My guest on today’s podcast and former guest on my show “The Truth About Lectins And The Plant Paradox“, Dr. Steven Gundry proposes in his new book “The Longevity Paradox: How to Die Young at a Ripe Old Age“, that the “diseases of aging” we most fear are not simply a function of age; but rather, they are a byproduct of the way we have lived over the decades.
In “The Longevity Paradox,” he maps out a new approach to aging well—one that is based on supporting the health of the “oldest” parts of us: the microorganisms that live within our bodies.
He believes that – from diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s to common ailments like arthritis to our weight and the appearance of our skin, these bugs are in the driver’s seat, controlling our quality of life as we age.
Dr. Gundry is a cum laude graduate of Yale University with special honors in Human Biological and Social Evolution. After graduating Alpha Omega Alpha from the Medical College of Georgia School of Medicine, Dr. Gundry completed residencies in General Surgery and Thoracic Surgery at the University of Michigan and served as a Clinical Associate at the National Institutes of Health. There, he invented devices that reverse the cell death seen in acute heart attacks; variations of these devices subsequently became the Gundry™ Retrograde Cardioplegia Cannula. It has become the world’s most widely used device of its kind to protect the heart from damage during open-heart surgery. After completing a fellowship in congenital heart surgery at The Hospital for Sick Children, Great Ormond Street, in London, Dr. Gundry was recruited as Professor and Chairman of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Loma Linda University Medical Center. There, he and his partner, Leonard Bailey, pioneered infant and pediatric heart transplantation. Together, they have performed more such transplants than any other surgeons in the world.
During his tenure at Loma Linda, Dr. Gundry pioneered the field of xenotransplantation, the study of how the genes of one species react to the transplanted heart of a foreign species. He was one of the original twenty investigators of the first FDA-approved implantable left ventricular assist device (a kind of artificial heart). Dr. Gundry is also the inventor of the Gundry Ministernomy, the widely used minimally invasive approach to aortic- or mitral valve repair, the Gundry Lateral Tunnel, a “living” tissue that can rebuild parts of the heart in children with severe congenital heart malformations; and the Skoosh™ venous cannula, the most widely used cannula in minimally invasive heart operations.
One of the fathers of robotic surgery, as a consultant to Computer Motion (now Intuitive Surgical), Dr. Gundry received early FDA approval to use robotic-assisted minimally invasive surgery for coronary artery-bypass and mitral-valve operations. He holds patents on devices for connecting blood vessels and coronary artery bypasses without sutures, as well as for repairing the mitral valve without the need for sutures or a heart-lung machine. He has served on the Board of Directors of the American Society of Artificial Internal Organs (ASIAO) and was a founding board member and treasurer of the International Society of Minimally Invasive Cardiothoracic Surgery (ISMICS). He recently completed two successive elected terms as President of the Board of Directors of the American Heart Association, Desert Division.
Dr. Gundry has been elected a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, the American College of Cardiology, the American Surgical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the College of Chest Physicians. He is a member of numerous other surgical and medical societies. He is also the author of more than three hundred articles, chapters, and abstracts in peer-reviewed journals on surgical, immunology, genetics, nutrition, and lipid investigations. He has operated in more than thirty countries, including charitable missions to China, India, and Zimbabwe.
Inspired by the stunning reversal of coronary artery disease in an “inoperable” patient, using a combination of dietary changes and nutriceutical supplements, in 2001, Dr. Gundry changed the path of his career. An obese, chronic “diet” failure himself, he adapted his undergraduate Yale University thesis to design a diet based on evolutionary genetic coding, which enabled him to reverse his own medical problems. In the process, he effortlessly lost 70 pounds. The equally astonishing results from following what he came to call Diet Evolution in several of his staff led Dr. Gundry to accept a position in Palm Springs where he could devote his efforts to disease reversal.
No longer satisfied with repairing the damage of chronic diseases, since 2002, Dr. Gundry founded and has served as Medical Director of The International Heart and Lung Institute in Palm Springs, California, which serves patients referred from across the nation. He is also Founder and Director of The Center for Restorative Medicine, part of the Institute. Its mission is to prevent and reverse the chronic diseases of “aging” with diet and nutriceutical interventions, using surgical intervention for heart and vascular disease as a last resort.
During our discussion, you’ll discover:
-The myth of the Mediterranean diet promoting longevity…11:20
- “Blue Zones” is a term coined by a journalist named Dan Bruckner
- Dr. Gundry has spent most of his life living in a Blue Zone (Loma Linda, CA)
- Doesn’t disagree with the premise you should follow the Mediterranean diet, but there’s more to it…
- “The only purpose of food is to get olive oil in your mouth”
- The key to the Mediterranean diet is not whole grains and beans
- Book: Food & Western Disease by Staffan Lindeberg
- Residents of Acciaroli, Italy do not eat pasta or bread but love lentil beans
- Millet, sorghum, teft do not have a hull (where most of the defense mechanisms of the plant are located)
- Unprocessed barley: People live a long time in spite of it, not because of it
- Influence of the Greek Orthodox church on the Mediterranean diet
- Fasting and abstaining from animal products are observed during Lent
-The missing link in the Mediterranean diet regarding longevity…20:45
- TMAO, a compound that is deleterious to the surface of blood vessels
- Cleveland Clinic invented a test to detect TMAO
- Recognized low incidence of coronary artery disease in spite of animal product consumption
- Present in most olive oils, balsamic vinegars, and red wines
- A structural analog of choline
- Not all TMAO is created equal
- The ideal Mediterranean Diet (Hint: Olive Garden got it wrong)
- Rich in polyphenols, olive oil and red wine
- More fish and eggs than meat
- Some type of fasting component
- You can mitigate a bad diet with a fast or fasting mimicking diet for 5 consecutive days
- Done on a quarterly basis
- The Carnivore Diet is a fad, fancy name for the Atkins Diet
-The carbohydrate Okinawans consume that staves off inflammation and high blood sugar…27:40
- ~85% of the traditional Okinawan diet is a blue or purple sweet potato
- 5-6% of the diet white rice (no brown rice)
- Remaining soy-based products and pig fat
- Taro and sweet potatoes are resistance starches
- “The more we eat for our gut microbiome, the more our gut microbiome will take care of us.”
- Nigerians carry the highest percentage of APO E-4 gene of any people on earth
- Their starch is melon
- Very low rate of Alzheimer’s
-Dr. Gundry’s thoughts on roughage and fiber intake…35:14
- Dr. Denis Burkitt went on a mission to Africa to operate on colon cancer
- Realized no one had colon cancer
- Studied their stools
- Eating huge amounts of tubers (yams) and millet
- Didn’t realize there was a difference between soluble and insoluble fiber
- Advocated for eating whole grains
- Ended up dying of colon cancer
- Naked Mole Rat
- Lives in tunnels in sub-Saharan Africa
- Lives 30x longer than other rats
- Gut microbiome is identical to healthy 105-year-old humans
- Eats tubers, roots, and fungi
- Organic pumpkin puree from Amazon
-The myth of the efficacy of animal protein for longevity…42:45
- US Dept of Agriculture sells agricultural products (owns the food pyramid)
- Dr. Gary Fraser’s study on animal protein
- Vegans live the longest
- The more animal protein consumed, the less the longevity
- You can mitigate meat intake with a vegan fast or fasting mimicking diet for 5 days consecutively
- Methionine/glycine ratio
- People who are primarily carnivorous do not historically have the highest longevity
-The myth of growth hormones…49:20
-The myth of iron intake for longevity…55:05
- Iron is one of the deadliest substances
- Iron is dangerous for mitochondrial function
- Regular blood donors have longer life spans than non-donors
- Endurance training helps reduce iron levels
- Ferritin and GGT are musts for a blood test to track “internal rust”
- Ferritin is a great marker for inflammation
- Elevated level indicates potential auto-immune disease
-The myth of metabolic rate…59:50
- Age is akin to the rate of energy consumption
- Carnivores run higher temperatures than herbivores; breakdown of protein generates a lot of heat
- Sweet spot between fitness and low metabolism:
- Hibernating animals can live 2-3x longer than non-hibernating animals due to reduced metabolic rate
- There are periods we should have less energy expenditure than others
- We live in constant summer, regardless of where we live in the world
-The myth of saturated fat…1:05:15
- Dr. Ancel Keys published the 7 Countries Study
- Said saturated fat was related to coronary heart disease
- He did not say plant fats were bad for you (although it was implied)
- Retired near Acciorili and ate large amounts of olive oil
- Did not make the connection between animal fat and animal protein
- The olive oil club Ben is a member of
- 30% of people carry APO E 4 gene
- Saturated fats in coconut oil, cheese increase LDLs in these people
- Organic fermented pu-erh tea
- Mucus absorbs lectins; is essential for gut health in older age
-Why milk does not, in fact, do the body good…
-And much more…
Resources from this episode:
–My podcast episode on the growing epidemic of loneliness and relationships/longevity.
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Do you have questions, thoughts or feedback for Dr. Gundry or me? Leave your comments below and one of us will reply!