Do you make a point to include foods in your diet that you believe are healthy?
I know I do. We were all taught about the food pyramid as kids, right? You’ve got to include your grains, your veggies, and your fruits to equal a healthy diet — just like our teachers taught us in science class.
What if our teachers were wrong? What if I told you that some of the very staples of the food pyramid have been found to actually be toxic to our bodies?
As we progress in scientific research and the understanding of our bodies, we are understanding that some foods that have been common inclusions in our diet are not what we thought they were. There are certain foods that are literally poisoning our bodies — so why are we still eating them?
Thankfully, we have Dr. Steven Gundry with us to give us valuable insight on this topic. He illustrates how some foods have merely come to be common in our society by chance or ease of access, and may not necessarily be good for us. More than that, some foods are downright toxic to us!
Dr. Steven Gundry is a renowned cardiologist, surgeon, medical device inventor, and bestselling author. Although he has performed thousands of heart surgeries in his 40-year career, Dr. Gundry’s current focus is empowering people through diet to reverse and prevent ailments.
As the Director and Founder of the International Heart & Lung Institute as well as the Center for Restorative Medicine in Palm Springs and Santa Barbara, CA, he helps patients learn how to take control of their weight, health, and energy by using his surprisingly simple diet advice.
Dr. Gundry is also the New York Times best-selling author of The Plant Paradox, and his latest book, The Longevity Paradox, takes a look at how we can live long, healthy lives and fight the disease of aging. He also hosts his own health podcast, The Dr. Gundry Podcast, which gives you the tools and information you need to hack your vitality, avoid dangerous “health foods,” and balance your all-important gut.
Let’s get this out of the way first — lectins are bad for us. Lectins are proteins produced by a plant as a defense mechanism to try to ward off anyone or anything from eating them. Obviously, this hasn’t stopped us from eating them, but most people aren’t even aware of what lectins are, let alone which foods fall into that category.
“Gluten happens to be a lectin and lectins are plant defense proteins that plants produce to convince their predator that we shouldn’t eat them or their babies. Harvard professor Alexia Fizano proved that in fact, lectins like gluten can attach to the wall of our gut and kind of flip a switch and produce leaky gut. We can now measure leaky gut. Wheat and gluten are just one of the lectins — there’s plenty more.” – Dr. Steven Gundry
Awareness of gluten and our body’s sensitivity to it has come a long way in the past ten years. I remember asking about gluten-free options at restaurants ten years ago and being met with utter confusion. People didn’t even know what gluten was! While grains are still important in maintaining a healthy diet, we now know that gluten is a lectin and can cause our stomachs a lot of trouble.
So the obvious measure to take after learning that gluten is harmful to us is to search for gluten-free options, right? Well, think again. Dr. Gundry explains that even some healthy gluten-free foods are being targeted by our immune systems as if they were the real deal. I love to eat a bowl of oats in the morning, so I asked Steven if eating gluten-free oats is a viable option to still get grains in my diet.
“Basically … there is a protein in oats that isn’t gluten, but it looks a lot like gluten. And our immune system can’t tell the difference. Similarly, 70% of people who are sensitive to gluten react to corn as if it was gluten, and that’s why so many patients who are gluten-free, eating gluten-free foods, still have leaky gut and autoimmune diseases. When we take away their healthy gluten-free foods like corn, like oats, like quinoa, then their leaky gut goes away.” – Dr. Steven Gundry
Grains and gluten are not the sole culprits of a leaky gut and other health problems, however. Other lectins that are harmful to us include tomatoes, goji berries, beans, cashews, and potatoes. If you’re like me and love the foods I just mentioned, don’t panic! There are ways to prepare these foods that eliminate the toxicity they present to our bodies.
Much of the lectins in potatoes are found in the skin, so simply removing the skin is a great option if you really can’t cut them out of your diet. Similarly, tomatoes and peppers lose much of their toxicity when you remove the skin and seeds.
In fact, Dr. Gundry mentioned that tomatoes in Italy never come with their skin or seeds. When tomatoes were first brought to Italy by Columbus, they refused to eat them for over 200 years because they thought them to be toxic to humans. Americans didn’t even start eating tomatoes until the late 1800s because they were thought to be deadly!
Did you know cashews are part of the same plant as poison ivy? It’s no wonder cashews are lectins, there’s poison in their plant name! Unfortunately, cashews cannot be prepared in a way that makes them less toxic to us, so it’s best to stay away from them altogether.
Dr. Gundry suggests switching to pistachios if you need a replacement for cashews. Surprisingly, pistachios have the highest melatonin amount of any food, so there may be an added benefit to indulging in a pistachio snack instead of cashews — better sleep! Hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, and walnuts are all great examples of other nuts you can indulge in besides cashews.
The Keto diet has helped many Americans lead a healthier lifestyle and build a healthier diet for themselves. However, it’s not uncommon to approach this method in the wrong way. Dr. Gundry explains how many people approach Keto without the proper information.
“Believe it or not, a ton of people gain weight on ketogenic diets. Why is that? Because they’re actually reading the wrong kinds of fats… You have most people eating a high saturated, fat diet — you know, cream, cheese, bacon — and actually become insulin resistant and insulin. They actually develop high blood sugar, and [their] insulin goes up. Insulin is actually the fat-storage hormone. So when you’re eating a lot of fat, you actually can get fatter.” – Dr. Steven Gundry
There is so much science that goes into what we put in our bodies. Most people read a simple outline or guide as to what the Keto diet should look like and run with it, but there’s more to it than that. To reap all the benefits that Keto has to offer, we need to understand it.
“The principal ketone that we use once we’re in ketosis is a fat called beta-hydroxybutyrate, and a lot of people have seen it as BHB. That is made from butyrate, which is made from prebiotic fiber being digested by our gut bacteria into postbiotics. These short-chain, fatty acids are a product of prebiotic fiber digestion. So one really easy way to make the substrates of ketones is to eat a high fiber diet. So asparagus, the root vegetables, leeks, onions, garlic — those actually make the precursors for what we’re looking for.” -Dr. Steven Gundry
After all this information, I was beginning to feel like my only safe options for food are broccoli and cauliflower. As much as I like vegetables and pistachios, I just had to ask Dr. Gundry where meat falls into the equation. Is it possible to incorporate meat into a healthy diet or should we cut it out like cashews? It turns out we should be limiting our meat intake to a few times a week.
“There are several problems with beef, lamb, and pork, and with each passing year, it gets stronger and stronger evidence. There is a sugar molecule in beef called Neu5Gc — on their blood vessels. We have a different sugar molecule that looks so similar to the antibody that lines our blood vessels that we attack our blood vessels by mistake when we see our own. That may explain why eating meat is much more associated with coronary artery disease. We also know that cancer cells use Neu5Gc to hide from the immune system.” – Dr. Steven Gundry
There we have it — the answer we’ve all been waiting for. If you’re like me and love meat, rejoice in the fact that we don’t have to cut it out of our diet! Like everything in life, moderation is key. So as long as you prepare your foods properly and don’t overindulge, you’ll be reaping the benefits of the Keto diet in no time.
Guys, this episode was full of information surrounding so many important things — from what foods to avoid to when tomatoes were introduced to our regular diet. You’re not going to want to miss this episode!
Thanks so much for joining me today, guys. If you loved this episode, share it on Instagram, and make sure to tag me, @lewishowes. I’d love to hear your biggest takeaways from the episode!
Until next time, get out there and reap the benefits of the Keto diet and lead your healthiest life!