scans and another cardiologist said there was no way that they could intervene. He also had this big shopping bag of supplements. You said, well, those are all going to be a big waste.

Dr. Gundry:        Yeah, I did say that.

Dr. Weitz:            You looked at some new scans and it turned out that he had reversed quite a bit of his atherosclerosis, so you started rethinking that they may have some benefit.

Dr. Gundry:        Yeah, that’s exactly right.

Dr. Weitz:           The subtitle of your newest book, The Longevity Paradox, is how do you die young at a ripe old age?  What do you mean by dying young at a ripe old age?

Dr. Gundry:        Well, The Longevity Paradox is that most of us want to live a long time but we just don’t want to get old. When we look at living a long time, it really doesn’t look very good. We’re looking at stents or heart surgery or joint replacement or living in a nursing home and not remembering your name or your family’s name. Just getting old doesn’t look very good. Particularly the last three years, our life expectancy in the United States has actually declined three years in a row, and people thought it was a fluke, but it’s now … We boomers sadly will probably be, unless something dramatically changes, will be the longest living Americans. Our kids and our grand kids, if things don’t change, will have shorter lives and more miserable lives.  The evidence is increasing that we had very little time in our lifespan where basically it was a fairly quick downhill boom. Now the reason longevity looks so bad is we spend a great deal of time in senescence, in getting worse and worse and worse. The whole point of the book is it does not have to be that way. It’s quite possible to die young at a very old age. I think that’s actually what most of us would like to do.

Dr. Weitz:           Absolutely. Essentially what you’re saying is instead of hitting 40 or 50 or 60 and a steady decline with all these chronic diseases, we want to have a high level of function and go screaming right into the end.

Dr. Gundry:        Yeah, that’s exactly right. One of the benefits of having one of my clinics in Palm Springs is that Palm Springs is often called God’s waiting room. I’ve had the pleasure of, for over 20 years, super old people and learning some of their tricks. Plus, for most of my career, I was a professor at Loma Linda University, which is the only blue zone in the United States. A lot of my career has been spent looking at the tricks of good older people. The book is taking what I learned in The Plant Paradox and learning a lot more on the microbiomes’ effect on aging and then giving folks an action plan. It’s actually exciting stuff.

Dr. Weitz:           Absolutely. Your focus on the microbiome is definitely part of the average Functional Medicine approach, which really prioritizes gut health as a major factor in many other chronic diseases. In terms of improving the microbiome, you recommend prebiotic fibers, which feed the gut bacteria. It’s very common to recommend probiotics, which are the gut bacteria themselves, but you don’t seem to recommend those. Why is that?

Dr. Gundry:        Well, I have nothing against probiotics. I make several probiotic formulas for my own company.  What I think most people don’t realize is that most probiotics are not native to our gut.  If they make it into our gut, and that’s a very iffy proposition, they basically stick around on vacation.  You have effects.  Yes, absolutely.  In fact, dead probiotics can have actually dramatic effect on the immune system.  Just to give you an example, there’s a dead yeast, the brand name is called EpiCor, that absolutely modulates the immune system and actually probably makes us make more red blood cells. Dead probiotics, what I tell people, for instance, in Palm Springs, if I sold grass seed to a patient in Palm Springs, which would be probiotics, and say go plant it. They’d come back a month later and said, you sold me bad grass seed because it didn’t grow. I said, well, what did you do? They said, well, I took it out on the desert and sprinkled around it. I said, well, did you water it? No, you didn’t tell me too. Well, did you fertilize it? No, you didn’t tell me to.

                                We have to give the microbiome prebiotics, the fiber that these bugs like to eat.  With the Human Microbiome Project, we’re beginning to realize that there are certain fibers that certain bugs thrive on, and if we give them what they want to eat, they will actually start taking care of us. We’re sadly or fortunately a condominium for bacteria and they outnumber us. There are a hundred of them. If you actually look at the genetic makeup, about 99% of all the genes in us are non-human gene. There are viral and bacterial genes. Most of what’s going to happen to us as I talk about in the book is not our heredity, is not our genes that we inherited, but the effect, particularly on environment and the microbiome, on our epigenome, on turning off and on genes.  That’s actually what’s exciting about this research that our fate is not fixed in our genome, but our fate is actually tied to our bacteria. We can feed them what they want.

Dr. Weitz:            What do you think about fermented foods like kimchi and sauerkraut and things like that?

Dr. Gundry:        I think it definitely has a place, but we have to remember that fermentation was one of the oldest forms of breaking down lectins in food. Fermentation is a really good way of bacteria and yeast eating lectins in plant materials. In fact, the Incas, who did knew how toxic it was, they had three preparations for kimchi. They soaked it for 48 hours and then changed the water. Then they allowed it to ferment and then they cooked it. It’s another package directions. Fermentation was a really good way to break down lectins. It gets back to the same thing. Probably most of the probiotics in fermented foods don’t even survive gastric digestion, but they can have compounds that educate our immune system. Ferment as many things as you can because it’ll break down lectins. How is that?

Dr. Weitz:            Okay, sounds good. Speaking of lectins, that’s one of the more controversial things in your books. One of the issues people have with it is there seem to be all these foods that people have eaten for many years that seem to be healthy like legumes and lentils and hummus and potatoes and tomatoes and cucumbers. A lot of people who seem to be really healthy eating these don’t seem to have any reactions. How can it be that these lectins in these foods are really harmful? The other question is, since we now can test for lectins and we can test for our sensitivities to eating these foods, wouldn’t it make more sense to test for those food sensitivities and lectin sensitivities and then decide whether or not it’s okay for our individual bodies to eat them?

Dr. Gundry:        Yeah, we do that often with patients who really … on why they continue to have an autoimmune disease despite a pretty good elimination diet or eliminating most common lectins, but unfortunately, insurance doesn’t pay for these tests. We found that eliminating most of the major lectins from most people’s diets have a profound effect on the inflammatory markers that we do measure. In fact, I just this year published another paper in the American Heart Association at the Vascular Biology Meeting where we showed that lectins are a major cause of vascular inflammation, and removing lectins from the diet of several hundred people showed that the vascular inflammation subsided, and reintroducing lectins caused the vascular inflammation to reappear.  To get back to your original point, we forget that the reason so many of us are now sensitive to lectins is that our microbiome, which is a major defense system against … plant lectins. The microbiome actually enjoys eating lectins. There is even a bacteria that enjoys eating gluten.  We’ve wiped out much of our microbiome from broad spectrum antibiotic use in us and also in the animals that we eat.

                           I think the other thing that we’ve lost sight of is that so many people take a stomach acid reducer without realizing that acid in our stomach are proteins and lectins are proteins. We’ve had that defense system gone in so many people. Lastly, almost all the foods that we eat have glyphosate, have Roundup, in them, and most people don’t realize that glyphosate was actually patented by Monsanto as an antibiotic.  It was not patented as an herbicide.  Glyphosate is really good at killing the microbiome.  Plus, work from MIT has shown that glyphosate by itself causes leaky gut.  We’ve set up a perfect storm where the vast amount of defense systems that we’ve enjoyed up until 50 years ago are pretty much wiped out. In the football analogy, not only is our defensive line injured, but all the linebackers are out.  A good running back like a lectin has a straight shot to the goal line time after time.  I think that’s what we’re seeing.

Dr. Weitz:           When it comes to legumes, from reading The Longevity Paradox, I came away with the idea that we shouldn’t eat legumes or lentils, but then I watch one of your YouTube videos where you said that properly cooked beans and lentils were okay.

Dr. Gundry:        In The Longevity Paradox, I make a very strong case for people eating pressure cooked lentils.  One of the longest lived societies who are the Acciarolis in Southern Italy, south of Naples, that I visited last year, these people have a fascinating diet.  They eat anchovies, rosemary, olive oil, wine and lentils. They actually, even though they’re Italians, do not eat bread or pasta.  They have absolutely no grains in their diet.  There are some compounds in lentils that are called polyamines, that are some of the most interesting longevity compounds that have been described.  Lentils are a great source of this.  Mushrooms are a great source of this.  Interestingly enough, true Parmesan cheese from Italy is a great source of polyamines.

                                I think everybody should have one of the modern pressure cookers like an Instant Pot or a Ninja Foodi.  They make things so easy.  In fact, I have a new cookbook coming out next month in November called The Plant Paradox Family Cookbook, which is dedicated to raising kids in this way.  Most of the recipes in the book are using it.

Dr. Weitz:            As an alternative to a pressure cooker, what if we soaked the lentils overnight and then cooked them in our rice cooker or however else we’re cooking?

Dr. Gundry:        I spent a lot of time in working with chefs in Italy and France and Spain and Portugal learning what their tricks were. Soaking of beans and lentils was always done. In the soaking, the water was changed every four to six hours and refreshed. Clearly, the evidence is very clear that soaking will remove a large amount of the lectins from the beans. What’s happened though is we’ve lost this connection with our parents and grandparents and great grandparents that these techniques, which were normally handed down from generation to generation, now that we don’t really have nuclear families anymore and great grandma is not helping in the kitchen, we’ve really lost these tricks. In our speed to have everything instantaneously, the idea that we would really bother to soak beans for 24, 48 hours is silly.  These cultures, it’s amazing, when I worked with chefs in Italy, not one of them would ever think of making a pasta sauce, a tomato sauce with tomatoes that aren’t peeled and de-seeded. I’ve been…. We’re missing these honored traditions of how we detoxified these plant compounds that are mischievous.

Dr. Weitz:            One of the concepts that people often talk about is they say this is the way that plants protect themselves against being eaten. Isn’t it the case that in order for plants to reproduce and grow in different places, they actually want animals and humans to eat them, so that we can poop out the seed somewhere else so that they can continue to flourish.  It seems to me that plants really want animals to eat them.  Perhaps the lectins are just there to discourage the bugs from eating them who really are not going to proliferate the seeds.

Dr. Gundry:        As I talk about in The Plant Paradox, there are two plants that make fruits in general want their predators to eat the seeds, but they, for the most part, protect those seeds with a hard shell that’s indigestible. For instance, we can’t digest an apple seed.  We can’t digest a flaxseed.  Just as an aside, I laugh when I see all these flaxseed crackers with whole flaxseeds or flaxseed cereal, and we cannot digest the outside of a flaxseed, which is why we have to grind them. They don’t use, because they can make a hard shell, they don’t use lectins to defend themselves, and they want the animal, their predator, to carry their babies off someplace else and poop them out away from the mother tree.

                                On the other hand, grasses don’t want their babies carried out. They’ve got an open space and they want their seeds to fall directly to the ground. They use a system, primarily lectins in the hulls to dissuade a predator from eating their babies. I think that’s a very important distinction that many people miss. The other distinction that people miss that I learned as a young man growing up in Omaha with the green apple two step, we often like to eat green apples long before there was a Granny Smith. These were immature apples. There was a very high lectin content in mature fruit to dissuade the predator from eating it before the baby seeds could … That system actually caused pretty impressive diarrhea and abdominal cramps. You usually learned your lesson very quickly.

                                One of the problems is so much of our fruit is now picked unripe in Chile or Argentina or Mexico and then flown long distances, and then we ripen that fruit with ethylene oxide and we never get the switch that turned off or decreased the lectin content as the fruit ripened naturally on the vine or the tree. I think there’s actually a big difference in the method of protecting seeds from being eaten.

Dr. Weitz:            Interesting. You state in The Longevity Paradox that it’s a myth that the Mediterranean diet promotes longevity. Haven’t there been a ton of studies showing that the Mediterranean diet is associated with lower rates of heart disease and longevity, etc. and actually the Mediterranean diet tends to emphasize lots of vegetables and olive oil, which I know you’re a big fan of, and even nuts and fish. Is it really the case that the Mediterranean diet does not promote longevity?

Dr. Gundry:        Interestingly enough, the work by Staffan Lindeberg in his book, Food and Western Disease, which I highly recommend to anyone, he shows data that grains and beans are a negative aspect of the Mediterranean diet that are compensated for by the positive aspects of the Mediterranean diet, which are the examples that you mentioned, red wine, olive oil, fish, fruits and vegetables. People, when they hear Mediterranean diet, think, oh, healthy grains and beans. His point and the research on that I think should be noted. For instance, the Sardinians, one of the blue zones, have the highest incidence of autoimmune disease in Europe, and it’s because they eat large amounts of grains in their diet.  Again, each diet is different. The case I make in The Longevity Paradox is that people who applaud blue zone diets as groups that eat large amounts of grains and beans somehow either having visited these places or don’t actually see what people eat. For instance, the Okinawans. The only actual description of the ancient Okinawan diet was made by the US government military occupying forces in 1949. The Okinawan diet was 85% purple sweet potato, blue sweet potato. About 5% of their diet was rice, but it was white rice, not brown rice because they got rid of the lectins in brown rice. Another about 5% of their diet was fermented soy, miso and natto, not tofu. There’s an example of great longevity that doesn’t eat grains and beans for the most part.

                                Even in Loma Linda, where I was a professor, the primary protein source, the Adventist diet was texturized vegetable protein, TVP, which we made into mystery meats of all sorts. This is defatted soy meal that’s extruded under high heat and high pressure. In other words, it’s pressure cooked soy meal. That was the staple, and nuts. It was the staple of the Adventist diet. Three of the blue zones use a liter of olive oil per week, which I highly recommend. Again, the Acciarolis, which is the newest discovery of the blue zones, they don’t eat grains and they eat lentils and they eat olive oil and anchovies.  The one thing that keeps all of these blue zones I think together is that interestingly, they have very little animal protein as a part of their diet. That’s the common factor of all these.

Dr. Weitz:            I want to get to the animal protein in a minute, but let’s hit on the olive oil thing. A lot of people in the health world are always trying to optimize what’s the best fat, what’s the best oil to cook with. You have so many vegans out there saying you shouldn’t cook with any oil. Other people are saying you should cook with only butter. Olive oil was the big oil and then everybody said no, it burns very easily at reasonable temperatures. It doesn’t hold up under high heat so we have to go to coconut oil or we have to go to avocado oil. Everybody is searching around trying to find the perfect oil. I know you feel that olive oil is not as problematic as some people think for cooking, right?

Dr. Gundry:        Correct. Olive oil has a low smoke point, but it actually is the least oxidizable oil of any oil studied. We’ve had actually two olive oil experts on my podcast, both of whom say the same.

Dr. Weitz:           What’s the difference between the smoke point and whether or not it oxidizes? Isn’t the oil getting damaged and…

Dr. Gundry:        No, it actually is the least oxidizable of any of the oils. It actually beats coconut oil and avocado oil in terms of oxidation. Nut oil and coconut oil don’t have a very high smoke point, so that’s for frying. Olive oil has been used for frying for 5,000 years in the Mediterranean, and so far so good. 

Dr. Weitz:           When you say it has a high smoke point-

Dr. Gundry:        Smoke does not mean oxidation. Not at all. It’s like steam coming off of water. There’s no damage to the water as you produce-

Dr. Weitz:           I think that’s where the controversy is.

Dr. Gundry:        Smoke point has nothing to do with oxidation.

Dr. Weitz:           Interesting.

Dr. Gundry:        I learned this from … I knew olive oil … I had no idea it was the best until I was shown the research by two of my guests. Son of a gun, you’re right. Look at that. The benefit of olive oil is that the polyphenol content of olive oil is extremely high, and you’re using oleic acid, which is the monounsaturated fat in olive oil and also in avocado oil. Isn’t that a particularly interesting beneficial oil or bad oil one way or another but it’s a carrier for polyphenol? For instance, plain old everyday olive oil has about 10 times the polyphenols of extra virgin coconut oil. If you agree with me and others that the more polyphenols in your diet, the better you’re going to be long term, then you want a high polyphenol olive oil.  When I do olive oil tastings in Italy, I go and study olive oil producers and learn there is one-cough olive oil, two-cough olive oil, and three-cough olive oil. The coughing that it induces and when we taste, we actually gargle the olive oil.

Dr. Weitz:           Really?

Dr. Gundry:        Really. We gargle olive oil. The more coughing it induces, the higher polyphenol content of the olive oil. You can use that trick to decide the polyphenol content of olive oil.

Dr. Weitz:           Do we want the extra virgin and do we want the unfiltered or which one is best?

Dr. Gundry:        You’ll have more polyphenols in the unfiltered. Extra virgin actually only refers to the acidic level in the olive oil, and it has nothing to do with the olives didn’t have sex or something like that. Sorry. I couldn’t resist. In processing olive oil, there is first press-

Dr. Weitz:           We’ll get censored by YouTube now.

Dr. Gundry:        That’s right. You should, if you can, get the nouveau olive, first batch of olives, which are usually picked green. As many people know, I now have my own olive oil, which is the highest polyphenol content of any olive oil studied, 30 times higher than any previous olive oil that comes from Morocco, of all places, in the desert where a brilliant family, fourth-generation olive oil farmers realized that great wine comes from grapevines that are stressed, that are under watered, that are planted close together and under harsh conditions. The more the plants are stressed, the more polyphenol content in the grapes, better wine.  This family tried this, and lo and behold, they planted their vines close … the trees close together. They under-watered them, desert harsh conditions, planted in rocks and voila, the polyphenol content is massive. They built a bottling plant in the middle of the olive grove so the olives are instantly pressed one time. I’m actually really excited about it.

Dr. Weitz:            Interesting, because there is a big controversy. You read these reports that some of the olive oil on its shelves doesn’t really contain olive oil. It’s olive oil spiked with other oils.

Dr. Gundry:        Yeah, there are actually several good American olive oils. There is a great olive oil at Costco that I recommend to people. It’s Kirkland brand. It’s a square bottle. It’s a plant in Tuscany. It carries a seal, a stamp for authenticity. If it says bottled in Italy, you can bring olive oil in tankers from Greece, Spain, all over the Mediterranean in tankers literally and bring it, un-dock it in Italy and then put it in a bottle and say it’s bottled in Italy. You do have to be careful.  The other thing that people should be aware of, the American taste is for a very, very bland oil. We’ve been raised on corn oil and canola oil. This cough when you have olive oil is not to the American palette.  Olives are blended in grocery stores to an American palette.  Most of the olives that are used have very little polyphenol content. The reason you’re using it, it’s usually not there.

Dr. Weitz:            Since we’re talking about fats, I see that you like nuts from your book, but you don’t like the nuts that are most commonly consumed, which are peanuts, almonds and cashews. I certainly understand some of the issues with peanuts with fungal problems, etc. What’s wrong with almonds?

Dr. Gundry:        Almonds, a lot of my patients with rheumatoid arthritis react to a lectin in the peel of almonds. There’s nothing wrong with peeled almonds. Anyone growing up in Spain knows their mother teaches them how to properly get the peel off of almonds because in Spain, anyone knows that the peel of almond is toxic. Again, you start learning traditions and go, how did that come about? I have about 70% of my practice is people with autoimmune diseases, and we have an interesting handful that clearly react to the peel in almonds. Blanching them is usually pretty safe for anybody.  The other big known … I dearly love cashews, but we have to remember that cashews are of the ivy family, and there’s even cashew pickers disease where the hands of cashew pickers get severely burned from the toxins and lectins in the peel of cashews. I don’t really particularly want to eat poison ivy.  I have a number of patients that cashews was one of their big issues in their GI distress until we got rid of them.

Dr. Weitz:            Now I want to hit on the protein. I’ve heard several discussions on your YouTube page about why we should have very low level of protein and how it’s associated with longevity. You mentioned 30 grams of protein. It hasn’t been the case that my experience shows that. One thing in particular is isn’t there a big difference depending upon who it is, how much protein they’re going to consume? Say, for example, me, somebody who’s worked out my whole life, very active, and my BMR is about 3,000 calories a day. If I’m only going to consume 30 grams of protein, first of all, where do I get the other calories from? Second of all, don’t I need more protein because I’m exercising more, I’m doing heavy resistance training, etc.?

Dr. Gundry:        Well, number one, I recommend that people, if they’re going to have animal sources of protein, they should limit their animal source of protein to 20 to 30 grams. Plant protein on the other hand is pretty unlimited in the amount that you can tolerate. The reason-

Dr. Weitz:            Shouldn’t it matter if you’re a 110-pound woman or you’re a 200-pound guy who’s very active?

Dr. Gundry:        Well, if you are actively building muscle then you can certainly use more protein, but my … is that protein primarily comes from plants. I’m a guy who grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, the beef capital of the world. Believe me, I enjoy a piece of grass-fed grass-finished steak every three months, but that’s it. The evidence certainly from the Loma Linda experience that’s been published by my colleague, Gary Fraser, shows that incremental increases in animal protein incrementally decrease our health span and lifespan. I wish that wasn’t true. I really do, but this is a huge follow up now for over 50 years. Each incremental increase in animal protein in an Adventist diet decreases their lifespan and their health span. Darn it.  Again, I’ve come to this, sadly, I really have, that there are components of animal protein, amino acid profile that increases our insulin-like growth factor. If you look at super old people, particularly in my practice, folks 95 and above, who are thriving, they run very low insulin-like growth factors. Most of them are in the 70s, 80s, some of them are in the fifth work at St. Louis University with the Calorie Restriction Society show those people when they were in physician-restricted vegan diet dramatically dropped their insulin-like growth factors. I see that in my patients as well.

                                I’ll give you an example. I just saw a couple in their late 60s who I’ve been working with for a number of years out of LA, and they used to be disciples, I mean phenomenal. Both he and his wife ran insulin like-growth factors around 80. Both of them ran hemoglobin A1Cs, 4.6, 4.7. She got a 4.4, phenomenal stuff. They went to Europe last summer for an extended period of time and fell off the wagon. It’s interesting. They have been struggling ever since that time. I saw them today for their six-month follow-up visit. We track these so that they can see it. Four years ago, they were both running insulin-like growth factors of around 80. Now she’s up to 160 on her insulin-like growth factor, IGF-1, and he’s up to 180, and their hemoglobin A1Cs have gone from 4.4, 4.6 to 5.4, both of them. 5.4, most people would be thrilled with 5.4. Most 68-year-olds would be thrilled to have an IGF of 160.  When you can look at what they did when they were spot on and they go, holy cow. They are aging right before their eyes and my eyes. Today was a real wake-up call for both of them. They said, okay, that’s it. We’re back. We’re going to hit this hard. That’s just-

Dr. Weitz:            That view, it definitely agrees with Valter Longo and a lot of the other anti-aging specialists these days. The focus all seems to be reduce growth. Anything that promotes growth, we want to reduce. We don’t want to encourage cancer cells. On the other hand, we know as we get older that our muscles tend to break down.  Sarcopenia is a problem.  There are people who can’t get out of nursing homes, and the only thing wrong with them is that their muscles are too weak. One of the problems with our brain health is that the neurons tend not to get replaced.  They tend not to regenerate.  We don’t create new connections between the neurons. A certain level of growth and regeneration is going to be crucial for anti-aging.  Isn’t that the case?

Dr. Gundry:        Yeah, I agree with that. The reason we have sarcopenia is because our gut wall is absolutely destroyed, and when you no longer have … It just pleases me so much that I can take patients and decrease protein consumption and watch their albumin and total protein, which were at dangerously low levels, actually dramatically increase. There are actually other really good studies of super old people that shows that increased protein consumption does not improve muscle mass. The reason for that is that most of us have been so damaged in the wall of our gut by leaky gut, by lectins that when we repair the gut wall, then everything else returns to normal. That is really the whole point of The Longevity Paradox.  Aging at its very core is caused by a breakdown in the wall of the gut. Hippocrates said this 2,500 years ago. All disease begins in the gut, and he was absolutely right. My addition to this is that all disease can end in the gut.

Dr. Weitz:            I totally agree with that. Intermittent fasting is something that’s often recommended for anti-aging purposes. We have complete fasting. We have intermittent fasting. We have the fasting mimicking diet. One of the things I noticed in your book is you recommend skipping dinner, which is interesting because right now, the rage in the Functional Medicine world is everybody skips breakfast, which I think is ironic because when I started counseling people on diet and health 30, 35 years ago, the word was everybody is fat because they skipped breakfast and they eat too much at dinner. The mantra was you have to eat breakfast, you have to eat within a certain period of time of waking up, and you have to have multiple small meals throughout the day. Otherwise, your blood sugar is going to be erratic.  It’s funny how it’s come full circle to now the way to be healthy is to skip breakfast, but you’re talking about skipping dinner. One of the things you talk about is I think you described it as flossing for the brain.

Dr. Gundry:        A brain wash.

Dr. Weitz:           A brain wash.

Dr. Gundry:        It’s interesting. We now in recent years have discovered the glymphatic system of the brain. The brain during particularly deep … about 20%. It literally goes through a wash cycle and squeezes out toxins such as beta amyloid. This needs actually high blood flow to accomplish this. I teach my patients that when I was growing up, we couldn’t go swimming for an hour after we ate lunch because we’d get cramps in our muscles and die. There was actually a bit of wisdom in that old wives’ tale in that when we are digesting, digestion takes a huge amount of energy and blood flow. After we eat, most of our blood flow is diverted to our gut for the purpose of digestion. Good studies show that the closer you finish dinner to the time you go to bed, the less efficient you are at washing out of having this brain wash cycle.

                           What I ask people to do is one day a week, skip dinner or finish four hours, maximum three hours before you go to bed, and allow that brain wash cycle to happen. Dale Bredesen, who is the author of The End of Alzheimer’s, has become a good friend. In fact, I just talked to him yesterday. He thinks, and I certainly agree with him, that we should have a 14 to 16-hour a day window of not eating. The easiest way to accomplish that of course is to skip breakfast and try to eat your dinner at say 6:00 at night. For half of the year, most of the people who follow me know that from January through June, I’m on that window so that 22 out of 24 hours, I’m fasting. This will be my 18th year of doing this, and so far, I’m not dead, so, so far so good.

                           Why do I do that? Because my study at Yale was in human evolution. We know that almost all societies up until the present time went through primarily a prolonged time of not much food, which usually correlated to the winter. As I tell anyone who listen, you really think our ancestors crawled out of our cave every morning and said, what’s for breakfast? There wasn’t any breakfast. We didn’t have a cupboard. We didn’t have a refrigerator. We had to find … If we didn’t find breakfast, break fast until lunch. That was break fast. We didn’t find it until dinner, that was break fast. The reason humans are like locust is that we have the ability to go extended periods of time without eating, unlike really any animal because we are the fat ape.

                           I agree. Joseph Mercola and I have talked about this. In our current environment, we have so many heavy metals and environmental toxins and pollutants and pesticides in our fat cells where we store them and we store them safely. If we undertake a fast, even a three-day fast, we have to realize that these toxins come out of our fat cells, and we have a horrible system of excreting these products and we actually reabsorb the heavy metals from our gut. The idea that in our modern society, a seven-day fast right off the bat is a good idea. I think that’s bad advice. There are ways to do this safely. Many of us make a supplement to help with this process. Mine is called Untox, but you can got it from other …  I think both his and my advice is this should not be undertaken and just, hey, I’m going to do it because it’s amazing how these things accumulate in us. We did it a hundred years ago. You’re right. Remember, all great … have fasting as a part of their process. Looking back, I think it was to give penance. It was actually a health technique. Every religion, regardless of whether there’s guilt involved with the religion, there are religions that don’t have guilt. They all have fasting.

Dr. Weitz:            Excellent, Dr. Gundry. I think we’ll have to wrap there. How can patients and practitioners get a hold of you and find out about your supplements and your books?

Dr. Gundry:        They can go to drgundry.com. My supplement site is gundrymd.com. I have the Dr. Gundry Podcast, wherever you get podcasts. I have two YouTube channels. You can find me on Instagram and Facebook. We do still see patients. I have a phenomenal physician’s assistant that is a blessing. People follow my Instagram account. Her Halloween costume, today is Halloween, she dressed up as Dr. Gundry. It’s hilarious.

Dr. Weitz:            That’s great. I should have dressed up as Dr. Gundry.


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