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 (00:14):
My next book in the best-selling Plant Paradox series is coming in March and you can pre-order it now at harperwave.com/energy. Energy Paradox is my fresh take on one of the top health issues plaguing Americans: fatigue. It outlines my revolutionary plan for revitalizing mental and physical stamina. You’ll feel better in no time. Learn more at harperwave.com/energy.
Dr. Gundry (00:45):
Welcome to the Dr. Gundry Podcast. When you’re looking at new foods at the grocery store and you’re trying to figure out if they are healthy or not, what’s the first thing you do? Well, you probably flip over the package and look at the nutrition facts label, right? Well, there’s just one problem with that strategy. These labels were practically designed to deceive you. That’s why, on today’s episode, I’m going to reveal the truth about what’s on the label and explain how corporations play a big role in what you see on that package label. I’ll also show how you can read those labels to become a more informed consumer and explain some of the more mysterious ingredients on your labels, like natural flavors and soy lecithin. So I hope you’re ready to dive in.
Dr. Gundry (01:39):
Okay, so what’s the problem with labels? I mean, shouldn’t we have labels to tell us what’s actually in the products we’re buying? Well, it turns out they’re actually not giving you the whole truth about the foods you’re eating. So these labels were mandated by the federal government and if you remember, if you listen to my interview with former head of the FDA, Dr. David Kessler, in Episode 120, you heard him describe how the decision about these labels went all the way up to the White House before the current labels were approved. Why did it get all the way to the White House to get these labels approved? Because big business did not want the labels to look like the way the FDA wanted them.
Dr. Gundry (02:38):
So as he points out, and I’m going to use the bagel as an example, you would think that the nutrition label would tell you the calories, would tell you the fat calories, would tell you how many grams of saturated fats there might be, trans-fats. Yeah, so far so good. But then when it gets down to carbohydrates, it gets very, very interesting. Now, carbohydrates simplistically is sugar and there are lots of different sugars. Most starches are glucose, glucose molecules that are bound together in long chains. Sugar, what we think of as table sugar, is sucrose, which is a combination of glucose bonded to fructose, so it’s half-fructose, half-glucose. Then there’s high fructose corn syrup, which, in most cases, is about 55% fructose and 45% glucose. So similar to table sugar.
Dr. Gundry (03:49):
So when the labeling laws were designed, the FDA actually wanted you to know how much sugar was in that product, whether it was sugar like we know it, like table sugar, or whether it was other forms of sugars like starches. Now, why is that important is that most of our ultra-processed foods have had the starches in wheat or corn. For example, or rice or brown rice pulverized into a very fine powder. What no one realized initially was that pulverization of those starches made those starches far more available to be turned instantly into glucose than the original product they came from, like a whole piece of kernel corn or a whole kernel of wheat. No one knew that. In fact, the GI index, the glycemic index of white bread, is 100, which is actually higher than table sugar. So white bread is far more available as sugar than sugar is when you eat it.
Dr. Gundry (05:19):
So the FDA wanted you to know that, that was the case, and manufacturers did not want you to know that. So a deal was made that if you had one or more sugar molecules bonded together as a starch, you could list that under carbohydrates. You’ll remember, a few years ago, it was called total carbohydrates. Now, it’s simply carbohydrates. Then underneath that, you will see the word fiber. Now, in general, these are fibers that you and I can’t digest. Soluble fibers count as well as insoluble fibers. Then below that, they were supposed to show the available sugar, but they didn’t. They said, “Okay, you only have to put the actual grams of sugar, either glucose or sucrose, that is in that package, not the total starches.” So most manufacturers have manipulated the system so there’s often very little sugar that appears on the label, even though most of that product is, in fact, sugar.
Dr. Gundry (06:43):
When we had Dr. Kessler on the podcast, he pointed out that a bagel has about 330 calories and it says zero sugar. You go, “Oh great. That’s a healthy food.” He said, “No, no, no. Take a look at the total carbohydrates, and my recollection is that there was about 33 grams of total carbohydrates and there was zero fiber. So there were actually 33 grams of sugar in that healthy bagel that you were not aware of. Now, what I think is really fun is any label, just look at carbohydrates minus the fiber, and that will actually give you the molecules of sugar, the grams of sugar in that product.
Dr. Gundry (07:37):
You’re also going to look at serving size, because companies don’t want to let you know how much sugar or even carbohydrates are in there. So they’ll shrink the serving size down; for instance, let’s take a bag of potato chips. The typical bag of potato chips, the serving size is sometimes two or three servings and like Lays says, I bet you can’t just eat one. So oftentimes you are unaware that they’ve manipulated the data by shrinking the serving size to make it look like there’s fewer and fewer sugar molecules in that package. So take the total carbohydrates minus the fiber, that’ll tell you the amount of sugar in that serving size.
Dr. Gundry (08:29):
Now, there’s four grams of carbohydrates in a teaspoon of sugar. So for fun math, take whatever number that is, let’s say it’s 33 in a bagel, divide by four, there’s actually eight teaspoons of sugar in that healthy bagel. Spoiler alert, that sugar will appear faster in your bloodstream than if you actually consumed eight teaspoons of table sugar. That’s how scary this stuff really is. That’s why we’re inundated with sugar even though the labeling laws are not showing you what’s really there.
Dr. Gundry (09:20):
Now, sometimes you’ll see added sugar. Now, added sugar means that, yeah, we actually put some more in, but that’s a deception as well. It still should not avert your eyes to the total carbohydrates. Speaking of added sugar, if you see a package, particularly a juice, a healthy looking juice … one that comes to mind is cranberry juice that a lot of my patients take … and it says no added sugar. That means, “There was so much sugar in here already, we didn’t have to add anything more.”
Dr. Gundry (10:05):
Now, why does this happen? Well, it turns out we have commissions that are appointed to come up with dietary guidelines, and those commissions meet about every five year, and the commissions give recommendations. The problem is the government does not have to follow the recommendations of their own commission. For instance, just five years ago, from aggressive lobbying from the meat and soda industries, the 2016 Dietary Guidelines left out the recommendations from their own advisory committee about limiting sugar-sweetened beverages and about the over-consumption in this country of red meat. So you think that the government would want you to know their advice, but, in fact, our own government is subject to pressure from big agriculture, big food.
Dr. Gundry (11:15):
I used to give a lecture at the same time that First Lady Michelle Obama was having a press conference in her garden at the White House talking about her efforts for healthy eating, to have kids eat more vegetables. Simultaneous with that, the Department of agriculture was signing bills that gave, for instance, Domino’s Pizza, a hundred million in free advertising as long as they increase the amount of cheese on their pizzas. The Department of Agriculture touted this achievement because it was helping out dairy farmers. So our government talks out of both sides of their mouth, as anyone can tell.
Dr. Gundry (12:22):
I just had Dr. Spector from Great Britain who has a new book … well, his old book was Diet Myths … but the fascinating thing about his research in England is the same thing: that big food controls what, in the end, is going to be on the label that the government backs. So don’t trust the label, number one. If you’re going to read the label, read it the correct way.
Dr. Gundry (12:56):
Finally, try to find foods that there aren’t any labels on. There’s no nutrition label on an artichoke. I’ve got artichoke socks on. There’s no nutrition label on an avocado. Why? Because it’s a whole food, and there’s no purpose of having a nutrition label on that. So the more that you can buy foods that don’t have a nutrition label, the healthier you’re going to be.
Dr. Gundry (13:29):
Okay, now I want to answer some of the questions I hear most often. First up, what’s the deal with calories, just how important are total calories? Well, quite frankly, total calories have nothing to do with just about anything. For one thing, if you’ve read any of my books and if you are looking forward to the energy paradox, we now know that the second law of thermodynamics does not apply to a human being or, for that matter, any other animal. That second law is calories in, calories out, and that you should eat less calories and exercise more and that’s the secret to weight loss.
Dr. Gundry (14:12):
What none of us understood when those rules came out is that a calorie is not a calorie, because they act differently depending on whether or not bacteria in your gut are eating some of those calories, and whether they’re keeping those calories for themselves to make lots of baby bacteria. Or, conversely, whether they’re converting those calories into more assumable calories that will make you feel fat. I’ve gone on and on ad nauseam about this, depending on the type of bacteria within you, you will seek out high sugar and high fat foods that will make you fatter. Depending on the bacteria, you will seek out low sugar and low weight gaining foods that will make you thinner, depending on your bacteria.
Dr. Gundry (15:14):
The other thing is that foods have different amounts of energy that are required to break them down. For instance, we lose about a third of the calories in protein in the process of breaking protein down into amino acids. We lose a few carbohydrate calories in breaking that down. Sadly, we lose very few calories in breaking down fat.
Dr. Gundry (15:46):
There’s been some fantastic work, particularly out of Dr. Spector’s lab, looking at giving the exact same amount of calories to individual patients. One group got pretty much the standard American diet where 70% of the foods were ultra-processed; the other group got whole foods, but the calorie or amounts were identical between the two groups. The group that got the ultra-processed foods, same amount of calories, actually gained weight and had horrible metabolic profile. The group that got the same amount of calories that were in the whole foods didn’t gain weight and had no metabolic consequences. So a calorie is not a calorie, is not a calorie.
Dr. Gundry (16:41):
It’s the New Year, and for most folks, including yours truly, that means New Year’s resolutions. This year, I’m resolving to actually try to hug my wife more while writing my new book. That’s going to be fun. Of course, a lot of people are resolving to feel healthier overall. Now, when people hear healthy, they often think about their physical health. But here’s the thing: your mental well-being is just as important. That’s why I want to tell you about Headspace, an easy to use app that can help get you your daily dose of mindfulness in the form of guided meditations.
Dr. Gundry (17:16):
You know me, I only share health tips backed by extensive research. So I love that Headspace is one of the only meditation apps in advancing the field of mindfulness and meditation through clinically validated research. In fact, Headspace is backed by 25 published studies detailing its benefits. For example, four weeks of Headspace can increase focus by 14%, and only three weeks of use has been shown to cut aggression to negative feedback by a whopping 57%. So if you’re looking to boost your mood, help you handle daily stresses, better improve sleep, and sharpen your focus, check out Headspace meditation made simple today. Here’s the best part. You can try it out for free. Go to headspace.com/gundry. That’s headspace.com/gundry for a free one-month trial with access to Headspace’s full library of meditations for every situation. For the best deal out there, go to headspace.com/gundry today.
Dr. Gundry (18:23):
As I mentioned in the Energy Paradox, and I’ll give you a teaser, they looked at some Italian athletes where they control the timing of their eating, and the Italian athletes had to eat the exact same food, the exact same calories. If the Italian athletes ate their meals over a 12-hour period versus a 6-hour period, same amount of calories, the athletes who ate during the 6-hour period lost weight, the athletes who ate the same calories during a 12-hour period did not lose any weight. So a calorie is not a calorie. So ignore the calorie on a label. You’ll notice in none of my books do I show a calorie count on any of our recipes. It’s that not important.
Dr. Gundry (19:14):
Okay, now what about the daily recommended intake? Isn’t that really important for the foods we eat? Absolutely not. No hunter gatherer, no animal has ever read a label looking at the recommended daily food intake. That’s ridiculous. It turns out, in a little while we’re going to have some very interesting authors who have looked at why animals eat the foods they ate and, spoiler alert, it turns out almost all animals from the littlest to the biggest, including humans, seek out about 15% of the food they eat as protein and universally about 15% of the calories that animals eat should be protein. That’s what they’re looking for. Interestingly enough, most of the blue zones, one of the things that I talk about, most of the blue zones eat only about 10% of their calories as protein and it may be one of the secrets of the blue zones as I’ve talked about before.
Dr. Gundry (20:30):
What do you think of fortified foods? So fortified foods means that we took the original food, tore it apart into a fine powder, threw away all the nutrients, and we put it back labeling it as fortified with eight essential vitamins or fortified with 12 essential vitamins and minerals. If you see the word fortified on a label, that means we destroyed the nutritional content of that food and we had to put some back in the process of destroying it. Run the other way.
Dr. Gundry (21:15):
I’ve said this on a podcast before, but it’s worth repeating. I grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, and my best friend’s father was head of what is now Conagra. It was called Consolidated Mills back then. They were a flour making company and his mother made amazing chocolate chip cookies and my friend and I would come home after school and eat raw cookie dough. The father came in one day, saw us eating the raw cookie dough and said, “Don’t eat that stuff, there’s bug eggs in it.” We went, “What? There aren’t any bug eggs in here. There aren’t any bugs?” He says, “Well, it’s just eggs. The bugs can’t grow in flour because there’s nothing that they can live on.” As I’ve told you many times, if a bug can’t live on that stuff, you have no business eating it.
Dr. Gundry (22:12):
Another fun fact: In my house, we have a giant jar of Oreo cookies in a glass jar that sits on the counter we inherited it when we bought our house over two years ago. Those Oreo cookies have, number one, never been touched, but they’ve never been touched by a bug or a mold and they are as pristine in that jar two years later as when we moved in. Similarly, we have another jar of pretzels that we inherited, and those pretzels are just as pristine as when we moved in. Michael Pollan has a Twinkie that he keeps on his desk and I believe it is now been there for 10 years. He gives it a squeeze every now and then, and it’s just as luscious and juicy and fresh 10 years as it was 10 years ago. The point of all this is, if bacteria and mold and insects won’t eat those foods, that should be telling you something, and you shouldn’t eat it either.
Dr. Gundry (23:32):
Okay, let’s talk about specific ingredients on labels. I get questions about it all the time. Natural flavors; first of all, there is absolutely no labeling law that defines what a natural flavor is. Obviously, an artificial flavor is probably something you don’t want to look for or pick up on a label, but a natural flavor is no guarantee that, in fact, it’s natural.
Dr. Gundry (24:04):
How about soy lecithin and soy phospholipids? I get this all the time. It turns out that lecithin is a phospholipid and phospholipids, as you’re going to learn about in the Energy Paradox, are incredibly important for the functioning of the inner and outer membranes of mitochondria, those little energy-producing organelles in most of our cells. You have to have a supply of phospholipids in your diet to actually generate the membranes of mitochondria. So just because something may be derived from soy doesn’t necessarily make it the evil empire that you have to avoid. So soy obviously has lectins, but lecithin and phospholipids do not contain lectins. So there are components of certain evil beans that are actually good for you. As I’ve told you many times, I pressure cook beans. I have beans several times a week as part of my diet. But if you pressure cook them, they will give you the phospholipids that are actually missing in most of our diets. Now, there’s other great place to get phospholipids, particularly in shellfish and clams and mussels. That’s why I recommend wild shellfish.
Dr. Gundry (25:41):
Pea protein. Pea protein lectins are proteins, and you got to be very, very, very careful when you’re dealing with proteins from lectin-containing foods. Like, for instance, soy protein in and of itself contains lectins. Pea proteins contain lectins. Now, if you pressure cook and extrude soy protein to make texturized vegetable protein, you’ll destroy the lectins. But so far, I’ve not seen any papers that show that pea protein has the lectins have been destroyed. So be very cautious for looking at brown rice protein, pea protein, because the brown rice has the lectins. So, so far, stay away from pea protein.
Dr. Gundry (26:35):
There are fruits, the squash family have lectins in their peels and their seeds. That’s why, in general, I ask you to avoid those. But the same rule applies. If you take the peel and the seeds out, pumpkin is not a lectin-containing food as long as those parts are removed. The reason I don’t recommend it as a big part of your diet is, remember, any fruit is sugar including a pumpkin. So pumpkins and zucchinis still have residual sugar. So they’re not a huge, healthy part of your diet.
Dr. Gundry (27:21):
This comes up all the time. It actually came up years ago when Quest Bars, which we recommend certain Quest Bars, changed their starch to corn-based resistant starches. I actually spoke with the company and it’s the same thing. There are lectins in corn. There are a number of proteins in corn that 70% of my patients react to when we test them for it. But the starches in corn and potato don’t contain those lectins. Those are sugar molecules. So if you said corn protein or potato protein, then we’re talking a different subject. But in general, particularly if the corn starch is lower on the label, if the potato starch is lower on the label, you’re going to be okay in most cases.
Dr. Gundry (28:23):
All right, how about oil? I get a lot of questions about this, and that’s why I did an entire podcast episode dedicated to the topic. So please check out the Episode 129 on the Dr. Gundry Podcast. Are there nasty ingredients or additives to avoid at all costs? Well, certainly, if there’s actually trans-fat on the label, just put it down. But here’s the deal: the dear old government, under pressure from industry, said that if there is 0.5 grams of trans-fat per serving, you don’t have to list it on the label and you can put zero trans fat. Now, the part of this that’s so disturbing is you don’t even have to put trans-fats on labels for industrial use. So for instance, in schools, if you are buying cooking grease to cook the healthy French fries in, you don’t have to put the labels of trans-fats when industrial foods are food that’s going to go to schools. So just because it says zero trans-fat doesn’t mean, in fact, that it is trans-fat free. That’s one of the really sad things.
Dr. Gundry (29:55):
The other thing is that there are tons of ingredients that you should avoid like the plague like transglutaminate, transglutaminines, that are used to raise almost all gluten-free foods that act like gluten in susceptible people. I talk about this in the Plant Paradox. Interestingly, just yesterday, we saw a person who was gluten-free eating a lot of gluten-free crackers and breads that reacted very vigorously to transglutaminases when we tested them for that. That’s where their actual neurologic migraine symptoms were coming from. So beware if you’re eating a gluten-free product and it has risen, like a loaf of bread or like a cracker or a biscuit, and it’s commercial, the odds are transglutaminases were put in there. The other place that these are hiding is it’s called meat glue. Great name. It’s hiding in imitation crab and imitation seafood. So please, please, please, I know imitation crab tastes like the real thing. I know it’s cheap, but it’s actually pretty much pure transglutaminase.
Dr. Gundry (31:20):
Okay, how do you determine if it’s okay to eat if there are non-compliant ingredients on the list? By law, I know laws are meant to be broken, but by law, the weight of the ingredient, the amount of the ingredient has to be listed in order. So that if that ingredient is way, way down the list, the odds are it’s an infinitesimal amounts and it’s probably safe to try. Now, having said that, if you try something and you had a reaction to it, well, don’t eat that.
Dr. Gundry (31:59):
Okay, that wraps up our discussion on nutrition labels, and ingredients. If you have any more questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments, comments on the YouTube video, or this episode’s blog posts at drgundry.com, or on my Instagram post about this episode at Dr. Steven Gundry.
Dr. Gundry (32:21):
Okay, it’s time for our audience question. This week’s question comes from Tonya June on YouTube who asks: “What should people with anemia do to increase iron intake? I know you write in Longevity Paradox about how most people consume too much iron, but what can those of us with low iron levels do to ensure adequate amounts of it while still staying healthy? Thank you.” Well, that’s a great question, and I do definitely see, particularly menstruating female, have low levels of iron.
Dr. Gundry (32:54):
Several tricks. First of all, have dark green leafy vegetables as often as you can. Number two, take vitamin C before every one of your meals. Just get a 500 milligram vitamin C, swallow it or chew it right before your meal. Vitamin C really, really, really increases your absorption of iron. If chronic anemia is a problem, and it’s just you, cook your meals in a cast iron skillet. I am impressed over and over again with the number of people with high iron levels who are using a cast iron skillet, and when we take their cast iron skillet away from them, their iron levels go right back down to normal. So if you’re one of those people, please cook your meals, feel free to cook your meals in the cast iron skillet. But a warning: if the rest of your family is fine with iron, you don’t want it expose them to the excess iron load that a cast iron skillet will provide. But in general, the more dark leafy green vegetables you eat, the higher your iron, but use the vitamin C trick. It works every time.
Dr. Gundry (34:20):
Finally, don’t drink much tea or drink much iced tea. Tea leeches iron out of you and I see a lot of well-meaning, particularly women, who were trying to avoid coffee and instead are drinking tea, green tea, matcha tea. Unfortunately, it will leech iron out of you. But great question.
Dr. Gundry (34:46):
Okay, now it’s on to our review of the week. This week’s review comes from Valerie on YouTube who wrote this after listening to my interview with my wife, Penny. “My husband and I have just finished listening to your beautiful honesty together. I can’t believe he listened. COVID has really opened my eyes to the real deal, and this interview brings me the joy of reality. Thank you for being honest. Using words like bankruptcy and worried and believe, life is hard, and you know it. We can get through this life if we listen. Thank you.” Well, thank you, Valerie. I think it’s important to know that I’m going to be honest with you and give you the facts as I know them. As I learn new facts or the facts that I thought were facts, change on the basis of research, I’m going to let you know. As soon as I know it, and I check things out for you or try stuff out on myself or learn something from my patients, you’re going to be the first to hear about it and I appreciate you tuning in because just the facts, ma’am, just the facts. So thank you for sending that in and it means a lot to me because I’m always looking out for you.
Dr. Gundry (36:12):
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. If you want to watch each episode of the Dr. Gundry Podcast, you can always find me on YouTube at youtube.com/drgundry, because I’m Dr. Gundry, and I’m always looking out for you.