THE PLANT PARADOX DIET (AKA DR. GUNDRY DIET)
Dr. Steven Gundry is a former cardiac surgeon and now runs his own clinic, purportedly investigating the impact of diet on health. His theory that foods high in a plant protein called lectins cause inflammation and are dangerous has been deemed pseudoscience by many health professionals.
In 2017, Dr. Gundry published The Plant Paradox, a book about "the hidden dangers in 'healthy' foods that cause disease and weight gain." It details the ways in which lectin can cause inflammation, which then contributes to disease and weight gain, and contains a comprehensive list of foods to eat and avoid on the diet. The book gained popularity quickly in part because of the success that singer Kelly Clarkson experienced while following the diet. Dr. Gundry now owns and runs his own clinic in California examining the impact of diet on health.
The main benefit that the Plant Paradox Diet claims to offer is that it will reduce inflammation. The diet removes lectins, a protein found in many fruits and vegetables, which Dr. Gundry says are edible enemies. "A lectin is a type of protein that forces carbs (sugars, starches, and fibers) to clump together and even attach to certain cells in your body when you eat them," explains Dr. Gundry. "Often, lectins can get in the way of important cells communicating with one another. And when that happens, the body's response is usually inflammation or some other type of reaction to toxicity, like nausea, diarrhea, or vomiting. A break in cellular communication can also result in symptoms like fatigue or forgetfulness."
While the goal of the Plant Paradox Diet is to reduce inflammation, weight loss may be an added benefit. There have been many claims of individuals shedding pounds on the Plant Paradox Diet. Many say that it's not simply the lack of lectin content in the diet but the focus on mindful and healthful eating that results in weight loss. It’s worth noting that the diet also shuns processed foods and refined carbohydrates, which alone should aid in weight loss.
Here’s the REAL paradox about Gundry’s diet. Most nutritionists and doctors don’t agree with Gundry’s assessment that lectins are the evil villain he portrays them to be. Some of the foods high in lectins that are on Gundry’s taboo list include tomatoes, potatoes, beans, peas, lentils, grains, tofu, any fruits with seeds, peppers, and corn. Again, I’m no doctor but if you were to survey a room full of doctors about the nutritional value and safety of consuming these foods I suspect most or all would say they’re healthy choices. Will consuming a diet rich in lectin protein potentially cause inflammation? Sure, I suppose that’s a possibility but different people respond differently to certain foods.
I think that Gundry may be on to something with a diet that restricts lectins based on some of the studies I’ve read but I generally suspect that the health benefits these foods provide outweigh the potential inflammation you may experience. I think more definitive studies are needed before I’d scrap foods high in lectins from your diet. Of course, that’s just my opinion based on the limited research I’ve done into the subject. I should mention the plan also includes supplements Dr. Gundry developed that are sold under the GundryMD brand.
𝗣𝗥𝗢𝗦 & 𝗖𝗢𝗡𝗦-
𝗗𝗶𝗲𝘁 𝗺𝗮𝘆 𝗵𝗲𝗹𝗽 𝗿𝗲𝗱𝘂𝗰𝗲 𝗶𝗻𝗳𝗹𝗮𝗺𝗺𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻. Some scientists believe lectins are harmful and cause inflammation. An older study links lectins to autoimmune diseases, including celiac disease, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis.
𝗥𝗲𝗱𝘂𝗰𝗲𝘀 𝗽𝗿𝗼𝗰𝗲𝘀𝘀𝗲𝗱 𝗳𝗼𝗼𝗱𝘀. The foundation of Gundry’s plan is eating less processed food and more whole foods.
𝗥𝗲𝗱𝘂𝗰𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗹𝗲𝗰𝘁𝗶𝗻𝘀 𝗺𝗮𝘆 𝗿𝗲𝗱𝘂𝗰𝗲 𝗰𝗲𝗿𝘁𝗮𝗶𝗻 𝗱𝗶𝘀𝗲𝗮𝘀𝗲𝘀. Long-term inflammation is linked to many serious medical conditions, including heart disease, cancer, and depression.
𝗠𝗮𝘆 𝗯𝗲 𝗱𝗶𝗳𝗳𝗶𝗰𝘂𝗹𝘁 𝘁𝗼 𝗳𝗼𝗹𝗹𝗼𝘄. The lectin-free diet is a restrictive plan, which may make it difficult for some people to follow it long-term.
𝗗𝗶𝗲𝘁 𝗲𝗹𝗶𝗺𝗶𝗻𝗮𝘁𝗲𝘀 𝗺𝗮𝗻𝘆 𝗳𝗿𝘂𝗶𝘁𝘀, 𝘃𝗲𝗴𝗲𝘁𝗮𝗯𝗹𝗲𝘀, 𝘄𝗵𝗼𝗹𝗲 𝗴𝗿𝗮𝗶𝗻𝘀, 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗹𝗲𝗴𝘂𝗺𝗲𝘀 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝗸𝗻𝗼𝘄𝗻 𝗵𝗲𝗮𝗹𝘁𝗵 𝗯𝗲𝗻𝗲𝗳𝗶𝘁𝘀. Research has shown that consuming whole grains can help reduce the risk for heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Fruits and vegetables also have many associated health benefits. Eating more fruits and vegetables may lower the risk for multiple conditions, including heart and lung diseases.
𝗔 𝗹𝗲𝗰𝘁𝗶𝗻-𝗳𝗿𝗲𝗲 𝗱𝗶𝗲𝘁 𝗺𝗮𝘆 𝗯𝗲 𝗱𝗶𝗳𝗳𝗶𝗰𝘂𝗹𝘁 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝘃𝗲𝗴𝗲𝘁𝗮𝗿𝗶𝗮𝗻𝘀 𝗼𝗿 𝘃𝗲𝗴𝗮𝗻𝘀 𝘁𝗼 𝗳𝗼𝗹𝗹𝗼𝘄, 𝘀𝗶𝗻𝗰𝗲 𝗹𝗲𝗴𝘂𝗺𝗲𝘀, 𝗻𝘂𝘁𝘀, 𝘀𝗲𝗲𝗱𝘀, 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝘄𝗵𝗼𝗹𝗲 𝗴𝗿𝗮𝗶𝗻𝘀 𝗽𝗿𝗼𝘃𝗶𝗱𝗲 𝗽𝗹𝗮𝗻𝘁-𝗯𝗮𝘀𝗲𝗱 𝗽𝗿𝗼𝘁𝗲𝗶𝗻. Legumes, whole grains, and fruit and vegetable peels also provide dietary fiber. A lectin-free diet could result in constipation if dietary fiber intake decreases.
𝗜𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗿𝗺𝗶𝘁𝘁𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗳𝗮𝘀𝘁𝗶𝗻𝗴. Dr. Gundry fasts for five months of the year. From January 1 until June 1, he doesn't eat breakfast or lunch, and all of his calories for the day are consumed between 6 and 8 p.m. He's been doing this for the last 10 years. While this radical fasting plan isn’t a requirement of the Plant Paradox diet, he does recommend intermittent fasting which involves going 24 hours without food on a regular (weekly) basis. Fasting became a larger part of Gundry’s diet plan after he wrote his Plant Paradox book.
As I said before, I’m not a doctor and don’t pretend to know more about the benefits of a lectin-free diet than Dr. Gundry but I take issue with any diet that completely eliminates certain foods, particularly foods that have scientifically proven health benefits such as whole grains, legumes, seeds and nuts.
While inflammation can be a health problem for some people, everybody reacts differently to foods. If you’re a person that struggles with rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease or other autoimmune diseases, Dr. Gundry’s Plant Paradox Diet may be worth a try but I doubt this is the right diet plan for most people. The Arthritis Foundation specifically recommends a diet rich in whole grains, peas and beans, fruits and vegetables, and nuts, in direct contrast to Dr. Gundry’s diet recommendations.
I also question the ability to stay on this diet for the long haul. The elimination of many foods that are staples in the average American diet make this diet cumbersome and potentially costly to adhere to.
Finally, simply following this diet’s approved list of foods does not necessarily lead to weight loss. This plan does not specifically address things like calories, portion control or exercise, although all are encouraged. This diet is mainly concerned with battling inflammation. With that being said, if you follow Dr. Gundry’s list of approved foods you will likely be eating less processed and more whole foods than you’re currently eating and that alone should help lead to some weight loss. Before starting this plan, ask yourself if you’re honestly willing to give up eating Gundry’s off-limits foods? If you’re in dire straits dealing with inflammation and you’ve exhausted all other options maybe this plan is worth a try, otherwise I’d look elsewhere.
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