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Dr. Steven Gundry is a former cardiac surgeon and currently runs his own clinic, investigating the impact of diet on health. I recently read his book The Plant Paradox and, as I often do, I typed up notes. I’ve known for years about gut flora and how it impacts our health, but this was an informative read. My notes (I wanted to remember) are below, but keep in mind there is more information in the book and highly recommend you read it yourself. I believe we all have our own take-a-ways from books like this.

How To Die Young At A Ripe Old Age

Aging and healthy living are two concepts that medical science and research cannot exhaust, as new and relevant knowledge regarding these two things are brought to light daily. However, the Longevity Paradox is entirely different from the rest, offering tips, practices and experiences, drawn from a wealth of knowledge.

In terms of sharing health related issues with our parents, it’s not so much sharing the same DNA as it is sharing similar habits and living environments. Holobiomes make us age rapidly. Recent research suggests this is real.

Gut bacteria is very powerful, a more predictor of the outcomes of many health situations than genetics.  This proves it is more likely for one to share similar health conditions as one’s roommate, as opposed to one’s parents simply because you share similar gut bugs. These gut bugs affect every part of your health and longevity, and have proved in both humans and animals to play vital rolls in how well and long you will live.

Antibiotics mess up our gut buddies.  Our gut buddies are active day and night, ensuring that your immune, nervous and hormonal systems function as they should. Their most important role is in supporting your digestive system. Gut bacteria are so relevant to the digestion process that the inability of the bacteria in your gut to process the food you eat equals being unable to benefit from the nutrition in that food.

Gut buddies digest the food we eat, but also keep yeast/ candida in form, train the immune system to identify what is beneficial and what is not, as well as being in charge of gut entry. They also signal to the important hormones in the body, about the situations of things in the gut by communicating with the mitochondria.

Both mitochondria and gut buddies share a remarkable process. When they receive signals, they respond in manners that increase their number, thereby improving their function.  This is known as hormesis.  This process suggests nurturing bacteria that sends longevity messages to their sisters. Gut buddies affect everything that concern your health and comfort. Treat them well and they release feel-good hormones such as serotonin. Bad bugs do nothing but cause you to be overweight, sick, and liable to a host of diseases. They do this by taking over the communication link between your gut buddies and their sisters, causing you to crave all of the food they need, which are harmful to you. When you are ill/ have diseases, the bad bugs cannot protect you.

Monocotyledonous plants are the troublesome for some human guts, as they contain the compounds that create the greatest problem ever – lectins.  Like you and I, plants intend to live a long life, hence lectins are produced as a survival tactic. They affect our gut buddies, cause them to be unhappy, wear and tear them down, resulting in us being sick and overweight. The introduction of toxins, genetically modified foods, processed foods, use of herbicide, fertilizers, and additives have messed the system up. While these drugs have their good sides, they also mess up the entire spectrum by wiping out not only the bad guys, but also the good guys.

It’s not enough to have the right gut buddies in your microbiome, the other half is ensuring they remain on their own side of the intestinal margin.  If bits of their cell walls, knowns as lipopolysaccharides, move away from the margin into your gut, organs, tissues or blood, regardless of them being gut buddies or bad bugs, they elicit a response to the action, causing inflammation and setting the scene for rapid aging and illness. All diseases therefore begin in the gut.  Thus all diseases can be brought to a halt therein as well.  

Inflammation results in aging. Stomach acids are designed to break down our meals into single constituents. If all goes well, every other thing with the exception of the single molecules remain right outside the intestinal margin. On the other hand, if all fails to go as it should, other compounds will gain entry, resulting in health issues.  This is known as leaky gut. When you have leaky gut, the immune system become highly active. Leaky gut is at the center of the most common diseases often linked with aging.

Causes of leaky gut:

  • Lectins
  • NSAIDs (ibuprofen, Naprosyn, Aleve, Celebrex…) These drugs create holes in the intestines, allowing lectins and bacteria to enter into the body.
  • PPIs (proton pump inhibitors) and stomach acid reducers. Stomach acid reducers are another set of drugs that are harmful to your gut. Stomach acids helps you destroy many bad bugs before they make into your gut. In the absence of enough stomach acid, bad bugs can take over the human body. Hence they wipe out the defense strategy against lectins.

The 7 myths of aging:

  1. The Mediterranean diet promotes longevity.  Not true because they eat mostly grains.  We should take our cues from those who live in the Blue Zones.  Two of these populations, the Kitavans and Okinawans consume sweet potatoes, and plantains and taro roots in large amounts. They differ from regular carbohydrates because they are different resistant starches, which act differently from other carbs in the gut.  They pass through the small intestines instead of being changed into glucose. These do not cause a spike in blood sugar/insulin levels. In addition, our gut buddies love resistant starches.
  2. Animal protein is essential for strength and longevity. In the Blue Zones, people take their cues from, animal protein were once and are still very rare and expensive, and therefore eaten at a minimum.  While we need proteins to power us and build muscles, in the US we are made to believe we need far more than we actually do, not for health, but for commercial purposes.  In the US, animal protein is subsidized by the government and fed corn and other grains, vs. being pastured raised.  The results in higher blood sugar levels and shorter life span.
  3. Growth hormones promote youthfulness and vitality. Majority of people who live in the Blue Zones are much shorter than average height people who live elsewhere. On average, women are 5” shorter than the men. Research shows that men and women of the same height pattern had the same average life span. Contrary to what society assumes as fact, increased height does not mean you’re living a better life. Growth is exaggerated by what we eat in the US (like grains and animal proteins).
  4. Having a high metabolic rate is a sign of good health. In fact, a high metabolic rate is no sign that you are living a healthy life. Instead, it suggest that your metabolism is ineffective, and being put under more pressure than it should in order to burn fuel.
  5. It is important to get plenty of iron as you age.  Over the years, we have been taught that people get anemic as they age. This is not true.  Accumulation of iron within the human body can cause one to age faster. Those in the Blue Zones who donated blood on a regular basis lived longer. Iron causes us to age rapidly because it meddles with the function of the mitochondria.  Research shows those with Huntington’s disease also have their mitochondria overloaded with Iron. 
  6. Saturated food should not be demonized.  Saturated fats are bad for you.  Back in the 1950s Ancel Keys discovered the correlation between animal fat (found within the protein) and heart attacks.  Fat sources associated with longevity? Fats from plants, so consume lots of olives, olive oils and nuts.
  7. Milk does your body good. The avoidance of cow milk and consumption of goat or sheep milk products help the Blue Zone people live long and healthy lives. Years ago, a mutation occurred, and the protein present in northern European cows changed from casein A2 to casein A1.  During the course of digestion, A1 causes inflammation.  The most common cows in the world, known as the Holstein, produces this form of milk.  Goat and Sheep produce the healthier casein A2.

Heart health is connected with overall health.  We have been taught to believe the heart gets weaker as we age, until finally it gives out.  The truth is, heart disease can be completely avoided, and can equally be reversed without the use of drugs or surgery. In many cases, like those of children and diabetic patients, the cells were mistaken by antibodies formed against the reoccurrence of illnesses (for example rheumatic fever) for the bad guys, and so they begin to attack. In both cases heart disease was caused by immune responses, or responses as a result of mistaken identity.

Another reason why eating large quantities of animal proteins causes us to age rapidly is the absence of Neu5Ac on blood vessels. Neu5Ac is a lectin which binds to sugar, found in elephants and humans. The animals we eat contain Neu5Gc, a molecule that prevents lectins from binding to sugar. When we consume Neu5Gc, our immune system detects an inflammation and attacks. As a result, heart disease can develop. We can eat shellfish, poultry and fish because they carry Neu5Ac.

Contrary to popular belief, cholesterol is not the root cause of heart disease. Saturated fat causes heart disease by increasing blood cholesterol levels, but cholesterol itself is irrelevant.

The real enemies are triglycerides. They are affected by almost anything.  Simple sugars and grains raise triglyceride levels and too much animal protein isn’t healthy either.

New discovery shows that our microbiome does determine our susceptibility to developing cancer, and ability to respond to treatment, should we get cancer. Our microbiomes and MTOR notify our body of abundance of food.  Our cells take a growth up. When this occurs, the body is denied the opportunity to sieve through the cells, deciding on which to keep and which to prune.  Unknowingly, abnormal cells begin to grow and become stored in large quantities as we feed them with food. The only way out of this is to reduce your energy consumption for a while so as to enable your body reset and let of these abnormal cells on a regular basis. To fight cancer, feed on ketones, nuts (tree nuts) as they contain lots of anticancer properties.

There is a link between cancer and heart disease. The course through which arthritis occurs is the same for coronary heart disease. Aging is not responsible for the wear and tear of your joints, inflammation is.  Bad bugs and leaky gut allow lectins and lipopolysaccharides to penetrate your body.  Lectins prompt an attack and inflammation, which results in arthritis and every other problem with aging.Lipopolysaccharides to the same when they entry into your joints, eliciting the same response as lectins.

NSAID’s complicate things for arthritic patients because these drugs make our gut more prone to invasion. We need to nourish our gut buddies and allow the gut wall to heal. This can be done by ensuring that foods containing WGA (wheat germ agglutinin) like wheat and whole grains are excluded from our diet.

Chronic inflammation left unattended results in deterioration of our bones, which leads to osteoporosis. 

I perceive that our musculoskeletal systems greatest threat as we age is an invisible muscle loss, which happens over time and we are oblivious to it. As you age, a chunk of your muscles have been replaced by fat, fooling us into believe we have remained the same. To prevent this we must keep muscles hungry through regular strength building exercise.  Exercise also changes our gut microbiome because our gut buddies love it.

We ought to age with our brains intact – as sharp as it ever was. All diseases we associate with aging such as dementia begin in the gut as a result of inflammation.  The brain in your head is our second brain. Your gut is your first brain, being able to control the brain in your head. They work like the senses in humans, sending messages and communicating with other parts of the body. Changes in the microbiome results in neuroinflmmation, which goes on to cause a decline in cognitive abilities.

Remember lectins cause inflammation and these play a key role in neuroinflmmation and neurological diseases. Dopamine is widely known to regulate emotions/pain, pleasure sensations. The downside to it is as the release of dopamine in this situation lays the block for a host of disease, particularly Parkinson’s disease.

Our neurons and their bodyguards (microglial cells) sense that the blood-brain barrier has been invaded, they make an effort to protect against such invasion by thinning the neurons’ dendritic structures.  Eventually the body of the cell is all that remains and the end result is the inability of the neurons to communicate with each other. This is at the core of memory and cognitive problems like dementia.

Glutamine, found in flavor enhancers, is capable of killing neurons that produce dopamine.

In multiple sclerosis (MS), the immune system gradually eats away the protective lining of nerves (myelin.) This causes a breach in the communication between the brain and the rest of our bodies.  Again, disease begins in the gut and this can also be reversed by diet, instead of using drugs that subdue the immune system.

The lymphatic system cleans up the spaces between cells.  Lymph cleans up garbage in our bodies, including our brains and is known as the glymphatic system. It is most active during deep sleep. Recent studies have revealed that a major risk factor for obesity is dementia. You can drastically reduce this risk by consuming cold pressed olive oil as it has anti-inflammatory properties.  Gut buddies love leafy greens and it also slows down the aging process in the brain.

The lining of our gut protects us from invasions.  Weakening of the gut wall results in breakdown of our inner skin, causing aging.

The more fat in our body, the more bad bugs you have.  Keep your microbiome active with foods they love, while you starve the bad bugs out.

Endocrine disruptors cause adults to gain weight as they age, as they disrupt the release of estrogen. To be safe therefore, avoid disruptors like Bisphenol A (BPA). In order to stay safe from these, avoid consuming canned foods, use glassware for food storage, ensure toys are BPA free, and request receipts are placed in the bag or thrown away as they contain BPA too. Phthalates are also EDs. Sunscreen should be free parabens and consume Vitamin C as it is highly effective in guarding against solar damage to skin.

Arsenic is an antibiotic, but also an ED. Azodicarbonamide is a foaming agent used to produce leather products as well as lighten flour. It is highly unsafe, yet found in use by many fast-food restaurants. It triggers asthma and allergic reactions, and is highly irritating to the gut. Avoid fast foods, do away with most grains, and if you eat bread, choose organic fermented varieties.

Artificial blue light makes us age faster because it subdues melatonin production, causing us to stay awake more often, which is closely linked with obesity. Blue light also stimulates the hormones responsible for our being hungry and awake, resulting in weight gain.

Tons of bacteria live on our skin, called skin flora. These bacteria secrete substances that help protect and rejuvenate our skin. We should not use bacterial soap or cleansers because they kill the good and bad bacteria.

Bonicel (BC30) is a health bacterium that is not digested by stomach acid. It is highly efficient in preventing and reducing rough skin lines and increasing skin hydration and elasticity. Polyphenols found in fruits, vegetables and grains also help fight aging skin because of their antioxidants.

We need to fertilize our gut buddies with prebiotics. Probiotics are gut bugs while prebiotics are the food that feed probiotics.  We can’t digest prebiotics, so they stay in the gut so the probiotics can eat them. Prebiotic foods are found in tubers and roots like yams, tiger nuts, parsnip, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, and taro root. Ground flaxseed contains prebiotic fiber, Vit. B, omega-3 fatty acids and is highly beneficial to gut buddies. Our skin buddies love these also, so add them in body scrub. You can also use flaxseed oil as a cream for your hair and body.

Artichokes, leeks, ochre (lectins bind to the mucus in okra), jicama (prebiotic fiber), and cruciferous veggies are all anti-inflammatory and have oxidative properties.

Certain nuts are highly nourishing, but you have be careful.  Cashews are seeds and peanuts are legumes and both are full of lectins. Real nuts are good for gut and health. They reduce possibility of gallstones, protect against diabetes and regulate blood pressure.

In order to activate the omega-3 fats from fish oil, take an 81 milligram enteric-coated aspirin a few times a week. Olive oil is considered a miracle drug for longevity. It transports polyphenols, but also increases a type of cholesterol known as apolipoprotein A-IV, which helps prevent platelets from clunking after eating a meal or in the early morning, when heart attacks are more likely to occur.

Most dairy products are highly inflammatory. Healthy alternatives are: goat cheese, coconut milk, ghee, millet, green tea, and extra dark chocolate.

Simple sugars and starches, like grapes, mangoes, ripe bananas, lychees, apples, pineapples and pears, they’re all unhealthy for you and loved by our bad guts.