There’s an Arabian proverb that goes, “He who has health has hope, and he who has hope has everything.” The way we take care of our physical health today has a massive impact on what our lives look like tomorrow, and it turns out that the foods we eat determine how long we live.
But in today’s world, it feels like there are a million different diets to try. Some say it’s better to eat meat, and some say it’s better to be a vegetarian or vegan. Others say the key is to avoid sugar. Still, others say it all really comes down to the vitamins and supplements you take. How is anyone supposed to decide what diet to follow?
“Epocrates used to say that all of us have this green life force energy … Any creature has this innate desire to do well, to have perfect health, but Epocrates use to say … there are external forces that keep this green life force energy from blooming. And the doctor is supposed to be a detective and find out what are these external forces and … teach the patient how to remove them. And then the patient will take care of himself.” – Dr. Steven Gundry
Dr. Steven Gundry has dedicated his career to teaching patients how to remove the external factors that are damaging their health. He is a fan-favorite on this podcast because he has a unique perspective on nutrition that he claims leads to greater longevity and increased happiness.
Dr. Gundry’s research does buck a lot of conventional wisdom, and I’m not a doctor, so I can’t endorse any claims, but I know my mind is blown every time I have Dr. Gundry on the show. Let’s get started!
Dr. Steven Gundry began his career as a cardiac surgeon. But eventually, he realized that surgery wasn’t enough to solve the problems underlying his patients’ health problems. So today, Dr. Gundry is dedicated to helping his patients avoid surgery. He has spent decades researching and developing a unique perspective on diet and nutrition, and he teaches his patients how to have a healthy microbiome and live a long and surgery-free life.
Dr. Gundry is a multi-time New York Times bestselling author. His most recent book, The Longevity Paradox, teaches readers to maximize health by maintaining a healthy microbiome. And his upcoming book, The Energy Paradox, expands on that research to show you how the foods you eat affect your energy level. I know you’re going to want to preorder it after listening to this episode!
Beyond being a clinical researcher and author, Dr. Gundry also has a podcast! The Dr. Gundry Podcast features various guests who join Dr. Gundry for candid conversations about all things health and nutrition. And of course, you can always check out Dr. Gundry’s other appearances right here on The School of Greatness on episodes 521, 772, 863, 935, and 960!
Dr. Steven Gundry is passionate about helping people live longer, healthier lives — and that includes you! Today, he’s here to talk with me about the reasons why we have so many major health conditions and what we can do about it. We also talk about the most important foods you need to get into your diet if you want to have a healthy microbiome and live a longer life. And finally, we talk about some things you can do right now to protect yourself during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Guys, Dr. Steven Gundry has a wealth of fascinating information. He’s a brilliant man, and I’m so grateful for him to join me on the show again!
You guys might remember from Dr. Gundry’s previous appearances on this podcast that the most critical factor in your health is your microbiome. By that, I mean that you have tons of little bacteria inside you, and those bacteria have a massive effect on your overall health and wellbeing.
“The vast majority of genes in our body — 99% of all the genetic material that exists in us and on is — is non-human genetic material, right? And our microbiome has the distinct advantage of rapidly reproducing and constantly changing and exchanging information from one bacteria to another. And so I happen to think that we’ve uploaded most of our decision making processes to our bacterial cloud to take the work off of our genes.” – Dr. Steven Gundry
If most of our genetic material isn’t actually ours and it belongs to what Dr. Gundry calls our “gut bugs,” those gut bugs are probably pretty important! But here’s the thing: we haven’t done a very excellent job of taking care of our gut bugs as a species. All our processed and sugary foods are terrible at supporting our microbiomes, and that creates a whole host of health problems.
Dr. Gundry explained to me that you have to have a wide diversity of gut bugs to have a really healthy microbiome. Apparently, the people we’ve been able to study who have the healthiest variety of gut bugs are people like hunter-gatherers who eat around 200 different types of plants every year. The problem for us is that we mostly eat the same few processed foods over and over again. So our microbiomes are filled mostly with bugs that are addicted to those sugary foods and nothing else. And when we lose that variety of healthy gut bugs, our bodies can’t produce energy as they should.
“I alluded to this in The Longevity Paradox … the microbiome talks to the mitochondria, and they basically tell the mitochondria, ‘If things are good down in the engine room, churn out the energy. And if things aren’t good down in the engine room, you guys probably ought to back off on producing energy.’ …. [So] you don’t create energy. That’s why we have this epidemic of tiredness.” – Dr. Steven Gundry
According to Dr. Gundry, lack of a healthy and diverse microbiome is really the cause of all the fatigue so many of us experience every day. So if you’re finding yourself reaching for your fifth cup of coffee for the day, read on to see what foods Dr. Gundry recommends to support a healthy gut microbiome!
Some of you may remember Episode 967 with Dr. Rhonda Patrick, where we discussed the top things that we should be eating if we could only choose four foods. Her list was wild salmon, avocado, kale, and blueberries. I decided to ask Dr. Gundry the same question, and it turned out he had a bit of a different answer! Here are Dr. Gundry’s top four foods we should all be eating more of:
According to Dr. Gundry, pomegranate seeds are way better for you than most fruits. It turns out that many of our fruits — including apples and blueberries — are bred and processed to be full of sugar. But pomegranate seeds are full of compounds called polyphenols that are good for your immune system, blood vessels, and brain.
2. Coffee, and particularly coffee fruit
When we think of coffee, we think of the beans that are ground up and brewed into a yummy caffeinated drink many of us enjoy in the mornings. It turns out that the coffee fruit actually contains a lot of a compound called BDNF that is also really good for your brain. And the good news is — you can get it just by drinking coffee! Don’t fill it up with cream and sugar, though — that stuff’s not doing you any favors.
3. Bivalve shellfish
“Um Lewis, what are bivalve shellfish?” you may be asking. Don’t worry — I was confused too. Dr. Gundry is talking about things like clams, oysters, scallops, and muscles. Foods like that have a particular thing called plasmalogen that is amazing for your brain.
“You can take Alzheimer’s brains, and you’ll find they are profoundly deficient in plasmalogen. And there [are] two studies in Japan of supplementing people with mild cognitive impairment with plasmalogen and, lo and behold, their brain wakes up and starts working again.” – Dr. Steven Gundry
You definitely want to get that shellfish into your diet to support a healthy brain!
The (almost) final food on Dr. Gundry’s list was chicory, which he described as looking “kind of like a tulip bulb that hasn’t opened yet.” You can find these in any grocery store, and they are full of something called inulin. Inulin is great for your healthy gut bugs! So if you want to feed your friendly bacteria and support a healthy microbiome, start eating chicory.
And finally, I had to give Dr. Gundry one last thing we should all be eating because he says it’s the absolute best thing for us — olive oil. Dr. Gundry likes to say, “The only purpose of food is to get olive oil into your mouth.” Olive oil is a healthy fat that kills harmful bacteria and supports helpful bacteria. If you want to boost your overall health and support a healthy and diverse microbiome, you can’t go wrong with olive oil!
To round out our conversation, I asked Dr. Gundry about our current pandemic situation. We’ve got this virus that is spreading like wildfire and making a lot of people very sick, and I wanted to know what we can all be doing to protect ourselves. The number one thing we can do? Get more vitamin D in our bodies.
“In terms of supplements, there [are] now five papers that show the higher your vitamin D level, the more you’re protected from COVID and the less severe it’s going to be. … Just get it in your system.” – Dr. Steven Gundry
So taking vitamin D supplements is essential for disease protection, but what else can we do? Dr. Gundry also mentioned that green tea, zinc, and elderberry can be helpful to us as well, but he says the most important thing is social distancing and mask-wearing.
“Look, masks are not the greatest thing in the whole world. And we don’t have to live or die on all these studies that say, ‘Yes, they’re helpful,’ or, ‘Yes, they’re not helpful,’ but … even long-term studies show that masks probably have some effect. … Just put the dumb thing on and social distance.” – Dr. Steven Gundry
There you have it, guys, straight from an expert. The most important thing you can do to protect yourself against COVID-19 is to wear a mask when you go outside and stay six feet away from other people.
And that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything at all! Even Dr. Gundry is going out to eat — just make sure you can sit outdoors and far enough away from other people. Protect the people around you by wearing a mask, and make sure to wash your hands and stay safe! There’s really no better way to protect yourself and others from the pandemic.
Guys, my mind is blown every time I have Dr. Gundry on the show! He’s a brilliant guy with a lot of great knowledge to share with the world. I want to acknowledge him for being so generous and showing up again and again to teach us how to be the healthiest versions of ourselves.
I really hope you enjoyed this one, guys. And I hope you’ll listen to the full episode! There is so much great stuff about why grapes are the ultimate sugar bomb, why people in Blue Zones live longer and healthier lives, and why over-the-counter medications are bad for your body that I didn’t even have time to mention here. I learned so much from Dr. Gundry, and I know you will too.
Dr. Gundry gave me a great piece of wisdom at the end of the interview. He said,
“All disease begins and ends in the gut. … Trust your gut.” – Dr. Steven Gundry
If there’s one thing I’ve taken away from my conversations with Dr. Gundry, it’s that your gut has more power over you than you think. You need to take care of it. But you also need to trust your gut — and I mean that in two ways. If you don’t feel well, pay attention to your symptoms and start removing the things that are making your microbiome unhealthy. But also, remember to trust yourself. In the pursuit of greatness, your gut is your best guide. Trust it.
If you’re ready to learn more from Dr. Gundry, definitely check out his book, The Longevity Paradox, and his podcast, The Dr. Gundry Podcast. And don’t forget to pre-order his new book, The Energy Paradox.
Thanks again for joining me today, guys. Now, if you’re ready to learn how to eat better and live longer, don’t miss Episode 991 with Dr. Steven Gundry!