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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » John Bradshaw » John Bradshaw - Conversation with Dr. George Guthrie

John Bradshaw - Conversation with Dr. George Guthrie

John Bradshaw - Conversation with Dr. George Guthrie
TOPICS: Conversations, Weight Loss, Health, Diet

John Bradshaw: Dr. George Guthrie, thanks so much for joining me.

Dr. George Guthrie: It's a pleasure.

John Bradshaw: I'm looking forward to getting to the place where we talk about this new book of yours, "Eat Plants, Feel Whole". I've looked through it. It's magnificent, but we'll get to that. Let's start at the beginning. Dr. George Guthrie, what kind of doctor are you? Don't tell me, "A good one," 'cause I'm supposing that.

Dr. George Guthrie: John, that's my line. I love the question.

John Bradshaw: Yeah.

Dr. George Guthrie: I'm a family physician who got interested in lifestyle medicine, went back and did a master's of public health and nutrition and have deepened that understanding, and then have worked in the primary care space, but with an emphasis on helping people change their lifestyle in order to get rid of their diseases. Yes, avoid diseases, but usually people are most willing or most desirous of changing when they've got something they would like to get rid of.

John Bradshaw: That's an interesting thing. So you're a doctor-doctor, medical doctor.

Dr. George Guthrie: Mm-hmm.

John Bradshaw: You saw patients. You worked in hospitals in various cities.

Dr. George Guthrie: Still do. Mm-hmm.

John Bradshaw: And then you went and got an MPH, a master's in public health...

Dr. George Guthrie: Mm-hmm.

John Bradshaw: ...which, I think it's very complementary, but one might see it not as opposed, I don't mean that, but certainly as a different direction. You're gonna see it as an adjunct. Why the desire and the emphasis on public health? What spurred you in that direction?

Dr. George Guthrie: Well, it was actually public health nutrition, so, a master's in public health, you can go a lot of different directions, looking at numbers or environment, those types of things. I was most interested in nutrition because of patients that had actually made the change. One of the stories in the book here is that of Ralph, who came to my office with diabetes and was, he didn't know he had diabetes. He didn't even know he had a high cholesterol. He had some skin lesions, which looked like they had cholesterol in them, so I checked his laboratory tests. His blood sugar was fasting over 200. In those days, we made the diagnosis of diabetes with over, like, 140, 145, so he obviously had it. And when I explained to him lifestyle changes, oral medications, and then suggested that he might need insulin, he rebelled: "Doc, I don't care what happens. I would rather die. I will never take insulin"! Well, I had been learning some science about how the body works. A fellow by the name of Jerry Olefsky from University of California San Diego was writing about this stuff in the 1980s, and he's using the word "reversal," and I'm thinking about it, reading it. And Ralph says, "I will never take insulin"! And I knew that's what it was gonna take. So I said to Ralph, "If you're willing to do what I tell you, as long as the blood sugars come down; I won't say a thing about pills; I won't say a thing about insulin". I went on to explain it to him. He said, "Doc", I love stubbornness, "I'll do it"! A year later, his blood sugars were normal, his cholesterol was normal, he'd lost 60 pounds, and his blood pressure, which had been elevated, was also down. So he had, in essence, normalized. It was the first time I'd ever seen that happen. I didn't know these diseases were connected together.

Now, in the letters after your name, there's an indication that you're a diabetes educator. So this is something you do and something you know about, something you've studied, something you've practiced. So, I need to remember here that while we are talking about this, you and I both know that diabetes can be reversed.


It can often be reversed.


It can often be reversed relatively easily, but lots of people don't know that. In a country where, in a world, the Western world, at least, but here in this country, diabetes numbers are rising so fast.


And then the amount of people with pre-diabetes is just shocking.


So talk to me about diabetes. How much hope can a person with type 2 diabetes, we'll look at that, have?

That's what it needs to be. Uh-huh.

Yeah. When they say, "My diabetes is out of control," does a person, and I don't believe you're gonna say, "One size fits absolutely all," but I think one size fits most, does a person have to be stuck on insulin for the rest of their days? What should they be thinking about doing?

John, let's make this picture kind of complete. I was just talking about Ralph, his hypertension, his obesity, his cholesterol, heart disease, and of course, the diabetes. Those got put together into one disease. So we now understand that they're all tied together by a common high-insulin level. So we're not just talking about diabetes. I call diabetes "the flagship," but each one of these comes along the journey, not all the time, but is usually there. So... the concept of reversal is becoming more accepted, although "reversal" is the wrong word, I learned. I've used "reversal" for quite some time. Just this last year, 2021, the American Diabetes Association, along with others, put together a paper, an official paper stance about, you know, how do we deal with this concept of the reversal of diabetes, and they decided against using the word "reversal". They want to use the word "remission"; that is, you can put it into remission. There's a lot that's going on inside the body before we actually make the diagnosis, and those things can be reversed as well, but to put diabetes in remission is to recognize that if you go back to living the way you were before, that disease is gonna come back, right? So that's the word we're using.

Isn't that semantics?

Sure, it's semantics, but scientists like semantics too. That's what they decided on, and I think the whole idea is to let people know that they've gotta keep doing what they're doing or they're gonna keep getting what they got.

Yeah, it's probably a smart emphasis, then, if that's the case, isn't it? Yeah, because can't we understand cancer being in remission?


Cancer's in remission, doesn't mean it's gone, gone, gone.

That's right.

Just means it's laying low or it's...whatever. Okay, fantastic. And that's an important thing. People need to understand disease in general, right? Lots of people, particularly of a certain generation...


...just believe that they're damned to suffer from this disease forever and ever, amen.

Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

That's lots and lots of disease, heart disease, diabetes, all that stuff surrounding it. It's just not the case. Bible says, "We're fearfully and wonderfully made".


And you've had a chance to witness that.

I have.

All right, tell me a little bit about your career in medicine. As a practicing physician, what do you like the most? I'm gonna ask you, now that you're really working in education a lot...


...what you enjoy about that, but what really fired you up about medicine, and why did you choose to pursue a career in medicine?

I chose to pursue... a career in medicine because I thought that's where I could help people. So... that was kind of the outreach. My mother never liked me to say so, but... my explanation was, I was kind of programmed that way. You know, Dad was a doctor, and I like to say when I was 5, they asked me what I wanted to be, and I said, "I wanna be a garbage truck driver".

"What"?, right?

Six, you know: "I want to be a school teacher". Seven: "I want to be a bus driver".

Oh yeah.

At 8: "I want to be a doctor". "Did you hear? He decided"! So it's like, you know, the family was kind of encouraging us in that direction. All three of us boys are, matter of fact, are physicians.

Fantastic. What is it about medicine that you really enjoy?

I enjoy seeing people get better. Mm-hmm.

What is it about medicine that frustrates you a little bit?

People not getting well. And the paperwork. But I enjoy the interaction with people, and I enjoy seeing people want to make changes, making those changes, and actually getting better.

So now you're an educator working with AdventHealth in Florida in graduate medical education. You're dealing with residents.


You're training doctors to be better doctors, presumably. What are you enjoying about that, and what direction do you see medical education going, understanding that there's a greater emphasis today on what you write on in your book? So what are you doing? And where do you see education, physician education, going?

One of the things that's been exciting to me, because of my interest in lifestyle medicine, how our behaviors affect our health, is the fact that the young doctors coming in have more of an interest. As I've, you know, watched over the last 20, 30 years, I'm seeing the young doctors really caring more about the lifestyle part, at least when they come in. And it's exciting to see that interest, number one. And number two, we now have available, through the efforts of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, a whole lifestyle medicine curriculum that's available. And in our particular institution, we have instituted that as part of the kind of core learning that each of the residents get.

It seems to me, Dr. Guthrie, that every doctor should be learning some of this. I go back to a conversation I had with a friend of mine, a physician who since passed away, and this was 20 or so years ago. And we were talking about, I don't know what, doctoring or something. And he said, these are his exact words: "I know nothing at all about nutrition". Now, you know, I don't know, and far be it from me to put you on the spot and ask you what you know about this, but I'm just gonna speculate. There's a ton of doctors who, like my late friend, know nothing at all about nutrition. It seems the system's a little back to front, being as nutrition's kind of central to it all. We want to see a greater emphasis on this. We'd love it if our physicians knew something, or maybe even a lot about nutrition, being as that's where the rubber meets the road for us. But you have started to address that, not only in your teaching, but with this book that you wrote.


"Eat Plants, Feel Whole". Not only is it a good-looking book, and it feels great; it's clearly a quality book...

Yes. terms of books go, published by AdventHealth Press. This is, the subtitle is "Harness the Healing Power of Plants and Transform Your Health".


Not that long ago, you would've been thought a weirdo or a closet hippie if you were talking about harnessing the healing power of plants. But there's been a major shift, and now we understand about a plant-based diet.

That is correct.

Talk about that in general, harnessing the healing, well, the healing power of plants.

It ends up that plants have within them all kinds of important elements, if I can put it that way, that we didn't really understand the importance of.

Now, we knew that to a degree, right? Because we knew that if you eat an orange, you're getting vitamin C.


If you eat a banana, you're getting potassium. So we understood that forever ago...


...on a very rudimentary basis. So, we understood the concept, but clearly we didn't understand it like we understand it today. So proceed and tell me what we now understand.

We discovered our food... as if we were discovering, well, you think of vitamins, and you brought up vitamin C. You know, the...


...ship's crew got scurvy...


...because they didn't have vitamin C. Give them the limes, and, you know, they get the name "Limeys", and their scurvy goes away. And one at a time we'd kind of discover these things. And we focus on them as if they're unique and special, and we try to get as much of it as we can. We are focusing on the individual, but the whole kind of package of food is extremely important. It's not just individual nutrients. Those individual nutrients have interactions with things like time and physiology and with each other. So. to understand how the pattern works together is now recognized as a better way of looking at nutrition. If you look at all the details and try to get all those right, you end up popping a bunch of supplements. And there may be room for those, but it ends up that plants have the balance that make things happen in our body for the best.

Okay. Now, someone's listening and thinking, "Oh man, I'm watching a television program by a couple of killjoys. This is not gonna be any fun". I can understand someone thinking that, but there's somebody else...

Did I make you say that?

Oh, no, no, but I'm thinking now on behalf of someone...

Okay, someone out there.

...watching right now. Oh yeah, yeah, not in this room. But the fact of the matter is, what you're talking about is a big picture that, let's get to the end, the end, as though we're at the end. It's not about taking away; surely it's about adding. What does embracing a better lifestyle regimen do or potentially do for a person? Talk about those high spots: you gotta avoid, you may avoid, you may gain this, you may reduce that, what are those things?

The focus of the book, and the journal that you have underneath of it, is not so much with taking away but showing the positive things about plants. The more plants you eat, the healthier you're likely to be, the less likely you are to have disease when you get the whole plant in the package.

What diseases?

Well, we've talked about diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and obesity, but it goes on beyond that. Certainly a number of cancers are related to food patterns. I have people who make lifestyle changes, and all kinds of things get better. Their joints stop hurting. Their acid reflux disease tends to get better. Their brain gets clear. Certainly, there's at least a growing body of evidence making us suspect that even Alzheimer's disease, for example, may have a dietary component that should not be ignored.

Mm-hmm, mm-hmm. And the reason I want to clear that up right now is because I just don't want anybody thinking, "Ugh, oh man, there goes, there goes Thanksgiving". What I'm really hoping we are able to transmit here is, "Ah, here comes my life back. I can be happier and healthier and maybe even holier".

Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

"And I don't have to make as many trips to the doctor, perhaps". And I think that "perhaps" is significant because we don't wanna make guarantees we're not qualified to make.

So, the focus is on eating plants.


It's on what to do. It's not what not to do.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

I think Scripture says something about pushing out the bad with good, right? "Overcome evil with good".

Yeah, that's right.

So that's the concept with which we are approaching getting healthier, not, "No, no, no, no," but, "Hey, look what you're missing. You should try this".

In your own experience...


...what have you gained? What have you seen in your life because you decided to adopt, you're not talking about something you don't practice; you're talking about what you do practice. So what have you seen in your life in terms of your own journey?

Not exactly sure how to address that. I grew up with a focus on plant-based. When I went back to school to do that master's of public health and nutrition, no one told me, you know, what to do, what not to. I was studying nutrition. But one of the things that struck me at that point was that I really didn't need the dairy in my life. So it was at that point that I said, "You know, I really don't need that. There's enough evidence that causes me concern. I'm gonna focus over here". So, I, that was a journey that has helped me significantly, certainly with maintaining weight, because there are some growth hormones, for example, within the dairy that tend to increase problems with weight, make it harder to control the weight, tend to raise the cholesterol, et cetera. So those are decisions that I've made, and I think probably helping to keep the weight under control is probably an important one.

Yeah, I think that's an important one.

But I've never really adopted the Standard American Diet. Right? When I was in high school, I loved those "do-nots". You know about "do-nots," right?

Oh sure.

Yeah. So I... and the ice cream, I mean, that was a comfort food. And oh, I love the french fries and ketchup. I kind of let those go, and that has helped to maintain the weight. My dietary choices have moved towards a lot more plants, less refined food, and I think just a sense of well-being. It's been so long since I ate poorly that I don't notice the benefits, 'cause I can't remember how bad it was, right? So...

Now, you mentioned french fries a moment ago. And somebody's gonna tell you, "That's plant-based".


Potatoes, last time I checked, they were a plant. Oil, I mean, typically comes from a plant. So, talk about how... plant-based might... even contain the possibility for less wise choices, 'cause, man, if you wanna talk about french fries, phew!

There was several years ago, you know the vegans, right?


They have a problem with B12 deficiency. You've probably heard that. There was a report in the literature. A young boy, 9 or 10 years of age, who had had a vitamin B12 deficiency with significant problems because he had been on a vegan diet. He lived in New York City, and the only thing he would take was... peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and coke. Well, you know, it's vegan.


It doesn't mean healthy.


What we really need to be focusing on is whole plants, which is what I've been trying to talk about here, is eat plants. That is, eat whole plants rather than simply avoiding things that are maybe harmful. We are saying eat the plants, the whole plants. And when you do that, you get that whole package, which tends to bring healing to the body supply, all kinds of things, which we can talk about later.

And we will. What I love about it, this is a very positive book. "Harness the Healing Power of Plants".

That's it.

Who doesn't want that? This is it; it's by Dr. George Guthrie: "Eat Plants, Feel Whole". I'll be back with more with Dr. Guthrie in just a moment. This is "Conversations," brought to you by It Is Written.

John Bradshaw: Welcome back to "Conversations," brought to you by It Is Written. My guest is Dr. George Guthrie, who teaches family medicine residents at AdventHealth in Winter Park, Florida. And he's the author of this: "Eat Plants, Feel Whole". There are a number of questions about the whole concept I wanna ask you, and, in particular, about your book. A moment ago, we mentioned B12 deficiency...


...among vegans. What's that all about, and how can that be addressed?

Well, while it's true that people who are vegans have a higher risk of getting B12 deficient, it's, there's a lot of B12 deficiency in the population as we get older. B12 is not made by animals. It's made by bacteria. And the bacteria then make that B12, we eat it, absorb it, since we can't make it ourselves. We need it. Yes, we can get it from animal products, but animals have got it from bacteria as well. So, B12 is a concern for those who decide to go 100% plant-based. But one doesn't have to be B12 deficient if they decide to go that direction. Taking a supplement is easy enough.

That's the easy way around it? Okay, great. Okay, eating plants. "How in the world," someone is thinking right now, "How in the world do I get enough protein if I'm eating only plants"?

(chuckles) I get that question a lot, and I think it's just a matter of, we don't know how much protein there is. Protein was first identified by a group of researchers, if I remember correctly, in Germany. They called it "protein for life". And they discovered that everything that's alive has protein in it. They wanted to know how much protein we needed, so they went out and found a group of lumberjacks and said how much protein they ate. "Well, that must be the right amount". Well, it's been kind of coming down ever since then.

Hold on a minute. That's where this came from, from science that was that clumsy?

It's clumsy, science is clumsy by nature. There's a lot of argument that goes on. You gotta start somewhere.

Well, that was pretty clumsy. That wasn't very scientific science, but granted, you have to start somewhere, so... but that does explain, perhaps, how we got some unbalanced views of protein and the need for immense amounts of it.

Well, certain, our bodies and animals' bodies are made up of protein structure, whether it's our hair or our skin or our muscles, the actin and myosin kind of making the muscle contract. So yes, protein is an important part of our lives, and we need it.


How much we need has been a little bit of a question for a number of years. And then one steps beyond how much protein, and we ask about "quality" protein, right?


Because we've got these essential amino acids that we need. Originally, we did not... know what our essential amino acids are. You can't know unless you actually can experiment on humans. We knew what it was for mice and some other rodents, but for humans we didn't. A fellow by the name of Dr. Rose actually did these experiments. They will never be repeated. They are considered to be unethical. He took prisoners and removed the protein from their body, the amino acids one at a time, and then reported to us what the minimums were. We still use 'em today. I'm glad for the information. I'm sorry for the effect on the prisoners. But it's been helpful since then. So at present, well, lemme step back. Dr. Rose found out that we need about 2.5% of our calories from protein. At least, that's what it was among the group of prisoners. And then he identified each of the essential amino acids and how much we need. So we've been able to kind of work with that information. At this point, the federal government recommends 0.8 grams of protein, 0.8 per kilogram of body weight. Now, most of us in this country don't think in kilograms.

So, that would be...


...your weight in pounds divided by 2.2. We talk about the prototypical 70-kilogram male. And that ends up to be around 63, 64 grams of protein, maybe 67, somewhere in that range, between 60 and 70 grams of protein a day. The average American is taking between 100 to 120 grams of protein. And this may interest your listeners as well. Too much protein is associated with a number of diseases.

That's interesting, isn't it?

It's a stress on the kidney. High protein, interestingly, does not really help fitness and kind of the ability to exercise for a long period of time, increases risk of kidney stones, increases cholesterol. I mean, there's a bunch of things that tend to happen with too much protein.

It's really interesting you say that because typically any of your football players, they're ingesting as much protein as they possibly can. In recent years there's been, there have been a number of professional athletes who say they've gone plant-based.


And they haven't experienced any falloff at all.

Well, they increase their muscle mass; they increase their ability for endurance. It's really quite amazing.

So plant-based does not mean no protein.

No, it doesn't, and let's touch protein sources, okay?


Anything that's alive has protein in it. Oranges...

A protein?

...about 8% of the calories.


Of the calories. Potatoes? Around 11%. I mean, it's give or take.

And I'll jump in and say oranges and potatoes, no one was thinking that they contain any protein, any significantly.

Exactly, exactly.

So these are the least likely sources?

Well, if you think of it that way.




...22 to 26 grams, percent, are protein. Now, that is about the same as the percent calories protein in beef.


So I think of beans as the source of protein from the plant kingdom, and it's equivalent. When you take beef, that other 75, 70, 75% of calories is actually fat.

Mmm. Yep.

Mostly. When you go with the beans, it's complex carbohydrates. So, it's, that's what our body prefers. And because it's mixed with fiber, it's released slowly. Now, protein's part of growth. Broccoli, you know, 35, 40% of the calories are from protein, which is a little, I didn't say 35, 40% of broccoli. I said, of the calories...


...'cause there's a lot of fiber and water in it as well.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. That's an important distinction.

Now, John, don't leave me yet. Okay?

No, I'm not.

I've got one more for you.

Yeah, okay.

This is the curve that is the shocker for everybody. During one point in our life, a period of time, we're supposed to double our weight from here to here, and that's that first year of life. What is the ideal food for doubling your weight in 9 to 12 months?

Surely that's mother's milk.

That's mother's milk. Okay. What's the percent of protein calories in mother's milk?

I have absolutely no idea, but I'm hoping you'll tell me.

Well, I was hoping you would guess, but it's okay. I will tell you. Depending on whether you include the colostrum or not, it's two and a half to 5%. That's less than the orange.

So at the time that we are supposed to gain weight and we're piling weight on, there's not a whole lot of protein involved?

No, there's all the protein that's needed.

Well, but what I'm saying, it's not like you sat down and ate Wagyu beef, you know? This is like...

That's right. That's right.'s like the protein you derive from an orange, as you see it.

That's right.

There's enough protein involved.

There's enough protein; it doesn't really take that much. And if you look at the quality of protein, I did this because, you know, I was teaching at the graduate level nutrition in the master's program, which was an interesting process in itself. I don't know that I have them anymore, remember those things, overheads, right? Oh, yeah, from the dark ages.

So, yeah, so I would kind of lay out for folks on the overhead, you know, how much of that protein is actually in there. We identified, for example, to get all the essential amino acids, if you have one slice of whole wheat bread, it's not enough. But if you get 6.2 slices of whole wheat bread, you get all the essential amino acids that a 70-kilogram male needs for the day. It's all about, this quality of protein has more to do with volume. The original, or the serving size, the original studies, looking at quality, looked at 100 grams of protein. Are all the essential amino acids in 100 grams? Well, soybeans came up a little short on one. So it said, "Oh, it's poor quality". No. All you had to do was eat 110 grams, and they would all be there. So it's essentially impossible to become protein deficient if you're eating adequate number of calories, certainly for plants.

I'm gonna reword what you said. It's essentially impossible to become protein deficient if you follow the dietary plan God gave back in the beginning.

If you focus on plants, it is virtually impossible, and I think God gave us that original one. Eat the plants. That's correct.

So you've said a couple of things that are surprising, particularly about protein.


Let me throw you an open-ended question.


What are some other things that people considering the subject right now, I mean, someone said, he turned to his wife and said, "Martha, can you believe that there's protein in oranges? And can you believe that we can actually..".? That's a shocker for a lot of people, not for some but for a lot of people. What are some other shockers or some other surprising things when it comes to eating plants, plant-based nutrition, things that would just, wow, surprise some people?

I think one of the popular things that I often hear about in the office, and in other places as well, on the press, is this whole business of carbs being bad.

Yes. Tell me about that because it drives me mad that people are terrified of carbohydrates; they don't understand it.

So when I talk to people, they come into my office and say, "I'm on the keto diet".

Oh yeah, we must talk about that.

"I'm gonna lose weight, my cholesterol is gonna come down, and this is working well for me". Now, I learned long ago that the best way to help people is not to hit them head on. I like stubbornness, but I like it when I'm working with it rather than against it.


So I say, "So tell me about your keto diet". And they tell me, "Well, I'm, I put away all that refined carbohydrates, the donuts, the white bread, and cakes and cookies". And I say, "Great! This is very good"! Okay?

Yeah, that's good.

Those, I identify as bad carbs. Then they say, "And I'm eating, you know, fish and chicken because, you know, that's the healthier, and my weight's coming down, and it's doing well". And then I say to them, "Well, you know, you might be able to help this a little bit if you actually use some plant protein as well". And then I introduce them to legumes, beans, which is what we've, you know, talked about here previously. They have about the same amount of protein, and then they have in them some good carbs. It ends up that when one goes on straight to keto, one doesn't feel very well. Our body is actually designed to work on carbohydrates, complex carbohydrates, that is, carbohydrates that are complexed into the food. They have water, they have fiber, they have the protein, and then they have the, we're gonna call, complex carbohydrates. These are released very slowly so they don't flood the bloodstream and cause trouble, but they release it slowly. This allows energy to be released more slowly, and one doesn't get the negative effect that one does of all those refined carbohydrates. So those good carbs, it's where I try to push them by adding the legume, and then encourage the salads and try to add some of the plant protein in to counteract some of the negative effects of the animal protein.

Now, you and I both know people who've adopted the keto diet, lost a ton of weight. Yet I'm sensing you wouldn't recommend a keto diet.

That's correct.

So tell me why.

I know that there's a group of doctors, a lot of doctors who are pushing the keto, for example, for treating people with diabetes. Blood sugar comes down, the blood pressure comes down, the cholesterol comes down. But some of the basic science is teaching us that the fatty liver, the kind of, some of the internal stuff is not happening. And when one loses fat like that, there's a reset on the... kind of the calorie...user and the needs for, we call it "basal metabolic rate" is dropped. So they go back to eating the way they were, and the weight just bounces back up, so, and you've probably known people that done the up and down, the crash dieting and then gain it back again. That seems to be accentuated as well in people who do the keto. I call that "the rhythm method of girth control".

Very good. We'll let people ponder that for a moment.


Hey, so what about my neighbor? He's a great guy. He was well and truly overweight, and he got on this sort of thing where he eats six or seven or eight little small meals a day.


And his weight started to do this, and then he got off the program, and he just ballooned back up again. So what do you say about the idea that if you just nibble, or basically, I'm gonna call it that, you eat your little pre-packaged energy bars the company sends you and makes a great profit on. You recommend that approach?

The multiple meals a day, small meals, you know, two versus six meals a day, for example, or maybe it's the one meal a day. You know about the one meal a day?

Oh, which is the one that starts...

You start in the morning and ends when you go to bed.

Yeah, yeah.

Yeah, uh-huh.

I used to be on that one.



So, you know, it's that eating kind of all the time, early studies show that it increased the metabolic rate a little bit. That has not been sustained in more recent studies. And looking at two versus six meals a day, there's really not an increase in the basal metabolic rate. But you are, by losing the weight quickly, kinda resetting things low. So, what you've asked about is actually something that's a little more complex and harder to explain to a lay audience. Maybe I can express my main concern with the grazing pattern, with the understanding that longevity does better with caloric restrictions. Each cell in the body creates between, in its normal metabolism, a hundred thousand to a million, I've seen numbers higher than that, of free radicals each day. And those need to be pulled out and, you know, gotten rid of before they cause damage. The more of those that happen, the more likely DNA is to be damaged, cells are gonna die, and the aging is accelerated. So, we know that if you have caloric restriction, you tend to live longer, your cells are healthier, they don't die out as quickly. When you are eating six meals a day, your body is never really allowed to quit. And it increases that creation of the free radicals, so you're increasing the load on the body, so this is what I read in the literature, and one of the reasons, major reasons, why I think grazing through the day is one of the more dangerous things to do. Yes, we've got the immediate kind of thing that it does to our weight, if you will. Original studies said people lost weight. My observation is when it's done in the community setting, when you're just eating most of the time, people tend to gain weight because the calories they're taking are very concentrated.

It seems to me that whatever the program is, in a certain sense, you're setting people up to fail because that program's going to come to an end.


What we're talking about here is a lifestyle where we make better choices, and that's long term.


It's not, "I'm gonna do without or do this for a given period of time". It's, "I'm going to change my approach, eat to live"...


."..rather than live to eat".


And bodies seem to do a whole lot better that way.

Can we introduce another concept here?

Oh, let's do that.

One of the things that people who take the Standard American Diet don't recognize, that they're missing a lot of important nutrients. Standard American Diet, SAD, S-A-D, and it's sad that they're missing some very important nutrients. And I would like to point out some of these.


One of the first ones would be potassium. So... 97%, according to the NHANES data, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 97% of Americans do not get the recommended daily allowance of potassium.

Why is that? You just gotta eat a banana, and you're doing a lot better.

Well, I suppose you could think, you know, "Eat a banana," but you're right; it ends up that fruits and vegetables and whole grains and legumes tend to have potassium in them, but most Americans are not eating those.

Are not eating those.

So the Standard American Diet is taking refined foods, where there's much less potassium, and people are not getting the amount that they need. Now, this is rather interesting to me. You know, hypertension is a problem in this country.

Big problem.

A big problem for a lot of people, and there are a certain number of people, especially among the African American group, who are salt sensitive. That is, salt makes their blood pressure go up a lot more. Now, for the average person, if you go on a low-salt diet, it drops the top number in your blood pressure by about an average of about four millimeters of mercury. So if we are talking about people who are salt sensitive, their blood pressure changes will be much greater. The salt increases the blood pressure a lot more. You can completely, from the literature, you can completely erase salt sensitivity by taking enough potassium. Potassium makes the salt sensitivity go away. I think there's a bigger problem, not so much with too much sodium, but with not enough potassium. It's that ratio. So there's something that, you know, people who are focusing on the Standard American Diet are missing.

I think, you know, you're an educator. I'm gonna say, by definition, you're a scientist of some kind. I dunno whether you'd call yourself a scientist, but you're a man who certainly traffics in science. You're an author. You've been at this a lot of years. You might be a bit of a diplomat by now, but I would say most people eat garbage. Most everyone eats a little garbage. And we forgive ourselves for that because we say, "Oh, it's Thanksgiving," or, "It's Christmas time". And maybe to a degree, that, I don't know, that may be okay.

It's really the presence of plants that makes it healthy.


And so, some of these other things, it's not saying you can't ever have those.

Right, but it's when you major in the minors, and instead of that treat, that occasional treat, it becomes the lifestyle where people are just eating junk. And I don't expect you to say it, but I don't mind saying it, that if you're eating a whole ton of junk, you oughta be thinking about how you can improve that. I wouldn't recommend, I don't know that you would either, George, going into the pantry and throwing it all out and saying, "Let's start from zero," but start somewhere, 'cause if you don't, you pay a gigantic price for that. Okay, when we come back, we'll talk more about the book, "Eat Plants, Feel Whole". I have a couple of important questions for you and it's going to get even better. With George Guthrie. I'm John Bradshaw. We'll be back with more of our conversation, brought to you by It Is Written.

Welcome back to "Conversations," brought to you by It Is Written. My guest is Dr. George Guthrie. He wrote this: "Eat Plants, Feel Whole". And you'll be blessed if you get yourself a copy. It's a fantastic book. And I need to ask you this right now, Dr. Guthrie: Where can a person get this book?

Well, it's available on Amazon, as you might expect...

Sure. print on demand. And it's also available at Okay, let's talk about a couple of things in the book. One, fiber, you talk about it in here. I'll leave it to you. What about fiber and how and the importance and so on? We all, I hope we all know it's important.

On our last segment, we recognized that people that are eating the Standard American Diet come up short on some things.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

And fiber is one of those.

Mm-hmm. And as a result they suffer.


Maybe I should just say they suffer.

They suffer. Okay. Yes. So we thought initially that the problem was feeding the world with calories, and as part of our processing and passing calories around so nobody starved, the fiber was removed. Because the fiber often comes with things that tend to spoil. The fiber and the essential fats, like the omega-3 and omega-6, tend to spoil, and they tend to ruin that part of it, so industry removed them. Well, then we began to recognize that fiber played a very important part in our health. Fiber slows, for example, the, how fast the sugar goes into our body. If the sugar goes high, you tend to have more complications. It can increase inflammation in the lining of the blood vessels. If you don't have enough fiber, the stool tends to get really hard. It leads to something called constipation, with a lot of straining, which can lead to hemorrhoids, varicose veins, diverticulosis, and then diverticulitis, and a variety of other problems. Increases, without fiber, you also have an increased risk of colon cancer. So as we began to take the fiber out, we began to discover that there were these kind of host of problems that were increasing. And now recently, we've discovered the importance of fiber as a prebiotic. Have you ever heard the word "prebiotic"?


You know about probiotics?

Yeah, I think.

Probiotics are the bacteria that are in our gut.

So what are prebiotics?

Prebiotics is what the bacteria in our gut thrive on.


It's their food.


And it's very interesting when you put in the fiber and give it to your gut bacteria, you tend to help the good bacteria thrive. And the bad bacteria are then pushed down by the good bacteria. There isn't much room for them when you overfeed the good bacteria.

Four places to get good fiber: Beans...

Okay, well, plants is really...


...I would say one good place: plants.

Plants, okay.


But gimme some, that's very broad. I'm asking for something specific.

Well, the best fibers for our colon...


...and the good bacteria are the soluble fibers. The insoluble fibers tend to pass through and remove bulk, decrease pressures, but the soluble fibers are the sticky ones. So yes, you've hit on beans as being a very important place for soluble fiber, but soluble fiber tends to be sticky. So you'll recognize it in things like eggplant, okra, oatmeal.


So that's where the soluble fiber tends to come from. We can have more of that, but you should know that plant sources generally have a mix. So they're both soluble and insoluble in each one. So no matter which plant you're taking, you're getting some fiber.

Yeah, and I like that emphasis. See, I'm asking you for examples, and your answer was plants. And I think that's probably the best answer, because rather than people saying, "Oh my, where do I turn"? If you're eating plants, you're gonna be okay. Right? That's it?


Okay. Magnesium, you talk about it in here.


Why is it so important?

Well, 50% of Americans are not getting the recommended daily allowance of magnesium.


If you look at people over age 65, it's 80% who are not getting it.

And what happens if you don't get enough magnesium?

Magnesium is calming to the body, so it calms blood vessels. Works a bit like a medication we call calcium channel blockers that relax the blood vessels so it can help the blood pressure come down a little bit. Magnesium also relaxes nerves, so they're less likely to be jittery. For example, there are emergency rooms where if someone comes in with a bad headache, migraine headache, they'll give a gram or two of IV magnesium. Many people are low, and that will tend to help relax things out. Muscle cramps, often muscle cramps at night, not always, there are other things that can do that, but muscle cramps at night, for example, can be from a magnesium deficiency as well. So magnesium is an important part of our body. It's used for an enzyme, a class of enzymes called kinase enzymes. When magnesium is low, tends to accelerate atherosclerosis...


...calcification in the tissues, for example. Most of us get way too much calcium and not enough magnesium, and calcium and magnesium inhabit the same space in the cells of our body. So if you get a lot of calcium, you're pushing magnesium out, you're not getting enough magnesium, you can actually cause problems from that side as well.


But that was an awful lot of information quickly, John. I want to point something out, though. And this may bring a little bit of smile. You have mentioned beans as a good place for potassium and for fiber, but beans are also very high in magnesium. So I like to tell people, to try to get a smile out of them, when I'm encouraging them to eat plants and get the good things from plants: "We are human beings. We need to eat beans".

Now, I've got a question for you. This may be a silly question, but someone's thinking right now, "What kind of beans"? Does it matter?

Well, yes, there are differences. They taste different. They may cook a little different. Lentils cook a little faster. They don't cause as much gas as some of the others. I happen to really like navy beans and kidney beans. And it's like, take your pick.

So it doesn't really matter?

It doesn't really matter. They all are very high in fiber, magnesium, and potassium.

Fantastic. The humble bean.

Beans, for the same volume, have three times the potassium as bananas. If you ask people about potassium, they'll tell you bananas.


No! Beans!

Eat beans, huh?


Hey, I wanna ask you about this because I've been talking about the book here, "Eat Plants, Feel Whole," but with the book there's a journal.

Yes, yes, yes.

So why the journal? What does the journal do? Why is this important?

You know, reading a book can help. The end of the book, which is not something, "Eat Plants, Feel Whole", the end of the book gives an 18-day program. If somebody would like to, you know, really change their life quickly, there's the menus, there's the recipes for 18 days, and we wanted to provide something to help people who wanted to make a change. So the book starts, this journal starts out with some concepts to help people kind of understand where we're going. We have two axes we call, lemme see if I can find it here, we have the plant axis, where you've got animals on one side, plants on the other. And then you've got processed on the bottom and unprocessed at the top.

Page 39.

Page 39, thank you, appreciate your helping me get there. And you'll notice, we do better if we move to the right upper quadrant.


Okay? So when we eat more unprocessed foods, and you eat more plants, it's not that you have to give the others away or give them up completely, but you move in this direction. That's where the science is pointing that the healthiest diet is. And in our little kind of illustration here, you can see it's a maintenance diet.


That's what we've called it. This is how you can stay healthy, but there are some people who need to make a major change. They need to change quickly. They've got a health crisis, and they may need to go on a therapeutic diet. So therapeutic, think of it like getting the process started. You're not committing to it for your whole life. You're saying, "I'm gonna have to do this". Like starting out with, maybe you got cancer, and they're giving you chemotherapy. They may give you heavy doses at first and then back off. That same sort of a concept here for lifestyle changes. You can have health. you may have to go therapeutic at first, and then you can back off to be a little more lax in your perspective and still maintain good health. So that's kind of the concept that we introduce in the first part of the book. And the second part of the book gives an opportunity for people to make choices. Okay, so we've got the "Eat Plants, Feel Whole" book. And in the last part of, the first part of the journal, we're talking about the, kind of the four quadrants and moving to the right upper quadrant, therapeutic diet, and maintenance diet. And in the back of the journal, there is a place where one can do the 18-day program described in the "Eat Plants, Feel Whole" book. And instead of looking at negatives, you look at positives. So for example, here at the top, I'm looking, today's date. And then there are square boxes that you mark. You get a point for each one you mark. So that's what you mark, you get a point. At the end of the day, you can kind of add all those up. There's also some circles, if you would like extra credit; you can have more of those particular things. So then you see meals. And "I ate my meals with somebody else". "I ate without electronic distraction". Water, sleep, activity. Yes, avoiding some harmful substances. And then, "What new recipes did I find"? And then a place to put down gratitude and acts of kindness. We're really talking about a whole lifestyle.

It is lifestyle.

Helping to improve, improve people's lifestyle, not from the negative side but from the positive side. The encouragement is that people can each day try to get a few more points than they did the day before. They choose to improve which is easiest for them to do today. Rather than me dictating to them what to do, they can make those changes on their schedule. and every change you make makes it easier to make the next one.

How quickly may people who start transitioning in their dietary practices, how quickly may they see results or benefit? Very vague question, but I intend it to be. And what type of advancements do you think a person might begin to see?

My observations and my experience in the past, I worked in an inpatient setting where people would pay $7,000 or $8,000 to come for two and a half weeks and have an intensive lifestyle intervention, so we could do everything, and we had control. I have seen LDL cholesterol drop 103 milligrams per deciliter in two weeks with no medications.


I have seen people lose as much as 37, 38 pounds, much of that water, from their congestive heart failure improving, kidney function improving. I mean, it's just amazing what can happen when one does this intensively. Now, that's maybe unfair for those people who are doing it through a book, because that was under doctor's supervision.


There's things we have to watch very carefully, and we can control everything. But people, in my observation, will begin to see incredible changes within about three days.

Three days?

The mind begins to clear up. The first three days tend to be a little bit difficult. The way the 18-day program is laid out in "Eat Plants, Feel Whole," there's an optional 3-day jumpstart. So one can really kind of hit it hard if they would like to. But in those three days, things begin to clear up. The world looks different. Acid reflux tends to start going away over a week or two, especially when the evening meal is left off for people who have diabetes and heart disease and some of these chronic diseases. Joint pains will often take a little bit longer. It takes 7 to 10 days on average, maybe closer to two weeks, for the blood pressure to begin to come down. But we see these things happening, and people report to me as their physician a lot of these benefits that gives us both joy.

Yeah, yea, these are fantastic improvements. And I think the sad thing is, I would say, the majority of people have no idea that they have at their disposal the means to make such dramatic improvements in their own health simply by making simple choices.

Some people don't wanna make fast changes, but it's kind of interesting. You can ooze towards health,

Mm-hmm. but when you ooze towards health, you don't sense how much has changed because it happens more slowly.


It's a choice.


And it's a reasonable thing to do for people. But if you really wanna see the change, you do it quickly, and it's absolutely amazing. People who have gone through the program, I mean, I've heard this story multiple times, they go back home, they get back into their regular life, and they're out somewhere busy, and there's nothing to eat. So they, you know, stop and get one of those fast food items, and they'll eat one, say, "Well, just this once. I can go back". They feel so terrible after eating that just one. They go, "I really don't wanna do that again".



I feel like we've not really done the book justice, but that's okay. If we did it justice, we'd probably have read the whole thing out loud. But in here you talk about emotional eating...


...and what makes food addictive and so much else. And there's a very, I think, wonderful and appropriate spiritual emphasis in the book as well that I deeply appreciate. Okay, so you've got 30 seconds to say to somebody, "I wrote this book. Here's the message; here's how it can benefit you". What would you say in 30 seconds?

John, I'm not a very good salesman, at least, on the spot like that. I would say, "'Eat Plants, Feel Whole.' If you keep doing what you're doing, you're gonna keep getting what you got. Why don't you try something different"? The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. The pills that the doctor offers you can be life-saving, but they're not changing the underlying, the underlying pathology. They're not changing the underlying problems. You're not really making it go away. You can make it go away with lifestyle change.

Fantastic. I appreciate your time. I appreciate you've done this. It's gonna be a blessing to untold people. God bless you and continued success as you work to benefit and bless others.

Thank you, John. I appreciate the opportunity to share.

And thanks so much for joining us. This has been a blessing. He is Dr. George Guthrie. I'm John Bradshaw. This has been our conversation.
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