Top positive review
Provocative reading yet manageable approach for optimum health.
Reviewed in the United States on March 22, 2019
I’ve just finished reading the book and wish I could express in words how much I appreciate the content. Just in case, the Longevity Paradox is indeed one of the most important pieces I’ve ever read—specially if we narrow down the options under the health category.
Let me divide the review into 4 parts. First I’ll share personal thoughts and takeaways. Next, I hope to put together a summary from each chapter including favorite excerpts highlighted while reading the book. Then, I’ll include my opinion to whom I would recommend reading it. Last, I’ll suggest a few complementary readings.
I could feel the present book was carefully written—Dr. Gundry took the time and energy to translate the complex science of longevity into an engaging and practical book.
Disregarding people with severe health conditions—in need of intensive treatment—I would encourage us to take the time to change our habits gradually. It’s easy to underestimate the value of making small improvements on a daily basis. That said, it doesn’t matter where we’re right now. What matters is whether our habits are putting us on the path toward personal success.
Now, after reading the Longevity Paradox, I’ll certainly make a smooth transition from the Plant Paradox program toward the one laid out here. Just to clarify in case you are familiar with the Plant Paradox program, both programs are virtually the same in terms of what to eat. The 3 main differences are that in the Longevity Paradox Dr. Gundry factors in when to eat, how much to eat on certain days of the month, and lifestyle habits to “die young at a ripe old age.”
As a final digression, although there are precious books available independently of our health beliefs, preferences, and needs, I wouldn’t look further than the Longevity Paradox because it covers the latest research from different fields in a single piece.
The book is divided into 3 parts. The first one explains the importance of our gut bacteria—and why they are “such an important piece of the Longevity Paradox.” Next, we explore how gut health impacts each system in the body, from heart and brain health all the way to weight management and skin integrity. Finally, Dr. Gundry shares a comprehensive yet practical program for a “long life span and health span.”
[Introduction] Dr. Gundry starts by sharing that he got to learn more from his beloved centenarian patient than she learned from him. After setting the tone, he explains the importance of taking care of our microbiome to thrive in life—after all, “our relationship with our bugs has always been, and continues to be, symbiotic.” Curiously, our gut bacteria aren’t only in charge of our health, but also in charge of our behavior. One of the premises is that when we feed our good microbes—Dr. Gundry calls them as gut buddies—properly, they’ll return the favor. At the end of the chapter we are informed that “some elements of the Longevity Paradox program may be familiar, such as eating lots of certain vegetables and getting the right amounts of exercise and sleep, while others, such as tricking your body into thinking it’s winter year-round to stimulate your stem cells and spacing out your meals to wash your brain at night, are brand-new.”
[Chapter 1] As we delve into the first chapter, Dr. Gundry clarifies that we share our health symptoms with those we share similar habits and live in similar environments, not so much because we share the same DNA. According to recent research studies, it’s our holobiomes—the sum of the microbes in our body, skin, and even in a cloud around us—and their genes that make us age so quickly, not our human genes. He then states that “you aren’t what you eat; you are what your gut buddies digest.” In addition to digesting the food we eat, our gut buddies also manufacture and deliver vitamins, minerals, polyphenols, hormones, and proteins to where they’re needed in our body. That’s not all, they are also involved with regulating our immune, nervous, and hormonal systems. He intelligently describes how our microbiome and mitochondria evolved over time in a synergetic role. Before we move on to the next chapter, we become aware of how modern days may be hurting our gut buddies. Simply put, we must avoid decimating our gut buddies while feeding the bad bugs.
[Chapter 2] Here we take a close look at the gut wall, on how the quality of our single-layer mucosal cells is tightly linked to our overall health. When “your mucosal cells are lined up tightly side by side, your gut lining functions as a good fence that keeps everything except single molecules of digested amino acids, fatty acids, and sugar on the other side. But if your fence gets worn down and becomes rife with microscopic holes, it will allow other compounds to leak through, and your health will begin to suffer.” Dr. Gundry explains that when the wrong molecules or even bacteria cross the border, the immune system kicks into high gear. The result, when that happens time after time, is chronic inflammation. The presence of the lectin called wheat germ agglutinin, WGA, can be more detrimental than gluten because WGA is tiny and “even if the gut mucosal barrier hasn’t been compromised, WGA can pass through the walls of the intestine and cause inflammation.” Moreover, WGA has the ability to mimic insulin, creating problems in the body. Besides avoiding WGA present in wheat, hormesis can be a positive strategy to maintain our gut wall integrity. Hormesis “is the favorable response of an organism to low doses of stress that would be harmful in larger doses.” Through examples, he shows that in the Longevity Paradox program we’ll take advantage of hormesis because it plays an important role in activating longevity. Still in Chapter 2, the role of autophagy, stem cells, and seasonal eating patterns are comprehensively explained to show how they promote long term benefits.
[Chapter 3] This chapter is one of my favorites. Dr. Gundry walks us through “the 7 deadly myths of aging” by debunking popular theories of longevity that may be actually causing us to age more quickly. One by one, each myth is properly addressed in the book:  The Mediterranean diet promotes longevity;  Animal protein is essential for strength and longevity;  Growth hormones promote youthfulness and vitality;  High metabolic rate is a sign of good health;  It’s important to get plenty of iron as you age;  Saturated fat shouldn’t be demonized;  Milk does a body good.
[Chapter 4] Whereas earlier we focused on the role of our microbiome, now it’s time to examine how treating our gut buddies well will positively impact the quality of our lives. Through research studies and his own experience as a heart surgeon, Dr. Gundry shows that “the data evidence not only the link between heart disease and autoimmunity but also the fact that all disease—even heart disease—really does begin in the gut.” Based on the latest findings, we learn that there isn’t a direct connection between cholesterol intake and heart disease. The problem lies in high triglycerides instead. Last, we learn the connection between cancer and sugar: “what I do know is that when you limit sugar and animal protein consumption and trick your body into thinking it’s period of regression, you reduce your risks of both cancer and autoimmune disease.”
[Chapter 5] Now we shift gears toward arthritis, osteopenia, and osteoporosis—“the most recent research confirms that arthritis is caused not by overuse but rather by bad bugs in the gut creating inflammation.” More important, though, is to know that our gut buddies can reinforce the gut barrier, prevent bad intrusion, and enable us to heal. Dr. Gundry affirms that the group of cells that make cartilage and bones “are still there in your bone on bone joints and can grow a new articular surface.”
[Chapter 6] “From those seemingly innocuous senior moments to more serious neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease, all cognitive decline stems from the same root cause: neuroinflammation.” And let’s guess where does inflammation start? You guess it right, in the gut. According to the evidences, the gut and the brain are directed connected. That said, “gut microbe-driven neuroinflammation results in the collateral damage of neurons that your brain immune system is sworn to protect and causes the cognitive decline that we think of as a normal part of aging.” One of the highlights in this chapter is to understand that “leaving as big a gap as possible between your last meal of the day and your bedtime” plays a crucial role in preventing neurodegenerative diseases. The last section is a primer on the food sources we should consume on a daily basis to dramatically reduce our likelihood of developing neurodegenerative diseases.
[Chapter 7] Following Dr. Gundry’s maxim, “you aren’t what you eat; you are what your gut buddies digest”, this chapter focuses on keeping our microbiome fueled with the foods they love to prevent weight gain and skin damage. We are encouraged to avoid endocrine disruptors to keep unnecessary weight gain away as we age. Among them, he discusses BPA, phthalates, sunscreen, arsenic, and azodicarbonamide. In terms of skin, “your gut is, in essence, your skin turned outside in.” As explained earlier in Chapter 1, there are trillions of bacteria living on our skin, and together with the microbiome, they make up our holobiome. To maximize the skin’s protection, it’s important to cultivate a diverse skin bacterial population. It’s fascinating to learn that “when it comes to sun exposure, your skin buddies can actually protect you against skin cancer despite your levels of exposure to the sun.” Not only that, but if our skin buddies leave for whatever reason, “you’ll see it right there in the mirror—in the form of thinning skin, age spots, wrinkles, acne, and eczema.” Dr. Gundry suggests 3 of the most beneficial ingredients, not for the skin itself but for all-important skin buddies: bonicel, polyphenols, and wild yam extract.
[Chapter 8] From now on, we delve into the Longevity Paradox program itself, putting all the pieces together. One of the reasons why I genuinely appreciate this book is that Dr. Gundry walks us through the details, leaving virtually no margins for error. In Chapter 8 “we’ll cover exactly which foods your gut buddies love the most and which ones feed the bad guys.” One thing to take into account is that in a matter of weeks, if not days, we can dramatically shift the bacterial population in our gut by feeding our gut buddies properly. He goes through the details of each source, explaining the whys behind each decision. Among gut buddies’ friendly foods, let me share some favorites: leeks, cruciferous veggies, mushrooms, avocado, green bananas, berries, perilla seed oil, olive oil, coconut milk and yogurt, coffee fruit, and green tea. On the other hand, there are “sources of nutrition for the bad bugs in your gut and should be avoided as much as possible.” Among them, simple sugars and starches, artificial sugar substitutes, conventional dairy products, corn oil, sunflower oil, and canola oil are all detrimental.
[Chapter 9] This chapter is all about implementing the Longevity Paradox program through a coherent meal plan. Each month is broken down into 5 key components. Each one of the following components is explained in greater detail in the book:  We are encouraged to eliminate animal protein and limit calories to 900 a day for 5 consecutive days a month to mimic the benefits of a whole month of full-time calorie restriction;  On most days we can eat as much as we like of the gut buddies’ favorite foods;  Once or twice a week we’ll skip dinner or eat it very early to make sure our brain is clean while we sleep;  Optionally, we can consume only 600 calories a day once or twice a week to get extra longevity benefits;  An intensive care cleanse program, which will give our mitochondrial function an extra boost, is an excellent strategy if we are suffering from degenerative problems or want to kick-start the process.
[Chapter 10] Together with Chapter 3, this is another favorite. Here Dr. Gundry divides the lifestyle program into 2 parts: “first, the habits that will stress and strengthen your cells, and second, the habits that will allow them to recover.”
[Chapter 11] Among the supplement recommendations, Dr. Gundry’s favorites are: vitamin D3, the B vitamins, polyphenols, green plant phytochemicals, prebiotics, long-chain omega-3s, and mitochondrial boosters. In his own words, “I used to tell my patients that supplements made expensive urine. That was before I started measuring the effects of vitamins, minerals, and plant compounds such as polyphenols, flavonoids, and other phytonutrients on my patients’ inflammation biomarkers.”
[Chapter 12] The final chapter offers 30+ recipes following the food lists and meal plans presented in earlier chapters. Although I’ve had the opportunity to try only 2 of them so far, I noticed the recipes seem to be even nicer than those in the Plant Paradox Cookbook. I enjoy preparing them at least once—following the details—to cultivate a sense of creativity when coming up with new dishes. Yesterday I cooked the 'Sweet Potato Gnocchi With Creamy Mushroom Sauce'. Well, although it took some extra time to prepare the dish, I can’t lie that the outcome was beyond my expectations. And just before start writing this review, I blended the 'Green Smoothie', which is basically composed of spinach, fresh mint sprigs, lemon juice, and avocado.
 If you haven’t had the opportunity to read any of the 3 previous books from the series, I would sincerely recommend the Longevity Paradox first. In fact, Dr. Gundry states right in the introduction that it isn’t necessary to read and understand the content of his previous books. That said, my second favorite read from the series is the Plant Paradox Quick and Easy because it focuses on practicality—he walks us through the details, step by step, encouraging us to incorporate the 30-day challenge.
 I wish I could recommend the Longevity Paradox to all of us. As an example, it wouldn't be fair if I highly recommend the book to a close friend who has been on the Plant Paradox program for 6+ months and has also read handful books on gut health and longevity. Having said that, both the content and the program are beautifully explained that can even take my friend by surprise.
Besides this masterpiece, which is by now my favorite single book, there are others that have influenced my healthy habits for better. Among them, let me share 3 outstanding titles we can implement their recommendations in tandem with the Longevity Paradox.
[Grow A New Body, by Dr. Alberto Villoldo] This is an excellent book read just before the Longevity Paradox. It's indeed another favorite book. Even though the nutrition plan is quite similar to Dr. Gundry’s approach, Dr. Villoldo also suggests spiritual practices through vision quests in nature, “which accelerates the body’s self-repair and regeneration systems and reconnects you to your own deepest purpose.”
[How To Be Well, by Dr. Frank Lipman] A special piece where Dr. Lipman provides a holistic approach based on 6 pillars—or rings—that represent the spheres of life. Moving from the inner ring at the center outward, they are: how to eat, sleep, move, protect, unwind, and connect. We can decide which actions to explore because the book is “a manual of the essential skills that anyone can use to navigate safely and smoothly through the wild terrain of wellness today.” It’s literally a book to accompany on the journey of our life and become a dog-eared with use.
[Change Your Schedule, Change Your Life, by Dr. Suhas Kshirsagar] Living in alignment with the body's natural circadian rhythms can be one of the best prescriptions for our physical, mental, and emotional health. Based on the latest research in chronobiology and Ayurveda practices, we learn to eat, sleep, and exercise at the right time to thrive in life. After all, “timing is everything when it comes to healthy digestion, restful sleep, and good fitness.”