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. Gundry (00:13):
Welcome to the Dr. Gundry Podcast. Tasty, filling, quick, and healthy. Well, if you’re still searching for the perfect snack, this is an episode you are going to love. Today we’re going to do a deep dive on pili nuts, one of the healthiest nuts on the planet and one of my personal favorites. But I’m not the only one who’s excited about this super nut.
In just a moment, you’ll hear from Jason Thomas, the founder of Pili Hunters, a sustainable food company aiming to reshape the food industry one nut at a time. Jason will share how he built an incredibly successful company with just 15 pounds of deep-fried pili nuts and a dream. We’ll also discuss the benefits of pili nuts and how having just a handful a day could support your health. So don’t go away. We’ll be right back.
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Jason, welcome to the show.
Jason Thomas (02:53):
Hey, Dr. Gundry. Thanks for having me on.
Dr. Gundry (02:56):
So, Jason, I’m personally a huge fan of pili nuts, and for listeners who don’t know, what the heck is a pili nut?
Jason Thomas (03:05):
A pili nut is the world’s healthiest nut. It’s this exotic nut from Asia, highest fat, lowest carbohydrate, highest magnesium, full of copper, zinc, manganese. They’re sustainably grown. They’re wild-grown. It’s just this really interesting nut that I discovered on a kite surfing trip in the Philippines.
Dr. Gundry (03:24):
Some people who have heard of pili nuts say, “Oh my gosh, that’s that nut that’s pure fat, and fat is bad for you. And yeah, I think pili nuts taste really good, but I can’t have all that fat.” Well, what say you?
Jason Thomas (03:46):
Well, and that’s always been [inaudible 00:03:48]. You’d be the expert on that. But the keto dieters grabbed it because of that fat. The vegan people love it because of that high saturated fat that they may not get from… or vegetarians, for that matter, that they may not get from meat sources. So that fat… You could expound on that. The saturated fat and the fats that are actually good for you.
We’ve been told for a long time it’s not good for you. So you’re the expert on that, and you could tell more about that. But the people love that. And they also love the fact that they’re so satiating. Just a little bit of nuts, if you don’t overdo it, will satiate you, especially if you’re just… if you’re doing a low-carb diet.
Dr. Gundry (04:30):
Yeah, I know. You and pili nuts appear in a lot of the keto literature, a lot of the chat sites, and I actually mentioned pili nuts in all of my books as a-
Jason Thomas (04:49):
Dr. Gundry (04:50):
… safe nut. Do you ever get pushback that fat makes you fat? And, “Yeah, I love your nuts, but I don’t want to get fat.”
Jason Thomas (05:02):
Absolutely. We get that all the time. And God, it’s just been hard to break that. It’s even ingrained in me, even though I have this company. It’s just eating too much butter, eating too much pili nuts is going to get you fat, and it’s just not the case. It’s the carbohydrates. Well, as you know, it’s some of the other stuff that… the sugar that’s going to get you fat.
Dr. Gundry (05:26):
Yeah, I think you bring up a good point that, actually, I have a patient this week that I saw who has insulin resistant. He’s a pre-diabetic. He’s quite a chunky fellow, and he has insulin resistance. He has a very high insulin level, and it keeps going up and up. And we break down what he’s eating. He says, “Oh, I eat tons of nuts. I live on nuts.” And I go, “But wait a minute, nuts, whether you know it or not, actually, certain nuts have a lot of carbohydrates.”
And so I actually kind of broke down for him how many carbohydrates he was eating in a day. And he swore, “I don’t eat any sugars. I don’t eat any starches,” and you’re wrong. And then I showed him how many carbohydrates he was getting in his nuts, and he was blown away. He said, “Geez, I never even thought about that.”
Jason Thomas (06:38):
Yeah. Especially cashews, some of the other nuts. Almonds, not so much, but quite a bit of carbs in almonds as well. Peanuts, which is not a nut, obviously.
Dr. Gundry (06:47):
Jason Thomas (06:48):
Dr. Gundry (06:50):
Yeah. And so I think that’s unique about pili nuts is that they really virtually devoid of carbohydrates.
Jason Thomas (06:59):
Yeah, it’s pretty interesting. I always think about there’s just not a lot of sources of saturated fat in the Philippines other than in the ocean. There’s no prey. There’s no animal prey there really to speak of. I guess there’s the pigs that are brought over by the Spanish. So it’s a great… Coconuts, pili nuts are great sources of saturated fat. It’s kind of how nature created its saturated fat in the islands there. It’s pretty neat [inaudible 00:07:23] you think about it.
Dr. Gundry (07:24):
Yeah. I’ve studied the Kitavans in Papua New Guinea, and about 60% of their calories come from coconut.
Jason Thomas (07:34):
Dr. Gundry (07:34):
And that’s where they… And they’re actually some of the healthiest people in the world. And they smoke like fiends, but they have no coronary artery disease. Never. And they’ve had no strokes. And yet they’re eating this tremendous amount of saturated fat. And they ought to be clogging up their arteries and left, but they don’t.
Jason Thomas (08:03):
Yep. It’s interesting. There actually are subspecies of pili nuts in Papua New Guinea.
Dr. Gundry (08:09):
Ah. Well, there you go.
Jason Thomas (08:11):
And they eat them. Not a lot, but these are difficult to harvest, but they do eat them.
Dr. Gundry (08:15):
Now one of the other things I like about pili nuts is that they really have the highest magnesium of any nut. And I’ve written a lot about the fact that most Americans are really deficient in magnesium. Magnesium is… We used to get plenty of magnesium out of our soil, but our soil now is completely devoid of magnesium. And we would get that magnesium from the plants that we ate that got that magnesium from the soil.
But magnesium is critical actually for bowel function. It’s actually critical for heart and muscle function. It’s also critical for sleep, and it’s critical for mood. And when I was operating on patients, we actually… these people were so deficient in magnesium that we would have to give them IV magnesium four times a day for 48 hours to get their magnesium levels up to-
Jason Thomas (09:21):
Dr. Gundry (09:21):
… support their heart function. So…
Jason Thomas (09:23):
Dr. Gundry (09:24):
… magnesium is really important. And so, why do pili nuts have such interesting magnesium and copper and zinc and manganese?
Jason Thomas (09:38):
That’s a great question. Yeah. The magnesium thing is pretty interesting. I see a lot of people buying the… They supplement magnesium, and I just tell them, “Eat some pili nuts. You don’t need to supplement. Get it from actual food source.” But the reason is because they grow in this really rich region in the south of the Philippines. It’s called the Bicol region and it’s in the Ring of Fire. There’s active volcanoes. There’s just a couple of volcanoes that went off, matter of fact, this year and last year.
So it’s just really rich volcanic soil that’s untouched. I mean, it is unbelievable. You could throw any seed out in this soil, and it’ll grow. It’s just so fertile, lots of rain, incredible soil. So like you were talking about, these are wild-grown. These are better than organic. [inaudible 00:10:21]. I’ve had this conversation with many people in stores and doing demos.
And, “Are they organic? No, they’re better. They’re wild. No, I don’t know. I only want them if they’re organic. No, no, no. You don’t understand. These are wild-grown. They’re picking them off the trees.” So it’s that rich volcanic soil that just copper, manganese, phosphorous, zinc, all kinds of good stuff.
Dr. Gundry (10:43):
Now, you mentioned something when we were talking a minute ago. One of the things that’s interesting about pili nuts that I’ve had other people tell me is that they’re so satisfying that I’ve challenged people to eat a stick of butter. And, “Go ahead. Let me see you do it.” And it’s virtually impossible because you get satiated so quickly. And is that why… Is that one of the reasons why it’s really a great, in a way, weight loss food because of this satiation that happens so fast?
Jason Thomas (11:33):
Absolutely. Yeah. So it sounds like a sales pitch, but you literally eat a handful, and you get satiated, and you’re just not hungry for a while. It takes a little bit to digest them. It’s fat. So your body’s digesting it over. It’s not getting digested instantly like a carbohydrate. And it’s taking some time, and it’s great for people.
The amazing thing about eating all that fat is you just… And I think you could probably talk more about it. You’re just not hungry all the time. You’re just not hungry. And they really are satiating.
Dr. Gundry (12:03):
A lot of people ask, “Well, what’s the difference in terms of nutritional differences between sprouted, raw, and roasted?
Jason Thomas (12:16):
Yeah. So we sprout them. We soak them, right. So it makes it easier for the body to digest. So we soak them, and then we cook them out of low temperature. Raw. The raw pili nuts are great. The issue with raw pili nuts is that they have this skin on them. It’s called a testa, and it’s a… Imagine a peanut with that skin on the outside, but imagine it almost 10 times as thick and almost leathery.
So until you get that skin off and you look at the nut, you don’t know whether the nut is bad. And matter of fact, we actually lose 30% of the nuts to bug bites or they rotten underneath. Once we get that skin off, then we can see, and we discard them, obviously.
So if you’re eating the raw ones and you’re not checking every nut, probably three out of 10 nuts you’re eating are not good for you. And matter of fact, bad for your stomach, probably. Some bugs, who knows what’s in there. So the raw ones, we sold them in the beginning [inaudible 00:13:12], “This is not safe.”
Dr. Gundry (13:14):
Yeah, I’ve had-
Jason Thomas (13:15):
Dr. Gundry (13:15):
Long ago I got them from you and-
Jason Thomas (13:18):
Dr. Gundry (13:19):
… I didn’t like the texture. And you’re right, it was a lot of work.
Jason Thomas (13:23):
Yeah. They can be great if you know they’re very fresh, and you actually peel the skin off them, and you do it yourself. It’s great. And then we do… Some of our nut butters have roasted nuts in them, but it’s that sprouting that makes it easier to digest. It’s just much easier to digest, breaks down the toxins in the nuts, so you don’t just pass it through. You actually get some of the minerals from them.
Dr. Gundry (13:50):
How would you describe the taste of pili nuts for someone who… Is there anything similar?
Jason Thomas (13:58):
Yeah. So it’s a mix between a macadamia nut. It’s softer than a macadamia. Obviously, higher fat, which people still can’t wrap their head around. They’re like, “No, macadamia is a highest. No, no, no. Pili nut is.” And then, so it’s kind of a macadamia, pistachio, pine nut blend with a little softer texture than a macadamia. That’s just my interpretation.
I’ve heard other people say… They’ve thrown other nuts in there. A little bit of Brazil nut in there, maybe. But it’s very buttery, rich tasting, sort of melts-your-mouth nut. It’s fat. So [inaudible 00:14:34]-
Dr. Gundry (14:33):
It really… You’re right. It’s almost like eating butter. I think pine nuts come closest, but it’s much softer than an even pine nuts.
Jason Thomas (14:50):
Dr. Gundry (14:52):
Yeah. It’s a very, very unique taste.
Jason Thomas (14:56):
What’s interesting is we get a lot of people, a lot of older people with bad teeth or dentures, and they say, “No, no, I can’t eat nuts.” And I tell them, “Try it. Try. I think you’ll like it.” And, “No, I just can’t eat nuts. It’s bad for my teeth,” whatever. And they eat the pili nut, and they’re like, “Oh my God, I can finally eat a nut again.” It’s soft enough to where anybody can eat it.
Dr. Gundry (15:16):
Yeah. You bring up a good point. A lot of people have diverticulosis or diverticulitis, and their doctors to a person, say, “I’m sorry, you cannot eat nuts.” Now, I do not tell my patients that. But I think you bring up a good point. This doesn’t act like any of the other nuts in terms of… These things just basically dissolve.
Jason Thomas (15:47):
They do. Yep, exactly right. Yep.
Dr. Gundry (15:49):
All right. I want to shift gears because you have such a interesting and diverse background, and I love these sort of stories, and so do my listeners. I mean, you’ve been a high-altitude mountain guide, an archeologist assistant, a commercial fisherman, a kite surfing instructor, a glaciology field hand, and a climbing bum. So where-
Jason Thomas (16:18):
And lots of other things.
Dr. Gundry (16:19):
And lots of other things. So how in the world do you develop a passion for pili nuts [inaudible 00:16:26]-
Jason Thomas (16:25):
Wow. It’s a crazy story. I’m just going to tell you this before I start with any of this is the word pili in Tagalog, Filipino language, means chosen. So I always tell people the pili nut chose me. It just happened. For a lot of years, I grew up in Alaska. I grew up with the Native Americans in Alaska. Eskimos in the north of Alaska. I was actually born up in the most northern town in North America.
But for years I was climbing mountains, guiding. In college, you got into climbing mountains. In Alaska, obviously, there’s a lot of great mountains. And then I traveled all over the world guiding. I had an injury. I was in Los Angeles dating a woman in Los Angeles and I had a lot of energy and I ended up getting really into CrossFit when it was first coming out. And I got a case of rhabdo. Correct me if I say this wrong because I always do. Rahabdomyolysis.
Dr. Gundry (17:21):
Yeah. [inaudible 00:17:22].
Jason Thomas (17:21):
Did I say that right?
Dr. Gundry (17:21):
Jason Thomas (17:23):
Yeah. Myolysis. And I was working… A friend called me and said, “I need someone to guide some trips on Mount Rainier. I came up to Mount Rainier, and I had rhabdo and climbed the mountain with rhabdo, guiding.
Dr. Gundry (17:32):
Jason Thomas (17:33):
Yeah, it was a mess. [inaudible 00:17:35] seven days in the hospital. Long story short is I stopped guiding after at 37 years old, which was a blessing and a curse. I love the mountains. I miss all of it, but it changed my trajection. I’m not a nine-to-five guy, so I ended up kite surfing. I was actually relaxing after being sick from rhabdo. It took me a while to get over that. My body was completely thrashed, and I saw kite surfing for the first time. I tried it. I’d surfed. I used to work in Hawaii, so I’d surfed in Hawaii quite a bit, but never kite surf.
So I tried kite surfing. I didn’t want to go back to a nine-to-five job. I was done with the guiding, ended up teaching kite surfing. I went to Brazil. I went to the Caribbean, Mexico, everywhere. Long story short, I ended up in the north of the Philippines, and that’s where I tried the pili nut for the first time. And obviously, people say I didn’t discover the pili nut. People have been eating it for thousands and thousands of years. I was just one of the guys to bring it back to the west and share it.
I googled it. I couldn’t believe that nobody had heard of it in the US, essentially. I mean, it was just nobody selling it. And there was one company, the two American guys. They’re kind of the pioneer guys. They’re Americans that lived in Macau. They were selling it over there. But in the United States, nobody was really selling it. And that’s really how I fell into it. So my friends, after I ate it, said, “You got to go to Bicol. This is where these nuts are from.”
So I went to the region. I met some people, and I literally snuck them back in my backpack through customs. Went to a store in Los Angeles. I was on Shark Tank. I told this story. Went to a store in Los Angeles, it’s called Erewhon, and it’s a very popular store, very hip store in LA. And I walked in and said, “Would you guys want to sell these? I had put a bag with a sticker on it. Said Pili Nuts. And, “Yeah, sure.” So they bought a case of them from me.
I didn’t even know how much to charge for them. I just said, “Ah, this much. Okay. Sure, we’ll take them.” A week later, “We’ll take two cases. Two weeks later, “We’ll take four cases.” And that’s literally how the business started. I had no business background [inaudible 00:19:41]. All my other things were great, but they definitely weren’t getting me ready for business.
Dr. Gundry (19:47):
All right. So what are… what were pili nuts used for in the Philippines?
Jason Thomas (19:53):
Yeah, great question. So the Philippines, they actually sugar… They’re kind of a treat. So if you’re traveling in the Philippines, you go to a place called a Pasalubong, which is a store of gifts. So if you travel to Vermont, you grab some Maple Syrup, and you bring it back.
So if you travel to the Bicol region in the Philippines, it’s tradition that you bring back pili nuts for your family. And the pili nut is… They basically deep fry it and sugarcoat it. They use like Karo Syrup.
Dr. Gundry (20:27):
Jason Thomas (20:28):
[inaudible 00:20:28]. And it’s amazing, but it’s definitely not healthy. So we put a different twist on it, and that’s how we ended up, “We don’t need to do this. We don’t need to sugarcoat them. These are an amazing product in their self.” So we did an unadulterated version of [inaudible 00:20:44]. We sprouted it and then cooked it. Actually, the Coconut Oil, Himalayan Salt is sort of my famous product that everybody knows, and it’s bestseller. And that was made by mistake.
When I first started the company, it was a big deal. I bought 5,000 bags. It was a big deal for me at the time. It cost me… I can’t remember what it cost, but it was a big deal, like a big step. “I’m going to buy some printed bags.” And those printed bags, it said coconut oil. Now they’re deep fried in coconut oil, refined coconut oil, not extra virgin. And if you know a refined coconut oil, it’s not healthy either, right. If you’ve ever seen [inaudible 00:21:24].
Dr. Gundry (21:24):
Jason Thomas (21:25):
They bleach it. They put all kinds of chemicals. I said, “We don’t need to do this.” But I’d already printed the bags. So I said, “Wait a minute.” So we started adding extra virgin organic coconut oil to it. And for some reason, adding that oil to the pili nut just brought out this amazing… made it even more buttery, amazing flavor. And that’s sort of how the whole pili nut craze started, really. It was by mistake. I just had it on the bag, so I figured I’d better throw it in there, and it came out amazing.
Dr. Gundry (21:54):
Jason Thomas (21:55):
Dr. Gundry (21:56):
So you kind of forced to use the good stuff, huh?
Jason Thomas (22:01):
Exactly. Yep. Yep.
Dr. Gundry (22:05):
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Jason Thomas (28:04):
No, that was a huge, huge, huge turning point for me. I was feeling pretty bad. After the stint in the hospital, they had me in an IV for six or seven days. And honestly, I bullied the doctor into letting me leave. And, “I can get out of here. I’m fine, blah, blah, blah.” And he’s like, “Man, your numbers are still very high.” CPK, I believe it was.
Dr. Gundry (28:26):
Jason Thomas (28:26):
And I just kept aggressively, “I’m going to be fine. I’m going to be fine.” I probably should have stayed a few more days because they were still quite high looking back at it. And no, and I was pretty laid up. So that kind of set me on a journey of health, of trying to heal myself. I was weak. I went to the doctor. They told me, “Yeah, you should be fine by now. Maybe you have chronic fatigue syndrome.” All these things. I was having fainting spells, very weird stuff. A little bit of PoTS. I think that’s [inaudible 00:28:57]-
Dr. Gundry (28:57):
Jason Thomas (28:58):
That is all kinds of weird stuff. And I don’t know if it was damaged to my kidney. I have no idea what caused it, but I got an infection in the hospital. I had no idea. But it took me a year to feel good again. And in that year, I spent a lot of time at natural food stores, time on the internet. I learned about fasting. Fasting saved my life, to be honest with you. That was what really put me back into… like reset my body. I don’t know if you’re a big proponent of fasting or not, but [inaudible 00:29:28]-
Dr. Gundry (29:28):
Jason Thomas (29:29):
Yeah. It was incredible. I did a 12-day. My first fast I ever did. I was reading an article, Have You Ever Gone 24 Hours Without Food? And I was like, “You know what? I don’t really… Maybe one of my climbing trips or something. I’m not sure I’ve ever really gone without food.” My 24-hour stint, I’m kind of an extremist, went to 12 days, and I felt incredible. I couldn’t believe it. After five days, I just felt great. I’ve never been so clear. My mind’s never been so clear.
So the fasting really helped me. So that was part of it. And then the pili nut, when I first tried it, I had no idea of the breakdown of how keto… how fatty it was. And then, back in 2015, we just started getting deep into keto. So I got into keto as well. I haven’t been doing it lately. I had a bad case of COVID, unfortunately. It kind of kicked me out of a bunch of stuff. But that’s what started me on the journey really was the rhabdo.
Dr. Gundry (30:27):
So how did you connect the keto community with pili nuts? Was that by accident, or you said, “Hey, this might work for these guys?”
Jason Thomas (30:38):
No, it was… I’ll be honest with you, that was more paleo, and I went to a show called Paleo FX, which was this great show.
Dr. Gundry (30:48):
I presented there.
Jason Thomas (30:49):
Yeah, it’s a great show, and it’s kind of dwindled now, and it’s not doing so good.
Dr. Gundry (30:49):
Jason Thomas (30:53):
But for various reasons, I don’t know. But the-
Dr. Gundry (30:53):
Jason Thomas (30:57):
Yeah, COVID, and there’s a bunch of weird political stuff. But it was a great show. I went there, and I met some guys and some of the early keto guys, like Jimmy Moore. I was on his podcast. Some of these early keto guys and they’re like, “This nut as amazing.” And we just took it from there. So I mean, we’ve been doing the keto… Basically, the keto crowd jump, love what we were doing and has supported me really since 2015, 2014. They jumped on it and it’s been a big part of our business.
Dr. Gundry (31:26):
So pili nuts are really hard to acquire. I mean, they’re hard to harvest. Why did this get started in the first place, I guess, is the first question?
Jason Thomas (31:42):
Started for me or started for them, I guess?
Dr. Gundry (31:43):
For them. For them.
Jason Thomas (31:46):
Yeah. I think it goes back to that. This product is so cool. Yeah, it’s incredibly difficult. So they climb up. These guys… And I’ve seen 60-year-old guys that are… Some of the videos on my webpage and YouTube, some of these guys are 60 years old. You wouldn’t believe it. They climb up a hundred feet off in these trees. And I used to climb, and I’m like, “Oh, I would never do what they’re doing.”
Dr. Gundry (31:46):
Don’t do that.
Jason Thomas (32:11):
Yeah, it’s incredible. They’re walking across limbs. They’re pulling down, and you get one fruit has the nut in it. So on the outside of the fruit is this. It almost looks like a small avocado. It’s pretty neat. You look it up. You can take… You see what it’s like. It looks like a small avocado. The outside flesh of that fruit is actually edible, and it’s very good. It’s very earthy. It also can be turned into oil, which we’re working on right now, which it’s got a very similar profile to olive oil.
And once you get that fruit off, then you have this hard shell nut. They actually chop that nut by hand with a machete. They’ve tried to create machines, but the machine ends up breaking the nut, making it hard to get it out. So these guys, they actually have competitions in the region who could chop the fastest, and they can do many, many, many kilos in a day.
It’s very incredible to watch, but it’s all done by hand. Then, when you get the nut out of the shell, you’ve got that testa, which I was talking about before, which is the skin, that has to be soaked off. We sprout it. We still could take it off, and then we dehydrate it, then we bag it up, and then we ship it across to the states. Yeah, it’s too much work.
It’s incredible. It’s an incredible amount of work, and that’s why they’re a little bit more expensive. And I tell people, “[inaudible 00:33:27] really want to see it. Sure. We’d love to see it cheaper, so more people can eat it. But, on the other hand, we want to keep the people working. And it’s the Philippines. The wage is not the same in the US, and we want to create jobs. And so anyway, it’s a lot of work.
We don’t want to lower the price too much. We want to make sure everybody gets a fair wage along the supply chain. And that’s what happens in a lot of these places is the farmer ends up getting very little, and the big stores are making all the money. The middlemen are making all the money, and the farmer’s not getting a lot. And we’re trying to make sure they get a fair wage.
But it is. It’s incredibly difficult, and I don’t recommend anybody touches this product. It’s just too difficult. There’s so many little steps along the way. If you mess up, the product doesn’t come out good. It’s very difficult product.
Dr. Gundry (34:13):
And I mean, these trees are in the wild, right? I mean, you don’t have a plantation.
Jason Thomas (34:19):
Great question. Yeah, they’re trying to, and that’s another thing. I’ve got some more videos you can check out about that. But they’re wild. And I’ll be honest with you. The Philippines is latent. In the rice fields and some of the other regions, they’re spraying the hell out of it, unfortunately, with pesticides. And I’m pretty anti-pesticide. I like organic, wild. So I did a bunch of research on it. And the pili trees are basically above any of that spraying activity. So they’re typically on the edge of the mountainsides. So the rice fields and all that stuff is below. So all the stuff, if there is any pesticides or any of that stuff, it’s being washed down.
But yeah, they’re grown wild. They’re trying to… Matter of fact, I was just at a… six months ago or so, I was at a place where they’re grafting the trees, and they’re trying to make sort of plantation style, more plantation style. But it crops really well with other stuff, so you can plant other stuff near it, and it seems to do really well. And you can’t grow it like an almond. It needs to a male pollinator. So no, it’s nothing what you… They brought me to [inaudible 00:35:28] region that they called a mono-crop farm, and it’s like the forest.
It’s not the same as what you could imagine driving through Central California, right. No, it’s jungle. It’s pretty interesting. And there’s a lot of trees that are untapped that are just out in the forests that nobody’s gathering just falls to the forest floor and nobody’s gathering. But the more interest that we’re creating with it, and the more that they can make money by gathering them, they’ll go get them.
Dr. Gundry (35:52):
So I take it that one of the things that drives you is this sustains a local culture, sustains a community, and you’re not plowing down fields to plant palm trees for palm oil and destroying the jungle.
Jason Thomas (36:13):
[inaudible 00:36:13]. Yeah. No, it’s not my style. People ask me that all the time. “Is it harming?” No. Or actually not at all. We don’t harm anything. A lot of the… I walk through the forest, and you can see the little pili [inaudible 00:36:25]. So each one of these fruits is a pili seedling ready to grow essentially, right. So falls to the ground. That outer shell, that outer fruit, is full of all kinds of nutrients and minerals that feed. It decays, turns into soil, and it feeds that little plant. It’s really interesting.
No, we’re not. That’s not my style at all. We’re trying to actually do the opposite of that. We’re trying to make it as sustainable as possible. The product itself is incredibly sustainable. So that outer fruit is edible. Back in the day, they were feeding it to pigs, but we’re trying to find better uses for it now. The shell is used for cooking fuel. So they take the shell, and they actually cook fuel with it.
And if they can’t use it for cooking fuel, they’ll sell it [inaudible 00:37:08]. They’ll actually sell it to coconut facilities, and they’ll use it to heat up whatever they’re using in the process of making coconut, they’ll use the shells. And then we obviously are eating the nut. So it’s a really, really cool, neat product similar to coconut, where you can pretty much use everything.
Dr. Gundry (37:25):
Why do you think Americans never heard of this nut? Was it all just locally consumed there, and there wasn’t any for export, and then you happened along?
Jason Thomas (37:40):
Pretty much. They were just eating it. China, some of these other countries have known about it and eaten it for quite some time. But pretty much. And then also it’s a very difficult product. It’s got to be done. And then it was only that one… They only just sugar-coated it. That’s all they did with it. And so maybe that’s why.
But I get people that… Filipino Americans or Filipinos that write me all the time, “I’ve been thinking about this for years. Why didn’t I do this?” I don’t know why. I really don’t know why. Because a lot of American soldiers were over there. I’m not sure why it was never brought back and introduced to the US.
Dr. Gundry (38:15):
How did you go from selling these out of the back of a truck or walking into a grocery store and now you’re a multimillion-dollar company, right?
Jason Thomas (38:26):
Yeah, it just kind of happened. It went from… I never took any money. I never did any of that. It just kind of went from $100 to 200, that first initial to 500 to 1,000. We were buying 100 pounds to 200 pounds to 1,000 pounds to multiple tons. And so it just kind of happened. I had no idea what I had. I didn’t know people that were going to be that excited about it. And it just kind of took off, and we could have probably been a lot bigger. We turned down a lot of Whole Foods contracts, and in the beginning, we just weren’t ready for that stuff.
The supply chain was not there. The processing facilities were not there. They’re very mom-and-pop. And now we’re built them up quite a bit, and we can do a lot bigger numbers. But it’s definitely never going to be like an almond, right. I could put a phone call in right now and have 50 tons of almond sitting here next week. It’s not the same with pili nuts. It’s a lot of effort, and it’s a small harvest as well on a relative basis compared to some of the other nuts in the world. It’s a very small harvest.
Dr. Gundry (39:31):
Are pili nuts from year to year about the same availability? Or, for instance, we hear about, “Oh, [inaudible 00:39:40] was a bad year from macadamia nuts, or this is a horrible year for almonds.”
Jason Thomas (39:44):
That’s a great question. Yeah, no, it’s up and down for sure. And that’s another reason. A lot of big corporations have looked at the pili nut, and if they don’t see a quarter billion dollars in revenue there. They just don’t even bother, right. They just want to see the big huge numbers, and it’s just not there. It’s a small crop on a relative basis. But yeah, it goes up and down. There’s great seasons, and then there’s not so great seasons. And a lot of it has to do with the climate there.
That particular region gets hammered by typhoons regularly, and they say that a very big typhoon when it comes and knocks all the fruit out of the tree, the next season will be a good season. So they call it typhoon tree, actually. And it’s one of the trees that they promote to plant for typhoon resistance. It does really well in these storms. I didn’t mean to cut you off there. There’s something I want to talk about as well. These are naturally pollinated. It’s not like almonds in Central Valley, where they’re trucking in bees from Florida.
I was just thinking about the hurricane in Florida that devastated the bee population though there’s some issues right now with the almond industry. This is naturally pollinated by bees in the jungle by birds, which is pretty interesting. They have a local Toucan-esque bird called the Kalaw and that flies around there that actually will eat the fruit and drop it, and they’ve spread it all over the region. It’s pretty interesting.
Dr. Gundry (41:15):
Now you don’t just have the kind of typical salted pili nut. You’re much more diverse than that. What else do you do?
Jason Thomas (41:27):
Yeah, I do too many things, honestly. [inaudible 00:41:30]. Speaking of that. We saw the world’s most healthy honey, which is a stainless bee honey from the Philippines that is actually a pollinator, is one of the pollinators of the pili tree. We call it Piliwot Honey.
The local name is Kiwot [inaudible 00:41:46] so people wouldn’t just copy what we’re doing. We called it Piliwot. And they’re actually pollinating the pili trees and they’re a sting… They look like an ant, but they create this honey, this fermented honey. I don’t know if you’ve ever had it. I’ll send you some if you haven’t.
Dr. Gundry (41:58):
No, I haven’t.
Jason Thomas (41:59):
Yeah, it’s very interesting. It’s got about 40% more water than the traditional honey, so it actually ferments a little bit. It’s got a sweet-sour taste. It’s almost like a kombucha-esque honey. I don’t know how else to describe it. It’s not something that you could eat like a regular honey, but it’s very interesting. So we do. We sell that. We sell hot sauce, and then we sell… I sell the world’s best hot sauce.
It’s just amazing hot sauce from the Philippines. It’s called Buyo. It’s made from the siling labuyo, which was once thought to be at the hottest pepper in the world. It’s a local Filipino chili, and that is literally… I don’t have time to really push it too hard, but it’s the best hot sauce on the planet.
Dr. Gundry (42:43):
And it’s fermented, right?
Jason Thomas (42:45):
It’s fermented as well. Yeah.
Dr. Gundry (42:48):
And folks, remember that fermentation breaks down the lectins that are in peppers. And all traditional cultures have always learned to ferment their peppers to break down the harmful particles or to peel and deseed peppers, which is another method. But…
Jason Thomas (43:10):
Dr. Gundry (43:11):
So yeah, fermented.
Jason Thomas (43:13):
Huh. Cool. Very cool. And then we saw obviously too many flavors of pili nuts, but they’re great. Every one of them is really good. So we have a bunch of different flavors of pili nuts, coconut oil, pink himalayan salt. We actually have a curry flavor that’s amazing. We even made a pinoy style one that has a little bit of sugar in it. It’s the only one. The rest of ours are keto. We’ve just got a bunch of different flavors.
Dr. Gundry (43:36):
And you got pili nut butter too, right?
Jason Thomas (43:39):
We do. I have too many skews. But yes, I have pili nut butter. People just keep… Whenever I’m like, “Ah, we’re going to stop selling that. It’s too much effort.” People write me, “Please, please, please, keep selling them. We love this.” So we do sell pili nut butter as well.
Dr. Gundry (43:54):
So do you have any cool ways to use pili nuts and recipes that you can share with our audience rather than just have a handful?
Jason Thomas (44:03):
Yeah, if you’re a meat eater, I like to crust meats with them. If you’re into pasta, it doesn’t have to be… It can be gluten-free pasta. You can make a pesto out of them, which is great. Snack on them, obviously. You can… A lot of people I see them using them for charcuterie boards lately as their little… They put the pili nuts on there, and it’s kind of a cool… One thing about the pili nut that’s very cool is that people love to introduce new things to people.
So you walk out, and you say, “[inaudible 00:44:34].” And people go, “What the heck are those?” Like, “Oh, it’s a pili nut. You’ve never heard of this?” And people just love to introduce things. But there’s all kinds of stuff. You can put them in shakes. We have people that make pizza crust and bagels out of them. And these are people that are in deep ketosis for medicinal… for medical reasons.
Dr. Gundry (44:55):
Jason Thomas (44:55):
And brain cancer survivors. Typically, you see them use… And that’s something I just throw out there. I always give a deal to people if they’ve got a serious health problem. I’m always happy to hook them up and give them some and let them try them.
But I’ve seen everything, pizza crust, bagels. You can do all kinds of cool stuff. I like to just take the nuts and maybe warm them up on a skillet a little bit and eat them warm. They just seem to be really good like that. It brings out the oils, and they taste great.
Dr. Gundry (45:27):
One of my staff swears by your cacao coated pili nuts.
Jason Thomas (45:35):
Dr. Gundry (45:35):
She said it tastes just like a fat bomb to her.
Jason Thomas (45:38):
Yeah, those are good too. We use raw cacao on those. Those have just a hint of sugar. And I don’t know what your stance is on some of the artificial sweeteners. But we’ve been touring with different stuff, and we’re trying to… I’d love to hear your opinion on it.
Dr. Gundry (45:54):
Stay away from pretty much all of them except allulose. And I’m a huge fan of allulose, which is actually a true rare sugar. There’s nothing artificial about it. Get the non-GMO allulose. But allulose has some huge health benefits, believe it or not.
Jason Thomas (45:54):
Dr. Gundry (46:15):
Jason Thomas (46:15):
Dr. Gundry (46:16):
So look into it.
Jason Thomas (46:16):
Dr. Gundry (46:18):
All right. So what’s next for you and Pili Hunters? Are we going to see in Costco? Come on, help.
Jason Thomas (46:24):
Dr. Gundry (46:23):
Help us out here.
Jason Thomas (46:24):
We’re always trying to grow, and we’re trying to get bigger, and hopefully, we’re finally in the position where we can do that. And we’ve got some cool things in the works, and hopefully, you’ll see us at some new bigger stores. And right now, we do a lot of e-commerce business. But we’d love to be on the shelf in Costco or BJ’s or maybe revisit that Whole Foods contract that we’ve walked away from before.
Dr. Gundry (46:51):
Well, I know Thrive Market, who I’m a big fan of, carries your nuts, and you can find it on Amazon. Do most people find you via your website, or where do your sales come from?
Jason Thomas (47:05):
Yeah, all the above. Thrive does great for us. Amazon. We love to sell direct to people. We always… We’ve got the best quality control here out of our warehouse, and we just love to sell direct. We can give you the best deals, and obviously we sell on all these other platforms. But buy from us, really, it’s the best way.
Dr. Gundry (47:25):
Now, I guess you’ve got a special offer for our audience today to try out your pili nuts for themselves.
Jason Thomas (47:32):
Yeah, yeah. Come on by and check it out and use Dr. Gundry, the code, Dr. Gundry, D-R Gundry, and then we’ll give you 20% off. We just want to get it in people’s hands. And if you put a little note in there that you saw this podcast, I’ll throw in an extra gift on top of it, just throw in some extra stuff so you can try, try it out [inaudible 00:47:50]-
Dr. Gundry (47:49):
Oh man. I’m doing it. So what website do they go to?
Jason Thomas (47:54):
You go to eatpilinuts.com, so E-A-T-P-I-L-I N-U-T-S, P-I-L-I N-U-T-S. Or Pili Hunters, both URLs will work, pilihunters.com.
Dr. Gundry (48:04):
Perfect. Perfect. Well, keep hunting the pili nuts for us. And Jason, it’s a great story. Congratulations. And yeah, we’ll look for you in Whole Foods and Costco tomorrow. No.
Jason Thomas (48:22):
Exactly. [inaudible 00:48:23]. I appreciate you having me on. Thanks. Thanks. It’s been fun.
Dr. Gundry (48:27):
No, it is really good. And folks, you really got to try these. I’m a big fan of them. They’re unique. There’s nothing like them, quite frankly. And if you’re into keto, the last book, Unlocking the Keto Code, this should be a part of your program. So big fan, and Jason, keep up the good work. Thanks for joining us today.
Dr. Drew (48:54):
Hey, this is Dr. Drew, and I’d like to invite all of you to subscribe to the Dr. Drew Podcast. We are very proud of what we’re doing there at that podcast. I am interviewing some of the most interesting, well, people you could ever want to talk to. Just whatever I find fascinating, whether there’s a smart person or an expert in a field that I’m interested in or maybe I’m not even interested in.
I’m only interested because I’ve heard them speak and become intrigued. I think you’ll be intrigued as well. We get deep into topics that are quite important to the current age. Things like cognitive dissonance, cognitive distortions. How does our mind work? We talk about everything at the Dr. Drew Podcast. It is of real relevance. We get all the way into deep physics and all sorts of stuff.
But trust me, it’s all very accessible. It’s very interesting. Headaches. If you’re even in position learning about headaches, we get there. We go to the interesting topics of the day. Please join us at the Dr. Drew Podcast.
Dr. Gundry (49:48):
All right. Now it’s time for our audience question, Cindy, on Facebook, writes, “Dr. Gundry, if the pumpkin is peeled and deseeded like all canned pumpkin is, can we just use pumpkin instead of sweet potato in the pie recipe you recently shared? If not, why?” Well, that’s a great question. Yeah. The lectins are primarily in the peels and the seeds of the squash family, and the pumpkin is part of the squash family.
My big objection with the squash family, besides the lectin content, is remember these are fruits, and the sugar content in pumpkins is not insignificant. And the starch content, the resistance starches in, say, sweet potatoes, is much higher than in pumpkins. So you’re right. There’s nothing evil and awful about organic pumpkin used in a recipe. But the reason I’m trying to get you interested in alternatives that have been used by communities for generations, like a sweet potato pie, is that it may have some additional health benefits for you, and it may reduce the overall sugar content that you’re going to eat.
But that’s a great question. Again, peeling and deseeding is one of the traditional ways of lessening lectin content in any food. I was recently over in France, and the cucumbers over in France at all the crudité tables, the cucumbers were peeled and deseeded. And you go, “Wow. Obviously, they know something that we should know.”
All right, time for the review of the week. Nelson Ortega watched my video about healthiest meat products and said, “Thank you for sharing that information with us, Dr. Gundry. You are great in informing us with science facts, given these times when there is way too much processed foods being passed off as healthy options. I appreciate your effort to put our health before those that want to sell us products that would harm us in the long run.”
Well, thanks a lot, Nelson. Yeah. I’m trying every day to sort through what is good for you and good for your body and good for the planet. And those are not incompatible things. But, so many times, we hear the word, for instance, plant-based and assume that because it’s plant-based, it’s healthy. Number one. Number two, if we hear the word plant-based, we assume it’s not ultra processed, which, unfortunately, most of these products are.
And we hear the word organic, and we assume that because it’s organic, that it’s good for us. Well, I can assure you that organic wheat and organic corn, and organic soybeans are not health foods. And if we make things out of these organic things, it’s not going to benefit our health. So buyer, beware, and I’m glad I can help you out with that, Nelson.
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 podcast. And if you want to watch each episode of the Dr. Gundry Podcast, you could always find me on YouTube at youtube.com/drgundry, because I’m Dr. Gundry, and I’m always looking out for you.