By Dr. Steven Gundry
Dr. Steven Gundry is a renowned heart surgeon, New York Times best-selling author, and medical researcher. He is the author of three books: Dr. Gundry’s Diet Evolution; The Plant Paradox; and out in April 2018, The Plant Paradox Cookbook. As the leading expert on the lectin-free diet as the key to longevity and vitality, Dr. Gundry believes we have the ability to heal ourselves through nutrition if certain dietary obstacles are removed.
All living things have some kind of natural defensive mechanism - it’s how we survive as a species! For a bee it’s a stinger, for a chameleon it’s the ability to blend into its surrounding, and for human beings, it’s that natural instinct for fight or flight.
But what about plants? Surely, a plant can’t “defend” itself. Well, you’d be surprised…
What Are Lectins?
Plants may not be able to run away or put up their dukes, but they do rely on their natural chemistry to defend themselves against hungry animals. The number one defense that most plants utilize is a group of proteins known as “lectins”.
The primary goal of lectins is to make the predator sick so they won’t return and eat more of the plant. The problem is, unlike most animals, good ol’ humans just don’t seem to get the message.
Research has proved over and over that, though lectins are a root cause for many human discomforts - like heartburn, nausea, fatigue, upset stomach, and diarrhea - but we just keep on eating those plants!
How Do Lectins Hurt You?
Lectins hurt your digestive system by clinging to your cells and breaking down their ability to communicate with the immune system. They then tear little holes between the cells that line your intestines which can lead to Leaky Gut Syndrome, inflammation, weight gain, or even symptoms similar to food poisoning.
Lectins are toxins - plain and simple - but the problem is that humans tend to blame other things for our discomfort.
Not All Plants Are Out To Get You
Another chemical compound found in plants is “polyphenols”. But these compounds actually help to improve your immune system, brain, and digestive system.
Polyphenols are powerful little antioxidants and there’s evidence that they may even help to protect the body against degenerative diseases.
But how do you know which plants to consume and which to avoid?
Here’s a quick guide to get you started:
Limit These Lectin-Rich Foods
Beans & Legumes - Beans and legumes carry more lectins than any other food
Grains - Most grains are “lectin bombs” so limit grain intake
Squash - The seeds and peels are full of lectins
Nightshades - The seeds and peels of vegetables like eggplant, peppers, potatoes, and tomatoes also contain loads of lectins
Increase These Foods Instead
Cooked tubers - Sweet potatoes, yucca, and taro root
Leafy greens - Romaine, red & green leaf lettuce, kohlrabi, mesclun, spinach, endive, butter lettuce, parsley, fennel, and sea vegetables
Cruciferous & other great vegetables - Broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, garlic, celery, mushrooms, and onion
Avocado - Full of good fat and soluble fiber
Olives and Extra Virgin Olive Oil - Olive oil is an all-around superfood ... Continue