Updated: Oct 21, 2020
A review of the book The Plant Paradox,
about how food choices can affect our health.
by Josette Abruzzini
BUSNA bird's eye views, post #4
The Plant Paradox:
The Hidden Dangers in “healthy” foods that cause disease and weight gain
Steven R. Gundry, MD with Olivia Bell Buehl
Harper Collins 2017
Dr. Steven R. Gundy’s THE PLANT PARADOX presents the latest findings on how various foods can affect our bodies.
This book has relevance for many who are managing autoimmune diseases such as birdshot uveitis, since gut issues often accompany such conditions. Since foods can affect each of us differently, it behooves us to learn which ones help us and which ones cause distress to our digestive systems.
Early on Dr. Gundry introduces the term, holobiome. Beyond microbiome, the community of microbes living in our gut, our holobiome refers to the hundreds of trillions of “guest workers” such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, molds, protozoa live in and on and around each of our bodies. They exist to help our bodies function well and without them we’d have shorter lifespans and less good health. Some of them can harm us, but the vast majority are our friends.
These microorganisms are generally restricted to our digestive tract, our skin, and the air around us. They also exist in any orifices of our bodies – our eyes, ears, etc. - and many of these “communities” are unique to one just part of our body. If they breach the thin lining of our intestines, for example, our immune systems will search for invaders in our bloodstream. That’s when things can go hay-wire. A microbe that's helpful to one part of our body can cause havoc in another.
Long story short: Microbes help us digest food. But don't we want to know more?
Small proteins are absorbed through cells in the lining of our intestines and provide us with nutrients, but a few large proteins are too large to be absorbed by these same cells. Instead, the lining of our intestines can become overwhelmed and the proteins can then break through their protective mucus barrier. When our immune system detects an invader in the bloodstream it calls an alarm and searches for the invader. In the case of us Birdshot Uveitis patients, the immune system attacks our eyes.
Dr. Gundry’s writing style is straight-forward and he includes many anecdotes from his own clinical experiences. He describes a process that can lead to health problems and provides ample evidence with hundreds of cited research studies.
Several additional food concepts are explained in this book, and it also includes lists of diseases affected, lists of foods that may contribute to digestive and auto-immune issues. A Plant Paradox Meal Plan is provided as well. That said, this review is not an endorsement of strict adherence to Dr. Gundry's program; rather we hope to introduce recent findings regarding our biology and encourage healthy and informed food choices.
In case you were wondering, the paradox is that we need these healthy foods, but too much of them can make us ill. It’s sometimes the amount of a specific food that causes a problem. And even though the focus of this book is on healthy plants, there is no mandate for eating only fruit and vegetables.
There is much to learn from understanding the biology of consuming plants, and much to gain from taking a reasonable approach to a balanced diet.
The Plant Paradox may be a helpful book for those who are willing to make a few dietary changes that could improve overall health. In a crowded field, it is a book of well-supported information and valuable suggestions.
Healthy food choices can’t hurt.
BUSNA highly recommends that all Birdshot Uveitis patients follow the
medical advice of their uveitis specialists and other medical professionals.
Our book reviews are meant to assist patients in better understanding
health-related concepts and choices.
Birdshot Uveitis Society of North America (BUSNA) is a volunteer organization comprised of persons diagnosed with Birdshot Uveitis. It provides information and support for patients and raises funds for Birdshot Uveitis research.
For more information, please visit our website.