Speaker 1 (00:00):
Welcome to the Dr. Gundry Podcast, the weekly podcast where Dr. G. gives you the tools you need to boost your health and live your healthiest life.
Dr. Steven Gundry (00:16):
Welcome to the Dr. Gundry Podcast. At the time of this recording on May 15th, the coronavirus death toll in the United States has surpassed 86,000 people and obviously a number that’s expected to rise. And it’s going to take all hands on deck to put a stop to it, but you may have noticed the guidelines and protocols surrounding the COVID-19 seem to change by the minute. So today I’m going to answer some more of your questions on COVID-19 and clear up some of the mess. So today I’m going to answer some of your questions about COVID-19 that have come in and clear up some of the myths I’ve heard floating around. So one of the big topics today will be the mysterious symptoms affecting kids. Most importantly, I’ll be sharing valuable tips for stopping the spread of COVID-19 and staying safe. So stay tuned.
This episode contains important up to date information you won’t want to miss. Okay. Let’s dive in to talk about kids. I’ve gotten a lot of questions from folks who’ve heard reports of children suffering from illnesses linked to COVID-19. And as you know, children were previously said to be the least likely to suffer life threatening symptoms from this virus. So what does all this mean and how can you protect your kids? So many of you have probably heard about multi-system inflammatory syndrome, and what the heck is that? Well, it is exactly what it sounds like, a inflammation of one or more of the systems in your body or your child’s body. For instance, a skin rash, a fever that seems out of proportion with everything else, skin rash, fever, breathing difficulties, becoming jaundice, having toes or fingers that suddenly go red or blue or numb.
These are all part of a multi-system inflammatory syndrome. Now what’s going on here? Let me take you back to talk about peanut allergies. You may have heard me talk about back in the good old days, back in the 1950s and ’60s, very few, if anyone actually had an allergy to peanuts. But let me preface that with saying, as you’ve read in the Plant Paradox and before the Plant Paradox, about 95% of us are born with an antibody to the peanut lectin. That means coming out of the womb, we have an antibody, an immune system that recognizes the peanut lectin as foreign. So since almost all of us have that antibody, why don’t all of us react to peanuts? And why did almost nobody react to peanuts long ago?
Well, that’s because our immune system is taught number one, by our gut microbiome what’s important to be interested in, and what’s not important to be interested in. And so many antibodies to foreign material like a peanut in the good old days, a diverse microbiome, number one, taught the immune system that no, even though this is foreign, even though you recognize it as foreign, you don’t have to worry about it. It’s not that interesting. Now the second thing that happened long ago is not only did we have a really diverse microbiome, but we had a intact wall of our gut. We did not have leaky gut. When we have leaky gut, and as you know, most people in America eating a Western diet have leaky gut in some form or another, your immune system, 70 to 80% of it lines your gut gets exposed to protein particles, to bacterial particles constantly.
And so your immune system is on hyper alert. So in the good old days, if your child caught a virus like say, COVID-19, the effect would be to attack that virus and do quite frankly, remarkably well because children’s immune systems are pretty doggone good. That’s why as any of us who’ve had kids know, they seem to bring home bug of the week from school and they don’t seem to suffer from it very much, but you and I catch it and we’re a lot sicker than our kids were. So now unfortunately, this is exactly like a peanut allergy. So now what might be a not too bad illness in people whose immune systems are hyper activated, because quite frankly, of our modern diet, they have a hyperactive response just like a hyperactive response to peanuts.
I mean, remember nobody ever carried an EpiPen around with them to school in case some kid opened a package of peanuts in his lunch box. But now our reactivity to what would normally be not very worrisome antigens, proteins, virus proteins, now we have an exaggerated response in certain individuals. Now the good news is this is still incredibly rare and it’s true most children are going to have much less intense illnesses than adults, which is good. But that brings me to how can you protect your child knowing all this? Well, if you’ve listened to many of my other COVID-19 podcasts, you know that one of the things we’re doing wrong is we’re giving our kids exactly the wrong sorts of foods to help their immune system. We’re giving them sugary cereals. We’re giving them breads. We’re giving them cookies. We’re giving them pasta. We’re baking comfort foods.
Believe it or not, the store shelves are now devoid of flour because everybody’s baking at home. And quite frankly, this is the last thing you want to do. I’m going to remind people of what happened during World War II. You may or may not remember, I remember only because of what my parents told me, but in World War II, there was rationing of various food items in the United States, in Britain, in Holland, in Denmark, in Norway, in Sweden, because that was to support the war effort. And we rationed sugar, we rationed flour, we rationed milk, we rationed meats and eggs, and what’s fascinating, there were a number of studies looking around the world and countries that ration and surprisingly, health improved dramatically in all the countries where rationing was instituted and diabetes plummeted in the United States, heart disease plummeted in the United States.
Deaths from diabetes and heart disease plummeted in all of these countries. All because we rationed the very things that we’re actually trying to consume right now. And that is flours and sugars. We even rationed orange juice. So please do yourself, do your kids a favor and stop eating these things. If you’ve heard from the other coronavirus podcasts that I’ve given, sugar or anything that turns to sugar, and remember a piece of bread is the equivalent of four teaspoons of sugar, any sugar suppresses your immune system dramatically. So it’s no wonder that we and other developed countries are such a setup for this virus because our immune system is being whacked all the time. Now lots of kids get rations. Lots of kids get eczema. Lots of kids get other irritations on their skin.
But interestingly enough, the incidence of eczema and rashes in children is at an all time high. That’s because our kids’ hyperactive immune systems react to anything now. So calm down their immune system. What do you do? Well, there’s an interesting recent report, there’s actually now four reports that vitamin D levels dramatically influence the course of getting COVID-19 and how severe COVID-19 is going to be. Now surprisingly, one of the reports compared the incidence of COVID-19 infections and death from Northern Europe to Southern Europe, and they found almost paradoxically that Northern Europeans during the winter months when COVID was striking, actually did far better and had far less incidents of COVID-19 than a healthy place like Spain or Italy or France, for instance.
So when they dug deeper into this, they found that the vitamin D levels of Northern European countries were actually higher than Southern European countries. Now that does make sense because Southern Europe’s got a lot of sun and obviously Northern Europe in the winter is dark the entire time. But what they found is traditionally Northern Europeans take cod liver oil during the winter. And cod liver oil, as I remember from my youth, used to taste terrible, doesn’t anymore, but cod liver oil is loaded with vitamin D and with vitamin A and Omega-3 fats. So they found that the practice of taking cod liver oil in the winter was one of the real reasons why the COVID-19 has not attacked so severely in Northern Europe.
So what do you do with your kids? Well, I hate to tell you this, but get yourself some cod liver oil. Cod liver oil now does not taste fishy. And there’s a number of Cod liver oils that are flavored, lemon flavor, orange flavor. You only need about half a teaspoon a day, that’s not much for your children. You can mix it in their food. My favorite way is to put it in salad dressings. They will never know it’s there. I have fooled dinner guests by mixing cod liver oil with olive oil and salad dressings and they never knew. In fact, a number of them said, “Boy, this is the best salad I’ve ever had. What’s in it?” And when I tell them cod liver oil, they of course spit it out. No, I’m just joking, but actually I have tricked them.
So get yourself some cod liver oil. It’s a great way to protect your kids, and give them the right dose. And studies have proven in humans that this is incredibly effective. How about Kawasaki syndrome? So interestingly as a heart surgeon, I’ve had the opportunity through the years of actually operating on some young children and teenagers with severe Kawasaki syndrome that damage their aorta and great vessels so much so that we actually had to replace them because they had become aneurysmal. Kawasaki syndrome is we think an autoimmune disease and this new COVID hyperactivity is just another manifestation of our immune system being hyperactive and attacking things that it shouldn’t. In the military, we call it friendly fire. We attack things that are our own friends. And as most of you know, about 70% of my practice is autoimmune disease.
So it actually makes a lot of sense that with our Western diet, with our leaky gut, with a new virus that’s again, stimulating our immune system, we’ve become hyperactive in attacking other structures in our body. And as many of you have listened to me, I happen to be one of those people that believe that coronary artery disease is an autoimmune condition. And I’ve actually published on this in the American Heart Association Circulation Journal. So this is no surprise that we should be seeing this manifestation in our Western diet. Okay. So some schools are going to start opening up. How do you keep your kids safe? And should they be going back to school? Well, here’s where the guidance from the CDC really needs to be taken seriously and guidance from local municipalities.
This virus is differently affecting communities. There are some communities that clearly have been spared the brunt of this virus. And the idea of going back to school where there has not been a high level of activity of this virus before now or afterwards is not unreasonable with precautions. We can separate deaths. We can have kids wear masks, we don’t need cafeteria lines to feed kids. So those things are actually pretty easy to do, but the idea that all of us, all of our kids should rush back to school because some person’s kid in some municipality that they did not have a lot of this virus, they’re back to school, so we all need to go back to school, that just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. We have to be wary of our surroundings and act accordingly. And it’s no question that social distancing has worked.
Again, most people are aware of the Swedish experiment, the Swedish experiment I’ve talked about before. Interestingly, Northern Scandinavian countries have some of the best health in the world. And arguably, they have the best healthcare system in the world. And Sweden decided not without reason that they were going to try to establish herd immunity and let everyone get infected and really not close down the way Norway and Finland did. Now, Sweden has more deaths than Norway and Finland. So they’re making a bet that they can ride this out and they’re accepting a higher death rate that quite frankly is much lower than Italy or Spain or Germany. And so they’re making a bet that this will be the way to make the system work. They have not overwhelmed their hospital systems.
So that’s one example, but these people in general are extremely healthy. Now contrast that with us. In fact, most of us and most of our children are actually not very healthy. We have the highest incidents of obesity and overweight of any country in the world. We’re number one, we have the highest incidents of type two diabetes in children of anywhere in the world. I see kids with hypertension. I see kids with autoimmune diseases, young kids with this. I see type two diabetics in [inaudible 00:17:08]. So we are not a healthy group to send back to the communities unless that community is safe. And we should take a lesson from World War II that we should get our kids and us in shape to go back out and confront this enemy.
And I recently penned an editorial, I just sent it in. I hope it gets accepted, all about this. So stay tuned. I’ll let you know if and when it’s accepted. How parents can find a balance between fear and practicality. Well, here’s the deal. Everything’s going to be different. Harvard Medical School announced that at least the fall classes for the freshmen medical students at Harvard Medical School will be online. And that’s starting in September. Now, the good news is a lot of learning in college as anyone knows or medical school can be done online. They haven’t figured out a way to teach medical students how to examine a patient online yet and we haven’t been able to examine patients online yet.
But the point is, if Harvard Medical School is going to do this online in the fall, we have to take this realistically, that as we know life, at least until the supposed second wave shows up in the fall, we’ve got to be very cautious. Now I know parents, you want your kids to go back to school. My daughter and her husband have two young children and my daughter happens to be a high school teacher. And she’s having a fun time teaching kindergarten to her young kids and can’t wait for her not to teach kindergarten to her young kids. So I get it, this is weird times, but at the same time, we’ve got to realize that until we get our hands on this and until we damp this down, there are going to be some unusual circumstances.
So please follow the local directions. Listen to your school board. Listen to your PTA. Be involved in what’s going to happen with schools and hang in there. This will not be a forever thing. Talked about kids’ nutrition and supplement, again, one of the easiest way for kids is give them cod liver oil, give them some chewable Vitamin C tablets. If you’ve got to give them gummies, okay, but look for the gummies that are based on inulin rather than sugar, there are some out there. Just the less sugar you give your kids, the better off they are going to school. Pack their lunches, control what they eat. And please don’t send them to school with candy bars and sandwiches. That’s not going to support their immune system.
Okay. Next question I get, and I get this all the time. How accurate is the COVID-19 test and how is it different from the COVID-19 antibody test? Well, we are seeing a lot of false negatives. In fact, you probably saw on the news this week, I won’t mention the drug company’s name, but one of the most frequently used test appears to have a 50% false negative rate. Now, what does a false negative means? It means you actually had the virus, but they missed it with the test. And that may explain why so many people keep testing negative and yet they clearly have all the symptoms of the virus or that they keep testing negative and then out of the blue, suddenly they become positive. They had it all along, but the test was missing it.
Now, it’s the same way with antibody tests. Remember, companies are scrambling for good reason, both from government direction, but also from a profit motive to come out with antibody testing. Now, antibody testing looks at not whether you have the virus currently, but whether you have the virus and your body recognized the virus and made antibodies to it, made little markers that said, “Anytime I see this viral protein, I’m going to recognize it and call the cops to destroy it.” That’s actually the principle of vaccines, making antibodies to a virus. So in this case, there are been a number of antibody tests out there and only a few of them have been reviewed by the FDA. And only a few of them are actually approved by the FDA. So before you go and spend any money for these tests, make sure you find that they are approved by the FDA.
That means the FDA, the Federal Drug Administration actually has a looked, Food and Drug Administration has looked and tested this test for accuracy. These tests vary widely in price. Some are as low as $85. I’ve seen some for 125, 150. So should everybody get the antibody test? Quite frankly, unless your employer is going to have a rule that you can return to work only with a positive antibody test or a negative antibody test, I really think at this point it’s not the thing to get. If you’re curious that you had what appeared to be a bad flu and you want to know if it was COVID-19, sure, and you want to spend the money, go ahead. We have to always remember that this virus hit during flu season and flu season is a bad time to get a virus.
And there are very similar symptoms between these two, the flu in general doesn’t affect your smell or your taste, that’s one of the big differences. The flu in general doesn’t give you a real high fever. So there are differences, but if you want to get it and you have the money, go ahead. Will this be a universal test that’s free? Maybe someday. Right now there just aren’t that many tests out there. And here’s the deal. This virus has already mutated once. So newsflash, the virus in the United States, the COVID-19 is not the Chinese virus as you’ve heard. We have the European COVID-19, which mutated from the Chinese virus. So we don’t have the Chinese virus in the United States. We have the mutated version that hit Europe. Our virus came from Europe.
Now the worrisome thing is you’ve heard on the news that there are people who are antibody positive, who once again have the COVID-19 virus, they were reinfected. Does that mean the antibody was not protective? I suspect that’s not what that means. What I’m worried about is that the virus is continuing to mutate. We have to remember COVID-19 is a coronavirus. And one of the things about coronaviruses is they mutate a lot. The common cold is a coronavirus and it mutates. My worry that our Manhattan project, the vaccine is I hope this isn’t true, a pipe dream because by the time we get that vaccine, the virus will have mutated again. We know the flu virus mutates once a year, and at least it’s regular. At least we can depend on it mutating once a year.
But remember this, let’s look at the flu virus. Last year, the data for 2018, ’19 from the CDC shows that overall, all comers, the flu virus was 44% effective in preventing the flu in those who got the vaccine. That means it was 56% ineffective in preventing the flu. So what’s really scary is that if you look at people 65 and older, our highest risk group for the flu virus, it was only 16% effective. So that means that 84% who got the flu shot were not protected by that vaccine from getting the flu. So if our experience with the flu gives us any indication, and I hope this is not the case, then our most vulnerable people are not really going to be helped even if we get a vaccine. Now, why is that? Quite frankly, it’s the immune system of super olds doesn’t work very well and so can’t be stimulated enough to make a proper antibody when given a vaccine.
That’s why you may have seen commercials during the flu season. “If you’re a senior, get the four times stronger flu vaccine, because it doesn’t work very well even in the four time strength.” And so just be careful, let’s try to make a vaccine. Let’s try to make multiple vaccines, but we can’t put all of our cards on getting a vaccine. We’ve got to protect ourselves and get ourselves in as best shape to defend ourselves. And that’s why I’m here for you. So there are a lot of fake tests out there. Please look for whether it’s FDA approved. At the moment, it’s not in my opinion, going to give you the right to go anywhere you want, do anything you want without a mask and laugh in the face of getting it again. Because at least the experience in Singapore and Hong Kong is that they may not be as protective as we think.
Okay. Masks, I get this question all the time. Do I still need to wear a mask? When and how should I be wearing a mask? What kind of mask should I be wearing? Do I really need to wear my mask when I’m walking my dog in the neighborhood if I keep a large distance from other people? So you’ve heard me talk about this before. First of all, let’s get back to basics. A basic mask, a kerchief actually will not prevent virus from going through your mask, but it will trap droplets that contain the virus. So that’s the point of these masks. And there is a human study that shows that viral transmission does go down when you’re wearing a mask of any kind, of any facial covering. And some of you may have seen me. I wear a bandana.
The reason I do that is I want the mask in my hospital where they belong and I don’t want to take one from people in the intensive care unit who are taking care of COVID-19 patients. But I wear a mask because number one, it’s the law in our cities. And number two, it actually just reinforces the idea that you should be social distancing from people. And it’s reinforcing the idea as they used to say on that TV show, let’s be careful out there. So again, your local community is going to determine whether or not you have to have a mask on while you’re out jogging. Personally, in our community, we’re allowed to walk our dogs without a mask. We’re allowed to be on the beach without a mask, but we carry a mask as we walk our dogs. We cross the street away from other people.
If we’re going down to the beach, we pull our masks up. If we’re crossing past anybody at six feet, same way with a grocery store, we have to wear a mask in all of our grocery stores. We have to wear a mask in the hardware store. So just follow the rules for now. Now I’m used to wearing a mask. I’ve worn a mask all my life for most of the day. So it’s no big deal to me. I understand they’re not a lot of fun. You can successfully breathe through a mask. Most people who feel they can’t breathe through a mask in general have a bit of anxiety. And I understand that, but you will not die wearing your mask. Okay. Should you go outside? Yes. You should go outside. Study after study, after study now is showing that in closed spaces for extended periods of time are the best way for this virus to be transmitted from person to person.
For instance, like a bar in Wisconsin is a really great way to transmit this virus. An airplane is a pretty good way to transmit the virus although the air exchange on airplanes is remarkably better than it used to be with the older models. But being outside and moving outside is actually a pretty doggone good way to spend your time. Plus UV light does kill viruses. And so the virus has much less chance to stay alive outside in sunlight than it does inside in a contained space. Plus the humidity levels inside a building are often much higher than outside. And so humidity and water particles are one of the ways viruses spread. So go outside and enjoy yourself. I know everybody’s trying, they’re tired of being cooped up, get outside and go for it.
Now everybody’s been seeing this viral video, I hate to use that word, of a restaurant in Japan where people were put on their hands a material that lights up under a black light. And they went about their business in a restaurant and a couple people were the carriers. And what happened in this restaurant, virtually the virus spread throughout the restaurant in a very short period of time from two carriers. Was that the virus? No, it wasn’t. It was a demonstration, but it shows how effective close contact in a confined space is in spreading viruses. And as anybody knows about the cold virus, which the coronavirus is a cousin of, the cold virus spreads so easily. And getting back, wash your hands when you get back from wherever you are.
Okay. A lot of talk about, oh, men are more likely than women to suffer from COVID-19. Well, one of the real reasons is quite frankly, in this country, men are a lot sicker than women. Men have more diabetes, have more heart disease, have more obesity, have more hypertension. And yes, these are preexisting conditions for getting the COVID-19. And if you’ve listened to me before, this is because leaky gut is underlying all the reasons of comorbidity. And once again, here’s our chance you’re inside, you can cook good, healthy food, get one of my cookbooks. They’re great. Have the whole family do it. All right.
The ACE two enzyme theory, that theory that COVID virus can attach to a receptor called the ACE two, and many of you are on ACE inhibitor drugs for high blood pressure. And there was a big worry that people on high blood pressure drugs that are ACE inhibitors are much more likely to get this virus. Huge population studies have now shown that that’s not true. Interestingly, intracellular zinc may prevent the COVID-19 from attaching to the ACE two receptor. And as you know, I’m a big fan of getting some zinc in you. Please get around 30 milligrams a day. You’re better off if you can get the tablets, but they’re hard to find, but any zinc will do right now. Okay.
The coronavirus starts a widespread autoimmune inflammatory response that can hit the lungs like most of the time. But we now know that inflammatory response is happening in multiple systems, including blood. That’s why we’re seeing that a lot of people who succumb to the virus actually have small blood clots in the pulmonary arteries, the blood that goes to the lungs, and that these small pulmonary emboli may underlie why so many people die with this. We also know that these little emboli are the cause of the blue toes or the red toes that we’re beginning to see. A famous actor recently had to have an amputation of his leg because of this. This is an ongoing immune system vasculitis. This is a overactive immune system. And quite frankly, our immune systems are always on the edge because of our modern American diet.
What about the longterm health effects? Quite frankly, nobody knows what the longterm health effects of this virus are going to be. There’s already conjecture that this virus is affecting thinking. It’s affecting depression, it’s affecting multiple systems. It’s just too early to know, and it may be that the severity of the virus and how you get it or how you don’t get it is going to have a big impact of the longterm effect. We just don’t know. It’s too early to conjecture. Okay. That’s the latest update. As I get some new information, you can always know that I will be here reporting because I want you to know the facts and just the facts. Okay. Time for audience question.
Renee from Instagram, “Can an appendectomy contribute to weight gain that just won’t come off no matter what you do? I’m healthy, eat clean, and have always been around 125 pounds until my appendectomy. And I’ve seen on forums, other people have experienced the same issue after theirs. What gives?” Boy, this is a good question. Everybody in medical school was taught that the appendix is this vestigial organ that you don’t need and it’s just leftover. Well, it turns out that the appendix has a fascinating collection of important bacteria that we now know is really essential to repopulate your gut, your colon with friendly bacteria, the gut buddies, and that if you lose your appendix, you lose that little repository of all the good guys that can crawl out of their hole and repopulate your gut.
So no, this is actually not a myth. It actually makes a whole lot of sense, because quite frankly, you may no longer have all the good guys you need to repopulate your gut. But don’t despair. You’ve probably heard me say that your lining of your gut is the same surface area as a tennis court, which is true. And in fact, you basically have a shag carpet lining year gut, it’s microscopic, but it’s a shag carpet. And at the base of those little shag carpets are called creeps. And in the base of those creeps is another small collection of really good guys. And so you can make those good guys repopulate your gut. How do you do it? Well, follow any of my books, but one of the best ways to do it is time restricted feeding or even two or three day water fasting.
It’s one of the best proven ways to repopulate your gut with those little guys. So all is not lost, but you’re not making this up. There’s actually probably a pretty good reason why appendectomies are not a great idea. Finally, review of the week. After my recent podcast on immune support, PSSI603 on YouTube reached out and wrote, “Dr. Gundry, I just found you about six months ago. Since then, you have completely changed the way I eat.” Please continue looking out for it. Well, that’s why we do all this. And thank you for writing because I’m Dr. Gundry and I’m always looking out for you.
Thanks for joining me on this episode of the Dr. Gundry Podcast. Before you go, I just wanted to remind you that you can find the show on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. And if you want to watch each episode of the Dr. Gundry Podcast, you can always find me on YouTube at youtube.com/doctorgundry, because I’m Dr. Gundry, and I’m always looking out for you.