Ever wondered how Dr. Steven Gundry, M.D., author of The Plant Paradox and The Longevity Paradox, and an inspiration for so many in their health journeys, spends a typical day? I have and my curiosity led me to spend forty minutes with Dr. G (as most of us affectionately call him), talking about a typical day in his life, from the moment he wakes up to the moment he goes to sleep.
I had the honour of meeting Dr. Gundry in person in July 2019, just a few days shy of my 40th birthday, when we recorded The Dr. Gundry Podcast #57. But I always imagined we will meet over a coffee and chat about every day life. Well, as I am in Dallas and he is in California, a real coffee break was not possible, but Dr. G generously accepted to chat over a virtual tea (thank God for Skype). I am lousy when it comes to technology and a little bit old school, so I didn’t record a video, but I have the full transcript to share with you. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did!
*Photo courtesy of GundryMD
Claudia Curici (CC): Dr. Gundry, thank you so much for agreeing to answering all these questions and giving us an insight into your daily life. We are a bit curious, us ‘plant paradoxers’. So, let’s start: what’s the first thing you do when you wake up and what time do you wake up?
Steven Gundry (SG): It depends on either my wife or my dogs. We usually get up at about 4:20 in the morning.
SG: Yeah. Wow. And part of that is we go do a spin class at 5:30 in the morning on Tuesdays and Thursdays and so we just get into the routine; we try to get up the same time every morning, and if we don’t get up, we have four dogs and one of the dogs will probably urge us to get up. So that’s why we do it that way.
CC: Okay. Well, that’s interesting. I know you have an Oura ring. Do you check your Oura app every morning when you wake up?
SG: Yeah, actually, I do. That’s actually the first thing I do, and I also have a Whoop wristband, which is a competitor of Oura. So I actually check the two and choose which one I like better [laughs].
CC: Okay. So is there anything, in particular, you’re looking at?
SG: Yeah, well, the dogs actually have my number and a couple of them like to wake me up in the middle of the night for me to let them outside or to get a drink of water. And it’s funny when I’m on the road, or elsewhere and traveling, the dogs never wake my wife up. She sleeps right through the night, and then when I’m home like I say they’ve got my number. So I want to see what they’ve cost me in terms of sleep. And then I do a lot of looking at deep sleep. Deep sleep is really where we clean our brain out. I’m actually not as worried about REM sleep. And then I think there’s something to be said about heart rate variability, and I like to track heart rate variability whether I’m traveling, whether I’m relaxing, or what my exercise program has been. And it definitely varies depending on all my activities.
CC: Can I ask what’s your average like? What do you consider a good one (heart rate variability)?
SG: Well, I think it’s relative depending on how old you are. My heart rate variability will run anywhere from the 70s to the 150s. But I’ve compared myself to one of the Oura ring’s salesman who was a young guy from Finland and his is 250. And it’s like, “Oh my gosh. Okay, how can I ever do that?”
CC: Mine is 40-50 [sighs].
SG: Yeah. So interestingly enough, my wife who clearly is more athletic and fit than I am, her heart rate variability will run 30s and 40s. And she hates me. So it’s the one thing I beat her at.
CC: Okay, that’s interesting. I’m actually working on increasing that. Let’s see. So do you drink a lot of water in the morning? How much? Do you drink coffee or tea?
SG: Yeah, so I drink black coffee. Usually have two cups of black coffee in the morning and then I’ll have a hydrogen water to take my supplements with. And then throughout the day, I have tea: mint tea, green tea, olive leaf tea and I’ll have four of these mugs throughout the day. And there’s method to my madness. Among other things, I want to keep my iron level down. Menstruating women don’t have that problem but I don’t wrestle Saber-Toothed tigers [laughs] so I need a way to keep my iron low.
Note: You can find more about Hydrogen water by listening to Dr. Gundry Podcast #76
CC: How do you drink your water? Is it room temperature, cold, warm?
SG: I like it actually cold, because you actually have to warm the water with the heat of your body so it actually burns a few more calories, so why not?
CC: That’s why ice cream is good for you, right? Because you burn calories while eating it [laughs].
SG: Well, that was actually the Ben & Jerry’s theory of ice cream in Vermont. That if you ate cold ice cream in the middle of winter you would actually feel warmer. So there is some kind of interesting myth to that.
CC: Okay. So we heard you many times talking about oral hygiene. I find it difficult to find a good floss or something that is not made with Teflon or other nasty stuff or a good toothpaste. What do you use or recommend?
SG: Well, I alternate between two toothpastes. One is called Dirt, and the other one it’s called Theodent and its active ingredient is from chocolate from all things. And it’s actually pretty interesting. I got into it because number one it doesn’t have any flouride and number two, a lot of my patients with autoimmune diseases, or have kids and finding a toothpaste that kids would use that didn’t have all the crazy stuff in it led me to this company. So I alternate between the two. I have very tight spaces between my teeth.
CC: Me too.
SG: And quite honestly, I rip to shreds any of the non Teflon flossing material.
CC: Me too. I can’t use them because they’re too thick, right?
SG: Yeah. So what the heck, you do what you can do.
CC: Right. Okay. So you said you take your supplement with your hydrogen water, is that first thing when you wake up or it’s what time?
SG: Well, if I’m not going to a spin class or a pilates class, we’ll take the dogs for a hike. Our neighborhood’s very hilly and so we go for about a two-mile hike through the hills every morning and again, everything’s directed to the dogs rather than me. So I’ll come back and feed the dogs and then put out my supplements. I put my supplements out every day. I used to do it kind of once a week and put it in baggies. I stopped doing that, and I just do it every day. So I’ll take my supplements literally before I head off to work. My office opens at 8:00 most mornings, so I’ll take my giant handful of supplements kind of last thing I do before leaving for work.
CC: Any supplement that breaks the fast?
SG: In general, no. During the winter, I don’t eat breakfast or lunch during the week, and then I eat all my calories between 6:00 and 8:00 at night, so that 22 out of 24 hours I’m fasting. I think this is my eighteenth or nineteen year of doing this. Actually, as far as I know, I was one of the original writers about time-restricted feeding. It was actually in my first book back in 2006. I had a whole chapter on time-restricted feeding. My editor at that time, from Random House, thought it was so nuts that she said, “No, no, no. This is nuts. You’re already a nut case, but this is crazy. So I’ll give you a page and a half, and that’s all you get.” And she has, in subsequent years, called me up and said, “I’m so sorry. You were right. Why didn’t I believe you?” and she said, “Oh, at least I gave you a page and a half.” Anyhow, no, supplements in general are not going to break the fast. The other times of the year, my breakfast will be all my powders that I’ll drink.
CC: So you mentioned you’re going for the hike every single morning?
SG: Yeah, whether I want to or not because of dogs.
CC: Because of the dogs, right. And then you said you’re doing spinning classes Tuesday and Thursday.
SG: Yeah, so I do a spin class twice a week. One of them is a high-intensity interval training class, which is nicely brutal. And then, whenever I get a chance, I’ll do Pilates. I used to do Pilates every day, but in the past few years, my world has gotten busier, and busier, and busier. And my Pilates practice has gotten worse, and worse, and worse. To me, it’s still one of the best exercises there is.
CC: Okay. What about washing our skin? I remember that you had someone once in a podcast, saying that the more we wash ourselves, the more we kill the good bacteria on our skin. And I realized, sometimes I take three showers a day. When I go to Yoga in the morning, I take one before, one after, one in the evening. I wonder what do you think? Is it too much?
SG: Yeah. I mean, number one, honest sweat doesn’t smell. We used to say that even during heart surgery in third-world countries where there was no air conditioning in the operating room, and we would sweat all over the babies, and they never got infected. Anyhow, that’s an aside. Yeah, so I take a shower every day. I use an olive oil soap that I buy in Nice, France, and I stock-up on it, and I’ve been doing that for – oh, gosh – over 10 years. And there’s nothing in it but basically olive oil, so.
Note: I looked for a similar soap we could find in the US, and the closest I found is Papoutsanis, an olive oil soap made in Greece the traditional way, for two centuries. I ordered some on Amazon.
CC: Okay. Interesting. Speaking of skin, Everyone notices how young your skin looks. That’s the first thing that people say like, oh my God, his hands or his face. Do you use a moisturizer or is just all the diet? I mean, do you use something specific for young-looking skin?
SG: Well, yeah. I mean, skin is your— your gut is your skin turned inside out. And what people will see on your skin actually reflects the wall of your gut. But I do have several Gundry MD products that I developed that I use on my skin. And they’re polyphenol-rich. And they actually have probiotics and prebiotics in them.
CC: So it’s those ones that we can find on Gundry Wellness?
SG: Yeah. I’ll tell you a funny story from years ago when I was developing these products. I developed a formula and I was in the bathroom and putting it on my face in the morning, and my wife said, “What are you doing?” And I said, “Well, you know, I’m developing this skin care product.” She said, “What the heck do you know about skin?” And I said, “Well, I know a whole lot about keeping heart cells alive and cells alive, and the principles are exactly the same. So I’m going to do it on my skin.” So this is going along for a couple of weeks. And she finally says, you know, grab the bottle, “Give me that stuff.” And she starts using them. And by the week into it she goes, “Okay, smart guy. I’ve been paying $500 for this stuff that I get at Saks Fifth Avenue. And this is better than that. How did you know this?” I said, “Well, you know, it’s my business. Make the skin–” So the best story real quick is she gave it to one of her friends. Friend calls her one morning and she says, “My husband and I have been married for 40 years. So my husband has never ever given me a compliment. Not only on the fanciest night out, or never given me a compliment.” And she says, “I walked out this morning, he’s out reading the paper outside, and I walked out in my bathrobe, nothing done on my face. And he says, ‘You know honey, you’ve been looking really good recently.’ And she said, ‘I want a gallon of that stuff.’ So it does work.
CC: What about your outfits? I mean, that’s another thing that everyone notices. Are you the type of person who knows every evening what they’re going to wear the next day? Or you just go with the flow?
SG: No. I pick it out every morning. Depending on my mood or what strikes me. And I’ve got 20 pairs of glasses. My wife called me, “Glass hoard.”
CC: Where do you get them from by the way?
SG: All over the world. Italy, Paris, New York City, San Francisco. It’s funny wherever we go, particularly in a new city, I’ll go look for a glass store first.
CC: Okay. Interesting. I like yours today. Yeah, they’re nice and purple.
SG: Yeah. This is my newest. Actually, this is from Florence, Italy.
CC: Okay. Interesting. What’s your first meal this time of the year?
SG: Well, this time of the year it’ll be dinner. And that will be it during the week. It will be dinner. And that’s my first meal.
SG: So we’re talking over the lunch hour and there’s no lunch here.
CC: So when you eat lunch, do you pack something from home?
SG: Well, so I almost never, ever eat lunch. It stopped being part of what I do among other things. The noon hour is usually now reserved for podcasts, for instance, or for working on my next book, which is in the process right now.
CC: Was that The Energy Paradox, the new book, right?
SG: That’s The Energy Paradox, yes. Yeah, yeah.
CC: I was talking to a friend of mine and a long time fan of yours, Glenn, he was saying: “I can eat the exact same thing every day for 10 years, and I’m fine.” And I said, “I have to eat something different every day, all the time. I need diversity.” What type are you?
SG: So years ago, when I wrote the first book, Dr. Gundry’s Diet Evolution, there was some interesting studies that show the average person, the average family, basically gravitates to five meals that they rotate around. And that becomes pretty fixed in their repertoire. And I thought that was interesting. And I kind of look at what my wife and I do, and I think that’s very, very true. Again, it sounds trite, but I think the only purpose of food is to get olive oil in my mouth. So however I accomplish that or however both of us accomplish that is fine with me. So for instance, I’ll give you an example. Tonight, my wife is going out with some friends, so is abandoning me and the dogs. And so I’ve got a new cassava pasta that I’m going to try with pesto sauce. And we’ll see what happens. So I’m going to experiment with that while she’s gone because she usually doesn’t want me experimenting with her. And if it works on me, it passes the test, then she’ll try it.
CC: Who is the one cooking usually?
SG: I’m the cook.
CC: You are the cook? Okay.
SG: Yeah. My wife is the sous-chef, the prep chef. And it actually works out really well. I’m always willing to try new recipes and I do because I got to make a lot of recipes for books and things like that. So I’ll see an idea and say, “Oh, if tweak this and I do this, like yourself, we can make this plant paradox compliant, and it’ll still taste good.” I mean, that’s what we want. We want food we love that loves us back. Right?
CC: Exactly, yeah. So a lot of people say that it’s very hard, and I understand that because they’re very busy, they work, single moms, kids, how can we still find the time to cook? I mean, you are such a busy person, right, so how can you still make that time to cook in the evenings when you get home?
SG: Well, the reason I wrote The Plant Paradox Family Cookbook was for busy families because everybody works and everybody has two or three jobs and has to get kids to 12 soccer practices and whatever. And nobody’s got the time. So I think the pressure cooker, the modern pressure cooker has been a huge time-saving advance and it’s a great way to take lectin rich foods and make them safe. And I think the other thing that I would tell anybody, and I have no relationship with this company, is you should have your pantry stocked with about seven or eight cans of Eden beans [which are soaked and pressure cooked].
Note: This is the pressure cooker I use and I do agree, it is a life saver.
For instance last week, my wife was out of town and I was in town and I just had a can of Eden beans, a different one every night with Tuscan kale and some arugula and some mushrooms. And so I changed the bean every night and I had that throughout the week. And so I had a bean fest and I mean it was done instantaneously. I mean you throw the can in, sautee the greens and then pour tons of olive oil. If you air this, all my critics will say, “Oh, Dr. Gundry admits to eating beans.” Well, I’ve always told people to eat beans. Just detoxify them.
CC: Yeah. Okay. So we know about the lunch. Okay. How about your afternoon? Do you ever feel like your energy is depleted or you are just feeling perfectly fine until you go to sleep?
SG: One of the wonderful things about my job is that I start at 8:00 in the morning and finish at 5:00 or 5:30 and I see patients every day. And I see patients on Saturdays and Sundays which people just find it hard to believe and say what an idiot. But I get so much excitement about seeing somebody transform their life that I’m like a kid in the candy store. I can’t wait to see the next patient. And my staff has to knock on the door and say, “Okay. Come on. It’s time for you to see the next patient.” But we’re having such as good time saying, “Oh, look at this. Look at this blood work.” Or sometimes it’s the opposite. Sometimes I’ve got a patient who’s fallen off the wagon and we’re going, “What the heck [laughter]? Come on.” I got to be a motivational coach every now and then.
CC: So I guess that’s what happens when you love what you do, right? When you love our work, it just keeps you–
SG: Yeah. And I tell anyone, “If you don’t love what you do, go do something else”– the other thing I will tell anyone who will listen is never ever retire, ever.
CC: I know that.
SG: I see so many in my practice where, particularly men and now increasingly women, look forward to the day they retire and actively try to retire and it’s, in general, just a downhill circle after that. It’s just one bad thing after another.
CC: Right. Yeah.
SG: So, just don’t do it.
CC: Right. Okay, we talked about dinner. I just wanted to ask you what time do you have dinner?
SG: Well, so usually we’ll both get home around 5:30pm or 6:00pm and so we’ll both usually have a quarter cup of nuts. It’s usually walnuts and pistachios. I’m on a pinenut kick right now. And we’ll have about six ounces, a glass of wine. And we usually watch the news and pet the dogs and feed the dogs, and then we’ll probably eat, at 6:30pm, maybe 7:00pm. Do I think that’s too late? Yes, I do, but in our schedules, that’s the only time we see each other so that’s kind of how we do it.
CC: What time do you go to sleep?
SG: So the dogs have us heading towards bed around 8:30 at night. I mean, they’ll give us looks and two of them will head to the bedroom and be on the bed, and so they basically control our lives if you’re getting the message. So, we’re usually asleep around 9:00pm, 9:30pm. My wife instantly falls asleep. I’m incredibly jealous. I’m usually mulling things around in my monkey brain for a while.
CC: Right. Do you do anything to relax before you go to sleep? Meditation or other relaxing routine?
SG: No. Well, we usually watch some news shows, if anything, and then just get so bored with how bad the world is that we’ll say, “Ugh, let’s turn this off and go to bed.” No, we don’t have any practices like that.
CC: Do you do any work in the evening?
SG: It depends. If I’m under a deadline for a book, which I usually am, yeah, I’ll work in the evening.
CC: When do you feel more creative? In the morning or in the evenings?
SG: Well, I think I do a lot of my research early morning, when I first get up, and I usually go down a rabbit hole when I find something interesting that I didn’t know and I want to know everything there is to know about this particular subject. And that’s usually one of the reasons I start a new book, is because I want to know things I didn’t know, or a patient often is the first one to say, “Well, what do you know about this?” And, if I don’t know, then I’m going to find out and that usually gets my juices going, and I won’t put it down, and my wife will say, “How can you possibly be interested in this incredible minutia [laughter]. And so that’s what I like.
CC: You said you watch TV. Do you have any favorite TV shows or programs you watch regularly
SG: MSNBC. Sorry about that.
CC: I’m not that familiar with American TV.
SG: It’s cable.
CC: No judging [laughter]. Can you tell us a book you read now or some of your favorite books?
SG: My office is just a giant bookshelf [laughter]– just books laying around. I’m reading two books now. Well, I read this one called Whitewash. And it’s actually the story of Roundup. And the author is Carrie Gillam. And the other one I’m reading, which is very similar, is called Merchants of Doubt, which is about how tactics for the tobacco lobby have been used to fight back against global warming, acid rain. It’s fascinating. And Monsanto does the same thing. It’s using tricks to look the other way and to cast doubt that there’s still a question in science. And we hear that parrotted every day from various administrations. I won’t say one, but yeah, so there you go.
CC Thank you for sharing. Favorite place to shop for food? Do you have any favorite grocery stores?
SG: Well, we luckily in Montecito have one of the best farmers markets areas at Santa Barbara’s Farmer’s Market. So I like to hit the farmer’s markets. We have a wonderful kind of grocery store both in Mountain Springs and Montecito. Whole Foods is pretty reliable. Whole Paycheck is well-deserved for the name [laughter]. And a lot of towns have a great market wherever I am. I usually actually try to find out, “Okay. Where’s the really cool market that people go to?” And oftentimes, that’s a local business. And so I’ll go there.
CC: Do you get your groceries once a week or more often?
SG: Well, we get our produce once a week at a farmer’s market. But I mean, sometimes, you go by Trader Joe’s and buy a couple of bags of lettuce and throw them in some bowls, mix some olive oil and vinegar dressing and go to town. My wife and I will many times during the week make giant mixing bowls with salad. And that would be our dinner. And I’m not going to starve to death eating a giant bowl of lettuce. And I can tell you that would get about a half a cup or more of olive oil into me every day, just doing that. And it really fills you up.
I used to do a thing when weight loss was a big part of why people saw me. You can actually look at a piece of cheese one inch by one inch inch by one inch and it has about 150 calories. And one bag of lettuce has about 30 calories. And so to eat– to get the calorie equivalent, you have to eat five bags of lettuce to have that one piece of cheese. And I’ve done that experiment and I got to two and a half bags of lettuce before I had to quit because I was just too full. And I’ve also done the experiment by eating one-inch pieces of cheese and I can assure you that I can eat 10 pieces of cheese and say, “Hey, I’m still hungry”.
CC: Exactly. And you want more. The more you eat, the more you want.
SG: That’s true.
CC: Okay. When you travel to Europe or to other faraway places, do you fast the whole travel or you take some food with you?
SG: Well, it depends. I mean, a lot of it is overnight. So it’s an excellent opportunity to fast. We take bags of nuts with us. Sometimes it’s rather humorous how many nuts we carry over to Europe. But yeah, so we’ll take nuts. A lot of airports have fine pistachios now in almost every spot. They’re ridiculously expensive, but they are available now. So if I’m in a pinch, that’s what I’ll eat. And so there’s more opportunities.
CC: What do you do to avoid the jetlags?
SG: Well, it turns out that jet lag is probably the circadian rhythm of your microbiome being disrupted more than anything. So we’ve found that taking Vital Reds and now, Bio Complete 3 remarkably resets our clock. It’s really interesting. We’ve actually didn’t set off to think that was going to work, but it really does work. The other thing we do, we don’t go to sleep when we get there. We get out in the sun and we kind of force our way through. And that intense sunlight exposure really does help set your circadian clock back. But the more I do this, the more I think it’s the microbiome circadian rhythm that gets thrown off. And so getting a bunch of new bugs in I think helps.
CC: Right. Last question. Can you tell us three restaurants in the US where plant paradoxers can go and eat without fear or have a [feast?]?
SG: Well, it’s interesting. I had Seamus Mullen, famous chef and consultant of Goop on my podcast last week, and we were talking. First of all, it’s almost impossible to eat gluten-free in a restaurant in the United States despite what they tell you. And we can do a whole podcast on why that is. But he agrees with me that a menu only tells you what the chef has in the back. And if the chef won’t accommodate you, then this is not a place where you want to eat. And he said, ‘Believe it or not, they really want you to eat at their restaurant. They’re dependent on you”. And he says, “So just don’t demand it. Just ask nicely and see what you can do. So having said that, you can kill yourself in just about every restaurant in the United States. And you can also save your life in just about every restaurant in the United States by looking at what’s on the menu. In Montecito which is part of Santa Barbara, there’s a phenomenal restaurant called Pane e Vino that you can completely trust, with food choices that are totally Gundry approved. And at the same time, you could kill yourself if you wanted to go with other food choices. But there’s plenty to eat. There’s a great place in Lower Manhattan called I Sodi, same thing. The woman is from Tuscany around the Florence area. It’s a tiny little place. You would walk past it 20 times. It’s almost impossible to get in. And you can kill yourself or save your life depending on how you order off the menu.
Last, in Palm Springs, there’s a great Austrian chef restaurant called Johannes. He can kill you or save your life depending on how you know how to order. And I have many chefs who are my friends. And they’ll tell you that selling things that they would not want to sell you is actually how they stay in business. And after all, the bottom line is you do have to pay the rent. You do have to pay the bills. You have to pay your staff. But a lot of my friends in the chef world will have secret foods that if you know how to read a menu you’ll do just fine.
CC: Right. Yeah. Sometimes they don’t even have things on the menu. And if you ask, for example, here in Dallas, grass-fed steak, it’s never on the menu. But if you ask, sometimes, most of the times, they have it off the menu.
SG: Yeah. It’s interesting. And sometimes I’ve asked restaurateurs, particularly up in Santa Barbara, why don’t you put a grass-fed steak on the menu? Aah, nobody wants that. And one place now, it’s now a feature and they sell it. So it’s just that sometimes you just have to be persistent. And particularly if you have friends. And say, hey, we’d love to eat at your restaurant. Have you ever thought about doing this? For instance, Johannes has a raw Brussels sprouts salad with leaves. And the croutons are actually chopped up walnuts. And people swear that they’re croutons. And no, they’re not. And so, there’s always interesting things that you can do.
CC: Right. Okay. Thank you so much for your time, DR. G. It was really nice. I can’t wait to go through it and write everything down. Yeah. So, yeah. Thank you for everything that you do, again.
SG: And thank you for doing what you do.
CC: Thank you so much. You’re going to receive– I got my book, my advanced copy. Yeah. So you’re going to receive your copy soon. Whenever I get my copies I’m going to send it.
SG: Very good. I’ll look forward to it. All right, Claudia. Take care.
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