What should we blame? Gluten or lectins?
How is it possible that a cardiac surgeon, a doctor of medicine who has carried out thousands of operations and developed life-saving medical technology, after 40 years of cardiological practice, quit an operating room? Is it possible to exchange operations on patients' hearts for dietary advice? Scandal or discovery? What does gluten have to do with all this, and more precisely lectins in plants? I invite you to an interview with Dr. Steven R. Gundry, MD, author of the book "Plant Paradox."
"Over the last half century, we have stopped using many proven methods of eating and preparing food, replacing them with fastfood and highly processed products, meals reheated in microwaves and many others. The composition of our diet has also changed significantly. Most processed food contains lots of corn, soy and wheat. The intake of lectin is now higher than ever before, but this is not the end. In the already mentioned period of the last five centuries there has also been a disorganization of our internal system of information exchange, digestive system and intestinal microflora due to the invasion of herbicides, biocides, medicines, fertilizers, food additives, cosmetics and a lot of other chemicals. This overload of the body with chemicals weakened its ability to deal with cereals, legumes and other plants containing lectins." - says Dr. Steven R. Gundry in his book "Plant Paradox "- debuting on the Polish market.
Żaneta Geltz: Who is Big Ed?
Dr. Steven R. Gundry: I was a chairman of cardio surgery department in one of the biggest university hospital in United States, and definitely I believed in what I was doing for the last 40 years of my work. Seventeen years ago I was introduced to a man called „Big Ed”, aged 48. He was diagnosed with inoperable heart disease, where all vessels conducting the blood to his heart were so much blocked that nobody could put by-passes, because there was no space for anything. People like him are travelling our country and trying to find the surgeon who will undertake a heart operation, and I am one of those who would do that. He spent 6 months looking for all over the country to find the medical center to take him on and operate, and everybody turned him down. He showed me angiogram of his heart how it was moving, and when I saw the results, I said to him that I have to agree with everybody else before, even though it was very disappointing for him.
When I said to him that there was nothing that could be done for him, he’d told be about his diet, he went on 6 months ago and lost 45 pounds. And he still weighed - when I saw him - 262 pounds, which is way over 100 kilos. He said that he admitted a lot of supplements from his health store in the meantime, so may be it did also something to my heart? I answered that it might be good for his that he lost this weight, but this will not change anything in case of his heart, and what he might achieve is a very expensive urine! So, basically, I suggested that apart from his weight, he lost also a lot of money! And he persisted on checking him on angiogram, to make another movie of his heart work. And we did it. And you know what appeared on the screen? In these 6 months, Big Ed cleaned up all his blood vessels! I have never seen something like this before. But by that time, the “Surgeon in me” told him, “Look, now there are still some blockages in your vessels, but now there is some space in them to put some by-passes.” And actually, I had operated on him next day, we had put by-passes on 5 of his vessels. But I knew what I know now, that’s the last thing, I would have done. Instead, I would have said “Keep on doing what you are doing, it works very well, so you never have to visit me.”
Because I am a researcher, I asked him to tell me about his diet. Luckily, in the 60-ties, when I graduated University of Yale, I was defending my thesis and it concerned ancient men diet and how it influenced a human health. But actually, when it was done, I gave this back to my parents and forgot about that. And when Big Ed was telling about the way he was designing his meals I said “Oh my gosh, it sounds like my thesis about ancient people diet!” After this visit I called my parents to ask if they still had my thesis, and asked them to send it up to me! And why it was interesting for me by that time, it was because I was a fat guy and I wanted to lose wait, actually. I had 70 more pounds that I weigh today! Even though I was running 30 miles per week, meaning more that 1h sport everyday, and I was eating healthy, pretty much vegetarian diet, I could not figure out what I was doing wrong! The other detail, I started to look at, was the supplements he was taking, because I myself used some protective chemicals for hearts of my patients being operated to keep the heart in a good shape. And some of the supplements he was taking, where actually substances that I was injecting to my patients to protect them, but it never came to my mind to swallow them! So, I experimented on myself and had put myself on a program, and took these supplements for some time.
I myself lost 50 pounds only in the first year of the diet. And when I went on, I lost another 20 pounds, so I kept it like that for 17 years now. So, people around me noticed what I was doing, my staff started doing the same, and all started to send our blood to the University of California, and a very good lab started to look at our results. And what they observed that cholesterol has dropped, inflammation has dropped, diabetes went away, high blood pressure ran away.
ŻG: So, what were the supplements?
SRG: Well, it varies from person to person. The rule was, that they were based on polyphenols, plant compound, primarily in dark fruits, dark vegetables. So, we turned people to healthy food stores to purchase these things, so people ate a lot of dark and green vegetables leaving my clinic. I was teaching patients how to eat after I made surgery on them until the day, when I realized that it is stupid to do the heart surgery if we could teach the patients how to eat to keep them away from heart operation.
ŻG: What have you done in these circumstances?
SRG: I resigned from my position and established my own institute in Palm Springs, even though I enjoyed this work very much, and I actually was a very famous surgeon.
I asked people to let me do the blood test every 3 months, government was paying for the program. People we taking a given list of supplements, and being tested. Over the years I have published a lot of articles about the research I made, showing effectiveness of what I was doing, what results it gives in the bodies of humans. So, this resulted in publishing my first book 10 years ago, which was “Dr. Gundry’s Diet Evolution” which is still on the TOP 100 best selling books on Amazon. After that book appeared, I had a lot of patients with autoimmune diseases, who showed up in my clinic.
I have a good knowledge about immune system, due to heart transplantations and research on how to avoid organ rejection. So, I knew a lot about what immune system is looking for and how it reacts. So, when I had these patients determined to participate in this play, I said “Let’s play”. We started with a few people by that time, but now it is half of our practices in the institute. I was observing very sophisticated markers of immune system activations, so I started to ask the patients to stop eating so called “seven deadly disrupters” in order to try to reverse autoimmune diseases (like lupus, MS, thyroid disease, Crohne disease, etc). 90% of patients were successful in getting out from their autoimmune disease! Curing them took basically 6 months.
ŻG: So, what was it they resigned from?
SRG: Certain foods like vegetables “Roundup-treated”, also certain foodies containing compounds called “lectines”. Defining the foods resulted in the second book called “Plant paradox”. Lectines are used by the plants as their “defense weapon” to communicate to animals that they don’t want to be eaten. Plants have their own life, they are subject to such an evolutionary stuff like animals are, they want to grow, produce seeds and these seeds grow and want to have more babies. The plants have no possibility to run, to fight against animals, because they cannot move, but they are perfect chemists, with a huge experience. So, what we have is a spectacular, biochemical warfare against their predators. I just presented in my book how this plant paradox works, so it got a lot of people’s attention. I explained the guts, how it works, and our microbiome and all bacteria, how it is connected to what we eat. That some back fruits bacteria they eat gluten, they actually enjoy gluten – just an example.
ŻG: I also dropped some foods myself, along running interviews within my magazine and got rid of 18 kg within 4 months, and my husband lost 25 kg, as a side effect of our food change. It was after my first detox session. So, I fully understand the effect! But it is not only a question of kinds of food, but also of place of origin, and whether the plants were treated with glyphosate, right?
SRG: With glyphosate it is weird, because when it was discovered, it was taken as a miracle substance, because you could spray your field with Roundup (containing glyphosate) and for example soya bean survived and all weeds were killed. So, it was a fantastic thing. And we were all assured by Monsanto that glyphosate is completely safe for us, to humans, because it is designed only to block a pathway of sugar making process, so it worked only on certain types of plants. By blocking it, the selected plants could not develop and grow. What we didn’t know is that bacteria are using the same pathway and they are being affected by glyphosate, too. So, not only in the soil, but also in our guts bacteria were influenced because we started to eat it along with vegetables sprayed with glyphosate, like soya beans. The second aspect we did not realize is that animals fed with soya beans treated with Roundup cause the meat we eat also contain glyphosate. We started to absorb the glyphosate along with the meat, as we eat those animals. It is a hard way, we learnt in the USA that almost all our food, including most of wine, we produce contain glyphosate in it. So, actually almost all Americans have glyphosate in us, because all the fields are sprayed with “weed protection” on a massive scale.
There are even agencies to state that glyphosate is cancerogenic, and we all know about it. You probably know, because in Europe it is more or less the same, the governments are getting a large amount of money as a contribution from companies like Monsanto, so the decision-making process is not based on ethical aspects, but on what companies pay you to do. And I can give you a quote which I found this morning, presenting the situation before times, when it was obvious how to “buy influence” and it goes: “I it difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”
ŻG: It looks like we are all caught in a trap?
SRG: Yes, this is why I gave up surgery. When you start understanding that you can’t fix the problem with the heart surgery, and realize that your economic situation depends on surgeries, meaning on number of patients, it is really difficult to take that notion. So, you can imagine that if politicians go against the forces that are paying their salaries, it is easy to understand why it is like that. Is it ethically wrong? In my opinion: yes. But it shows how the core of the chemical-related business affects our daily lives.
ŻG: I think it is not only a question of politicians, but also consumers. They prefer not to believe that this might be the case. Consumers who vote with their wallet choose a more convenient pathway and prefer to trust that “somebody will take care of it”. Even, if they see the proof on the table, they reject that something that big might be taking place. So, we are all responsible, don’t you think?
SRG: It’s true. We are bombarded with commercials that we should choose some food, eat certain products, that the food is good for us. In the USA, we have cereal called Kellogg’s Froot Loops, I am not sure you have any equivalent in Poland, that Heart Association in America puts on the cereal pack their approval, because it is low fat! But it contains a lot of sugar, preservatives, basically kids eat a bowl of sugar. So, why would the American Heart Association lie to me that it is good for my child, so when we go to the store, inspired by advertising, and ensured by the authorities on the packaging, we buy the products.
ŻG: What can we do about that?
SRG: Well, as the song says “the man hears what he wants to hear, disregards the rest” and you might put a nail on somebody’s head and this is ignored, because it falls on deaf ears. One thing, which probably you also noticed, that it is very difficult for an average person, both physically and economically, to begin to eat the way, as we were designed to eat. It is just easy to eat massively produced products, it is simply easier! One of the things that struck me is that in the United States over 75% of all C4 carbon molecules that are in humans come from corn! Whereas in Europe only 5% of C4 molecules come from corn. And we have to know that the French ban on corn in 1900 as it is not right for human consumption and should be used only for pigs, and they are probably right. I was always interested in France, because corn is never on their menu, they don’t have it. And Americans eat mainly corn, and we are not supposed to be made of corn!
ŻG: Would you share with our readers one day of what you eat? What’s on your menu?
SRG: In March, it is actually Winter, even in Southern California, and what I usually do in Winter is very odd, but there is a method in my madness, during a week, I don’t eat breakfasts, I don’t eat lunch, and I consume all my daily portion of energy between 6 and 8 pm. So, for 6 months of the year, for weekdays for 20 hours minimum, I fast, eating nothing. During a weekend, I have two meals, but still I don’t have breakfast.
So, my typical dinner is from my wife and I, is a very large mixture of salad made of greens, with two avocado slices, artichoke hearts, olives, literally a cup of olive oil and different vinegrette sauce every night, with some herbs. We change the green base, often we choose rucola, Romanian lettuce, we try to use a lot of chicory greens as a base, as they have a precious compound called inulin (a carbohydrate fiber known as an oligosaccharide), which is eagerly eaten by our gut bacteria and this supports our immune system. We eat a lot of foods containing inulin. We eat tubers, yams, nuts. I love nuts, I eat half of the cup every day, walnuts, pistachios, macadamia nuts, hazel nuts are perfect as well, probably more often consumed in Europe than in the United States.
ŻG: What about almonds?
SRG: Almonds? They are also interesting. The peel of almond contains lectines and it is not easy for our digestion, actually I have some patients reacting to almond peel. Lectines are inhibiting enzyme production, and making it difficult for us to digest the almonds. Our grandmas actually knew what they were doing, leaving almonds to soak in water over night, to eat almonds without the skin, and the same goes for tomatoes, and red pepper. You won’t find Italian jar with red peppers with a peel on it. We should listen to our grandmothers what they say, because they are actually right!
Interestingly enough, the animals were learning what to eat and what not to eat by walking around with their parents and the same goes for humans. It was natural in our history that children followed their parents and listened to instructions like “Eat this one”, or “Don’t eat that!”, and all this trial and error method – it has all been lost. Now we have these giant corporations telling us what to eat, and what is not good for eating. Which is also one of the big reasons, why we are so sick and our sickness is very good for developing business and for doctors. I notice a growing number of diabetic patients, who get diabetic counseling from diabetic educators, and they are told to choose low fat grains (it is pure sugar!) and when I say to them “Stop doing this” they say “Wait a minute, my diabetic advisor in the education center told me to do so!”. Of course, as long as there are many diabetic patients, they have a job! But if they teach you how not to eat to stop being diabetic, they will lose their jobs, because there is no need for them! This is exactly, I myself try to put myself out of earning money. It is really stupid to get yourself out of business?!
"There is also another reason why people mistakenly think that their problem of eating bread and other bread is due to gluten sensitivity. After 1950, industrial manufacturers in the United States replaced yeast with another raising agent - transglutaminase, which also acts as a binder. When I eat bread baked in the United States, I feel bloated, but when I am in Europe and eat white bread baked on yeast, it is mostly white, not whole meal bread. It contains gluten decomposed by yeast, but not WGA. Would you be surprised if I told you that sourdough bread - resulting from the fermentation of grain due to the activity of bacteria and yeasts - is constantly considered one of the safest and least harmful loaves in the context of sudden spikes in blood sugar levels? Bacteria and yeast "eat" lectins and a lot of sugars! And here is the problem: for most baked "gluten-free" products, a transglutaminase is added to make them more plump and attractive [...] - it has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, so there is no obligation to put it on the list of ingredients." - fragment of the book of Dr. Steven R. Gundry
"If the expiration date of industrially produced bread is not identical to the date of production, then this product certainly contains BHT or similar deadly preservative. There are many reasons to avoid it - including fact that it is a strong modulator of endocrine processes, acting similarly to estrogen. This is also the last thing that our children should eat, because estrogen promotes fat deposition and accelerates the maturation of girls and causes boys to develop breasts. If you need further incentives to avoid this preservative, then know that BHT - among many other industrial applications - is part of the embalming fluid. " - fragment of the book of Dr. Steven R. Gundry
Most of people struggling with a variety of health problems think that certain food or supplements have anti-inflammatory effects, i.e. they alleviate inflammation. However, I was looking for a cause of inflammation, the removal of which, if Hippocrates was right (and had), would completely eliminate it. - Dr. Steven R. Gundry tries to explain in his book that our body is able to cure itself without the need to apply anti-inflammatory agents.
He discovered within patients with vitiligo - a known disease of immunological origin - that in melanocytes there was inflammation, since the immune system attacked them identically as lectins. Removal of lectins from the diet, completely eliminated the problem of vitiligo within a few months.
ŻG: So, what is the message you are trying to get to people through your book?
SRG: I start my book by saying “most of the things you are going to read in this book, you are not going to believe!”. At least I would not believe it, if I was reading it 17 years ago, I would throw this book to the trash!
My potential reader is practically, everybody, as it appears. Patients who visit my institute suffer for example from:
- allergies, asthma
- headaches, joints aching
- eczema, acne, psoriasis
- depression, dementia
- cardiovascular diseases
- autoimmunological diseases
- cancer and 50 other diseases
My book has become one of the most popular books in the United States last year, I was in the New York Times Best Selling Books for 14 weeks, it is still for the last 10 months now in the list of Top 50 books on Amazon. So, it looks like it has caught people’s interest, maybe because everybody knows that there is something wrong. We feel, we know that it is not normal that we are all so ill, so tired as we are. When I was growing up, sicknesses like dementia, Alzheimer’s diseases, basically didn’t exist. There were no cancer departments in children hospitals, and now we have big wings in the buildings with children sick with cancer! There is a big “WHY?”! In the USA there is Alzheimer’s Nursery home in every block of the street, full of people! And it all occurred in the last 50 years! We all see that something is terribly wrong, but no one can put a hand on it, even one finger!
The change will never come from the top-down. The change belongs to people, who make decisions about food they buy everyday. It can start from people like you, who question things and can start the trend from bottom-up.
ŻG: Let me show you our “Happy Evolution 10 steps formula” which we are sharing during events where we are invited and we do speeches in public. I made the drawings presenting alkalizing the body, feeding with organic food, resigning from TV for the sake of some body movement, breastfeeding as an allergy prevention practice, minimalism in shopping, mindfulness and ethics towards yourself and the world around. What would you say to this?
SRG: Yes, this is it, actually it is quite sweet. I think you got the point!
ŻG: Thank you very much for this fascinating interview, and I hope to see you in Europe to be able to present your viewpoint to a wider audience. Would you be interested?
SRG: Yes, why not? I actually love Europe, I have some ancestors in Poland and Germany, and my wife speaks fluent French, so we will come here with pleasure!
Steven R. Gundry, MD
Castle Connolly, independent rating agency assessing doctors, for 21 years in a row has included dr Steven R. Gundry in the list of the top doctors in America. For 15 years he was rated as top best doctors by the magazine “Palm Springs Life”, and for 6 years he belonged to the top rated doctors in “Los Angeles Magazine” lists.
Currently 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. Previously, worked in medicine for over 40 years. He did pre-med undergrad studies at Yale University, M.D. from the Medical College of Georgia. Next, practiced his surgical residency at the University of Michigan.
In 1985, he was invited by Loma Linda University School of Medicine to serve as Professor of Surgery and Pediatrics and eventually took the position as Chairman and Head of Cardiothoracic Surgery. Over the following 16 years, proud to say that his colleague Leonard Bailey and himself performed more infant and pediatric heart transplants than anyone else in the world. Operated in more than 30 countries – including charitable missions to China, India, and Zimbabwe.
Dr. Gundry has composed the program to help his patients lose weight and recover from long-standing health disorders. The Plant Paradox offers a full list of high-lectin foods, simple substitutions, a step-by-step detox plan, and delicious lectin-free recipes.
The book The Plant Paradox by Dr. Steven R. Gundry is a very important publication addressed to people who suffer from allergies, joint pain, intestinal dysfunction and overweight, as well as all those who want to take care of their health through diet.
“Certain vegetables and fruits that sustain us alive contain harmful substances. We have ignore this paradox literally for ten thousand years. Gluten is an obvious example of a plant substance that is a problematic ingredient for some people, as evidenced by the latest craze for non-gluten-free food. As you will soon see, gluten is just one of the proteins from the group of lectins and just one of the factors that make up the vegetable paradox - the protein cleverly leads us into the field. [...] Lectins interfere with intercellular communication thanks to, inter alia, the formation of gaps in the intestinal barrier, i.e. in the intestinal walls - this disease is called the leaky intestinal syndrome. [...] Also phytates, often also called anti-nutritious substances that block the absorption of minerals from the diet, are also responsible for weakening and paralyzing herbivores; trypsin inhibitors that inhibit the action of digestive enzymes, disrupting the development of herbivores."
"Lectin is sometimes referred to as << adhesive proteins >> due to their binding process with other substances, because they can interfere with the exchange of information between cells or otherwise trigger inflammatory reactions [...].Example: when lectins bind with sialic acid, the nerve becomes unable to communicate with another nerve. If you have ever experienced a mental fog, that is thanks to the lectin. Lectin also make it easier for viruses and bacteria to connect to selected objects, [...] some people - those more sensitive to lectin - are more exposed to viral and bacterial infections than others. Think about it if you are sick more often than your friends."
“Our ancient ancestors have developed a number of methods to deal with lectins. We, modern people, unfortunately we are not so resolute. We cope differently: when we eat something that does not serve us or even hurts, we find or invent something - eg a drug inhibiting the secretion of gastric acid or ibuprofen, painkiller - so that we can continue to eat substances intended to destroy us, cause us pain or at least weaken it. [...] What's more, with the introduction of antibiotics with a broad spectrum of action and other drugs and a wide range of chemicals, we completely destroyed intestinal bacteria that would otherwise give us the chance to process these lectins and teach the immune system how to deal with them."
“When cows and other animals are fed with cereal or soy feed - and there are plenty of lectins all of them - these proteins penetrate into milk and meat. The same applies to meat and eggs from chickens fed with feed full of lectins. The same applies to farmed seafood, which also feeds on soy and maize."
We strongly recommend to visit the website: www.drgundry.com
The interview was originally published here: