Episode 359 | February 27, 2024

The Healthy Foods That Hurt You: What to Eat for Gut Healing and Optimal Health With Dr. Steven Gundry

A Personal Note From Orion

Change your fate and transform your health by promoting your gut health. Welcome, Stellar listeners! You don’t want to miss our latest episode with our special guest, Dr. Steven Gundry.

Dr. Gundry is one of the world’s top cardiothoracic surgeons and a pioneer in nutrition. He hosts a top-rated health show, The Dr. Gundry Podcast, and is the founder and director of The International Heart and Lung Institute Center for Restorative Medicine. Dr. Gundry also founded Gundry MD, a successful line of wellness products and supplements.

After a distinguished surgical career, Dr. Gundry shifted his focus to curing modern diseases through dietary changes. He’s the author of numerous bestselling books, including The Plant Paradox series and The Longevity Paradox. His latest book, Gut Check: Unleash the Power of Your Microbiome to Reverse Disease and Transform Your Mental, Physical, and Emotional Health, just hit the shelves.

In this episode, Dr. Gundry shares practical tips and strategies to optimize your gut health and harness the power of your microbiome. From dietary recommendations to lifestyle habits, you’ll discover actionable steps to take control of your health and transform your life from the inside out. 

I hope you enjoy this compelling conversation as much as I did! If you take away even a nugget of gut health wisdom that you can apply to transform your life, then I’ve achieved my goal. So, without further ado, let’s dive into the show!


In This Episode

  • [02:38] – Dr. Steven Gundry recounts his journey from a curiosity-driven youth to a renowned heart surgeon. He discusses the link between inflammation and modern diseases.
  • [06:21] – Dr. Gundry explains how leaky gut is related to autoimmune diseases, intestinal dysbiosis and other potential health issues.
  • [15:27] – Dr. Gundry shares the success story of reversing Hashimoto’s thyroiditis through a holistic approach, with the patient no longer testing positive for the disease after six months.
  • [19:48] – Orion and Dr. Gundry talk about food health, with Dr. Gundry elaborating on the dangers of consuming lectins and how they can cause health problems, including brain fog and psoriasis.
  • [26:31] – Dr. Gundry emphasizes the complexity of the gut microbiome, highlighting how the gut check works.
  • [33:58] – Orion asks Dr. Gundry about his thoughts about celery juice.
  • [34:57] – Dr. Gundry recommends plant-based diets like the Plant Paradox or Gut Check Diet but warns of potential inflammation on a carnivore diet.
  • [37:08] – Dr. Gundry discusses which fruits and vegetables are beneficial for gut health and which are not and explains how the human body has evolved to detoxify certain vegetables, including nightshade family members, like potatoes, tomatoes, and peppers.
  • [40:57] – Orion lists some food names, and Dr. Gundry provides information and knowledge about them.
  • [47:29] – Dr. Gundry enumerates his top tips for living a stellar life.
  • [50:36] – Here’s the way you can get in touch with Dr. Gundry.

Jump to Links and Resources

Hello, Dr. Gundry. Thank you so much for being here, and welcome to the Stellar Life Podcast.

Orion, thanks for having me. I appreciate it. 

Before we begin, please share one of your best childhood memories. 

One of my best experiences was discovering a book in my elementary school library when I was ten years old that was called All About You. It was a book about the human body. I picked it up, read it, and decided that day I would be a doctor. 

In fact, my fourth-grade science project was how to do an appendectomy, complete with illustrations that I drew myself. That was a favorite childhood memory. 

That’s amazing. Since then, you have been a dedicated doctor. You started pretty early. How did you discover your passion? How did you become the Dr. Gundry we know today and focus on what you are focused on today?

You can transform your health by making a few simple changes.

I always had a great deal of curiosity about how things work and how things happen. I became a famous heart surgeon and started pediatric heart transplantation with my partner, Leonard Bailey, long ago. 

But it was a guy well over 25 years ago now, who I call “Big Ed” in all my books, who had inoperable coronary artery disease. By that, I mean that all of the blood vessels in his heart were clogged up. They were so clogged that you couldn’t put stents in them. You couldn’t do bypasses because there wasn’t any place to put a bypass. 

This guy had spent six months eating differently and taking supplements from a health food store. Remarkably, in six months, he cleaned out 50% of the blockages in his coronary arteries. I had his old and new angiogram, and I’d never seen anything like that. It was supposedly impossible. 

I set out to figure out how he did that, and I experimented on myself to start with. I spent the last 25 years teaching people that their fate is actually in their hands, mouths, and guts. You can change things if you want by making a few changes, and that’s what I do. I still see patients six days a week, even on the weekends. I’ve got four clinics this Saturday and Sunday. It’s kind of fun.

The patients that you see, what do you help them with? The leaky gut or what other issues? 

You name it. Whatever they walk through the door with, I’m willing to take it on. About 80% of my patients now have an autoimmune disease, which I can assure them and you that it’s from leaky gut and intestinal dysbiosis, which is a fancy way of saying that their microbiome is all screwed up. But that’s the vast majority of my patients. I treat cancer patients. I treat heart disease patients with obesity. You name it, we’ll take it on. 

Take the first step toward gut health by discovering which plants are beneficial to your gut and which are not. Discover how to detoxify from harmful plants.

Wow. Do you think everything stems from your microbiome, from your gut? 

Well, I think Hippocrates said 2500 years ago that all disease begins in the gut. The longer I do this, the longer I think he’s right. You could probably rephrase it: All disease begins in a leaky gut. I think that’s probably a better way to rephrase it. But, remarkably, these things all come from an area that we’ve only really recently discovered even existed.

Back when I was in medical school, we didn’t know that there was this microbiome, these hundred trillion bacteria living inside of us that actually have a great deal of interest in keeping their home alive. We’re in there. We had no idea there was a synergistic communication between them and us. 

Our job was to feed them and give them what they needed, and they, in turn, didn’t know our job was to take care of their home and give us things we needed. Who would have guessed?

The thickness of the gut wall is only one cell. There’s only one cell between everything we eat and our internal system.

How would you define a leaky gut? What is it exactly? I know it’s something about the walls of your gut, and things can go through, but maybe you can give me a more educated explanation. 

If you had asked me 20 years ago what I thought about leaky gut, it probably would have said it was pseudoscience, but thanks to some great research, particularly by Dr. Alessio Fasano, a pediatric gastroenterologist. He’s originally from Italy. He’s now at Harvard. 

He’s the one who figured out that the wall of the gut has, in a way, a bad design. The wall of our gut is about 20 feet long, but if we flattened it all out, it would be the surface area of a tennis court inside of us. It’s that big. 

When everybody’s watching the Australian Open right now, a tennis court is inside us. Unfortunately, the wall of the gut is only one cell thick. There’s only one cell between everything we swallow and us. 

Because there’s only one cell thickness, those cells are locked with, if you will, the glue called tight junctions, so it’s sealed. Normally, the only way the food gets through is to be broken down into sugars, fats, proteins, and amino acids. Then, it’s absorbed through the gut wall, but it’s not supposed to get through that way.

Dr. Fasano discovered that certain plant compounds like gluten, a lectin, can attach to the gut wall to a receptor, and that receptor makes a compound called Zonulin. Zonulin hits another receptor and breaks that glue. Now, there’s a gap between these two cells. Through that gap, pieces of bacteria can come through, and even pieces of undigested food.

Now, what’s interesting is on the other side of the gut, 80% of all of our white blood cells are present. Why? Because this is where trouble can come through. We basically want our army to be ready when something comes through. 

We now know that this happens frequently, but the gut can seal back up, and the army can hopefully take care of these guys coming across the wall occasionally. But what’s happened to most of us is that these leaks are happening literally every day, multiple times a day.

This army, which normally would become interested every now and then and dampen down things, is now constantly at war. It’s constantly battling and fighting things coming across the wall of the gut. That’s where inflammation comes from.

Everybody says inflammation is the cause of diseases and brain issues, dementia and heart disease. That’s very true. But where the heck did the inflammation come from? The inflammation is actually coming from our white blood cells being on high alert from leaky gut. That’s exactly how Hippocrates predicted so long ago: a leaky gut.

Thank you. The symptoms of leaky gut, you said chronic diseases, but before you go into chronic diseases and start researching, I’m sure there are some telltale signs in the earlier stages. What are they? 

When caught early enough, brain disease is reversible.

I’m glad you asked. Many people don’t recognize these signs because they think it’s just a part of modern living. I’ll give you an example. I saw a young woman, 42 years old, who had Parkinson’s disease in her 40s, young. 

I see a lot of young Parkinson’s patients. When we started talking about her history, she said, “Well, it’s interesting. I’ve always had a funny tummy. I’ve always had issues with my tummy.” 

That could be constipation, diarrhea, bloating, or cramping, but she always noticed that was an issue. Sure enough, we now know that Parkinson’s doesn’t start in the brain. Parkinson’s starts in the gut.

Can you reverse it? 

Absolutely. I think Dr. Dale Bredesen, who wrote The End of Alzheimer’s and has become a friend of mine, would say the same thing. If you catch these things early enough, they’re definitely reversible. Certainly, if you catch it in its mid-course, you can stop it and have it not progress. But when you catch it late, like full-blown Parkinson’s or full-blown Alzheimer’s, then it’s very difficult to reverse it at that point. But you can certainly put a halt to the progression. 

The good news about autoimmune disease is that it’s almost always reversible. In fact, I’ve published several papers showing that within nine months to a year of starting with an autoimmune disease person, the autoimmune disease marker, like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s, and lupus, will go into remission, will reverse. You can show that the leaky gut has reversed, and the leaky gut is sealed.

Now, does it take a while? Yes, it does. You can’t go from a leaky gut and wish it away in two weeks. When I first started doing this over 20 years ago, I was naive, and you could turn it around quickly. With sophisticated tests we do every three months, such as blood tests, it takes six months, nine months, or a year to reverse them completely. But it’s reversible. 

That’s amazing. A lot of times, you go to doctors, and they just say, “Hey, you’re stuck with this for life. It’s a chronic disease, and it’s irreversible.” It’s very refreshing to hear your opinion on that and to hear your success stories for sure.

There’s a fun story I like to tell. I have a physician assistant who usually sees the new patients first. Then I see them, usually three to six months after she sees them. 

100% of people with a leaky gut react to the various components of wheat, rye, barley, and oats.

I saw a lady in her 50s who came to us with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. My physician assistant saw her and put her in our program. I was seeing her for the first time six months later, and I luckily had seen her blood work. She indeed had markers for Hashimoto’s the first time we saw her. But in six months, she no longer had markers for Hashimoto’s, and they were all normal. 

When I walked in, I said, “Nice to meet you. Since this is our first time, tell me a little about yourself.” She said, “Well, I’m here to see you because I have Hashimoto’s.” I said, “No, you don’t,” and she said, “Yes, I do. That’s why I’m here.” I said, “Well, yeah, you used to have Hashimoto’s, but you don’t anymore.” I held up her labs and showed it to her, and she started crying. We hugged. 

Again, you’re right. People say you have an autoimmune disease. There’s nothing you can do about it, and we’ll manage it. But the good news is that that’s not the case. 

So, it seems like with our standard diet, everyone has a leaky gut to a certain extent. What are the worst foods to eat that we have to cut out of our diets?

Maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised, but one of the things that 100% of people with a leaky gut react to is the various components of wheat, rye, barley, and oats. 100% of them have antibodies to gluten to wheat germ agglutinin, which is in whole wheat. The other remarkable thing is that 70% of people have antibodies to corn. 

That’s why studies are looking at people who have celiac disease, which is the extreme form of gluten intolerance, and people who are put on a gluten-free diet. Yet, after a year and a half in one study on a gluten-free diet, 70% of people still had celiac disease with intestinal biopsy, which is the gold standard, even though they were eating gluten-free. 

Celiac disease is an extreme form of gluten intolerance, and people with Celiac are put on a gluten-free diet.

The problem, as I’ve shown and found, is that so many gluten-free foods, like corn, quinoa, and buckwheat, are also troublemakers.

It’s all the things I love to eat.

Don’t get me wrong. I grew up in Nebraska, and what we grow is corn. These things, unfortunately, are some of the biggest triggers to our problems. Even Dr. Terry Wahls, who I think most people knew, really reversed her wheelchair-bound multiple sclerosis by getting these foods out of her diet.

She’s a professor from Iowa, and she’s taking away all these comfort foods that all of us love, and I’m taking them away and seeing the same things. She reversed her MS, taking these foods away. I get to see MS reversal all the time in my clinic as well.

I’m a mom. I have a four-year-old, and he loves quinoa, bread, and grilled cheese sandwiches, all the things we ate as children. Does it matter? It feels like when I was younger, I could eat everything, and everything was fine. I traveled a lot. I traveled to over 40 countries. One of my favorite things to do was to try the cuisines and learn about a culture through food, and I ate everything. 

Now that I’m older, it’s quite harder to handle gluten. For example, I’ve been eating gluten in the last month, so too much, and I started developing this brain fog. I’m pretty sure it has something to do with me overeating bread and cookies because I usually eat it only once a week. Is it okay to eat it only once a week? What’s your take on all that? How can I navigate my personal world and be a mom with your suggestions? 

Well, you’re right. There are a lot of places in the world where you can go that don’t have glyphosate sprayed on all the crops. Unfortunately, glyphosate is Roundup. It’s the active ingredient of Roundup. Almost all of our grains in the United States are sprayed with Roundup. They don’t have to be genetically modified. They are normal grains, and they’re sprayed before harvesting. 

A leaky gut is our body's silent alarm. It sets our white blood cells on high alert for internal inflammation. Click To Tweet

Roundup is good at killing off the microbiome in us, and it is good at producing leaky guts as well, just by itself. I have a lot of patients who can reverse their leaky gut by taking away these foods initially. They’ll go over to France or Italy, eat a croissant or a baguette, have the pasta and the pizza, and just react. 

It’s just a different quality. 

They go, “Wow, you know they’ve cured me.” Yeah, there’s no Roundup over there. Then they come back, and they start eating our stuff. All of a sudden, you’ve got brain fog, or their psoriasis pops out on their elbow, and they go, “What the heck, I thought I was cured.” Well, no, you’ve re-exposed to Roundup. 

Some tricks can be done. For instance, quinoa and buckwheat can be pressure-cooked. It makes it perfectly safe. 

Let’s talk about that pressure cooking. Tell me more.

There are lots of alternative pasta. For instance, you can have sorghum pasta. You can have millet pasta. Sorghum and millet don’t have any lectins in them, and they don’t have any hull. It’s really easy to find this stuff in many grocery stores now. 

I wrote a whole cookbook using an instant pot for mothers like yourself in The Plant Paradox Family Cookbook

Oh, I didn’t know about that book. Good to know. 

It was written for you. 

Give your gut a break. Decrease your eating time for a healthier gut. Click To Tweet

Thank you for writing a book for me. 

You want to take care of your family. You want to be able to take care of yourself. You’re busy. Instapot is a great way to detoxify. 

I have had an Instapot for the last four years, and it just sits there, so maybe it’s time to use it.

Now, the other thing you can do, a lot of people say, “Ah, it’s too much trouble.” For instance, beans are also mischievous for most people. But if you pressure cook beans or traditionally ferment them how they used to be, they’re safe. There are a couple of companies that pressure cook their beans. 

That’s good to know. 

Eden brand does it, and another company out of Italy called Jovial, like a happy person, also makes pressure-cooked beans. I have a whole shelf of these things in our pantry, and you don’t need an Instapot. You open the can or the glass jar of beans and are ready to go. 

People say, “Dr. Gundry hates beans.” No, you just have to know how to diffuse them and make them acceptable. You have to know which plants don’t like you and which plants like you. If they don’t like you, know how to detoxify them. Those tricks I talk about in my books, including the new one, Gut Check

Yes, Gut Check. You talked about the wheat in Italy and France, which does not have glyphosates but has lectin in it. What about organic?

Part of the problem shown by consumer reports and environmental groups is that many of our organic products still contain glyphosate.

Part of the problem shown by consumer reports and the environmental working group is that many of our organic products, like organic oats, still have glyphosate. That’s because, unfortunately, Roundup is sprayed, and it drifts.

Yeah, it can just blow in the wind.

That’s exactly right. In fact, I have an old winemaker in Santa Barbara County who has biodynamic wine that’s one step beyond organic. He’s got this one vineyard on his map that he doesn’t certify as organic or biodynamic. 

I go, “Why?” He says, “Well, it’s right at the corner of our property. My neighbor sprays his field with glyphosate for weed control, and it drifts. I can’t certify it, and number one, I sell off these grapes because I won’t use them, but I can’t stop him.” It’s a really good example. This stuff just drifts. 

It’s really difficult. In my personal life, I eat organic and grass-fed food and buy from local farms. I’m doing my best, and I still sometimes really enjoy eating outside, in restaurants, going to friends’ homes, and eating what they are serving me. How do you navigate that?

Long ago, our gut microbiome was good at breaking down these substances, these plant compounds that didn’t like us. For instance, there are bacteria that eat gluten. Some bacteria eat oxalates, which are a big deal now. But we used to have bacteria that would eat these.

In fact, in Gut Check, I talk about super old people who have bacteria that eat what are called xenobiotics, plastics, and things like that, and these endocrine disruptors. 

Can I just insert that bacteria into my gut? Can I just have a bacteria capsule?

You not only have to know which bacteria are the good and bad guys, but part of a gut check is that it’s not that simple—I wish it were. You have to have messages from other bacteria and products that other bacteria make so that the good guys have other things to eat to allow them to thrive. 

The expression is that it takes a village. Sadly, you can’t just swallow. “Oh, I want a bacteria that’ll eat oxalate.” So I’ll find that bacteria, swallow it as a capsule, and be fine. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. 

Part of Gut Check is we have to have these incredible, teeming tropical rainforests of all these different species of bacteria, like all the species in a tropical rainforest, that interact and intermingle and depend on each other. If we don’t have that, just swallowing one probiotic or prebiotic fiber that bacteria might want to eat doesn’t make much difference. That’s what researchers like me find out almost every day, “Oops, it takes more than just swallowing one or two different bugs.”

Gut Check by Dr. Steven R. Gundry

I joke that one of my offices is in Palm Springs, which is in the desert. I could sell my patient’s grass seed, for instance. They’d come back in two months and say, “You sold me bad grass seed.” I said, “What do you mean?” They said, “Well, I sprinkled it on the desert, and it didn’t grow.” I go, “Well, did you water it?” “No, you didn’t tell me to.” “Well, did you fertilize it?” “No, you didn’t tell me to.” I said, “Well, why would it grow?” 

The same thing happens. We’re beginning to realize it’s one thing to swallow probiotics-friendly bacteria. It’s one thing to swallow prebiotic fiber, which friendly bacteria like to eat, but it takes far more than that. You have to send them messages, and you have to get this tropical rainforest that, unfortunately, we’ve killed off through the processes I talk about in the book. 

That’s why it takes so long to seal a leaky gut and establish this community. Living in California, we live through wildfires, and the forest burns down. Now, even if we plant little seedlings, it’ll take 20 years to reestablish that forest. 

We’ve been very naive in that we constantly burn down our tropical rainforest through the foods we eat and the antibiotics that we take or the antibiotics that have been fed to our animals. We’ve been naive about rebuilding that tropical rainforest by swallowing a probiotic capsule. 

I think I self-diagnosed myself with a leaky gut about two years ago. It was after we traveled a lot. My diet was horrible. I had gluten, and I came back to the States with my goodness. I remember that evening on the floor where my gut was hurting so much I was crying. 

My tummy was in so much pain. What helped me was drinking celery juice every morning. What do you think about that one? I tried spore biotics, and it made it worse. It made it so much worse.

Well, I’m glad you brought that up. Remember, with a leaky gut, you have gaps, and your bacteria are supposed to stay in their space. But if you have a leaky gut, if you have gaps, then even friendly bacteria can cross, and your immune system goes to wait a minute. That’s bacteria. I hate bacteria. They’re supposed to be over there, and I’m going to cause inflammation. I’m going to make all this area red and raw. You’re right. Just the idea of let’s swallow some good bacteria. If you have a leaky gut, it can backfire. 

When your gut's barrier is breached, even friendly bacteria can become invaders and trigger an immune response that disrupts your inner harmony. Click To Tweet

Yes, it did. What caused it was that I love kimchi. I can still eat it, but I got some kimchi from Whole Foods. I ate it, and that day it started. My gut biome was already not very harmonious, and adding that kimchi fermented bacteria, which is a great bacteria to all that, made chaos with all the good intentions of that good bacteria. 

Well, exactly. A lot of times, I talk about this in the book. Even bad bacteria have a place in our microbiome. I like to use the example of Yellowstone Park, where wolves were eradicated several years ago. They were shot and killed because wolves are bad, remember?

Once this evil, nasty predator was gone, the elk overgrew. They ate all the saplings. There were no saplings for the beavers to use to build beaver dams. These little pools where other animals fed and ate were gone, and the whole ecosystem fell apart.

Everything collapsed, yes. 

Everything collapsed because this bad wolf was removed. So they put the wolves back in, and lo and behold, it took 20 years, but now the ecosystem is back to normal. 

Yeah, I’ve never been to Yellowstone Park. I want to go. 

You got to go. It’s one of our great national treasures, worth the trip.

What helped me was celery juice. What do you think about celery juice? And why did it help me so much?

Eating celery is much better for you than juicing it.

I’m not a big fan of celery juice, only because there’s a condition called celery picker’s disease. Celery has a compound called psoralens that can damage the lining of your hands. They get burns on their hands, so I’m not a big fan of celery juice. But it is a way of having some prebiotic fiber; perhaps that was the benefit you were getting from celery. Most of the time, eating celery is much better for you than juicing celery, which goes for most. 

I wasn’t getting the fiber because I was juicing, so it was in the celery juice. 

There is still fiber in celery juice, but not as much as if you eat the entire celery stalk. 

Okay. What are your thoughts about the carnivore diet? What diets do you recommend the most? What should we eat? 

I recommend the Plant Paradox Diet or the Gut Check Diet. The carnivore diet is an elimination diet. Some people have accused me of being the father of the carnivore diet because the carnivore diet eliminates all plant compounds. 

People don’t realize that there are a lot of plant compounds that are good for us. But certain plant compounds are mischievous that we shouldn’t be eating, or we should at least tame or detoxify them.

We will use an elimination diet on some of my real troublemakers. One of the things I’ve seen in people who stay on a carnivore diet is they may feel well, but we start seeing inflammatory markers in their blood start going up, and they’re markers that most physicians don’t measure—their inflammatory cytokines, like TNF-α, IL-6, and IL-16. Even though people say they feel well, we begin to see these inflammatory markers start going up. 

Value your sleep. It’s essential to have downtime to repair your body’s systems.

To me, it makes a lot of sense because of this inflammation. Our gut microbiome needs certain plant compounds to make short-chain fatty acids like butyrate, acetate, and propionate to tell our immune system that they’re pretty happy and that things are going down in the gut. If our immune system doesn’t receive these messages, they start walking around with an AK-47 and getting ready to shoot anything that looks hot.

What are your favorite fruits and veggies, and which will you never touch? 

Well, the nightshade family of vegetables has to be detoxified. Nightshade family are white potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and, believe it or not, goji berries, so you can detoxify them by peeling and deseeding them for the most part, and that’s what I recommend with my patients. 

I continually stress that long ago, we only had access to fruit once a year, usually during the summer and early fall. We inherited a genetic mutation from great apes that allows us to take fructose, the sugar in fruit, and convert it into fat and a compound called uric acid

That allowed great apes to outcompete other monkeys when climate change happened long ago, and they could grow fat for the winter by eating seasonal fruit. We used to be able to store fat for the winter by eating seasonal fruit. 

The End of Alzheimer’s by Dale Bredesen

However, we have fruit available 365 days a year, and our fruit has been hybridized and modified for increased sugar content. Even the names give it away. I was just in the market yesterday, and there were cotton candy grapes. There are ambrosia apples, honey crisps, and even organic blueberries the size of grapes. 

You have to be cautious with telling people how good fruit is because fruit has changed. I have nothing against fruit in season, but it’s not 365 days a year of fruit season. I’m sorry. Human studies show that giving them a lot of daily fruit makes for fatty liver, insulin resistance, elevated insulin, and metabolic syndrome. If you take the fruit away from them, these things resolve. Fruit is called nature’s candy for a reason.

Do you eat fruit in moderation? 

Well, only in season. For instance, I have some blackberry bushes in my yard. They only have blackberries maybe six weeks out of the year. I don’t buy blackberries at the store right now because they’re not in season. 

I have a tangerine tree in my yard, and it’s the season. I will have a tangerine, and they’re little. That’s okay. But for instance, believe it or not, in Southern California, down the street from me in Oxnard, they have strawberries in January. These are great, big, almost white, and sweet. And you go, “What the heck? Strawberries can’t grow in January.” 

Strawberries had a season in the summer. You looked forward to it. Now, you can have strawberries in January. Well, that’s not normal, and we have to realize that’s not normal.

It definitely makes sense. I want to do a lightning round with you where I will mention the names of foods and get your quick thoughts on them. 

MCT oil

I love MCT oil. It’s one great way to make ketones without worrying about a ketogenic diet.


Sugar is poison.

Sugar is poison. Almost all of our foods have hidden sugar, and I spend my time going through labels for my patients to show them where the sugar is hiding. 

Collagen powder.

Absolute waste of your money. 

Oh, really? Why? 

A couple of reasons. There’s no direction for your body. First, you must break down the collagen into individual amino acids that you can absorb. There are no instructions on the other side of your intestine that you just ate collagen, so you ought to reassemble those amino acids back into collagen. Sorry, it doesn’t work that way.

Collagen powder has many amino acids that are not very useful if you want to age properly. I like people to get the amino acids from plants and then use vitamin C to make collagen out of these compounds rather than eating dead animals.


A multivitamin is a decent start, but it’s not the end all. I would much rather have people spend their money on vitamin D and timed-release vitamin C. Almost every human being I see with a leaky gut has a low vitamin D level. The University of California, San Diego, a big vitamin D research center, says the average American should take 9600 international units of vitamin D3 daily, and I completely agree. 

Collagen powder contains amino acids that detrimentally impact the aging process. Derive amino acids directly from plants and combine with vitamin C to create pure collagen rather than extracting collagen from dead animals.


Yeah, I take 10,000 international units a day. That’s what I start all my patients with. 

Do you combine it with K2?

I like K2 a lot. You only need about 100 micrograms of K2, but vitamin D, even at 10,000, you don’t necessarily need K2. 

What type of vitamins do you think everybody should take? As a generalization, everybody needs to do their own blood tests and all that. 

Half the people in the world have one or two mutations of the MTHFR genes, and they’re unable to make methyl B12 and methyl folate properly, so most people should be taking methyl B12 and methyl folate under their tongue. Most people should take timed-release vitamin C. We’re one of the few animals. 

I’m sorry, but is a timed release called time-release vitamin C?

No, it’s a timed release. You can get it either in capsules or tablets. It’s called timed release. There are a number of companies that manufacture it. When you swallow vitamin C, it’s a water-soluble vitamin. We excrete it after about four hours, and it’s gone. You have to keep topping off. Vitamin C is essential for the health of our blood vessels and the health of our skin. 

Vitamin C knits collagen together. The wrinkles you see in smokers are because they deplete their vitamin C by binding with oxidative stress molecules. It’s those wrinkles because they have no vitamin C to put their collagen back together. 

What are the best vitamins for kids?

It’s the same way with kids. Most kids who I see with autoimmune diseases—and I see a lot of them—have very low vitamin D levels. If you’re just going to make one change in your kids, give them vitamin D. Please don’t give them gummies because they’re just sugar. A few gummies on the market are not sugar-based, but they’re few and far between. 

My little one is loving his gummies.

Of course, he does. It’s sugar.

We shouldn’t be eating certain mischievous plant compounds. We need to learn how to avoid or detoxify their effects.

No more gummies. He’s like, “Mom, I think this one, we need two of those. You can’t just have one. You need two of those.” He’s so convincing. He’s such a good little salesperson. 

Of course. Remember, all of us are sugar addicts. I remember a rat will press a bar for sugar, and he’ll press a bar for more sugar than he’ll press a bar for cocaine. It’s that good a drug, and we forget that. 

It’s perfect. 

Your kid is telling you what really good stuff. 

So good. What do you think about medicinal mushrooms like reishi, chaga, and all those? 

Mushrooms are great prebiotic fiber for gut bacteria. All of these benefits attributed to mushrooms are because they foster a much more diverse microbiome. That microbiome tells your immune system that things are pretty happy in your gut. 

I’m a big fan of mushrooms, mushroom powders, mushroom capsules, and eating mushrooms. But I warn people not to eat the white button mushrooms unless you cook them because they have a rather mischievous compound. The cremini and the brown mushrooms are perfectly fine. 

Cook the white mushrooms.

The Plant Paradox Family Cookbook by Dr. Steven R. Gundry

Yeah, cook the white mushrooms, and you’ll be fine.

Good to know. Which Ayurvedic herb is your favorite?

It’s too many to count. I like Ashwagandha a lot. There’s also one of my favorites, magnolia bark extract. Those are two of my favorite ones. You’ll find magnolia bark extract in a pot. It’s called Relora

Relora, okay. I like Maca, too. I think it’s really good. 

I wish I had more time with you, but I want to respect your time. Before we say goodbye, what are your three top tips for living a stellar life?

Well, first of all, you have to get a dog. Dogs do wonderful things. They make you go outside twice a day, whether you want to or not. We know that people who own dogs or outside cats have a much more diverse rich microbiome than people who don’t. A rich, diverse microbiome is an important part of a successful life, so get a dog. Get a rescue dog. We have four dogs. Two of them are rescues, and you’ll do them a favor. They’ll do you a favor. It’s a win-win. 

Yeah, we have this outdoor cat that comes to visit us. His name is Toby. 

Yeah, an outdoor cat’s great. I used to have an outdoor cat in medical school. It was rather impossible to have a dog in medical school. Outdoor cats do the same thing, bringing in all of these wonderful bacteria and fungi from their traipsing around into you. Let your cat and dog kiss you, lick you, and inoculate you. It’s a really good thing. 

As you’ve learned already, The other thing I must tell any mother with a four-year-old is to value your sleep above almost everything. We have to have downtime to repair our bodily systems, not just our brains. 

I’ve written about that in the last three books and this book. You have to have downtime to repair your brain and the wall of your gut. 

One of the things that we forget is that we should not be constantly eating while we’re awake. Our gut actually needs time not to work. Digesting food and absorbing food is very hard on our gut wall. The more time we spend not eating, the better off we will be. 

This has been shown in human studies. It’s been shown in Rhesus monkey studies. It’s been shown in rat studies. That downtime of not eating is an incredible life and health span. Just don’t eat 16 hours a day like most Americans. 

Gut health isn't a simple battle of good versus bad bacteria. Every microbe needs its own role and support to thrive. Click To Tweet

Where can people find you, get your books, and maybe see you in person? 

I still see patients six days a week. I have offices in Palm Springs and Santa Barbara, where I am today. You can go to drgundry.com. You can go to gundrymd.com, my supplement and food company. 

I’ve got the Dr. Gundry podcast, so wherever you get your podcasts. I’m on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram. Hopefully, while you’re scrolling through the Internet, I will wave at you if I’m doing everything right.

The current book, Gut Check, just came out. Wherever books are sold, preferably go to your local bookstore. 


Thanks a lot. Go to your local bookstore, but you can go to Barnes and Noble

Yes, Dr. Gundry, this was a pleasure. Thank you so much. I learned a lot. I’m sure everybody else did, and I really appreciate your time. Thank you so much for being with us. 

Well, thanks for having me, Orion. Take care of your four-year-old and get some sleep. 

Well, I’ll do my best. And thank you, listeners. Remember to get a dog or a cat, value your sleep so you can repair your brain and your gut, give your gut a rest, and have a stellar life. This is Orion, till next time.

Your Checklist of Actions to Take

{✓}Pay attention to how your body reacts to different foods and adjust your diet accordingly. Avoid gluten and prioritize whole, unprocessed foods over packaged and processed options. 

{✓}Opt for organic and locally sourced foods whenever possible. This helps to minimize your exposure to harmful chemicals. Completely cut out wheat, rye, barley, and oats from your diet.

{✓}Seek professional guidance. Consult healthcare professionals or nutritionists for personalized advice and support on gut health management.

{✓}Avoid or detoxify nightshade vegetables such as white potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and goji berries to reduce your inflammation.

{✓}Enjoy fruit in moderation, preferably in season, as modern varieties are often hybridized for increased sugar content. Sugar can lead to issues like fatty liver and insulin resistance.

{✓}Consider the Plant Paradox Diet or Gut Check Diet. These diets emphasize eliminating or detoxifying harmful plant compounds while incorporating gut-friendly foods.

{✓}Consider vitamin D and timed-release vitamin C supplements to support your overall health, especially if you have a leaky gut or autoimmune issues. 

{✓}Prioritize quality sleep for overall health and gut repair. Aim for downtime to allow your body to repair its systems, including the gut wall.

{✓}Allow your gut time to rest and recover. Practice intermittent fasting and avoid eating constantly throughout your day.

{✓}Explore Dr. Gundry’s website, podcast, and social media channels, for more information on gut health.  

Links and Resources

Connect with Dr. Steven Gundry


YouTube Videos


Further Resources

About Dr. Steven Gundry

Dr. Steven Gundry is one of the world’s top cardiothoracic surgeons and a pioneer in nutrition. He hosts a top-rated health show, The Dr. Gundry Podcast. He is the founder and director of The International Heart and Lung Institute Center for Restorative Medicine and Gundry MD, a line of wellness products and supplements.

After a distinguished surgical career as a professor and chairman of cardiothoracic surgery at Loma Linda University, Dr. Gundry changed his focus to curing modern diseases via dietary changes. He is the author of New York Times bestsellers The Plant Paradox, The Plant Paradox Cookbook, The Plant Paradox Quick & Easy, and The Longevity Paradox, along with national bestsellers The Plant Paradox Family Cookbook, The Energy Paradox, Dr. Gundry’s Diet Evolution, and Unlocking the Keto Code, and has more than 300 articles published in peer-reviewed journals on using diet and supplements to eliminate heart disease, diabetes, autoimmune disease, and multiple other diseases. His latest book is Gut Check: Unleash the Power of Your Microbiome to Reverse Disease and Transform Your Mental, Physical, and Emotional Health.

Disclaimer: The medical, fitness, psychological, mindset, lifestyle, and nutritional information provided on this website and through any materials, downloads, videos, webinars, podcasts, or emails are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical/fitness/nutritional advice, diagnoses, or treatment. Always seek the help of your physician, psychologist, psychiatrist, therapist, certified trainer, or dietitian with any questions regarding starting any new programs or treatments or stopping any current programs or treatments. This website is for information purposes only, and the creators and editors, including Orion Talmay, accept no liability for any injury or illness arising out of the use of the material contained herein, and make no warranty, express or implied, with respect to the contents of this website and affiliated materials.

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