The Plant Paradox: The Hidden Dangers in “Healthy” Foods That Cause Disease and Weight Gain by Steven R. Gundry M.D.
published my first book, Dr. Gundry’s Diet Evolution: Turn Off the Genes That Are Killing You and Your Waistline,
Fruit trees, which bear seeds enclosed in a hull, are one example of the first type of plant seeds. The mother plant relies on animals to eat the seeds before they fall to the ground. The objective is to have their babies wind up some distance away from the mother plant, so that they don’t have to compete with it for sun, moisture, and nutrients.
So, when is the right time for the predator to consume the fruit? Again, the plant uses the color of the fruit to signal to predators that it is ripe, which means that the seed’s hull has hardened—and therefore the sugar content is at its height. Incredibly, the plant has chosen to manufacture fructose, instead of glucose, as the sugar in the fruit. Glucose raises insulin levels in primates and humans, which initially raises levels of leptin, a hunger-blocking hormone—but fructose does not. As a result, the predator never receives the normal message that it is full, which would signal it to stop eating. (Would it surprise you that great apes gain weight only during the time of year when fruit is ripe?)
In this case, green means “stop” and red (and orange and yellow) means “go.” Red, orange, and yellow signal sweetness and desirability to your brain, a concept that food marketers have long known about and employed. Next time you are in the snack food aisle in the supermarket, check out the packaging and signage and you’ll see that both forms of marketing are dominated by these warm colors.
however, now when you buy fruit in North America in December, it was likely grown in Chile or another country in the Southern Hemisphere, picked slightly unripe, and then given a blast of ethylene oxide when it arrived at its destination. The ethylene oxide exposure changes the color to make the fruit appear ripe and ready to eat, but the lectin content remains high because the protective coating of the seed never fully matured and the fruit never got the message from the parent plant to reduce the lectin content. Again, when fruit is allowed to ripen naturally, the parent plant reduces the amount of lectins surrounding the seeds in the fruit and skin and then communicates this information by changing color.
gassing artificially changes the color of the fruit, but the lectin protection system remains in effect. Thanks to the high lectin count, eating fruit picked too early is detrimental to your health.
Instead of a hard casing, the naked seed contains one or more chemicals that weaken predators, paralyze them, or make them ill, so they won’t make the mistake of eating the plant again. These substances include phytates, often referred to as antinutrients, which prevent absorption of minerals in the diet; trypsin inhibitors, which keep digestive enzymes from doing their job, interfering with the predator’s growth; and lectins, which are designed to disrupt cellular communication by, among other things, causing gaps in the intestinal wall barrier, a condition known as leaky gut. Whole grains actually contain all three of these defensive chemicals in the fibrous hull, husk, and bran. (Teaser alert: This is just one reason that the idea of “whole-grain goodness” is a huge misconception, as you’ll learn in chapter 2.)
other plant-predator dissuaders include tannins, which impart a bitter taste, and the alkaloids found in the stems and leaves of the nightshade family. You may already know that nightshades, which include such culinary favorites as tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants, and peppers, are highly inflammatory.
encounter a jalapeño pepper. Did you know that a plant knows when it is being eaten? Well, as recent research reveals, it does, but it doesn’t just sit there and accept its fate. It deploys troops to defend itself, in an effort to stop the predator.
the cress responded to the vibrations that mimic a munching caterpillar by upping its production of mildly toxic mustard oils and delivering them to the leaves to deter predators. The plant showed no response to wind or other vibrations.
When the researcher removed the clock gene from the plant, it lost its ability to produce the toxin.8
When bugs start eating leaves on one side of a plant, the lectin content doubles almost immediately on the other side,9 as the plant valiantly struggles to dissuade further consumption.
94 percent of humans are born with antibodies to the lectin in peanuts.)
Well, lectins in the seeds, grains, skins, rinds, and leaves of most plants bind to carbohydrates (sugars), and particularly to complex sugars called polysaccharides, in the predator’s body after it consumes the plant. Like smart bombs, lectins target and attach themselves to sugar molecules, primarily on the surface of the cells of other organisms—particularly fungi, insects, and other animals. They also bind to sialic acid, a sugar molecule found in the gut, in the brain, between nerve endings, in joints, and in all bodily fluids, including the blood vessel lining of all creatures. Lectins are sometimes referred to as “sticky proteins” because of this binding process, which means they can interrupt messaging between cells or otherwise cause toxic or inflammatory reactions,10 as we’ll discuss later. For example, when lectins bind to sialic acid, one nerve is unable to communicate its information to another nerve. If you have ever experienced brain fog, thank lectins. Lectins also facilitate the attachment and binding of viruses and bacteria to their intended targets. Believe it or not, some people—those who are more sensitive to lectins—are therefore more subject to viruses and bacterial infections than others.
The lectins in corn and soy are far more effective than grass in making the cow heavier and giving them a better ratio of fat. (That same corn and grain in processed foods bulk you up as well, as you will learn in chapter 5.) Both soy and corn are laden with lectins foreign to cows, causing them to develop such severe heartburn and pain in swallowing that they actually stop eating. Yes, cows develop heartburn from these lectins, just as you do. To keep their beasts eating more of this fattening food, farmers dose them with calcium carbonate, the active ingredient in Tums.11 In fact, half of the world’s production of this compound is added to cattle feed to stop the heartburn, ensuring that cows continue to eat their unnatural diet of corn and soybeans.
When cows and other animals eat grain- or soy-based feed, both of which are full of lectins, these proteins wind up in the animals’ milk or meat. The same thing happens with the meat and eggs of chickens raised on feed full of lectins. Ditto for farm-raised seafood, which dine on soy and corn as well.
Even organic and so-called free-range animals contain these lectins because they, too, are fed soy and corn, albeit organic versions. (And by the way, it is perfectly legal to keep an animal inside a warehouse its entire life and call it free-range, as long as a door to the outside is open for a mere five minutes a day.
four-pronged defense mechanism protects us from the toxic effects of plants, and specifically of lectins. 1. THE FIRST LINE OF DEFENSE is the mucus in your nose and saliva in your mouth, collectively called mucopolysaccharides (meaning many sugars). Guess what those sugars are there for? To trap lectins. Remember, lectins like to bind to sugars. The next time your nose runs after eating spicy foods, you’ll know that you’ve just eaten some lectins. That extra dose of mucus not only traps the lectins you just ate but also adds an additional coating to your esophagus as your meal works its way down. 2. THE SECOND LINE OF DEFENSE is stomach acid, which in many cases does the job of digesting certain lectin proteins, although not all of them. 3. THE THIRD LINE OF DEFENSE is the bacteria in your mouth and gut (part of your microbiome), which have evolved to efficiently consume lectins before they have the opportunity to interact with the wall of your gut. The longer you have been eating particular plant lectins, the longer you have been producing gut bacteria specifically designed to defuse them.15 That’s why if you eliminate all gluten from your diet, the gluten-eating bugs die off; then when you do revert to eating gluten or eat something you don’t realize contains gluten, you cannot digest them, causing discomfort. 4. THE FOURTH AND FINAL LINE OF DEFENSE is a layer of mucus produced by certain cells throughout your intestines. Like the mucus in your nose, mouth, throat, and extending all the way to your anus, this layer of gut mucus acts as a barrier. It keeps the plant compounds you have eaten in the gut where they belong, using the sugars in the mucus to trap and absorb lectins. If you’re a Star Wars or Star Trek fan, think of this mucosal layer as an activated force shield!
If one or more of the four lines of defense detailed above are breached, lectins can pry apart the tight junctions in the intestinal wall by binding with receptors on certain cells to produce a chemical compound called zonulin. Zonulin opens up the spaces between the cells of the intestinal lining, which enables lectins to access the surrounding tissues, lymph nodes and glands, or bloodstream, where they have no business being. Once there, they act like any foreign protein, prompting your body’s immune system to attack them. Think
Lectins are nearly indistinguishable from certain other proteins in your body. By mimicking such proteins, lectins fool the host’s immune system, causing it to attack the body’s own proteins. Or the lectins bind to cell receptors, acting like a hormone or blocking a hormone, thus disrupting communications within the body and wreaking havoc (see
Our immune system cells and other cells use “bar-code” scanners called TLRs (toll-like receptors) to identify proteins as friend or foe. These pattern receptors, built over hundreds of millions of years, have been subjected to new patterns in certain foods that unfortunately mimic a whole different set of compounds that instruct cells—particularly, immune and fat cells—what to do. For instance, these compounds instruct fat cells to store fat when they shouldn’t be storing fat, or they tell our white blood cells to attack our own bodies in a case of mistaken identity. Some of these compounds are so new that most of our ancestors never encountered them until five hundred years ago. And some, the really bad ones, we’ve encountered for only the last fifty years!
Some lectins also disrupt transmissions between your cells by mimicking or blocking hormonal signals.
lectins can bind to important docking ports on cell walls, either giving wrong information or blocking release of the correct information. For example, the lectin WGA bears a striking resemblance to insulin.19 It can attach to the insulin docking port as if it were the actual insulin molecule, but unlike the real hormone, it never lets go—with devastating results, including reduced muscle mass, starved brain and nerve cells, and plenty of fat.
The Plant Paradox Program is actually a microbiome- and mitochondria-centric program that recommends a diverse array of the right plant foods at the right time, prepared the right way, in the right amounts.
a discovery that catapulted us past all other creatures in our war with plants: fire! Cooking partially breaks down many lectins. Plus, it is an easy way to break apart the cell wall of a plant. Previously, only gut bacteria were capable of both feats. This allowed our early ancestors to evolve in a way that dramatically lessened the amount of energy (and surface area of the intestines) required for digestion—a change that made calories more accessible to our energy-demanding brain. While not a perfect solution, cooking also allowed us to utilize the underground starch storage system of plants called tubers—think of sweet potatoes—by breaking down these previously indigestible plant compounds.
when the last Ice Age ended, trouble began. The huge beasts that thrived in the cold rapidly died off, requiring a new resource for calories for mankind. Enter agriculture and the domestication of grains and beans (legumes) in the fertile triangle of the Middle East. Both could be stored and used later, unlike fruit, which needs to be consumed when ripe.
In fact, up until ten thousand years ago, the average human stood about six feet tall.
plant predators also fall into two categories. Grazers evolved to consume single-leaf plants (monocotyledons, or monocots, for short), which we tend to think of mostly as grasses or grains. Meanwhile, tree dwellers evolved to consume tree leaves and other two-leaf plants (bicotyledons) and their fruits. The lectins in one-leaf plants are totally different from the lectins in two-leaf plants, so the sets of gut microbes in grazers and tree dwellers also evolved in two distinct paths. Gut microbes in grazers digest the lectins in single-leaf plants, while the tree dwellers have a different set of microbes capable of processing the lectins in two-leaf plants.
The advent of the agricultural revolution about ten thousand years ago meant that a totally new source of food—grain and beans—became the dietary staple of most cultures relatively quickly. At that point, the human diet shifted from primarily leaves, tubers, and some animal fat and protein to primarily grains and beans. Until then, the human microbiome had never encountered lectins in grasses (grains) or legumes, and therefore the human gut bacteria, microbes, and immune system had zero experience handling them.
analysis of thousands of Egyptian mummified remains has revealed the health status of those wheat eaters, and it wasn’t good. They died overweight, with clogged arteries. Their teeth were also decayed from a diet high in grains, which are full of simple sugars, and worn down to the gums from grinding the grains.3 The mummified remains of Queen Nefertiti suggest that she most likely had diabetes.
About two thousand years ago, a spontaneous mutation in Northern European cows caused them to make the protein casein A-1 in their milk instead of the normal casein A-2. During digestion, casein A-1 is turned into a lectinlike protein called beta-casomorphin. This protein attaches to the pancreas’s insulin-producing cells, known as beta cells, which prompts an immune attack on the pancreas of people who consume milk from these cows or cheeses made from it.5 This is likely a primary cause of type 1 diabetes.6 Southern European cows, goats, and sheep continue to produce casein A-2 milk,
The explorers brought New World foods back to their native countries, and the Columbian Exchange, named after Christopher Columbus, exposed the rest of the world to a whole array of new lectins. They include the nightshade family, most of the bean family (legumes, including peanuts and cashews), grains, pseudo-grains such as amaranth and quinoa, the squash family (pumpkins, acorn squash, zucchini), and chia and certain other seeds. All
In the last five decades we have faced yet another unleashing of lectins in processed foods and most recently in genetically modified organisms (GMOs), including soybeans, corn, tomatoes, and rapeseed (canola).
disrupted normal messaging within our bodies. There is no way we (and our microbiome) can adapt to deal with these onslaughts of lectins in such a short time span. (Just think about those poor cows that had never encountered corn and soy lectins until about sixty years ago and are treated with Tums in order to get them to eat their weight-promoting new food.) This is particularly true if we make a practice of killing most of our microbiome daily by ingesting certain medications, including antibiotics, and other substances such as artificial sweeteners. It’s
In just the last fifty years, the following significant changes have taken place: • We now eat far more wheat, corn, and other grains, as well as soybeans, in the form of processed foods, which have displaced unprocessed carbohydrates, including leafy greens and other vegetables.7 • More than 43 percent of the average household food budget is spent outside the home, up from just under 26 percent in 1970.8 • Instead of home-cooked meals, we increasingly rely on prepared foods to pop in the microwave, ultraprocessed foods full of questionable ingredients, and take-out meals. • We have forgotten (or ignored) tried-and-true ways to neutralize the negative effects of consuming certain lectin-containing foods. • Many once-familiar plants are now grown using petrochemical fertilizers and modified to be more pest resistant, ripen sooner, minimize or eliminate bruising or denting, and to make other changes that increase production and facilitate moving produce long distances. • Even our healthy vegetables are not being raised with the eons-old help of soil bacteria, which have been wiped out by modern farming techniques and biocides. Levels of zinc and magnesium, key elements that prevent diabetes and metabolic syndrome, in the soil have also dropped significantly.9 • Although we don’t necessarily connect them to obesity and other health problems, nonfood products such as over-the-counter and prescribed drugs, room fresheners, hand sanitizers, and countless other disruptors are not just a problem in their own right but also compound the negative effects of eating lectins.
We used natural anti-inflammatory compounds such as boswellia extract and high-dose fish oil and vitamin D3
Lectins are the cause of sinus issues, because excessive mucous production is the first line of defense to entrap the lectins we consume.
consider this: to fatten a steer or other animal for slaughter, the farmer feeds it grains (and soybeans and other legumes), along with low-dose antibiotics. Grains with a side of antibiotics have the same effect on humans, plumping us up and playing a major role in accounting for our horrifying health statistics.
wheat germ agglutinin (WGA). Just to be clear, WGA is not associated with gluten; rather, it is found in bran. This means that white bread contains gluten but not WGA, while whole wheat bread contains the double whammy!
Wheat germ agglutinin is an especially small protein compared with most other lectins, which are relatively large. So even if the gut mucosal barrier has not been compromised, WGA can pass through the walls of the intestine more easily than other lectins can.
WGA. It also: 1. Behaves like insulin, disrupting normal endocrine function by pumping sugar into fat cells, where the sugar soon turns to fat, resulting in weight gain and the development of insulin resistance. 2. Blocks sugar from getting into muscle cells, creating still more body fat, and starving muscles of nourishment. 3. Interferes with the digestion of protein. 4. Promotes inflammation by releasing free radicals, which can thin the mucosal lining of the gut. 5. Cross-reacts with other proteins, creating antibodies that can induce autoimmune responses. These antibodies are distinct from those formed by a reaction to gluten. 6. Crosses the blood-brain barrier, taking with it other substances to which it has bonded, and causing neurological problems. 7. Kills cells, without distinguishing between normal and cancerous cells. 8. Interferes with the replication of DNA. 9. Causes atherosclerosis, the hardening of arteries from a buildup of plaque (which is never mentioned in conventional medicine). 10. Enables entry of influenza and other disease-causing viruses into the body from the gut by bonding to the sialic acid in the mucosal lining. 11. Contributes to the development of nephritis, or kidney inflammation.15 So how do you avoid WGA? Simply steer clear of whole-grain bread and other whole-grain products.
The lectin WGA has a particular affinity for attaching to joint cartilage and stimulating our immune system to attack our joints.
Glucosamine binds to WGA, relieving or eliminating the inflammation and therefore the pain. Taking glucosamine sulfate in supplement form has a salutary effect for many, but not all people. The reason it is effective is not because it magically relieves joint pain, but because it binds WGA and other lectins in the gut, which are then eliminated before they can enter your body. To
By the middle of the twentieth century, thanks to petrochemical fertilizers, a remnant of the munitions manufacturing for World War II, and the development of refrigerated railcars, heirloom produce began to give way to hybrid varieties developed by seed companies to satisfy the needs of commercial growers.
In bioengineered plants, lectins are artificially inserted. Scientists selectively add foreign genes into a plant’s basic genome to command the plant to manufacture specific lectins that enhance the plant’s ability to resist insects and other pests. This is one form of genetically modified organisms (GMO).
And remember, these fruits are picked unripe, leaving their lectin content intact.
Hormesis is actually an argument for eating a varied diet. We humans evolved as a traveling species. There is evidence that our hunter-gatherer forebears ate about 250 plant species on a rotating basis. Most humans don’t even eat a tenth of that number, which in my opinion is an excellent argument, which we will get to later, for why we need to take supplements.
Since 1950, commercial bakers in the United States have replaced the rising agent of yeast with transglutaminase, which is also a binding agent. When I do eat bread in the United States, it makes me feel bloated, but I have no such reaction with white bread made with yeast when I am in Europe. That’s because yeast ferments and destroys the lectins in wheat, taming their effects. And guess what? In France and Italy, where bread is produced by traditional yeast-rising techniques, almost all the bread is white, not whole wheat. It contains gluten, which has been digested by the yeast, but no WGA. Would it surprise you then to learn that sourdough bread, made by fermenting wheat with bacteria and yeast, consistently ranks as one of the safest and least injurious breads, in terms of blood sugar spikes? The bacteria and yeast together “eat” the lectins and a good deal of the sugars!
And here’s the kicker: Most “gluten-free” baked products are also treated with transglutaminase to make them fluffier and more appealing. Transglutaminase is also used to bind together ground meat and seafood (fake crabmeat is one example), which is why it’s often referred to as meat glue. Unfortunately, transglutaminase can pass the blood-brain barrier and act as a neurotransmitter disruptor, making it extremely harmful and often responsible for the condition known as gluten ataxia, which is similar to Parkinson’s. Nonetheless, transglutaminase is FDA approved and does not need to appear on product labels.
It is important to note that transglutaminase also sensitizes us to glutens even if we’re not gluten-sensitive.
when whole grains are used in processed foods, including bread and breakfast cereals, it is necessary to add dangerous preservatives such as butyl hydroxytoluene (BHT) to block the oxidation of the polyunsaturated oils in those whole grains. I’ll get to BHT and its cousins soon, but for now, let’s just say that you might as well be spiking your bread or cereal with estrogen. These oils reside in the germ of the grain. Unlike a saturated fat such as coconut oil, polyunsaturated fats are always on the lookout for oxygen atoms with which to bond, and when they do, the fat can become rancid.
Remember this story when you peruse the sell-by date of any commercial bread or cracker or snack product. If the date isn’t the day it was manufactured, then the product for sure contains BHT or another similar deadly preservative. There are many reasons you want to avoid BHT—among them the fact that it is a major endocrine disruptor, acting like estrogen.
And if you need further incentive to avoid this preservative, know that BHT is used in embalming fluid, among other commercial uses.
such as lipopolysaccharides (LPSs), which are molecules that make up the cell walls of certain bacteria in our microbiome. I’m not one for swearing, but I can’t resist calling them “little pieces of shit,” because that’s exactly what they are! LPSs are fragments of bacteria that are constantly being produced as bacteria divide and die in your gut. They travel through your gut wall and out into the body by riding on and hiding in saturated fats. Your immune system cannot tell the difference between a whole bacterium and a fragment of one, so it treats LPSs as a threat, just as though a true bacterial infection was present in your blood or elsewhere in your body. Your immune system then summons your white blood cells—I think of them as fighter jets and troops—into the attack, causing inflammation. But the extra bad news is that our immune cells, which are ever on patrol for these foreign bodies, can mistake the pattern of lectins for the pattern of LPSs and attack them, as though bacteria were loose in your system—further inflaming your body as a result.
When the pathologist opened the bowel, he discovered “webs” of tissue, like washers on the fitting of a garden hose, which almost completely blocked the entire interior of the tube. Only pinhole openings remained. The pathologist had never seen anything like it. Intrigued, I asked where the webs had come from. He didn’t know yet, but he researched it, and sure enough, it’s actually quite common in people who regularly use NSAIDs, such as Advil and Motrin,
In brief, NSAIDs do not damage the stomach lining, which we can view with a gastroscope; instead, they damage the lining of the small intestine, which is beyond the reach of a scope. Because we could not see their ill effects, NSAIDs have done extreme damage to the barrier that keeps not just lectins, but also LPSs, out of you.
NSAIDs is like swallowing a live grenade. These drugs blow gaping holes in the mucus-lined intestinal barrier. As a result, lectins, LPSs, and living bacteria are able to deluge the breaks in your levee, flooding your body with foreign invaders. Inundated by these foreign proteins and other invaders, your immune system does what it does best, producing inflammation and pain. This pain in turn prompts you to down another NSAID, promoting a vicious cycle, which can ultimately result in your seeking out prescription-level pain relievers. In other words, that harmless Aleve or Advil is the pharmaceutical industry’s gateway drug,3 as you will discover in the next chapter. A course of antibiotics, stomach-acid reducers, or even changes in our food supply also allow bad bacteria to move in and take over, just as NSAIDs do.
The vagus nerve, also called the sympathetic nervous system, is the largest nerve coming from the brain to the gut. It communicates orders to all the various organs in your body. Recently, exciting studies have shown that lectins reach the brain not only through the blood but, shockingly, also by climbing the vagus nerve from the gut into the brain.5 It turns out that for every fiber leading from the brain to your heart, lungs, and your abdominal organs, there are nine times as many fibers leading up to the brain from the gut. There are actually more neurons in your gut than in your entire spinal cord. You truly have a second brain within your gut, and that brain is controlled by your holobiome. Unlike what I and most other doctors were taught in medical school, the vagus nerve exists to get information to the brain from the gut, not the other way around. I tell my patients that when they have a gut instinct, they are absolutely right!
In 1960, average life expectancy for American men was 66.4 years; by 2013, it was a full ten years longer.1 For women, the average ages were 73.1 and 81.1, respectively. But you have to understand that this data is heavily weighted by dramatic reductions in recent decades in the prevalence of infectious diseases, which disproportionally impacted infants and children. This phenomenon is the real reason life expectancy appears to have risen dramatically over half a century. Vaccines now protect youngsters from killer epidemics of measles, German measles, mumps, diphtheria, typhoid fever, scarlet fever, whooping cough, influenza, and other infectious diseases. Antibiotics have saved millions more lives from conditions that once often proved fatal. Infant mortality has also dropped significantly, thanks to improvements in prenatal care and childbirth practices. In
Americans spend on average of $8300 per person annually on health care, but only $2200 for food. The Japanese spend $3300 and $3200 on health care and food, respectively.
As a reminder, whole grains directly introduce lectins, particularly the protein wheat germ agglutinin (WGA) into your gut. They both initiate the intestinal leakage of LPSs into your bloodstream and incite hormone mimicry. And consuming transglutaminase sensitizes you to glutens even if you’re not gluten-sensitive.
Even worse, each time a child takes antibiotics, the likelihood increases of him or her developing Crohn’s disease, diabetes, obesity, or asthma later in life.6
Until recently, it was perfectly legal to give organic free-range chickens aresenic, producing a “healthy” pink blush. Wait, isn’t arsenic a poison? Right you are. Besides being a poison and an antibiotic, arsenic is also a hormone disruptor that mimics the action of estrogen. A bill to ban the use of arsenic in chicken feed in Maryland was once defeated by a generous grant from Monsanto, which makes arsenic, to the campaigns of Maryland state senators.7 The bill did later pass, and in 2013 the FDA banned the use of three of the four forms of arsenic nationally.8 However, the fourth form, nitarsone, was exempted. As this book goes to press, it appears the FDA will finally ban this form as well. In addition, both soybeans and corn are used in chicken feed, and both of these products also contain estrogenlike substances. Ultimately, that “healthy” chicken breast boasts the equivalent of one birth control pill’s worth of estrogenic substances!
The FDA, physicians, and consumer groups are all concerned that Baytril’s heavy use on animals could make humans resistant to Cipro, which is used to treat salmonella, campylobacter, and other food-borne diseases (as well as anthrax) in humans. This means that if a person consumes bacteria in inadequately cooked meat or handles such meat improperly and becomes ill, s/he may not respond to treatment with Cipro.
Believe it or not, a single dose of antibiotics taken by a woman during pregnancy can make her children fat. A single round of antibiotics given to a child can make him or her obese.
we now know that NSAIDs damage the mucosal barrier in the small intestine and colon, allowing lectins, LPSs, and other foreign substances to pass through the intestinal wall, initiating a war within your body. Evidence of the war is increasing inflammation, which you feel as pain. And the more pain you have, the more NSAIDs you take.
PPIs not only stop stomach acid production, but also can kill off your mitochondria’s ability to produce energy in every cell in the body via their own proton pumps. Remarkably, these PPIs cross the blood-brain barrier and poison your brain’s mitochondria. One study showed a 44 percent increased risk of dementia among 74,000 people aged seventy-five and older who had used these drugs, compared with those who did not.11 Other studies have linked the use of PPIs to chronic kidney disease for the same reason.12 We have been systematically poisoning the energy-producing organelles in every one of our cells just to have another piece of pepperoni pizza.
The use of acid reducers also prompts a totally new population of intestinal bugs—those which are normally killed off by our stomach acid and are extremely foreign to our immune system—to grow in place of our normal bugs. People who use acid blockers have three times the likelihood of getting pneumonia,13 which these foreign bugs cause, than those who don’t use such drugs.
acid-blocking drugs also foster incomplete protein digestion. Since lectins are proteins, acid blockers therefore allow more lectins into the gut.
stomach acid is necessary to break down dietary protein into amino acids before they can be absorbed in your gut, we have produced an entire generation of senior citizens who are protein malnourished. That’s not because they aren’t eating enough protein; instead, it is because they have no stomach acid to digest it! When protein can’t be broken down and absorbed, it leads to muscle wasting, called sarcopenia, a health crisis among the elderly. In fact, regardless of age and the reason they are in the hospital, most patients admitted to the hospital have very low levels of protein, not because they aren’t eating sufficient protein—in fact, they are eating too much,
• PAIN-RELIEVER ENEMIES: Generic ibuprofen or Advil, Aleve, Naprosyn, Celebrex, Mobic, and other NSAIDs. • Friendly Substitutes: Boswellia or white willow bark. • ACID-REDUCER ENEMIES: Zantac, Prilosec (omeprazole), Protonix, Nexium, and Imeprazole. • Friendly Substitutes: Rolaids are a low-sugar source of calcium carbonate. Also chew DGL wafers. • SLEEP-AID ENEMIES: Ambien, Restoril, Lunesta, and Xanax. • Friendly substitutes: My favorite combination of sleep aids is in Schiff Melatonin Ultra, or buy time-release melatonin and take 3 to 6 mg before bed.
Products such as sucralose, saccharin, aspartame, and other nonnutritive artificial sweeteners alter the gut holobiome, killing good bacteria and allowing overgrowth of bad ones. Believe it or not, a Duke study showed that a single Splenda packet kills 50 percent of normal intestinal flora!
sweet tastes, once available only in summer from ripe fruit and perhaps the occasional honeycomb, signal the body that it’s time to store fat for winter, regardless of the actual season. (We now effectively live in endless summer with fruit and sweet treats made…
Taste buds for sweetness actually occupy two-thirds of the surface of your tongue. They are there to make sure that when high-caloric fruit or honey was available, your ancient ancestors were certain to eat it. Your taste buds don’t actually taste sugar; rather, when a sugar molecule (or any other sweet substance) attaches to their receptor by fitting into the dock, they taste “sweet.” The nerves from your tongue transmit this “sweet” information to your pleasure receptors (docks) in your brain, which is your reward center. It in turn urges you to get more of this…
Your body can’t distinguish between the sweetness of sugar or other caloric sources and these calorie-free sweeteners. That’s because the molecular structure (pattern) of the calorie-free sweeteners fits into the sugar-docking port on your taste buds and prompts the same pleasure signal to your brain that real sugar prompts. Then, when the calories from real sugar (glucose) don’t arrive in your bloodstream and are not detected by glucose receptors in your brain, your brain feels cheated. It “knows” you are eating sugar because it “tasted…
All of your cells operate on a circadian clock; there’s even a clock gene. Anyone who has traveled across time zones knows what jet lag feels like, and it happens because your circadian rhythm is disrupted. Almost all bodily functions operate in circadian fashion. Even your holobiome has circadian rhythms. Just as there are twenty-four-hour clocks, there are also moon cycle clocks (believe me, emergency room visits for crazy behavior follow full moon cycles) and seasonal clocks. These seasonal clocks are controlled not only by day length, but also by seasonal food availability. In the not-too-distant past, sweet tastes were not a year-round event. Instead, they correlated to fruit…
Artificial Sweetener Trojan Horses • THE ENEMY: All artificial sweeteners, specifically saccharin (Sweet’n Low, Sweet Twin, and Necta Sweet), aspartame (Equal and NutraSweet), acesulfame K (also in Equal and NutraSweet), sucralose (Splenda), and neotame. Also steer clear of soft drinks or sports drinks, any health or protein bar that contains any of these sweeteners, as well as any form of sugar, including corn, agave syrup, or pure cane sugar. Ditto for any processed foods with such sweeteners. • Friendly Substitutes: Stevia (SweetLeaf, which contains inulin), Just Like Sugar (made from chicory root), the sugar alcohols xylitol or erythritol (Swerve), yacón syrup, and inulin. Use all in moderation, particularly…
Many of the compounds in this class of agents are used as preservatives or stabilizers; a prime example is butyl hydroxytoluene (BHT), which is used in processed foods, including whole-grain products. With the advent of “healthy” whole-grain flour, the previously discarded omega-6 fat in the bran oxidizes and goes rancid unless there’s a stabilizing agent like BHT to prevent spoilage. Bisphenol A (BPA) is used in lightweight plastic water bottles to make them tough and heat-resistant—and even in babies’ teething rings!17—as well as in the thin plastic lining of most canned goods to keep the metal from corroding and contaminating the contents. Parabens in cosmetics and sunscreens serve a similar purpose. Methylparaben, an estrogenlike compound, is also a major allergen, and is used to preserve most drug solutions in multiuse containers. If you thought that you were allergic to the painkiller novacaine at your dentist’s office, it was actually the methylparaben in the bottle.
research suggests that tert-butylhydroquinonet (tBHQ), a synthetic food preservative, may be responsible in part for the recent increase in food allergies.18 The additive is used in numerous processed foods, including bread, waffles, crackers, and other baked goods, as well as nuts and cooking oil. The presence of tBHQ in a product need not be listed on the label. It seems that consuming tBHQ stimulates our T cells, which are key to our immune system, to release proteins that can stimulate an allergic response to foods such as wheat, milk, eggs, nuts, and shellfish. Under normal conditions, T cells release cytokines, which protect the body from invaders, but the presence of tBHQ constrains the normal action of T cells.
Sunscreens prevent the absorption of vitamin D. But all the compounds discussed above, whether in sunscreens or other products, also lower your liver’s ability to convert this critical vitamin to its active form. This prevents the regeneration of new cells in your protective intestinal wall barrier, allowing more lectins and LPSs through, along with other foreign bodies. Men with prostate cancer have very low levels of vitamin D. Despite the fact that my practice is in Southern California, I have found that almost 80 percent of my patients have low levels of vitamin D in their blood. In fact, anyone in my practice with leaky gut or autoimmune diseases has low levels. Lacking sufficient vitamin D, and in the face of repeated assaults on the walls of the intestine and the lack of ongoing repair to keep out lectins and LPSs, the body constantly senses that it is at war. It’s not surprising, then, that most of my overweight and obese patients are also very deficient in vitamin D.20 Such a deficiency also impedes the generation of new bone, setting the stage for the development of osteoporosis. My thin female patients with osteopenia and osteoporosis also have low levels of this critical vitamin when they first come to see me.
Instead of hooking up to a receptor and then leaving, the way regular hormones do, estrogenlike compounds attach to a receptor and remain permanently switched on, disrupting normal messaging. The cumulative effect of these minute amounts of estrogenlike compounds is actually more powerful than the hormone itself would be.21 BPA is banned in Canada and Europe, but in 2015 a lawsuit in the United States attempting to force the FDA to ban BPA was defeated, thanks to a large grant to congressional campaigns by the American Chemical Council, which opposed the bill.22
Specific chemicals in the phthalates family include equally difficult to pronounce names such as dicyclohexyl phthalate (DCHP), di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP), di-n-octyl phthalate (DnOP), and bisphenol S (BPS).
The presence of highly concentrated phthalate metabolites in men’s urine has been associated with damage to the DNA in sperm.24 Being exposed to these chemicals at a young age may be associated with premature breast development in girls.25 Babies whose umbilical cords reveal higher exposure to phthalates are more likely to have been born prematurely.26 These compounds are major hormone disruptors, locking onto estrogen receptors in the fetal brain, as well as in you and your children. They also permanently attach to the thyroid hormone receptors on cells, blocking the real thyroid hormone from delivering its message. Think of a plane blocking the Jetway that you want to use.
major sources of phthalates in humans were obtained from (in order of rank) grains, beef, pork, chicken, and milk products. So, if you are tired and fat and your hair is thinning, and you are eating whole-grain foods and boneless skinless chicken breast, and your doctor assures you that your thyroid hormone levels are normal, so you can’t be hypothyroid, think again. You may be making thyroid hormone, but it can’t get…
The more chicken a pregnant woman consumes, the smaller her baby boy’s penis28 and shorter his attention span. Arsenic and phthalate contamination also influence his choice of toys and his behavior.29 Research on rats suggests that greater chicken consumption, and therefore increased exposure to arsenic and phthalates, exposes the brains of male babies to estrogen mimetics in utero (in…
azodicarbonamide, an endocrine disruptor that is employed as a foaming agent in the manufacture of synthetic leather products, carpet underlayment, and yoga mats, is also used to bleach flour and condition dough.30 Most fast food restaurants, including Wendy’s, McDonald’s, Burger King, and Arby’s, use it in some or all of their bread products. The use of azodicarbonamide in bread has been banned in Europe31 and Australia. In this country, Subway has voluntarily eliminated it from its products.32 Exposure to azodicarbonamide has been shown to provoke asthma and allergies,33 as well as to suppress immune function,34 particularly when it is heated or baked. Additionally, this…
Endocrine Disruptor Trojan Horses These powerful disruptors are in countless products. The following are just the tip of the iceberg. • ENEMIES: Any food that uses BHT as a stabilizing agent, particularly commercial baked goods. Hint: It is likely that BHT has been added if the food comes in a wrapper or has the words “whole grain.” (Don’t forget that any cracker, bread, cookie, or “crunchy” bar probably also contains transglutaminase.) Food manufacturers are not required to list this chemical on the packaging. • Friendly Substitute: Homemade baked goods using approved flour substitutes (see here). • ENEMIES: Teflon, the brand name for polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), and similar products used on nonstick cookware, as well as on stain-resistant fabrics and carpeting. Perfluorooctanoic octanoic acid (PFOA) is also used in some nonstick cookware. • Friendly Substitute: Use conventional cookware or those with a ceramic coating that are certified to contain no PTFE or PFOA made by T-fal, Amoré, Culina, and other manufacturers. • ENEMIES: Containers made of BPA plastic. • Friendly Substitutes: Buy products (and store leftovers) in glass or stainless steel containers, which are nonreactive. Purchase canned foods only in BPA-free cans. Some bottled water is sold in non-BPA plastic, but it is debatable that these plastics are any safer. Just when you thought it was safe to get back in the water—pun intended—it turns out that BPS causes the same if not more problems as BPA.35 Purchase a stainless steel or glass water bottle (one with a protective wrapper) and use your own tap or filtered water instead. • ENEMIES: Plastic wrap and plastic bags. • Friendly Substitutes: Old-fashioned wax paper works, or reusable cloth sandwich bags (sold on Etsy). • ENEMIES: Store and bank receipts printed with thermal paper, which may or may not contain BPA. • Friendly Substitutes: Have your bank receipt emailed to you. If you need the receipt from a store in case you have to return something, ask the salesperson to put it in the bag. When you get home, use kitchen tongs to remove it. Wash your hands after touching receipts. Photograph receipts with your smart phone and then get rid of them. Encourage vendors you use often to switch to BPA-free paper such as that made by Appleton. • ENEMIES: Sunscreens with parabens, such as methylparaben. Avoid all sunscreens…
The herbicides Roundup, made by Monsanto, and Enlist, made by Dow Chemical, both contain 2,4-D (an ingredient in the notorious Agent Orange) and glyphosate. Traces of both these major disruptors are found in the meat and milk of animals that are fed grains and beans, as well as in crop plants and products made with them.
Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) were created by inserting foreign genes into plants, with the objective of making the plant either produce more of its own insecticides (lectins) or produce resistance to Roundup.
Roundup was approved as safe by the FDA. So what’s the problem? First, the GMO plant produces novel proteins and/or lectins that our bar-code scanners recognize as foreign, causing inflammation when we eat them. Second, when Roundup is sprayed on a GMO crop, the crop can withstand the chemical onslaught while the nearby weeds wither and die. However, industrial farmers now routinely apply Roundup as a desiccant to non-GMO crops as well. A dried-up dead plant makes it easier to harvest wheat, corn, soybean, beans, and canola on a fixed schedule, saving time and money with a single sweep of the field.
since Roundup is used to harvest almost all non-GMO grains and beans as well, you consume it directly via these “healthy” foods, because the outer part of the grain, once routinely stripped away in processing, is now left on for “whole-grain goodness.”37 Roundup is then delivered into your gut where it does its real damage.
Just like plants, gut bacteria utilize the shikimate pathway, and they do so to make three essential amino acids: tryptophan, tyrosine, and phenylalanine. Since animals lack this pathway, our only source of these essential amino acids is via our gut bugs. Tryptophan and phenylalanine make serotonin, the essential “feel good” hormone, while tyrosine and phenylalanine are essential for thyroid hormone production. But when we eat GMO foods or conventionally grown foods harvested with Roundup, the shikimate pathway is blocked and our gut bacteria are unable to produce these essential amino acids.
glyphosate in whole grains, soybeans, and other beans had poisoned these women’s own production of serotonin and tyrosine. This not only paralyzes the shikimate pathway and hinders our supply of those three amino acids, but also alters the composition of our normal gut flora by causing good gut bugs to die off.
Our normal gut bugs have evolved to eat gluten. If you kill these guys off by eating gluten-containing foods, beans, or soy that has been sprayed with Roundup, you suddenly lose your main defense that made gluten harmless for the vast majority of us. That means you, too, become gluten-sensitive. On top of that, Roundup also bonds with gluten, making it antigenic (capable of inducing an immune response) even to people who aren’t sensitive to gluten itself.38
Roundup also paralyzes key liver enzymes (cytochrome P450 enzymes) that convert vitamin D to a form that your body can use to recycle cholesterol—meaning Roundup effectively raises your cholesterol! Plus, you need that vitamin D to foster repair of your now-damaged gut wall.39
Organic Consumers Association (OCA) and the Feed the World Project (now the Detox Project) teamed up to offer the public the opportunity to have their water or urine tested for glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup.
(The OCA and Detox Project are now offering food testing to nongovernmental organizations and commercial companies only for $176 per sample.)
However, they have also increased, and often at a higher rate, in Western Europe, which banned GMO crops and relies solely on conventionally grown agriculture. Moreover, in the last decade, the use of the herbicides, including the weed killer Roundup, has increased dramatically in the United States in this time frame. Meanwhile, France has reduced its herbicide use dramatically.
Glyphosate and GMO Trojan Horses • ENEMY: Roundup and similar products. • Friendly Substitute: Mix a gallon of white vinegar with a cup of salt and a tablespoon of liquid dishwashing soap; spray that mixture on weeds. There are a number of variations on this recipe, including lemon juice instead of white vinegar and Epsom salts instead of salt. • ENEMY: GMO foods. • Friendly Substitute: Organic foods.
Finally, please don’t be misled by the organic, free-range label when it comes to poultry. I cannot emphasize enough that it means that these birds were kept in a warehouse (with access to the outdoors, although they have likely never actually ventured out), and were fed organic corn and soybeans. And if the label says “fed an all vegetarian diet,” put the package down and step away from the meat counter.
For millennia, we and all other animals have acquired food in response to changes in daylight, and specifically to the blue wavelength spectrum of daylight. Long days and short nights stimulate your body to eat as much food as possible to prepare for upcoming winter. Conversely, short days and long nights stimulate us to seek less food, which is scarce, and instead burn the fat we’ve acquired in summer as fuel.
So, in winter, instead of seeking food, we are designed to burn the fat we’ve acquired. The hormone leptin, which makes us feel full, turns on this signal. This seasonal cycling between the use of glucose for fuel and the use of fat for fuel is termed metabolic flexibility. And the instructions for this cycling are mediated by the blue spectrum of light.
Blue light also stimulates ghrelin and cortisol, which are, respectively, the “hunger” and “awake” hormones.
ENEMY: Constant exposure to blue spectrum light. • Friendly Substitutes: • Download an app (justgetflux.com) to change the blue light emitted from any device’s screen to an amber tint when the sun sets, by simply typing in your zip code. Utilize the yellow screen option on your iPhone or Android. The new iOS has an easy-to-use “Night-Shift” function. • When the sun goes down and you use your cell phone or other electronic devices, wear amber-tinted, blue light-blocking glasses, which are made by Uvex, Solar Shield, Pixel, and many other companies. A wraparound style blocks blue light coming from the side as well as that from directly in front of you. • Replace the bulbs in your bedroom (if not all rooms) with blue-blocking bulbs. I particularly like the Good Night Biological LED Lamp made by Lighting Science (www.lsgc.com), which was originally developed for NASA astronauts.
sixteenth-century British naturalist and physician Thomas Muffet wrote, “Men dig their graves with their own teeth and die by those fated instruments more than the weapons of their enemies.” Five centuries later, his words still ring true, as does Hippocrates’s famous declaration: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”
Based on ancient skeletal remains, we know that twelve thousand years ago humans averaged six feet in height. However, by 8000 BCE, the average human had shrunk to four feet ten inches—that’s a whopping fourteen inches in just a few thousand years! Our ancestors became much shorter after the agricultural revolution, which is when grains and legumes became staples of the diet. And prior to that time, there is no evidence of arthritis in skeletal remains. In contrast, all skeletons of modern people, except those who don’t eat many lectin-containing foods, have arthritis. (You’ll recall that the mummified remains of ancient Egyptians revealed that they suffered from arthritis a mere two millennia after starting to cultivate grains.) And it doesn’t stop there: the size of the human brain was 15 percent larger twelve thousand years ago than it is today! And we call that progress?
My more recent and effective solution to this problem is to have them eat large amounts of macadamia nuts.
You’ll recall that it isn’t just grains and beans that turbocharge fat storage, but also milk products. Lactating animals use milk for one thing: to promote rapid growth and weight gain in their offspring. All milk is loaded with insulinlike growth hormone. Sadly, multiple studies show that another component of milk, casein, and in particular casein A-1, becomes the lectin beta-casomorphin, which encourages fat storage by promoting inflammation.
Insulin’s primary job is to open the door to any cell to allow glucose to enter and provide fuel, particularly to three important types of cells. 1. IN FAT CELLS, insulin attaches to a docking port on a fat cell membrane and flips a switch that tells the fat cell to convert that glucose to fat and store it. When insulin has done its job, it separates from the docking port and no more sugar can enter the cell. 2. IN MUSCLE CELLS, insulin unlocks the door to the cell and ushers in glucose to be used as fuel. 3. NERVE CELLS (neurons) also require insulin to admit glucose through their cell membrane. The fact that neurons require insulin to get glucose is a relatively new finding, and we now know that insulin resistance also occurs in the brain and nerves—it is called type 3 diabetes.
Now let’s look at what happens when the lectin WGA fits into each type of insulin receptor docking port: 1. In the case of a fat cell membrane, WGA locks on for good and continues to instruct the cell to make fat from any sugar floating by—ad infinitum. Think about it: if you were living eight thousand years ago, any plant compound that could enhance your ability to store fat from the meager calories you obtained would be a great plant. But that’s no longer a great benefit—and lectins such as WGA and a host of others in every grain do far more just to potentiate fat storage directly into fat cells. 2. If WGA attaches to a muscle cell, it likewise permanently locks on to that insulin receptor—but in this case, the opposite effect results. WGA blocks the real insulin from docking, just as another plane sitting at your arrival gate means you cannot deplane. The result is that the muscle can’t get glucose; instead, it is shunted to a waiting fat cell, where WGA continuously pumps in sugar. Would it surprise you to learn that early man was far more muscular before the advent of grains and beans? Take a look at any ancient Egyptian frescoes and statues: these were skinny, nonmuscular people. As it turns out, insulin mimicry is the true cause of the muscle wasting as we age! The more lectins we eat, the more the receptors for insulin on our muscles are filled with WGA and other lectins, and the more muscle we waste. 3. When WGA and other lectins lock on to the insulin receptor in nerve cells and neurons, they block the entrance of sugar there as well. With no sugar reaching its neurons, the hungry brain demands more calories. If you block insulin receptors with WGA, you get a hungry human—one who will eat more and hopefully be a big winner when winter arrives. This may have been fine in the short term, promoting mankind’s early survival; but if this process continues, more WGA and other lectins bind to insulin receptors in the brain and nerves, causing brain cells and peripheral nerves to die, resulting in dementia, Parkinson’s, and peripheral neuropathy.
Recently, it has been found that lectins climb the vagus nerve from the gut into the brain and can be deposited in the substantia nigra,3 the switching center in the brain, damage to which causes Parkinson’s disease. This explains why, according to a large Chinese study, patients who have had a procedure called a vagotomy back in the 1960s and 1970s (in which their vagus nerves were surgically cut to treat ulcers) have a 40 percent lower incidence of Parkinson’s compared to age-matched controls.
It also explains why Parkinson’s is more prevalent among vegetarians, as they consume more plants (and therefore more lectins).
It is now time to reveal which sugar molecule the WGA and other lectins are after. As it turns out, there’s a particular sugar molecule that elephants—and humans—possess that causes this problem. This lectin-binding sugar, called Neu5Ac, sits on the lining of blood vessels and the absorptive cells on the gut wall known as enterocytes. Most mammals have a sugar molecule called Neu5Gc on the lining of their gut wall and blood vessel walls. But humans lost the ability to make this molecule at the time our species diverged from chimps and gorillas eight million years ago. Instead, we make the lectin-binding Neu5Ac, a characteristic shared with shellfish, mollusks, chickens, and elephants. (Yes, strange bedfellows!) Lectins, and particularly grain lectins, bind to Neu5Ac but cannot bind to Neu5Gc. This explains why captive chimps eating a human grain-based diet don’t get atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) or autoimmune disease, but the poor grass-eating elephants do get coronary artery disease. The chimps lack the lectin-binding sugar molecule, but elephants and humans possess it—and it gives us heart and autoimmune diseases in spades when we eat lectins in grasses and seeds.
Cattle, pigs, and sheep all carry Neu5Gc, which your immune system recognizes as foreign when you eat their meat. Now, Neu5Gc looks a lot like Neu5Ac (the bar codes are nearly identical). There is significant data suggesting that when our immune system is exposed to the foreign sugar molecule Neu5Gc from red meat, we develop an antibody to the lining of our own blood vessels, which has Neu5Ac. This causes the antibody to attach to the lining of our blood vessels, mistaking our own naturally occurring Neu5Ac for the Neu5Gc we’ve consumed, and calling in a full-fledged attack from our immune system. This is the perfect example of friendly fire, and it provides further proof why shellfish, mollusk, and fish eaters have better heart health than meat eaters. Furthermore, it has been shown that cancer cells use Neu5Gc to attract blood vessel growth toward them, via production of a hormone called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), which I measure in all my patients. VEGF production is promoted by an immune attack on Neu5Gc. Cancer cells even use Neu5Gc to hide from our immune cells, essentially cloaking themselves in an invisible shield. What’s more, human tumors contain large amounts of Neu5Gc, despite the fact that we have no genes to manufacture it. That means the tumor cells got it from that beef, pork, or lamb you ate, and nowhere else. In plain English, the reason to avoid red meats is to avoid an autoimmune attack that promotes heart disease and cancer, all because of a genetic mutation of a lectin-attracting sugar molecule that’s found in humans.
yams, taro, plantains, and other resistant starches simply pass through your small intestine intact. These foods are resistant to the enzymes that break complex starches—hence their name.
Resistant starches also increase the proportion of “good” bacteria in your gut, just as a prebiotic does, not only enhancing digestion and nutrient absorption but also fostering the growth of bugs that nurture the mucous layer of your gut.8 More mucus means fewer lectins getting through to rip open the tight junctions and start the whole lectin-induced cycle of weight gain and misery.9 In addition to not raising blood sugar or insulin levels, resistant starch assists in controlling your weight by: • Reducing calorie count when substituted for wheat flour and other quickly metabolized carbohydrates.10 • Making you feel full longer and therefore consume less food.11 • Boosting fat burning and reducing fat storage after a meal.12
the gut microbes, good little guest workers that they are, break down the cell walls of plants and ferment the energy into usable fuel, principally the fats we just discussed, which the animal can absorb. As a result, the gorilla “eats” an extremely high-fat diet! Just like the Kitavans!
Number 1: what you stop eating is more important than what you start eating.
RULE NUMBER 1: What You Stop Eating Has Far More Impact on Your Health Than What You Start Eating
RULE NUMBER 2: Pay Attention to the Care and Feeding of Your Gut Bugs, and They Will Handle the Care and Feeding of You. After All, You Are Their Home.
RULE NUMBER 3: Fruit Might as Well Be Candy
Moreover (and this will surprise most of you), eating the fructose in fruit causes your kidneys to swell and suffer injury, which can destroy them.2
there are three fruits that you can have, so long as you eat them when they are still green: bananas, mangoes, and papayas. Unripe tropical fruit has not yet increased its sugar (fructose) content.
Green banana flour comes in handy for making grain-free pancakes and baked goods.
Our dear friend the avocado is the only acceptable ripe fruit because it contains nary a trace of sugar and is composed of good fat and soluble fiber, which help you lose weight and absorb fat-soluble vitamins and antioxidants.
RULE NUMBER 4: You Are What the Thing You Are Eating, Ate
Now for the bad news: Scientists at the University of California–Berkeley carbon-tested strands of hair from typical Americans and found that 69 percent was from corn.4 (Even health guru Sanjay Gupta’s hair analysis found the exact same percentage of carbon from corn.5) And here’s the shocker: When the same carbon test was performed on strands of hair from typical Europeans, the corn content was a mere 5 percent.
A gene for a potent lectin from the snowdrop plant is inserted into this corn to improve its insect resistance. And once that lectin makes it into corn and is fed to cows, chickens, and pigs, and then you eat those animals or drink cow’s milk, it makes its way into you! This is a lectin to which everyone reacts, and it’s even found in the breast milk of American mothers.
Genetically modified corn produces osteopenia and osteoporosis in chickens.6
While the U.S. Department of Agriculture sets standards for the amount of fungal toxins that are allowed in corn, grains, and soybeans fed to our chickens, turkeys, cows, and pigs, there is no control over or requirement about the maximum amount of these toxins that are allowed in the finished products—the meats that we eat and the milk that we drink.
A pressure cooker will destroy the lectins in beans and other legumes, which are a fantastic source of nonvegetable protein, as well as in vegetables in the nightshade and squash families (actually fruits). Better yet, pressure-cooked beans, shorn of their offending lectins, serve as a smorgasbord for your gut buddies, and can improve longevity and enhance memory. More
Most natural foods stores and Whole Foods stock brands of beans and other legumes in cans that are not lined with BPA. Westbrae Natural and Eden Foods are two such brands. (Eden Foods pressure-cooks the beans in the can.)
Unfortunately, the lectins in wheat, rye, barley, and oats—yes, the gluten-containing grains—cannot be destroyed, so these foods remain off-limits. But using a pressure cooker does destroy the lectins in other grains and pseudo-grains, making them safe for consumption.
both Dr. Valter Longo of the Longevity Institute at the University of Southern California and I agree that people require only 0.37 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.14 Since 1 kilogram equals 2.2 pounds, a 150-pound man needs about 25 grams of protein daily and a 125-pound woman about 21 grams.
Dr. G.’s New and Improved World-Famous Nut Mix
I’ll provide doses in the supplement section. The suggested supplements include: • Oregon grape root extract or its active ingredient berberine • Grapefruit seed extract (not to be confused with another great supplement, grape seed extract) • Mushrooms or mushroom extracts • Spices such as black pepper, cloves, cinnamon, and wormwood to kill parasites, fungi, and other bad gut flora
The lectins in the nightshade family include solanine, a neurotoxin.
The peanut, which originated in the Americas, is a legume, not a nut. As such, it is loaded with killer lectins. Did you know that 94 percent of humans carry a preformed antibody to the peanut lectin?8 Get
To this day, Italians peel and deseed tomatoes before making tomato sauce because the peels and seeds contain the lectins. The clever Italians also hybridized the Roma tomato to maximize the ratio of pulp to skin and seeds. Cooks then blanch the tomato in boiling water, pull off the skin, cut the fruit in half, squeeze out the seeds, and presto—pulp minus the skin and seeds.
The same approach applies to cooked Italian red peppers. When you open a glass jar of them, do you see any peels and seeds? No. They have been removed, which is not necessarily the case in most American products. The
And why are Tabasco and other hot sauces fermented? Because using bacteria to break down the lectins is a time-honored method of lessening the lectin load, just as the Incas did with their quinoa.
fermentation in sourdough kills gluten.13 And fermentation eliminates 98 percent of the lectins in lentils.14 If you are willing to invest the time, you can banish lectins with the age-old technique of fermentation—although a pressure cooker can do the job in a fraction of the time. Just remember that this won’t work with gluten-containing grains.
Continue to Feed the Gut Buddies What will you be eating to feed the residents of the condo that is you? • Maximize your resistant starch intake to allow your friendly gut bugs to produce short-chain fatty acids and ketones (the fats you can use directly as fuel) that you can absorb from your gut (see “When is a Carb Not a Carb”). These starches include plantains, taro root, shirataki noodles, and other nongrain “pastas,” parsnips, turnips, jicama, celery root, and Jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes), as well as unripe fruits such as green bananas, mangoes, and papayas. • Eat lots of fructooligosaccharides (FOS), a form of indigestible (for you) sugar in the form of inulin and its cousin yacón, on which your gut bugs thrive. These compounds are found in vegetables such as radicchio, Belgian endive, Jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes), okra, artichokes, onions, and garlic. They are also available as powders and in sweeteners such as SweetLeaf and Just Like Sugar. (See “Your Gut Buddies Get to Eat Sugar.”) • Eat raw or cooked mushrooms, which provide more unique FOS to pamper your gut buddies. • Consume as many leafy green vegetables and vegetables in the cabbage family (crucifers) as possible. (See “The Crucifer Paradox.”) • Increase gram-positive bacteria and their friends (the “gut buddies”) by consuming polyphenol compounds in pulp from all acceptable fruits. Put your juicer back to work by “reverse juicing.” Juice your fruits, toss the juice (which is where the “candy” lurks), and add the pulp to a smoothie, or blend it with plain goat, sheep, or coconut yogurt and toss into any salad dressing. • Consume lemon juice and vinegars, including balsamic vinegar from Modena, Italy, which also contains polyphenols. • In addition to cooking with the acceptable oils, take a fish oil capsule before each meal. Or mix flavored cod liver oil—I love Carlson’s lemon or orange flavors—with an acceptable oil to dress salads or cooked veggies. Vegans and vegetarians can use an algal DHA capsule instead. • Nuts—particularly pistachios, walnuts, macadamias, and pecans, which are full of polyphenols—promote the growth of “gut buddies.” Nut consumption is also associated with reduced risk of overall mortality.24 You can have ¼ cup of Dr. G.’s New and Improved World-Famous Nut Mix twice daily. • Consume figs (which are technically flowers, not fruit), and use dates or dried figs as a sweetener in limited amounts. Both are full of the FOS that boost the growth of good gut bugs and overall health. Add figs and dates to salads or toss a couple of dates into a smoothie.
fish oil supplement before each meal, but let me get a bit more specific. In terms of dosage, take the capsule with the highest number of milligrams of DHA you can afford—you’ll need about 1000 mg per day.
In my fifteen years of experience as a practitioner of restorative medicine, pushing vitamin D blood levels up to 70 to 100 ng/ml per day is necessary for most people, and may require upward of 40,000 IUs a day to achieve.
Restore gut flora with targeted probiotics Bacillus coagulans (BC30), available at any drugstore under the trade name Schiff Digestive Advantage, or other probiotics such as L. reuteri and saccharomyces boulardii, and stomach mucus enhancers like DGL (deglycyrrhizinated licorice root), slippery elm, and marshmallow root. • Repel invaders by rebuilding stomach acid with betaine and grapefruit seed extract. • Repair the gut wall with vitamin D and fish oil, as discussed above, as well as with L-glutamine (a protein that feeds gut cells), butyric acid from ghee, polyphenols like grape seed extract and pycnogenol, and anthocyanins, the polyphenols in dark berries like blackberries. All are available over the counter. • Reactivate and calm white blood cells in the intestinal lining with the supplements indole-3-carbinol and DIM, or simply increase your intake of cruciferous veggies. • For recommended doses and a schedule, go to http://www.DrGundry.com.
But by far, my patients’ favorite breakfasts are my muffins, either the cinnamon and flaxseed or the coconut and almond flour variety. Ready in just a couple of minutes in the microwave, they can be easily transported to work or school. Try the Perfect Plantain Pancakes on the weekend. Finally, two pastured or omega-3 eggs or ¼ cup of Dr. G.’s New and Improved World-Famous Nut Mix are filling, meaning you can probably skip a morning snack. Got
Whole Foods to serve as dipping “chips,” or bake up a batch of Paradox Crackers.
Indian white basmati rice has the most resistant starch of any variety. You can make the starch even more resistant by refrigerating rice after cooking, and then reheating before using it, or making a cold rice salad.
To easily peel tomatoes, immerse them in boiling water for about 30 seconds. Or pierce tomatoes on a long fork and rotate them over the flame of your gas burner. Do the same with peppers until they blacken and then place in a paper bag to cool. The skin will easily peel off.
As with tomatoes, peel skin and eliminate the seeds before eating squash. Alternatively, eat baby summer squash. Do not spiralize mature squash unless you peel and deseed them first. Peel and remove the seeds of winter squash before cooking as well.
For years I have routinely measured my patients’ levels of insulinlike growth factor 1 (IGF-1), an easily measured marker for aging.9 Both animal and human studies show that the lower your IGF-1, the longer you live, and the less chance for developing cancer. The two factors in animal and human studies, including my own studies, that correlate to lowered IGF-1 are consuming less sugar and consuming less animal protein—specifically, certain amino acids. These amino acids, particularly methionine, leucine, and isoleucine, which are far more prevalent in animal protein than plant-based proteins, activate the cellular sensor of energy availability, mTOR, or just TOR, for “target of rapamycin.” (Rapamycin is a transplant drug that was being testing during my early days at Loma Linda University. Any transplant drug has to undergo years of animal testing for both safety and long-term side effects.) Imagine the researchers’ surprise when animals treated with rapamycin had an extended, not a shorter, life span,10 since most transplant drugs shorten life span! The search for the cause of this phenomenon revealed that the main driver of longevity is a receptor for energy availability on all cells. Researchers, who usually don’t lack fancy names to call things, called the receptor the “mammalian target of rapamycin” or mTor. We
TOR senses energy availability. If it senses lots of energy—think food and summer—it is time to grow and TOR stimulates cellular growth by activating IGF-1. If TOR senses little energy—think winter, drought, or starvation—it is time to batten down the hatches, cut back all nonessential functions, and kick any cell not pulling its own weight off the island; in that process, therefore, IGF-1 is lowered. While TOR cannot be measured—it is a receptor or sensor—its downstream messenger, IGF-1, tells cells to either grow or go into hibernation and wait for better times. By measuring IGF-1 (and lowering it with our food choices, such as less animal protein), we can manage our rate of aging. Scary, but true. My ninety- and hundred-year-olds all
Dan Buettner, the author of The Blue Zones,
Valter Longo of the Longevity Institute at the University of Southern California has shown that a monthly five-day modified vegan fast of approximately 900 calories gives the same results in terms of IGF-1 and other markers of aging, as does an entire month of a traditional calorie-restricted diet.16 Therefore, if you limit calories and avoid animal protein for just five days each month, you get the same benefits as though you joined the CR Society International for the whole month, but without the effort. It is akin to doing specific exercises for one or two days a week and achieving the same physical fitness results as exercising every day (actually, that’s true, too, as research shows17).
enzyme called hormone-sensitive lipase has to turn your stored fat into a usable form of fat called a ketone.
insulin keeps hormone-sensitive lipase from working.
excess protein morphs into sugar and results in insulin release, which blocks the action of the hormone-sensitive lipase, preventing fat from converting to ketones. The side effects of this blockage typically manifest as headaches, low energy, aches, and the so-called Atkins or low-carb flu. To
fructose is one of the leading causes of kidney failure, one that you and your doctor, even your nephrologist, are almost certainly unaware of. Fructose is such a toxin that 60 percent of it is shunted toward the liver, where it is converted to the form of fat called triglycerides (which causes heart disease) and to uric acid, which raises blood pressure, causes gout, and directly damages your kidneys’ filtration system.6 Thirty percent of fructose that you consume doesn’t go to your liver but heads right to your kidneys, where it causes a more direct insult to their filtering system.7 Remember, fruit is candy, toxic candy. As
The best example of ketosis in action is a pregnant hibernating bear.
Macadamias become the preferred nut, with other nuts taking a supporting role. • The sugar-free coconut milk frozen dessert remains, but the goat ice cream is now a no-no. • You can still treat yourself to extra dark chocolate, but be sure it contains at least 90 percent cacao. Lindt makes such a bar, which is widely available. • Animal protein sources drop to no more than 4 ounces—the size of a deck of cards—a day, preferably in the form of wild fish, shellfish, and mollusks. • If you have cancer, try eliminating animal proteins altogether. They contain a greater concentration of the amino acids that cancer cells use than do plant sources of protein. The leaves, tubers, and root vegetables you are eating provide all the protein8 you need but your cancer calls cannot use. • Egg yolks are virtually pure fat, and one your brain needs to function properly. Try a three-yolk, one-whole-egg omelet cooked in coconut oil or ghee, and filled with sliced avocado, mushrooms, and onions. Sprinkle with turmeric, and splash it with more ghee or macadamia, perilla, or olive oil before serving. • Vegans can have half a Hass avocado with a dollop of coconut oil. Hemp seeds are a good source of fat and plant protein. Walnuts have the highest plant protein content of the nut choices.9 • Greens, other acceptable vegetables, and resistant starches take on the role of being fat-delivery devices. I often tell my Keto Plant Paradox patients that the only purpose of food is to get fat into their mouths. For example, broccoli enables you to consume perilla oil, MCT oil, ghee, or any of the other approved oils. One of my favorite dishes is to simmer cauliflower in canned coconut cream, available at Trader Joe’s, with curry powder and eat it with a spoon. Drench, and I do mean drench, your salads with olive oil, perilla oil, macadamia nut oil, or better yet, mix olive oil or these other oils with MCT oil in a one-to-one ratio. MCTs are flavorless, making them a perfect addition to smoothies.
MANY OF THE B vitamins are produced by gut bacteria, so if your gut rain forest has been decimated, it is likely that you are deficient in both methylfolate (the active form of folic acid) and methylcobalamin (the active form of vitamin B12, sometimes called methyl B12). Moreover, more than half of the world’s population has one or more mutations of the methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) genes, which limits their ability to make the active forms of both vitamins. Many people, including myself, call the MTHFR mutation the Mother F’er gene thanks to how the acronym looks—but if you were to say it out loud on network television, you would be bleeped.
The good news is that by swallowing a methylfolate 1000 mcg tablet each day and putting a 1000 to 5000 mcg methyl B12 under your
B vitamin supplements? Simply put, they contribute a methyl group to an amino acid called homocysteine in your bloodstream and convert it to a harmless substance. An
Here is my G6 list: Polyphenols Perhaps the most important class of compounds missing from your diet is the plant phytochemicals called polyphenols. Plants design these compounds to resist insects and protect against sunburn (yes, fruit gets sunburned), so polyphenols provide you with a host of beneficial effects when metabolized by your gut bacteria. These benefits include blocking the formation of the atherosclerosis-causing trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO) from the animal proteins carnitine and choline, and, as I mentioned above, actively dilating your blood vessels. These compounds are so important that I formulated my own blend called Vital Reds, available at http://www.GundryMD.com. The product combines thirty-four different polyphenols, as well as my favorite probiotic, BG30, into a powder that mixes easily with water. It took me years of painstaking research to design this product and there is nothing else like it. However, as all my patients know, I don’t even sell my own products in my offices, choosing instead to point out alternative sources of polyphenols. Some of my favorite polyphenols in supplement form are grape seed extract, pine tree bark extract (sometimes marketed as pycnogenol), and resveratrol, the polyphenol in red wine. You can find supplements at Costco, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and online. My suggested doses are 100 mg of both grape seed extract and resveratrol, and 25 to 100 mg of pine tree bark extract a day. Other great additions are green tea extract, berberine, cocoa powder, cinnamon, mulberry, and pomegranate, all of which (and many more) are in Vital Reds, but can also be taken separately. Green Plant Phytochemicals Without a doubt, you cannot eat enough greens to satisfy your gut buddies, a fact that you will soon witness for yourself, when your cravings for greens will increase exponentially in the coming weeks on the Plant Paradox Program. An additional benefit of these greens is that they tend to suppress your appetite for the bad stuff that makes us fat. Studies have shown, for instance, that the phytochemicals in spinach dramatically reduce hunger for simple sugars and fats in humans,5 which is one reason that it is a key ingredient in the Green Smoothie, which I usually have for breakfast. Spinach is an ingredient in a lot of the greens blend powders on the market, but a word of warning about these phytochemical powders. I have not been able to find a greens blend without wheatgrass, barley grass, or oat grass as an ingredient—and lectins in grains and grasses are the last things you need to swallow. Last year I finally designed my own green formula called GundryMD Primal Plants, combining spinach extract along with eleven other superfood greens, particularly DIM (diindolylmethane), a remarkable immune-stimulating compound found in only minute amounts in broccoli. My blend also includes modified citrus pectin and fructooligosaccharides (FOS) as hunger suppressants and gut buddy stimulators. You can get the…
IN MY PRACTICE, I have a two-page list of supplements that I recommend to people, many of which I have combined into a more convenient form available at http://www.GundryMD.com. Space
BAKING POWDER, ALUMINUM-FREE: Conventional baking powder is basically a combination of sodium aluminum phosphate or sodium aluminum sulfate and baking soda. The acid and soda combine to create carbon dioxide gas, which makes baked goods rise. You do not want aluminum in your body! Bob’s Red Mill and Rumford are two widely available aluminum-free brands.
BASMATI RICE: Acceptable in small amounts in Phase 3, white basmati rice from India (not Texas) has the lowest lectin content and most resistant starch of any rice.
CASSAVA FLOUR: Although they come from the same root (manioc or yuca), cassava flour is not the same thing as tapioca flour. Cassava flour is the key to fluffy nongluten baking, and I have tried all the brands of it out there. Amazon sells Moon Rabbit, Otto’s Naturals, and others if you cannot find it in your supermarket. CAYENNE PEPPER: Like all bell and chili peppers, the peel and seeds of cayenne peppers contain lectins. However, the spice is ground only after both are removed, so its lectin content is limited. The same goes for Capsicum annuum, used to make paprika.
COCONUT MILK: This nondairy beverage is increasingly available in both the refrigerated section of the supermarket and in a Tetra Pak that can be stored at room temperature until it is opened. It has the consistency more of whole milk than almond or hemp milk.
GOAT DAIRY PRODUCTS: Goat milk in liquid and powdered form (Meyenberg is one brand) is readily available at most supermarkets, as is soft goat cheese (also known as chèvre). Trader Joe’s and natural food markets offer goat yogurt, while goat butter is available at stores that carry more specialty products, such as Whole Foods.
HEMP PROTEIN POWDER: Great for smoothies, this powder contains all the essential amino acids, is high in heart-healthy omega-3s, and has all the benefits of whey protein powder without the downsides (many whey powders contain sugar or artificial sweeteners). Vegans
JUST LIKE SUGAR: This natural sweetener is made from chicory root or agave (not to be confused with agave, the sweetener), which contains the polysaccharide inulin that your gut bugs love but you cannot metabolize. It can be found in natural foods stores and online; it’s also sold as Viv Agave Organic Blue Agave Inulin at Whole Foods.
this product. MILLET: Millet has no hull, meaning—paradoxically—that it is a lectin-free grain. You can find it in most well-stocked supermarkets, from Bob’s Red Mill and other manufacturers.
MOZZARELLA: Use only those products made from goat or water buffalo milk. It comes in baseball-sized balls packed in water. Buffalo mozzarella is easily found in most supermarkets or Italian grocery stores. You may have to order goat cheese mozzarella from Amazon or another online source.
NORI: The fish and rice in sushi are often wrapped in nori, seaweed that has been roasted, rolled, and flattened to the thickness of a piece of paper. Although it is a staple of Japanese cuisine, nori makes a great wrap (or cone) for my recipes, as well as for scrambled eggs or tuna salad and other sandwich fillings. You will find it in any supermarket, but to get an organic product, you may need to go to Whole Foods or shop online.
NUTRITIONAL YEAST: Not to be confused with the yeast that allows bread to rise, nutritional yeast is a great source of B vitamins and can lend a meat, egg, or cheese taste to vegan or vegetarian recipes. You’ll find it in flake or powder form in natural foods stores and online.
PERILLA OIL: Made from the seeds of the perilla plant, this is the most common oil used in most Asian countries, and it has the highest content of alpha linolenic acid, a form of omega-3 fat associated with protecting heart health, of any oil. Look for it in Asian markets, natural foods stores, and Whole Foods, as well as online.
QUORN PRODUCTS: These foods are made from a mushroom “root,” which Quorn calls mycoprotein, and which has the texture and mild flavor of chicken or turkey. Use only approved versions on the Say “Yes Please” list. Offerings include patties, cutlets, and grounds. Certain products contain a small amount of egg white, making them unsuitable for vegans. Products in the vegan line contain a little potato and gluten, so they are unacceptable. Also avoid any breaded items. You’ll find Quorn products in the vegetarian frozen foods section of any supermarket.
SORGHUM: One of only two grains without a hull, sorghum contains no lectins. It was the original staple grain in India until rice supplanted it. Bob’s Red Mill sorghum can be found in any well-stocked supermarket. Sorghum can be used as a breakfast cereal, side dish, or salad, or it can be popped exactly like popcorn. You can find it online prepopped as Mini Pops.
SPIRALIZER: When you say good-bye to pasta, this handy device turns carrots, daikon radishes, jicama, and root vegetables into “noodles.” Don’t bother buying a fancy and expensive electric spiralizer. Instead, a hand-operated spiralizer that costs about $15 will do the job.
Perfect Plantain Pancakes A close relative of the much sweeter banana, plantains are a good source of resistant starch, which your gut bugs thrive on. Vanilla enhances the flavors of the other ingredients. Read the label carefully on vanilla extract—some products use artificial flavoring, which you should avoid at all costs. I prefer to use organic vanilla extract, which is pricier than conventional products, but because you use very little in each recipe, it goes a long way. Phases 2–3 Serves 4; makes about 8 pancakes Prep time: 10 minutes Cook time: 20 minutes 2 large green plantains, peeled and cut in pieces 4 large pastured or omega-3 eggs 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 4 to 5 tablespoons extra-virgin coconut oil, divided ¼ cup Just Like Sugar ⅛ teaspoon sea salt, preferably iodized ½ teaspoon baking soda Place the plantain pieces in a blender or food processor and purée—you should have about 2 cups. Add the eggs and blend to form a smooth batter. Add the vanilla extract, 3 tablespoons of melted coconut oil, Just Like Sugar, the salt, and baking soda. Process on high for 2 to 3 minutes, until smooth. Heat 1 tablespoon coconut oil in a pan or griddle over medium heat. When the oil shimmers, fill a ½ cup measure with batter and pour into the pan. Repeat for two to three more pancakes. Cook 4 to 5 minutes, until the top looks fairly dry and has little bubbles. Flip and cook 1½ to 2 minutes more. Repeat with remaining batter, adding more oil as needed.
Paradox Crackers When you need a little crunch in your life, these crispy wafers fit the bill. Use them as dippers with guacamole or as an accompaniment to scrambled eggs, soup, or a salad, or simply with a small piece of acceptable cheese. You can also experiment with different herbs, if you wish. Phases 2–3 Serves 4; makes 16–20 crackers Prep time: 15 minutes Cook time: 20 minutes 2 large pastured or omega-3 eggs 1 teaspoon tap or filtered water 1 cup almond flour ½ cup coconut flour ½ teaspoon sea salt, preferably iodized 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning (optional) Heat the oven to 350°F. Whisk the eggs and water together in a small bowl. In a medium bowl, mix the almond flour, coconut flour, and salt, adding the Italian seasoning, if desired. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and blend well with a spoon or spatula, eliminating any lumps. Form into small balls about the size of a large marble, place on a cookie sheet, press flat with the back of a fork, and bake for about 20 minutes, until crisp. Let cool on a baking rack before serving.
Phases 2–3 Makes 10 cups (40 servings) Prep time: 5 minutes 1 pound raw shelled walnuts in halves and pieces 1 pound raw shelled pistachios or salted and dry-roasted pistachios 1 pound raw shelled macadamia nuts* or salted and dry-roasted macadamias
Sparkling Balsamic Vinegar Spritzer Diet Coke, Diet Pepsi, Diet Dr. Pepper, Diet Root Beer, or diet whatever kills your gut buddies, but my surefire replacement is the color of your old cola and is similarly fizzy. The balsamic vinegar contains resveratrol, one of the most powerful polyphenol compounds, which does wonders for you—and the inner you. Napa Valley Naturals Grand Reserve is my favorite balsamic vinegar, for its thick consistency and very smooth depth of flavor. Once you’ve tried this spritzer, you’ll never go back to cola! San Pellegrino is my sparking water of choice. Unlike most carbonated waters, it has a balanced pH. San Pellegrino also contains the highest sulfur content of any leading brand. Phases 2–3 Serves 1 Total time: 1 minute 8 to 10 ounces San Pellegrino or other high-pH sparkling water, chilled 1 to 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar de Modena Combine the sparkling water and balsamic in a glass, stir, and enjoy this life-giving drink!
“Raw” Mushroom Soup When my wife and I want comfort food, our thoughts turn to a hearty mushroom soup—but instead of waiting for several hours, we want it right away! We love raw food, but sometimes it just needs to be warmed up. After years of raw eating, we have come up with a medley of mushroom soups—this one is the easiest and our best yet. All you need is a food processor or a high-powered blender, and you’ll have a warm or hot soup in minutes. Plus, it’s vegan-friendly. With a side salad, this soup makes a full meal. Choose your favorite mushroom—button, cremini, morels, chanterelles, shiitake, or portabella—or mix them up. Your gut buddies adore all mushrooms! Truffle oil is optional, but I highly recommend it. Phases 2–3 Serves 2 Prep time: 20 minutes 2 large handfuls of mushrooms with stems, approximately 2 ½ cups 1 cup water ½ cup raw walnuts (preferred), or ¼ cup almond butter or ¼ cup hemp seed hearts 1 tablespoon dried minced onion, or 3 tablespoons chopped red onion ½ teaspoon sea salt, preferably iodized, or Himalayan salt ¼ teaspoon cracked black pepper 2 sprigs fresh thyme leaves, or ½ teaspoon dried thyme 1 tablespoon truffle oil (optional) Chop ½ cup of the mushrooms and set aside. Place the remaining 2 cups mushrooms, the water, walnuts, onions, salt, pepper, and thyme in a food processor fitted with the S-blade or in a high-speed blender. Pulse for 30 seconds, and then blend for 2 minutes. Check for temperature—it should be warm but not hot. If you prefer, blend on high for another minute or longer, until it gets hotter. Pour or spoon the soup into two bowls. It should be thick and gravylike. Top with the chopped mushrooms, drizzle with the truffle oil, if desired, and serve.
Pressure-Cooked Lima Beans, Kale, and Turkey I am a frequent visitor to the tiny villages of Tuscany. In every town, beans cooked in deep glass flasks are a popular side dish, and one I cannot resist. I usually paid dearly later in the day when the “attack of the lectins” began, as did my wife, trapped in the car with me moaning. However, with the arrival of my pressure cooker, I can now have my beans and eat them, too—plus my gut buddies get the benefits of beans. I modified this terrific recipe from one by the queen of pressure cooking, Lorna Sass, to make it even easier. Vegans and vegetarians can try the variations given below in Phase 2, but omnivores should hold off until Phase 3. Phase 3* Serves 4–6 Prep time: 30 minutes Cook time: 25 minutes 1 bunch Tuscan, black, or other kale 1 medium red or yellow onion, chopped 2 cloves garlic, minced, or ½ teaspoon garlic powder 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or avocado oil 4 cups vegetable stock 3 cups water 1 pound dried large lima beans, rinsed and picked through 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning 1 small pastured bone-in turkey thigh, about ¾ pound 2 tablespoons grainy mustard 2 teaspoons powdered sage Sea salt, preferably iodized Cracked black pepper 4 to 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or truffle oil, for drizzling Slice the leaves off the stems of the kale. Chop the stems and chop the leaves into larger pieces. Set aside. If your pressure cooker has a sauté feature, sauté the onions and the garlic in the oil for about 5 minutes. Alternatively, sauté them in a non-Teflon frying pan or wok over medium heat. Transfer the garlic and onions to the pressure cooker. Add the vegetable stock and water. Add the beans, Italian seasoning, and turkey thigh. Cook at high pressure for 14 minutes, then allow the pressure to come down naturally. Remove the turkey, and stir in the kale leaves, mustard, sage, and salt and pepper to taste. Shred the turkey and return to the pot. Stir until well blended, and ladle into serving bowls. Drizzle each serving with a tablespoon of olive oil or truffle oil. VEGETARIAN VERSION: Replace the turkey with ½ package thawed Quorn Grounds. VEGAN VERSION: Replace the turkey with 1 block grain-free tempeh, crumbled. *Vegans and vegetarians can consume pressure-cooked legumes in Phase 2.
Thoroughly Modern Millet Cakes I am one of the world’s experts on the dietary treatment of the ApoE4 gene, which 30 percent of all people carry. It is unfortunately named the Alzheimer’s gene, because of its strong association with that disease. Nigerians have the highest proportion of this gene in their population, but they have a very low incidence of dementia, a fact often attributed to their mostly plant-based diet. Their grain of choice is millet, sometimes called birdseed, which is free of lectins. I have spent the last fifteen years formulating user-friendly vegaquarian recipes for the large population with the ApoE4 gene, and I wanted to share some of that with you—so here is a great way to consume millet without having to raid your bird feeder! With a salad, three patties make a complete meal. Phases 2–3 Serves 4 Prep time: 45 minutes Cook time: 10 minutes ½ cup millet 2 cups vegetable stock or water ¾ teaspoon sea salt, preferably iodized ¼ cup chopped red onion ¼ cup chopped carrots ¼ cup chopped basil 1 cup chopped mushrooms 1 clove garlic, chopped ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or perilla oil 1 pastured or omega-3 egg, beaten 1 tablespoon coconut flour In a large dry saucepan, toast the millet over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring or shaking frequently, until golden brown and fragrant. Do not burn. Slowly add the vegetable stock and salt, being careful not to get burned from the rising steam. Stir and bring to boil. Lower the heat to simmer, cover the pan, and cook for about 15 minutes, until all the water is absorbed. Remove from the heat and let stand covered for 10 minutes, then fluff with a fork. Meanwhile, place the onion, carrots, basil, mushrooms, garlic, and Italian seasoning in a food processor fitted with the S-blade and pulse into fine pieces. Place 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat, add the vegetable mixture, and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes, until tender. Transfer to a large bowl. Wipe the skillet clean with a paper towel. Add the millet, beaten egg, and coconut flour to the mixing bowl. Stir to combine and thicken. With greased hands, form the mixture into 2-inch balls, and then press down with the palm of your hand to form into 12 patties. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet. Add the patties and sauté over medium heat for 5 minutes per side. Drain on a paper-towel-covered plate before serving.
Veggie Curry with Sweet Potato “Noodles” I’m a huge fan of curry as a way to consume turmeric, but since most curries are served over rice, that’s a nonstarter—at least until you are in Phase 3. Spiralized sweet potatoes to the rescue! Spiralizers can transform firm tubers, roots, or even broccoli stems into noodles. Don’t have a spiralizer? Just use a vegetable peeler to make “noodles.” This is my variation on a recipe from http://www.foodfaithfitness.com, Taylor Kiser’s site. I’ve eliminated the nasty nightshades and kicked up the curry, making it Plant Paradox–friendly and vegan-friendly. Phases 2–3 Serves 2 Prep time: 10 minutes Cook time: 25 minutes CURRY ½ tablespoon extra-virgin coconut oil 1 large carrot, spiralized or julienned 1 cup broccoli, cut into bite-size pieces ⅓ cup chopped onion, or 2 tablespoons dried minced onion 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger, or ½ teaspoon dried ginger 1 tablespoon yellow curry powder One 13.5-ounce BPA-free can full-fat coconut milk or coconut cream Pinch sea salt, preferably iodized SWEET POTATO “NOODLES” ½ tablespoon coconut oil 1 large sweet potato, peeled and spiralized with the 3-mm blade Pinch salt 4 tablespoons chopped cilantro or flat-leaf parsley, for garnish MAKE THE CURRY. Heat the coconut oil on medium-high heat. Add the carrot and cook about 3 minutes, until it just begins to soften. Turn the heat down to medium, add the broccoli, onion, and ginger, and cook until they begin to soften and brown, about 5 minutes. Add the yellow curry powder and cook 1 minute. Then add the coconut milk and salt, stirring to mix well. Raise the heat to medium-high again and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce begins to thicken. MAKE THE NOODLES. While the sauce is cooking, heat the coconut oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the spiralized sweet potato noodles, and cook, stirring often, until they just begin to wilt, about 10 minutes. Season with salt. TO SERVE. Divide the noodles between two plates and top with the curry. Or combine before serving. Sprinkle with the cilantro and serve.
Baked “Fried” Artichoke Hearts Artichokes are an amazing source of inulin to feed your gut buddies, but steaming and then tediously pulling off each leaf to scrape out a meager amount of meat with your teeth is a pain in the neck. Inspired by Jimmy Schmidt, of Morgan’s in the Desert at the La Quinta Resort and Club, I’ve simplified his dish and omitted the deep-frying for a baked version. Phases 2–3 Serves 2 Prep time: 20 minutes Cook time: 25 minutes 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (or perilla oil) Juice of ½ lemon, or 2 tablespoons bottled lemon juice ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper powder 10 frozen artichoke hearts, defrosted and patted dry with paper towels ¼ cup almond, coconut, or cassava flour ¼ teaspoon sea salt, preferably iodized, plus additional for serving ¼ teaspoon cracked black pepper Lemon wedges Heat the oven to 400°F. Place 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, the lemon juice, and cayenne pepper in a mixing bowl and whisk until blended. Add the artichoke hearts to the bowl and stir until well coated. Coat a rimmed baking sheet with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Place the flour, the ¼ teaspoon salt, and the pepper in a 1 quart resealable plastic bag. Using tongs or your hands, add the artichokes to the bag and shake to lightly cover. (Alternatively, mix the flour, the ¼ teaspoon salt, and the pepper in a glass casserole with a tight-fitting lid. Add the artichokes and, holding the top firmly, shake to cover.) Place the artichoke hearts on the baking sheet and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, turning the artichokes or shaking the pan two or three times, until the artichokes are golden brown and crispy. Remove to a serving dish, sprinkle with more salt, if desired,
Cassava Flour Waffles with a Collagen Kick If you want to eat like a Kitavan Islander, you’ve got to use cassava flour. You may equate it with tapioca flour, because they come from the same root, but cassava flour is the key to fluffy, nongluten baking. (Trust me, I’ve tried them all.) I’ve modified this great recipe by blogger Heather Resler, after meeting with my good friends at Vital Proteins to get some help for vegaquarians like me (and hopefully you). Have it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. The folks at Vital Proteins have come up with marine collagen from wild salmon that just blows me away! It has no fishy taste or any taste—repeat, none. Have it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. The marine collagen adds fish protein. If necessary, melt the coconut oil in the microwave on high for 30 seconds or set into a bowl of hot water until melted. Phases 2–3 Serves 4; makes 4 to 8 waffles, depending on the size and shape of the waffle iron Prep time: 5 minutes Cook time: 15 minutes 4 pastured or omega-3 eggs ¼ cup Vital Proteins marine collagen (optional) ½ cup cassava flour ¼ cup extra-virgin coconut oil 1 tablespoon local honey or Manuka honey, or 3 tablespoons Just Like Sugar ½ teaspoon baking soda ¼ teaspoon salt Just Like Sugar, for dusting waffles (optional) One 12-oz. package Trader Joe’s frozen wild blueberries (optional) Heat a waffle iron. Place the eggs, marine collagen, if desired, cassava flour, coconut oil, honey, baking soda, and salt in a high-powered blender or regular blender and mix on high for 45 seconds or until well blended and slightly foamy. If you don’t have a blender, whisk the eggs, coconut oil, marine collagen, and honey until well blended, and then whisk or stir in the cassava flour, baking soda, and salt. Using a ¼ cup measure,…
Mint Chocolate Chip–Avocado “Ice Cream” Okay, I admit it. I love ice cream and there’s not a lot out there that passes the Plant Paradox Program test, except the So Delicious brand’s Coconut Milk blue label. Let’s bring the plants to ice cream and sweeten it with the best gut buddy food there is, inulin. What a paradox! Here’s my fabulous version of a recipe on http://www.alldayIdreamaboutfood.com, a blog by “Carolyn.” I made some adaptations to get even more plant goodness into you. This delectable dessert will satisfy your cravings for ice cream and chocolate without derailing your new way of eating. Be sure that the coconut milk can is not lined with the deadly disruptor BPA. Trader Joe’s makes a great thick coconut cream. Phases 2–3 Serves 6 Prep time: 20 minutes Chill time: 2 hours One 15-ounce can coconut milk or coconut cream ¾ cup Just Like Sugar, or ⅓ cup Swerve 1 teaspoon instant coffee powder or finely ground espresso beans 2 tablespoons (nonalkalized) unsweetened cocoa powder 3 ounces (about one bar) 85% to 90% sugar-free dark chocolate, chopped 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 2 Hass avocados, peeled and pits removed. 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint, or 10 drops SweetLeaf Mint Stevia drops, or to taste ½ cup 72% or more sugar-free extra-dark chocolate chips, or ½ cup chopped 100% percent cocoa baking chocolate Put the coconut milk, sweetener, coffee powder, and cocoa powder in a medium saucepan. Whisk over medium heat, until the sweetener has dissolved and the mixture is blended. Turn off the heat. Add the chopped chocolate and stir until melted. Place the chocolate mixture in a food processor fitted with the S-blade or a blender. Add the vanilla extract, avocados, and mint, and blend until smooth. Pour into a bowl, cover, and refrigerate for 2 hours, until cool. Stir in the chocolate chips until well dispersed. Spoon or pour into an ice cream maker (see Note) and churn until thick and set. It will be the consistency of soft-serve ice cream. Serve immediately. You can also freeze to a firmer consistency and serve later: transfer to a metal or glass container and cover with wax paper secured with a rubber band. VEGAN VERSION: Omit the egg and substitute one VeganEgg. NOTE: If you don’t have an ice cream maker, put the ice cream mixture into a metal loaf pan or a glass or ceramic casserole pan and place in the freezer. Stir every ½ hour to break up ice crystals and keep stirring until desired consistency is reached.
Flourless Chocolate–Almond Butter Cake Make your own personal mini cake that boasts a symphony of flavors when you need a special treat. Because cream is 100 percent fat, the breed of cow does not matter as it does with milk (it is the protein portion of the milk that is impacted by the casein A-1 mutation in most cows). Phases 2–3 Serves 1 Prep time: 10 minutes Cook time: 1 minute 2 tablespoons (nonalkalized) unsweetened cocoa powder 2 tablespoons Just Like Sugar, Swerve, or xylitol ¼ teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder 1 large pastured or omega-3 egg 1 tablespoon heavy cow cream ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract 1 teaspoon salted French or Italian butter, goat butter, or ghee 1 tablespoon organic smooth or crunchy almond butter Put the cocoa powder, sweetener, and baking powder in a small mixing bowl. Using a fork, whisk to combine and mash up any clumps of baking powder. Put the egg, heavy cream, and vanilla extract in another small bowl, and whisk to combine. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until all ingredients are well incorporated. Grease the bottom and sides of a 4½-inch-diameter ramekin with the butter. Pour in the batter. Microwave on high for 1 minute 20 seconds and remove. Soften the almond butter in the microwave oven, drizzle over the top of the cake, and serve.