We have all heard the phrase, “You are what you eat”. 

Dr. Steven Gundry takes that statement one step further and says, “You are what you eat, but more so, you are what the thing you are eating, ate.”

You get to choose what you eat, but you need to consider what that animal ate or what those plants were fertilized or sprayed with. Those things factor into what goes into your body when you consume them. 

Jay Shetty and Dr. Steven Gundry sit down to talk about the food you eat, gut health, your gut-brain connection, foods to avoid, and how to rewire how you eat. 

If you think you eat healthily but aren’t seeing the changes you want, Dr. Gundry and Jay Shetty’s wisdom can provide a starting point for connecting the dots in your journey to a healthier you.

Where to Start

What is healthy and what is not? Massive amounts of information bombard us daily, making it hard to know where to start. According to Dr. Gundry, organic is an excellent place to start. 

“Most people are unaware that glyphosate, or Roundup, is one of the best ways to destroy your gut,” Dr. Gundry explains. 

Glyphosate is routinely sprayed on conventional crops like wheat, oats, flaxseed, soybeans, and canola. These types of grains are then used as food for livestock. When you eat the animal, the glyphosate is passed onto you. Livestock also take antibiotics to grow faster and fatter. These antibiotics are passed on to you as well. 

You can be tested to measure the amount of glyphosate in your body. Glyphosate can be the culprit when you clean up your diet but are not making the strides you should be. How does glyphosate affect your body? It destroys your gut. But what role does your gut have in your overall health?

Leaky Gut

According to Dr. Gundry, the gut is the heart of your health … but what IS a leaky gut, wonders Jay Shetty?

Leaky gut is what it sounds like. The lining of your small intestine becomes damaged from the food you eat and the medications you take, and it leaks toxins, undigested food, bacteria, and waste into your bloodstream.

Symptoms of leaky gut include chronic diarrhea, gas, bloating, increased inflammation, headaches, excessive fatigue, sugar cravings, and joint pain, to name a few. According to Dr. Gundry, almost all diseases, whether heart disease, cancer, dementia, arthritis, or autoimmune disease, begin with a leaky gut. 

“The good news is when we seal a leaky gut – and it's possible to do so – the autoimmune disease goes away and stays in remission,” Dr. Gundry explains to Jay Shetty. “We have a wonderful set of bacteria, viruses, fungi in our gut, over 100 trillion different organisms. All these little one-celled creatures are the most important organ in our body.”

There is a beautiful relationship between your gut microbiome, the most advanced organism ever, and everything else that happens in our bodies.

“We now know they control our immune system and our mood,” Dr. Gundry explains to Jay Shetty. “They control whether you are going to develop heart disease, or dementia. A one-celled organism controls your fate.”

The Gut-Brain Connection

Researchers at Duke University conducted a study on a hunter-gatherer tribe in Tanzania called the Hadza.1  The Hadza are incredibly healthy with very few diseases. The men walk around 10 miles a day to hunt, while the women walk around five to gather. 

Researchers studied the energy expenditure of the Hadza and desk workers in the United States. The hypothesis is that the Hadza, who are lean and fit, would have a more significant energy expenditure than the overweight desk workers.  

It turns out that both groups used the same amount of energy. How is that possible? The desk workers are not walking ten miles a day. 

“Research revealed the energy is going to inflammation,” Dr. Gundry shares with Jay Shetty. “Inflammation is actually driven by leaky gut.” 

When you have a breach in your intestine or leaky gut, toxins release into your bloodstream. Your immune system thinks it is under attack and starts to use all your energy to fight the war raging inside of you. This is the reason you feel more stressed, overworked, exhausted, and constantly fatigued. 

“I think so many of us feel that a lot of our pain is mental, but it starts in the gut,” Dr. Gundry tells Jay Shetty.  “It is the gut-brain connection, and the gut is the second brain.”

The microbiome bacteria create a compound that communicates with your brain. This language is called the trans-kingdom language. The bacteria talk to the neurons and mitochondria that produce the cells to your immune system. 

So that gut feeling you have is a real thing. Women are generally more in tune with gut feelings than men. According to Dr. Gundry, women also have far more autoimmune diseases and develop Alzheimer’s more often than men.

“We have this epidemic of autoimmune diseases, Hashimoto’s, thyroiditis, for example, irritable bowel syndrome. These are real things,” explains Dr. Gundry to Jay Shetty. “These are not imagined.”

Foods to Avoid

So what can you do if you think a leaky gut is the culprit to your health woes? Jay Shetty says take a look at your diet. According to Dr. Gundry, not everything the world believes is healthy for you actually is. 

“The premise of The Plant Paradox is that plants do not want to be eaten,” explains Dr. Gundry. “They have a life. They were here first, and they don't want their seeds to be eaten, so they protect themselves with compounds that are designed to make animals sick. Some of those compounds are proteins called lectins, and they are in almost all grains. They're in pseudo grains like quinoa and buckwheat, but not millet and sorghum.”2

Beans and legumes have high concentrates of lectin, but you can counteract this with pressure cooking or fermentation to release those compounds. You should try to avoid beans and legumes not treated in those ways. 

Nightshades are another thing to steer clear of unless adequately prepared. Things like eggplant, peppers, potatoes, tomatoes, and goji berries fall into that category. The skins and seeds of these items are troublesome. 

Dr. Gundry tells Jay Shetty that the Italians always peel and deseed their tomatoes before they eat them. The Southwest American Indians who love chili peppers always peel and deseed their chilis before they either eat them or grind them into chili powder.

Rewiring How You Eat

“I hear being healthy requires a complete rewiring of your diet,” says Jay Shetty. “How do you rewire your diet?”

“About 70 percent of the food we eat is processed or ultra processed,” Dr. Gundry tells Jay Shetty. “If you're reading a label, put it down. There's no label on a head of lettuce.”

We live in a profit-driven society. Decisions are made based on how much profit products can produce. Foods are designed to be addictive, and labels are confusing. 

“There was an old statement that any white substance is addictive,” Dr. Gundry explains to Jay Shetty. “White flour is addictive. White sugar is addictive. Cocaine is addictive. Heroin is addictive. You choose the white, it's addictive, and they've made a science out of addiction. Unfortunately, sickness is good for business.”

When you start to shift your diet, the bacteria in your gut start to take over to help rewire your eating habits. Two types of gut bacteria coexist. Dr. Gundry calls them the gut buddies and the gang members, and he tells Jay Shetty these gut bacteria send signals to your brain. 

The gang members love simple sugars and saturated fats. They tell your brain you need more of these things and are good at making you fat. Gut buddies do the opposite. They hate simple sugars and saturated fats. They like the complex carbohydrates of fibers. They steer you toward eating the things that are good for you and start to direct your taste. 

When you begin giving your gut buddies what they want to eat, it is amazing the changes you will see!

Intermittent Fasting

According to Dr. Gundry, culture drives our food preference. You eat a certain way because you were born in a specific area and your family eats that way. But just because that is the way things are does not mean it’s healthy for you, he tells Jay Shetty. Breakfast is an excellent example. 

“Breakfast was an industrial revolution product,” Dr. Gundry shares with Jay Shetty. “Men would have to go to factories very early in the morning. There were no lunch breaks, and they got home late at night. Their wives would make them breakfast before they went to work because they were going to fast. They were basically going to do Ramadan every day of their lives, a pre-dawn meal and then a post sunset meal.”

Breakfast was proper for that time, but that doesn’t mean it’s right for you. According to Gundry, there are profound measurable short and long-term health benefits from fasting. 

For the last 21 years, Dr. Gundry has been using the restricted eating, or intermittent fasting, method. From January to June, he consumes all of his calories for the day in a two-hour window from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. 

To begin intermittent fasting, start extending the time between when you wake up and when you eat. Start with an hour the first week, then add another hour the following week. Keep doing this until you reach a time that is within your fasting time frame. Dr. Gundry recommends a 16:8 schedule. Fast for 16 hours and eat for eight. 

“When people embark on trying to extend the period of time where they're not eating, they literally fall flat on their face,” Dr. Gundry explains to Jay Shetty. “They get headaches, they get weak, their energy is gone. And that's because we can't convert from burning glucose as fuel, to burning fatty acids as a fuel.”

Most of us are stuck using sugar as fuel, so how do you change that? The first step is to scale back on the sweetener you use. If you use a teaspoon, use half for a week, the following week, scale down again to a quarter, and so on until you don't need any at all. 

When you decide to change your habits, take Dr. Gundry’s advice: “Don't jump off cliffs, because most people just fall flat on their face. They fail. It should never be a battle of willpower.”

More From Jay Shetty

Listen to the entire On Purpose with Jay Shetty podcast episode with Dr. Gundry on “Healthy Foods You Shouldn't Be Eating” now in the iTunes store or on Spotify. For more inspirational stories and messages like this, check out Jay’s website at jayshetty.me.

1 Pontzer, H. (2021). Burn: The new science of human metabolism. Avery, an imprint of Penguin Random House. 
2 Gundry, S. R., & Buehl, O. B. (2018). The plant paradox: The hidden dangers in “healthy” foods that cause disease and weight gain. Harper Wave, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
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