Ep. 335 Gut Check: Understanding Gut Diversity, Leaky Gut and Ways to Heal with Dr. Steven Gundry

Your trusted source for nutrition, wellness, and mindset for thriving health.

I am delighted to reconnect with Dr. Steven Gundry today. He last joined me for episode 236. 

Dr. Gundry is one of the world’s leading cardiothoracic surgeons and a nutrition pioneer. He hosts the highly acclaimed Dr. Gundry Podcast, on which I was honored to be a featured guest. He is the Founder and Director of the International Heart and Lung Institute Center for Restorative Medicine and the author of several New York Times bestselling books, including his most recent, Gut Check

In our conversation, we dive into gut diversity, exploring the interrelationship between specific parasitic organisms like toxoplasmosis and behavior. We share information on mitochondrial DNA and polyphenols and uncover the synergistic relationships they share with our gut microbiome. We also get into Resveratrol and Urolithin A and discuss pre-, pro-, and post-biotics, the impact of leaky gut, glyphosate, statin therapy, and Dr. Gundry’s new Gut Check program. 

I am honored to facilitate this insightful dialogue with Dr. Steven Gundry and feel confident you will find it as engaging as I did while recording.

“If you have an autoimmune disease or suspect you have one, I can guarantee you have a leaky gut.”

– Dr. Steven Gundry


  • Why should your spouse clean the cat litter tray if you are pregnant?
  • The synergistic relationship that exists between the gut microbiome, mitochondrial DNA, and polyphenols
  • How resveratrol in red wine activates mitochondrial DNA repair compounds
  • Why a diverse microbiome is the key to longevity 
  • How do fermented foods improve gut health?
  • How a leaky gut impacts bone health
  • What bacterial translocation can lead to in men and women
  • How does glyphosate affect our health?
  • How gut sealing can reverse a leaky gut and autoimmune diseases
  • Dr. Gundry explains how statins affect the gut microbiome


Steven R. Gundry, MD, is the founder and director of the International Heart and Lung Institute in Palm Springs, California, and the Center for Restorative Medicine in Palm Springs and Santa Barbara. After a distinguished surgical career as a professor and chairman of cardiothoracic surgery at Loma Linda University, Dr. Gundry changed his focus to curing modern diseases via dietary changes. He is the author of New York Times bestsellers The Plant Paradox, The Plant Paradox Cookbook, The Plant Paradox Quick & Easy, and The Longevity Paradox, along with national bestsellers The Plant Paradox Family Cookbook, The Energy Paradox, Dr. Gundry’s Diet Evolution, and Unlocking the Keto Code, and more than 300 articles published in peer-reviewed journals on using diet and supplements to eliminate heart disease, diabetes, autoimmune disease, and multiple other diseases. He is the host of the weekly Dr Gundry Podcast and founder of wellness brand, Gundry MD. Dr. Gundry lives with his wife, Penny, and their dogs in Palm Springs and Montecito, California


Unleash the Power of Your Microbiome to Reverse Disease and Transform Your Mental, Physical, and Emotional Health

By Steven R. Gundry, MD

While science and medicine have certainly come a long way in the last 2,400 years, emerging science has proven Hippocrates was right all those years ago – all disease begins in the gut. This means our gut microbiome, including gut bacteria and the integrity of our gut lining, strongly affects our overall health. When our microbiome is out of balance, it affects our immune system, hormone levels, mental health, longevity, and our risk for developing autoimmune, heart, neurodegenerative diseases, as well as arthritis, diabetes, and cancer.

In the latest addition to his New York Times bestselling Plant Paradox series, GUT CHECK: Unleash the Power of Your Microbiome to Reverse Disease and Transform Your Mental, Physical, and Emotional Health (Harper Wave, January 9, 2024; ISBN: 978-0062911773; $32.00; 352 pages), Dr. Steven Gundry offers a definitive guide to the gut biome and its control over its home – us! Revealing the unimaginably complex and intelligent ecosystem controlling our health, Gut Check teaches us how to heal our gut to prevent and reverse every type of disease.

Throughout this paradigm-shifting, practical-application book, Dr. Gundry shares shocking new research and cutting-edge information, along with the keys and tools we need to repair our health and reclaim our lives, including a detailed eating plan with food lists and recipes to heal and rebalance the microbiome.

In GUT CHECK, you’ll learn about:

  • Gut diversity and how a diverse gut biome is directly linked to health and longevity
  • The difference between polyphenols and antioxidants and how “gut buddies” (aka good bacteria) are the missing link to process them
  • Why the key isn’t anti-inflammatory foods, the key is making sure our gut wall is intact — and how to repair the damage if there is any
  • The love-hate relationship between the state of our microbiome and our brains
  • Xenobiotics, and what they’re doing to our body’s “inner tennis court,” aka the gut lining
  • How certain Blue Zone cultures overcome the harmful effects of modern-day living – even smoking!
  • The dos and don’ts of the Gut Check program and the list of foods that we can say “yes” to and the foods we should avoid

Connect with Cynthia Thurlow

Connect with Steven Gundry

Previous Episode Featuring Dr. Gundry

Ep. 236 Keto Code: Unlocking Mitochondrial Health with Dr. Steven Gundry


Cynthia Thurlow: [00:00:02] Welcome to Everyday Wellness Podcast. I’m your host, Nurse Practitioner, Cynthia Thurlow. This podcast is designed to educate, empower, and inspire you to achieve your health and wellness goals. My goal and intent is to provide you with the best content and conversations from leaders in the health and wellness industry each week and impact over a million lives.

[00:00:29] Today, I had the honor of reconnecting with Dr. Steven Gundry. We last connected on Episode 236. Dr. Gundry is one of the world’s top cardiothoracic surgeons and a pioneer in nutrition. He hosts a top-rated health show, The Dr. Gundry Podcast, for which I have been honored to have been a guest. He is the founder and director of the International Heart and Lung Institute Center for Restorative Medicine. He’s also the author of several New York Times bestselling books and most recently, his book, Gut Check.

[00:01:00] Today, we spoke at great length about gut diversity and the complex interrelationship between specific parasitic organisms like toxoplasmosis and behavior information specific to mitochondrial DNA, the role of polyphenols and the synergistic relationships that they have with our gut microbiome, resveratrol, Urolithin A, pre, pro, and postbiotics, the impact of leaky gut, glyphosate, statin therapy, and the impact of his new gut check program. I know you will enjoy this conversation as much as I did recording it.

[00:01:41] Hi, Dr. Gundry. How are you? 

Dr. Steven Gundry: [00:01:42] Good. Can’t complain. 

Cynthia Thurlow: [00:01:44] Well, I really enjoyed your book and I have to chuckle there were definitely a lot of things that were new and as you appropriately stated, beginning during your medical training, there was so little that we knew about the gut microbiome and yet now there’s a powerful shift in our understanding and our appreciation for our gut buddies, as you refer to them.

Dr. Steven Gundry: [00:02:06] Yeah, every passing day, something new comes out about it. It’s just fascinating now that we know they’re there.

Cynthia Thurlow: [00:02:14] Absolutely. I thought we could really start the conversation. One of many interesting stories that you weaved into the book. I think for most of us that have taken microbiology or cell biology, we don’t think much of these simple microorganisms. But yet toxoplasmosis, which is something for most of my listeners, if they have cats, they were told to avoid dealing with cat litter and dealing around cats while they were pregnant. But there’s so much more to these sophisticated little one-celled organisms. Let’s start the conversation there, because I found this absolutely fascinating, how they can alter our physiology quite profoundly.

Dr. Steven Gundry: [00:02:52] Yeah. For those who don’t know. Hopefully most of your female listeners do understand why it’s probably good for your spouse or significant other to scoop the poop if you are pregnant or even thinking about getting pregnant. Because toxoplasmosis is a one-cell parasite, and many, many parasites have two phases of their life cycle that they have to leave intermediate host to get to the host that they really want to get to. And strangely enough, toxoplasmosis final host happens to be a cat. And as obvious it may seem, they chose a mouse or a rat as their intermediate host. And that, in a way, seems really stupid, because mice and rats are definitely afraid of cats. And, in fact, cat urine, they’ll run the other way. Sight of a cat, they’ll run the other way. So, bad choice, you would think.

[00:03:51] So, the rat or mouse gets infected with toxoplasmosis by drinking in general water that cats have pooped in. And the organism actually heads to their brain and it does two rather unique, remarkably sophisticated things. Number one, it works on the dopaminergic receptors in the brain, the excitement receptors, and makes the rat very excited to either smell cat urine or to even see the sight of a cat and actually becomes very sexually attractive to the cat. And sex is very attractive. And the rat rather than running the other way, heads for the cat and, of course, eats it. And the toxoplasmosis gets where it wants to be, and it’s fascinating. It also rewires the fear system of the rat and makes it bold, makes it seek out risk. Of course, a cat would be very risky to seek out.

[00:04:57] And so this little single cell organism actually affects a rather impressive advanced organism. And what’s really interesting about toxoplasmosis is any creature that a cat that preys upon would be a very good host as well. That’s why in the book, I talk about one of the surprising things about the wolves in Yellowstone Park when they looked at pack leaders. The pack leaders were all infected with toxoplasmosis, and they were bold and they took risks. And that’s, of course, why they were pack leaders. Well, why in the world would toxoplasmosis infect a wolf? Turns out that even though the wolf is one of the apex predators, there’s another apex predator, the mountain lion, a cat, and mountain lions like to eat wolves. And so there you go and it goes on and on. 

[00:05:55] We know that chimpanzees are one of the favorite targets of big cats in Africa. And of course, chimpanzees can get infected with toxoplasmosis and they take risks and they become emboldened. And humans happen to be a delicious target for big cats, particularly tigers. And lo and behold, it would be probably a good idea to infect humans in the hope that a tiger or a mountain lion would eat us. And that gets to the fact that, fascinatingly, people who killed in motorcycle accidents, over 50% of them are infected with toxoplasmosis. And I allude to the fact that there’s one study that I reference that people who do heroic things, do just crazy heroic acts. In fact, have infections of toxoplasmosis. Now, that takes nothing away from the fact that, thank you for your heroism. But even the US government at one time was very interested in infecting troops with toxoplasmosis so that they would run towards danger.

Cynthia Thurlow: [00:07:06] Yeah. And for me, at the very beginning of the book, and when I read that, I thought to myself, we have this pejorative perspective that, “Oh, these unsophisticated one-cellular organisms,” but yet they’re far more sophisticated than perhaps we have given them initial credit to. And as you weave your way through the book, you talk about important markers for a healthy microbiome. Maybe people are familiarized with diversity that terminology is probably familiarized for a lot of people, but it gets back to our mitochondria. Everything starts with the cell and cellular energy.

[00:07:41] And for those that read your last book, which I love talking about the mito-club and the bouncers and the antioxidants and all these things, making it clear this direct pathway of things that contribute to uncoupling the mitochondria are things that are pretty familiar to many of us, maybe polyphenols, shortchange fatty acids, ketones in particular. But I think it’s helpful for listeners to understand it’s not just enough to consume polyphenol-rich foods, it’s not just enough to consume fiber. There’s more to it than that. Can we start exploring this topic? Because this is a huge takeaway from the book. And one thing that I think just reinforces why it’s so important to be gut health centric. 

Dr. Steven Gundry: [00:08:25] Yeah, I wish one would think that it ought to be fairly simple, that these are simple one-celled organisms and yet it’s not that simple at all. This is we’ve evolved with a very complex synergistic relationship with hundred trillion microbes that live in our mouth and our nose, particularly in our gut. And those microbes were their home, number one. And they actually have a rather vested interest in the upkeep of their home. Now, in the good old days, it was a two-way street because we gave the microbes place to live, and in exchange, we actually fed them the things. I like to joke that our great grandparents, or great, great grandparents ate whole foods, and they also ate those whole foods whole. 

[00:09:28] And it was in the process of eating those whole foods whole that a lot of particularly soluble fibers were ingested that we, our digestive enzymes, could not break down. And they ended up primarily in our lower intestines, in particularly colon, as food for these, what I call gut buddies. And that was a pretty doggone good system. Why? Because we now know that not only did, we foster them being happy, but we had no idea that the compounds that these guys pooped out, that we now call postbiotics are really important signaling molecules that tell our brain how to work, tells our heart how to work. But most importantly, they’re signaling molecules to the sisterhood of mitochondria.

[00:10:24] Literally, with every passing day, I get more and more impressed that what I’ve been writing about now in three books is not only true, but in fact, the connection between the microbiome and the mitochondria is so intricately woven into the fabric of what’s going to happen to us that we should really pay attention. Now, why is that? Mitochondria have their own DNA. They are, we are pretty sure now, ancient engulfed bacteria, and they have their own DNA, and it’s a circular DNA that is identical to bacterial DNA. And we are pretty convinced that, well, we inherit our mitochondrial DNA only from our mother. Men do not contribute any mitochondrial DNA. We’re just drones. Get over it guys. So, we inherited these mitochondria from our mother. 

[00:11:23] And what’s really interesting is, if everything is working the way it should, we inherit our microbiome from our mother. And we now know that, for instance, the placenta is not sterile. It is loaded with bacteria. We now know that amniotic fluid is not sterile. It’s loaded with bacteria. And so, the mother not only contributes bacteria even in utero, but as the baby comes out birth canal, as I like to joke, you guys take a crap on us, inoculate us [Cynthia laughs] and everyone who has issues with your mother. Yes, mom took a crap on you, so that’s your problem. But that inoculation seeded the microbiome. We now know that, for instance, like, 10% of the calories of your breast milk we can’t digest, but it’s there to feed this other part of us that’s essential. And even breast milk is loaded with important bacteria.

[00:12:30] And so it was really important for the mother to give us bacteria that communicate with the mitochondria, which had bacterial origin. And again, with literally every passing day, I’ve just read a paper yesterday confirmed that mitochondria are dependent on information from the microbiome about literally how things are going in the outside world or how things are going down in the engine room, however you want to put it. And if they get the right signals from the microbiome in terms of these postbiotics, then everything hums along, everything works really good. But if they’re not getting those signals or the signals are danger or something’s wrong down the engine room, then things sputter to stop. The mitochondria actually change into a, if you will, low energy state, into a dangerous state.

[00:13:35] And it’s all because of the messages that they should be receiving or aren’t receiving from the microbiome and what an amazing, intricate, complex relationship. And again, we didn’t even know those guys were there. We just didn’t know it. 

Cynthia Thurlow: [00:13:52] Yeah, it’s fascinating to me, even as a nurse practitioner, how little we understood 25 years ago, even during my training, and how this really has become this burgeoning field. And to me, I find it so profoundly humbling when you start to understand, “My gosh, the fact that we just function is amazing.” And the response of our gut microbiome to sleep and stress and different types of food, not to mention the hormonal changes that women go through, which are quite profound between our peak fertile years to perimenopause to menopause. I think it’s profoundly humbling. There’s no other way to describe the fact that these things fall into place in a way that allows us to function as human beings. And let me be clear with the metabolic health crisis that we’re currently facing, not everyone’s gut microbiomes are optimized. 

[00:14:42] As you were putting things together for this book, and you were looking at polyphenols as an example, which I love to use that because brightly pigmented fruits and vegetables are a mainstay of a lot of our diets. Let’s talk a little bit about resveratrol, because I think people unknowingly take supplementation instead of actually consuming exactly the foods and the compounds that their body could break down and utilize in the right circumstances. 

Dr. Steven Gundry: [00:15:09] Well, for instance, I like to tell this story for years attended, there’s actually a world congress of polyphenols that meets once a year. And let me talk about a nerdy group [Cynthia laughs]. I used to give a paper before COVID and stopped that. The organizer who I’ve phrased in other books, Marvin Edeas, who’s a professor in Paris, we had a meeting in Lisbon a number of years ago, and 400 or so are in the audience. And he starts the meeting and he says, “Any of you who think that polyphenols are antioxidants may leave the room now because I don’t have enough time to catch you up with where you should be. They are not antioxidants.” And everybody’s going, “What?” [Cynthia laughs] Are you sure? They’re not. They are signaling molecules and they’re used by the plant. 

[00:16:06] Plants produce polyphenols, those brightly colored leaves that we see every fall. They were there all along, but the green from chlorophyll left, and now we see those polyphenols, and they’re the dark, rich colors in fruits and vegetables. Those are from polyphenols, and they’re not there to be pretty. They are as a system of protecting the plants mitochondria, which are chloroplasts from primarily sunlight damage, from photon damage, and from environmental stressors like heat, cold, or insects. And so, these polyphenols actually are one of the main ways that these mitochondria are uncoupled and uncoupling a mitochondria, the mitochondria is protected from damage, and it also makes mitochondria make more of themselves, mitogenesis. So, it’s a one, two punch, but they are not antioxidants. Okay, so what?

[00:17:09] Well, one of the things we knew for many, many years is that polyphenols are incredibly poorly absorbed in humans and by animals for that matter. And there was a lot of conjecture as well. They’re poorly absorbed because they’re really dangerous compounds. They work by hormetic effect, which doesn’t kill me, makes me stronger. And you can put them in petri dishes and find a place where they damage cells, blah, blah, blah. Well, now we know that it’s actually the gut bacteria that find polyphenols delicious and they actually are one of the most important prebiotics for gut bacteria. And the gut bacteria alter those polyphenols, ferment those polyphenols, and it’s the fermentation of these polyphenols that then activates them. And so, one of the things that’s interesting about resveratrol, the red wine compound, it’s a polyphenol. 

[00:18:11] And resveratrol is really important for not only uncoupling mitochondria, but actually for activating [unintelligible [00:18:20], which is really one of the main reparative compounds of mitochondria of DNA. And lo and behold, you’ve got to have either microbiome to activate it or, surprisingly, if they work on it before we ingest it. So, for instance, red wine is, among other things, fermented resveratrol. And so, it’s already predigested. And one of the fascinating things that you look at the cultures have done through eternity is most of the foods they interacted with because there was no storage system were fermented either by accident or on purpose. So, many of these polyphenolic compounds were reactivated. And that’s actually pretty cool. 

Cynthia Thurlow: [00:19:14] It is really cool. I guess one of the questions I have is, during the course of writing this book and looking at the research, is there a certain amount of polyphenols in our diet that are most efficacious to support this mitochondrial uncoupling and activation of these key compounds?

Dr. Steven Gundry: [00:19:36] So, I had an undergraduate project at Yale for four years looking at human evolutionary biology. And it was basically a master’s program where I had a thesis and defended it, blah, blah, blah, and got an honors. And one of the things that’s interesting about humans is, and even looking at hunter-gatherers, the average hunter-gatherer will interact with over 200 different species of plants on a rotating basis throughout the year. And all those plants are growing in 6ft of loam soil. There aren’t any plastics around, there’s no glyphosate, etc. And so, they’re interacting with a huge number of polyphenols in their diet. Now, it’s been looked at, even organic eaters, most of us really interact with 2030 plants on a rotating basis, even if we’re really diligent.

[00:20:33] And one of my arguments to people is, look, if you think you’re getting enough polyphenol interaction with your 2030 organic plants that you’re eating every day, I’ve got oceanfront property in Palm Springs to sell you. And I think, number one, you can’t eat enough of these things. Number two, we forget that they are a favorite food of the gut microbiome. And we forget that a few generations ago we gave these microbes a ton more of these things that they’re not getting it. And I think with every passing week, we’re learning the impact of these various polyphenolic compounds and what activates them. Let me bring up one really interesting example, which talks about two things that we should know, and I mentioned it in the book. 

[00:21:30] There’s a fascinating compound called urolithin A, which is a host biotic, which is one of the few compounds that’s been found to produce mitophagy, which allows damaged mitochondria to repair themselves. And it uncouples mitochondria too. But we’ve known for a long time that pomegranates have a polyphenol as well as walnuts and raspberries, gallotannin, that is supposed to be really good for you. And everybody says, “Oh, yeah, you got to get this and gallic acid is really important.” Well, it turns out that you actually have to have about four different bacteria on an assembly line to take the original polyphenol compound in pomegranates and convert it with each step to urolithin A. And if you don’t have those four guys on the assembly line, you could eat all the pomegranates in the world, and you’ll never make the active compound. So what?

[00:22:40] Well, if you look at super old agers 95 and above who are thriving, 50% to 70% of these people have measurable urolithin A in their bloodstream. You and me, poor devils, only about 17% to 20% of us have urolithin A in our bloodstream. And you go, well, which came first, the chicken or the egg? These guys make it to super age because they had a diverse microbiome that could take these polyphenols and make the compound they were looking for. Yeah, I think that’s the reason. And for us, mortals, we’ve killed off most of our gut buddies through what we talk about in the book. So, that’s just one example that it takes a village. And one of the things that I really emphasize in the book as well, along the same argument, is that we really have put a lot of emphasis on prebiotic fiber.

[00:23:43] And hopefully for your listeners, first of all, we should have never used these names like probiotics, okay? Those are friendly bacteria. Let’s leave it at that. Prebiotics, okay? That’s the fiber that the friendly bacteria want to eat. And when the friendly bacteria eat the probiotics, eat the prebiotics, you poop out postbiotics and everybody goes, “What?” So, The Sonnenburgs, a husband-and-wife team from Stanford who are great microbiome researchers, looked at human volunteers and they gave human volunteers a bunch of prebiotic fiber. In this case, it was inulin, which I like a lot, by the way inulin is in asparagus, artichokes, chicory, radicchio is a nice example of chicory. Anyhow, so they gave them a bunch of inulin, and they looked at their inflammatory markers, and they looked at their microbiome diversity. And when we started the show, a diverse microbiome is really important. 

[00:24:50] You want a very complex tropical rainforest living in you. You don’t want a field of corn, a monocrop. And the more diverse your microbiome is, the more you have these various guys on the assembly line that can make good stuff. Okay? So, they gave them all this inulin and didn’t change their inflammatory markers and didn’t change their microbiome diversity. And they go, well, what the heck? What do these guys want? So, the second group, they gave them all that inulin, but they also gave them fermented foods. In this case, it was mostly yogurts and kefirs, but it could be vinegars [unintelligible 00:25:32] not they’re fermented, by the way, cacao, coffee, and tea are fermented foods shockingly. 

[00:25:38] And so they gave them fermented foods plus the prebiotic, and lo and behold, the inflammatory markers came down, and the gut diversity came down because they were getting, believe it or not, probiotics from the fermented foods. But postbiotic signaling that instructed the gut microbiome. Who’s around? And that’s a big chapter in the book, which is dead men tell no tales, but dead bacteria do. 

Cynthia Thurlow: [00:26:15] Absolutely. And it’s really interesting to me, because you do a really beautiful job talking about leaky gut and that interrelationship between leaky brain, leaky hormones, leaky bones. And I think for certainly my population, my women that are listening to this podcast, understanding that there is an interrelationship between leaky gut and leaky bones might be something that’s new. Let’s explore that a little bit, because I think in many ways, the concept of leaky gut seems a bit intangible, but I have yet to meet a middle-aged woman that I’m doing testing on that does not exhibit signs of a leaky gut. And I’m sure we’ll get to the impact of our modern-day lifestyles on the health of our gut microbiome. 

Dr. Steven Gundry: [00:26:59] Yeah, I guess it doesn’t surprise me that most practicing health professionals still think that leaky gut intestinal permeability is pseudoscience. And I’ve been looking in this area for 20 years. So, I guess I’ve been naive that perhaps over the last 20 years the science might have caught up with practitioners. But in fact, that’s not true. In fact, I was doing an Alzheimer’s Summit podcast with Dr. Dale Bredesen, who’s really one of the great neurologists in Alzheimer’s who’s become a personal friend through the years. And we were chatting and he says, “You know, the amazing thing is,” he says, “I’m sure this is happening to you.” He says, “People don’t believe me when I say that things that are happening in gut or things that are happening with leaky gut are causing this epidemic in our brain.” And he said, “They do not believe me.”

[00:28:02] And he said, “I’ll bet you the same thing happens to you.” I said, “Yeah.” And I mean, this has been worked out beautifully by a pediatric gastroenterologist who’s now at Harvard, Alessio Fasano. And the mechanisms of how intestinal permeability happen. The causes of intestinal permeability are known and the consequences of intestinal permeability are known. And folks there’s 633 references in Gut Check really all about this. This is not pseudoscience. We can measure it. We can reverse it. We can measure the effects of reversing that. And so, getting back to your point. One of the things that’s fascinating is that there’s a very, very strong correlation between osteopenia and osteoporosis and leaky gut in lipopolysaccharide, endotoxemia, I’ll go beyond that. One of my patients is a gynecologist, and I just saw him last week for his visit.

[00:29:09] And he says, “Hey, I got to tell you something.” He says, “I’ve been with you now for a few years and I give your book The Plant Paradox to my patients.” And he said, “I got to tell you probably know this, but maybe you don’t.” I see a lot of women with endometriosis and pelvic pain and painful intercourse, dyspareunia. And I give them the book and a number of them I’ve had scheduled for surgery for endoscopic removal of all their endometrial implants. And he said, would you believe it if they follow your book? I’ve never had to operate on them and their endometrial pain is gone and their pelvic pain is gone. And he said, what do you think about that? I said, well, actually, there’s really good studies that translocation of bacteria are actually the troublemakers in this. And if you stop translocating bacteria, then the problem solves.

[00:30:08] Most urinary tract infection is not wiping yourself properly or having honeymoon cystitis, but they’re actually translocation of bacteria. The bladder and rectum are right next to each other, and that’s where it comes from. It’s like, well done. Now that we know those guys are there, and now that we can use PCRs and looking at actually DNA and RNA of bacteria rather than trying to culture them, we see that, “Holy cow, those guys are there.” We can now see them in tumors. And you go, “What the heck are they doing in there?” And it’s not pseudoscience. It explains so many things. I’ll use a personal example. I saw a gentleman, very healthy 70-year-old, fit, and he was referred to me, “Hey, you ought to have Dr. Gundry work on you, blah, blah, blah.”

[00:31:12] He says, “You’re not going to help me? Look at me. I’m so fit,” and I’m looking at his med list. I said, “How come you’re on three drugs to shrink your prostate?” [unintelligible 00:31:22]. And he said, “Well. What do you mean? I’m 70 years old, of course I’ve got a big prostate. I said, [Cynthia laughs] “Really? Almost 74 and I don’t have a big prostate.” I said, “I used to have a big prostate and it shrunk.” He said, “What are you talking about?” I said, “Believe it or not big prostate is from bacteria that have leached out of your rectum, and you’re swelling your prostate from inflammation. And we now know that that’s what it’s from. That’s why I have a small one now.” And he was flabbergasted and “What?” So, yeah all of these things that we think are a part of getting old. 

[00:31:57] Oh, and by the way, fibroids. He’s seen fibroids shrink in women. I’ve seen fibroids shrink in women once we stop this process. Hippocrates was right, “All disease begins in the gut.” Now, Alessio Fasano stole one of my lines from a talk I gave. “All disease begins in a leaky–“

Cynthia Thurlow: [00:32:19] Well, and I think, to me, when I trained, we were taught to remain curious about the world, to evolve, shift, and change. And we know that research sometimes takes 20 years to trickle down into clinical practice. But from my perspective, understanding the complex interrelation between the oral microbiome, the gut microbiome, the vaginal microbiome, obviously, if you’re a female, to me, is utterly fascinating. I would love to pivot and talk a little bit about the impact of our modern-day lifestyle, because I think this is particularly relevant. One of the big offenders or at least that I think is one of the big offenders, is the influence of glyphosate, which was initially manufactured as an herbicide. And it’s a patented antibiotic, which is even more disturbing. Let’s talk about how that impacts our health in [unintelligible [00:33:08] significant ways. 

Dr. Steven Gundry: [00:33:10] Yeah. The wonderful Monsanto people convinced the federal government, the FDA, that the glyphosate roundup worked by affecting a pathway in plants called the shikimate pathway. And it’s such a wonderful word, shikimate. And we didn’t have to worry about it because humans don’t use the shikimate pathway, but plants use it basically to grow and reproduce. And so, they said, “Hey, it’s perfectly safe.” What they didn’t bother to tell anybody is that bacteria use the shikimate pathway. And you’re right, it was actually patented as antibiotic originally. Didn’t bother to mention that. So, what we now know is a couple of things. Number one, it does affect our microbiome. What’s really stressing is that it particularly kills off the tryptophan pathway bacteria in our gut. And for those who don’t know tryptophan, most people know serotonin, the feel-good hormone. 

[00:34:13] And for years, because we didn’t know what bacteria did or who was down there, we assumed that, first of all, serotonin was made in the brain. That would be obvious. And then it was discovered, no, serotonin wasn’t coming from the brain, it was coming from the gut. And since we didn’t know about these bacteria, we assumed it was the neurons in the gut. And there’s tons of neurons in the gut. It’s the second brain, and that’s what we assumed. Oops. It turns out it was the bacteria in the gut that were making the precursors for serotonin and serotonin and that’s where it’s coming from. Well, so what? Well, for instance, most antidepressants are SSRI, serotonin reuptake inhibitors. And most people know that it takes about a month for these things to magically kick in.

[00:35:06] Well, now we know that these serotonin reuptake inhibitors change the gut microbiome to make more of these compounds. And the reason it takes a month to kick in is it takes that long to change the microbiome. If these things really worked by preventing reuptake of serotonin, then tomorrow, after you swallowed it today, you’d be happy because you’ll be flooded with serotonin in your brain, but it literally takes a month. So, getting back to glyphosate, imagine glyphosate has been around now for 50 years and it used to be used as a weedkiller and it used to be used on GMO crops, but now it’s sprayed on almost all conventional crops to kill the crop, so you can harvest it. 

[00:35:53] It’s much cheaper and more efficient to harvest grain crops, bean crops if they’re dead, water costs a lot to haul around, so they’re used as a desiccant on almost all of our conventional crops. And two things happen. Number one, we feed that to our animals and they have glyphosate in them, and we feed it to ourselves. And people probably know the consumer reports, the environmental working group, has shown that it’s in virtually every product that we eat, it’s in literally every fast food that’s been sampled. It’s actually in a lot of our organic products by drift. So, we’ve seen in my personal practice that we can get people to seal their leaky gut, that all of their antibodies to the various forms of wheat will subside and their autoimmune disease reverses. 

[00:36:54] And they go over to Europe, and they’re having croissants, and they’re having pizzas, and they’re having pastas, and they do really well, and they come back and go, “Ah, Dr. Gundry, you heard me. I can have all of these things now.” And they start eating our pasta, our bread, and within weeks they flare, their rheumatoid arthritis comes back, their psoriasis pops back, their anxiety pops back, and they go, “What the heck? You cured me.” I said, “No, I didn’t cure you. Glyphosate.” It was the glyphosate. That’s one of the big, big troublemakers. 

Cynthia Thurlow: [00:37:31] Yeah. It’s interesting to me how many other countries have outlawed it, but yet we still utilize it here in the United States. I find it so disturbing. And the more I learn about what glyphosate does, it makes you feel like you want to live in a bubble, which I know is not realistic. Now, I would love touch on a particular topic that has been coming up with greater regularity on the podcast. My background as a nurse practitioner for 16 years was in cardiology. I know that your first love was cardiovascular surgery. Can we talk about statins? Because I think it’s interesting how they interplay with what’s going on in the gut biome, and this to me was something I didn’t know years ago when I was prescribing them with tremendous frequency. 

Dr. Steven Gundry: [00:38:11] Well, statins do affect the gut microbiome. A number of papers showing that you will change the gut microbiome from a statin. But I think I’m one of the voices that would urge people to realize that cholesterol theory of heart disease is merely a theory. There are other theories that I like call a lot better. Whether we call it the inflammatory theory of heart disease, whether we call it the infectious theory of heart disease, or the autoimmune theory of heart disease, you choose the theory, you can find a lot of evidence to support that. One of the things we didn’t know when statin drugs came out is and I remember when they came out. We knew that statin drugs lowered LDL, we knew that statin drugs lowered ApoB, and we could see that. 

[00:39:07] And when improvement, which was marginal in terms of cardiovascular risk with statins began to show up, people assumed that it was because bad cholesterol, LDL was lowered and therefore that proved the cholesterol theory. Well, fast forward a few years and we found out that statin drugs actually worked by blocking what are called toll-like receptors, TLR4, that actually produces cytokines, produces signals to call inflammatory cells to a site of injury. And if statin drugs block this calling of inflammatory cells to a site of injury, then that would make a whole lot more sense that that’s how they work. But we’ve known that for over 20 years. But you’re right, it takes well over 20 years for new knowledge to trickle down to practitioners.

[00:40:13] I was a member of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement for many years, which literally showed that the average practitioner is 20 years behind current knowledge in all fields. Yeah, it’s true. So anyhow, that should have been enough. That said, that’s how statins work. So, we don’t have to take your LDL down to 40, we don’t have to take your ApoB down to 50. But that’s not what’s generally believed. Now, this past year, just before the American Heart Association, a paper came out from a drug company. And let’s be realistic folks, only drug companies sponsor studies because they can sell a drug. There’s not going to be a vitamin company foster a study on niacin because there’s no money in it. 

[00:40:58] So, a drug company, there’s an old, old drug called colchicine. Colchicine is used for acute gout. And colchicine is a really potent anti-inflammatory drug. When you got gout, you’ll do anything. The colchicine is pretty nasty. It tears up your gut. It’s not a good experience. I’ve watched patients go through it, but it works. So, the company says, “Hey, we’re going to make this really low-dose colchicine 5 mg. And it’s a drug and it’s a new drug, so, we can patent this low dose and let’s do a study, let’s take people on maximal statin therapy, maximal Zetia therapy, maximal diet, and divide them into two groups. So, one group gets this little low-dose anti-inflammatory colchicine, and the other group gets a placebo, and let’s follow them for new events. Lo and behold, the group that got the low-dose anti-inflammatory had a 30% reduction of new events compared to the people on maximal therapy.

[00:42:04] Now, you would have thought that paper would have finally done in the cholesterol theory of heart disease, but no, it’s like, “Oh, well, that’s great news, and let’s put that as part of armamentarium, but let’s keep pushing cholesterol down.” Yeah, it’s like, “Really?”

Cynthia Thurlow: [00:42:20] Yeah. It’s so interesting, the degree of cognitive dissonance that goes on within the medical community. I know that recently, I interviewed Dr. Tom Dayspring and have not yet released the podcast I did with him. And tons and tons of questions came in from listeners. And when I mentioned that I had interviewed him, I believe on social media, I had colleagues, physicians, and nurse practitioners that said, “Thanks. You just made my job harder.” I was so taken aback, I thought to myself, we are designed as clinicians to evolve, shift, and change. I think it’s so important to remain open minded and curious that maybe what we learned 25, 30 plus years ago may no longer be applicable.

[00:43:02] Now, I know that we’ve come full circle, I would love to talk about the gut check program, because I’m sure there are listeners that are listening that are like, “I know I have leaky gut. I have these concerns. What can I do?” Let’s do a high-level overview. Obviously, reading your book is going to be a great first start. But what are some of the components of your new program that you feel are great first steps for people who suspect they may need to support their gut in a more proactive manner?

Dr. Steven Gundry: [00:43:28] Well, first of all, if your listeners have an autoimmune disease or even suspect you have an autoimmune disease, I can guarantee you have leaky gut. 100% of people have leaky gut. I look at antibodies to the various forms of wheat, rye, barley, oats, corn. I can tell you that 100% of people with leaky gut have antibodies to wheat germ agglutinin, 70% of people have antibodies to corn just to name a few. And the first thing you got to do is I can personally sell you some supplements that will help heal leaky gut. And there are other ones that are good on the market as well. But that’s not the point. If I can heal your leaky gut. But if you keep swallowing razor blades and razor blades to me are these plant defense compounds that don’t want you eating plants like lectins, like gluten gluten is a lectin, like wheat germ agglutinin. You’ll just keep slicing the repair work, and I’ve seen that now over and over and over again. 

[00:44:36] So, it’s one thing to eat gut-healing foods and get prebiotics in you and to get fermented foods in you, but I think it’s equally important to get these troublemakers away from you. Now, you can diffuse them. People say, “Oh, Dr. Gundry is trying to scare people about not eating beans.” I have beans several times a week. But if you prepare them properly, if you soak them and ferment them and/or pressure cook them, they’re perfectly fine. But for goodness sakes, learn how to detoxify them. You can detoxify quinoa by fermenting it like the Incas did or you can use a pressure cooker. You can’t detoxify gluten folks by pressure cooking, I’m sorry, just get it out of your life. 

[00:45:24] Because most of our wheat has glyphosate among other things. The exciting thing is, and I published this data in a year, 94% of my patients with a measurable autoimmune disease and measurable leaky gut resolve their autoimmune disease. Their markers go to normal, they’re off of their medications, and they don’t have leaky gut, and they lose all of these antibodies, they’re normal again. And that’s not bad. That’s pretty good results, I would think. So, there is hope and I think that’s the really important thing. I still see patients six days a week and measure these things every three months with blood tests and these things are measurable. And we can watch the changes as people remove these foods from their diet, and we can even watch changes when people put them back into their diet, sometimes on purpose or by accident. And you can see it and they’ll go, “Oops.” Or they can feel it. 

Cynthia Thurlow: [00:46:26] Yeah, it’s really interesting and profoundly powerful when people start making dietary changes, I jokingly say it all starts with food. But even for myself, with couple autoimmune conditions, everything’s been in remission, being gluten, grains, and dairy free. And for anyone that’s listening, that feels like that’s a hardship for me. I felt so bad before that to me, there’s no going back. And that has worked to keep things very, very quiet, which is most important.

Dr. Steven Gundry: [00:46:51] Yeah.

Cynthia Thurlow: [00:46:52] Please let my listeners know how to connect with you, how to get your new book, Gut Check. I really enjoyed reading it. In fact, I’m laughing. I probably have 10 pages of notes. I could have gone in many different directions. It’s always a pleasure to connect with you. 

Dr. Steven Gundry: [00:47:04] Well, they can get it wherever books are sold. During COVID the independent booksellers were starving to death. Please go to your local bookstore. They’ll have the book. It got onto the Publishers weekly and Wall Street Journal bestseller list this past week. So, it’s out there. They’ll have it. Go to Amazon. Go to Barnes & Noble. They’ll have it. I’m at drgundry.com. My supplement food company is gundrymd.com, the Dr. Gundry Podcast. I’m on YouTube. I have a telemedicine that we just started up called gundryhealth.com, where people can actually get their leaky gut checked and go from there.

Cynthia Thurlow: [00:47:47] That’s wonderful. Thank you again for your contributions. 

Dr. Steven Gundry: [00:47:50] Well, thanks. And again, I keep doing this because I learn something new every day from one of my patients or more of my patients. And I want to keep telling people, keep advancing the knowledge, the microbiome and its contribution to our health is long overdue that we get to know our gut buddies and take care of them. 

Cynthia Thurlow: [00:48:11] No, I so love that. I love your message. Thank you. 

Dr. Steven Gundry: [00:48:14] Thanks for having me. 

Cynthia Thurlow: [00:48:17] If you love this podcast episode, please leave a rating and review, subscribe and tell a friend.