In This Review
What is the Lectin-Free Diet?
The lectin-free diet is a regimen developed by Dr. Stephen Gundry, American cardiologist, physician, nutritional expert, and founder of Gundry MD and the Center for Restorative Medicine in California.
Outlined in his 2017 book, ‘The Plant Paradox: The Hidden Dangers in “Healthy” Foods That Cause Disease and Weight Gain,’ the regimen advocates a lectin-free diet meal plan for a number of potential health benefits.
What are lectins, and why does Dr. Gundry think they are unhealthy? Lectins are plant proteins which bind to carbohydrates, and there’s some evidence that they may lead to gastrointestinal issues because they don’t break down well in the gut.
Leaving lectins out of your diet may offer great health benefits like enhanced digestion, a boost in energy and mood, weight loss, and a stronger immune system.
Owner of Fresh Nutrition Sharon Puello, MA, RD, CDCES explains, “These compounds work to help protect plants from consumption by having undesirable effects on those who consume them.”
While some extol the benefits of a lectin-free diet menu, others say it leaves out key food groups important for health. In this review we’ll discuss the features of the diet, foods to eat and avoid, nutritional benefits, pros and cons, and more. Read on to learns all the ins and outs of the Plant Paradox lectin-free diet by Dr. Gundry.
How Does Lectin-Free Diet Rate?
- It advocates avoiding plant based foods high in lectins like grains, legumes, and nightshade vegetables.
- Dr. Gundry outlines the diet in detail in his book The Plant Paradox: The Hidden Dangers in “Healthy” Foods That Cause Disease and Weight Gain.”
- Gundry MD offers a range of health supplement to compliment and enhance the diet.
- Media like The New York Times and MSNBC have discussed the diet.
- Lectin Free Diet Foods: Pasture-raised meats and eggs, white rice, millet, sweet potatoes, avocadoes, celery, onions, leafy greens, broccoli, almond milk, Italian or French cheese and butter, cherries, nectarines, peaches, apples
- Examples of Foods Not Allowed: Milk, bread, barley, pasta, cereal, cookies, crackers, soy, oats, beans, lentils, seeds, non-pasture-raised meats, eggplant, squash, cucumbers, split peas, hot peppers, bell peppers, wheat germ, quinoa, tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes
- The lectin-free diet can decrease gut issues like gas and bloating.
- This regimen can help promote weight loss.
- The lectin-free diet can boost energy levels.
- This diet can enhance positive mood.
- The lectin-free diet can support a healthy immune system.
- The diet leaves out important food groups like grains and legumes.
- Following a diet low in fiber could lead to constipation.
- The lectin-free diet has limited foods for vegetarians and vegans.
Who Is The Manufacturer Of Lectin-Free Diet?
Renowned physician, cardiologist, and nutritional expert developed the lectin-free diet, and he also founded the health and wellness company Gundry MD in 2015 in Beverly Hills, California. The organization offers a range of 100% organic supplements for different health issues. Dr. Gundry also started and runs the Center for Restorative Medicine in Beverly Hills.
How Does the Lectin-Free Diet Work?
The lectin-free diet advocates following a nutritional regimen that includes only foods low in lectins. The Gundry Food Pyramid clearly shows the different levels, with foods low in lectin like pasture-fed meats at the top, foods with moderate levels in the middle, and the high-lectin foods you should completely avoid at the bottom.
Your diet should be richest in the foods at the top of the pyramid, and you can include some of the items in the middle like in-season fruits, nuts, and pastured poultry in moderate amounts.
According to Dr. Gundry eating high levels of lectins in your diet can not only lead to physical symptoms like gut upset and diarrhea, but it can also put you at risk for a number of diseases.
There is some research to support his claims. A review article published in the Journal of Nutritional Medicine by David L. J. Freed looked at the impact of lectins on health, and concluded that that may play a role in a number of conditions including inflammatory bowel disease, cataracts, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Are lectins all bad? No, they are not, and they do offer several potential health benefits as Sharon Puello explains, “Some research shows that lectins may have potential as a treatment for depression and anxiety in the future.”
They also have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-microbial agents that support health and immunity. However, the Plant Paradox Diet contains some very nutrient-dense foods also high in these properties.
What Are the Health Benefits of the Lectin-Free Diet?
As of yet there isn’t a lot of research on people following this diet, so it’s difficult to assess the long term effects. Based on the research indicating the risks of lectins, the lectin-free diet by Dr Gundry offers several potential health benefits like weight loss, a decrease in gut symptoms like bloating and diarrhea, increased energy, and a boost in mood.
A diet low in lectins may also reduce the risk of developing or worsening auto-immune conditions like diabetes mellitus and rheumatoid arthritis, or gut health diseases like Inflammatory Bowel Disease.
A study published in the Journal of Immunology Research by Aristo Vojdani looked at the impact of lectins on human tissue and concluded that undigested lectins may contribute to the development of autoimmune conditions.
Verdict: There isn’t a lot of evidence on followers of the lectin-free diet, but there is research showing the possible negative health effects of a high lectin regimen.
Is the Lectin-Free Diet Safe? Are There Any Risks?
The lectin-free diet is rich in healthy foods and nutrients, and particularly helpful for those with digestive health issues or who want to lose weight.
It’s safe, however, some people feel that leaving out key foods groups like grains and legumes is not the most balanced diet. In addition, they offer benefits like supporting heart and immune system health.
The lectin free food list is also not high in fiber, which could lead to constipation in some people as it helps flush out the digestive tract.
The key to the Plant Paradox Diet is moderation and not extremity – rather than sticking mostly to the very low lectin foods at the top, make sure you include enough with moderate levels to avoid some of these issues.
Lectin-Free Diet FAQs
Q: What Can You Eat on a Lectin-Free Diet?
A: Lectin free diet foods include meat and eggs that are pasture-raised, carbohydrates like white rice, millet, and sweet potatoes, leafy green vegetables, and some fruits such as peaches, apples, cherries, and nectarines. You can also have Italian or French cheese and butter, almond milk, avocadoes, onions, and celery, as well as other foods that you can see on the Gundry Food Pyramid.
Q: What Are The Worst Foods For Lectins?
A: While lectins exist in all plants, foods that contain the highest amount include whole grains and legumes such as soy, peas, and lentils. There are also very high concentrations of lectins in nightshade vegetables like bell peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplant.
Q: What Are The Symptoms Of Too Much Lectin?
A: Eating too many high-lectin foods may lead to gastrointestinal symptoms like bloating, gas, diarrhea, and cramps. In addition, a diet rich in lectins could lead to weight gain.
Q: What 3 Foods Does Gundry Say To Avoid?
A: In his book, Dr. Gundry outlines a number of high-lectin foods that you should avoid on his regimen, but in particular he mentions chia seeds, wheat grass, and Goji berries. While they are superfoods rich in nutrients, according to Gundry they are too high in lectin to be beneficial to your health.
Q: Do Lectins Cause Belly Fat?
A: There’s some evidence that lectins could lead to weight gain and bloating, which may appear as extra fat in the belly area or anywhere else. Certainly the bloating could make it appear as if you have gained weight in the gut area.
What Do the Lectin-Free Diet Reviews Say?
In our opinion, there are great advantages to avoiding high levels of lectin in your diet. We do think it’s important to ensure that you include a mix of different foods from the pyramid, and not only the ones with few lectins. They do offer some health benefits, so it’s best to not avoid them completely.
Those who level some criticism at the diet like Julie Lanford, RD, MPH agree with us that you shouldn’t cut out lectins from your diet competely:
Even if foods contain indigestible lectins, there are so many other great nutrients in there that there’s a net benefit to eating them .
There are various reviews online from people who follow the diet, as well as other articles with mixed views of the regimen. One of the best comments is from Alicia Grise, who says she lost a lot of weight and experienced other health benefits:
After 13 months, down 40 pounds, more energy, less achy joints. I love running and am able to run longer and at a better pace than ever before. Now, I don’t need as much sleep and have much better ability to focus on tasks.
Another positive report comes from Michelle McCollough, who raves about her results:
… I feel so very healthy, and I exercise, which I never have done… I have lost a total of 110 lbs. the last 40 came off when I started eating the Gundry way, and my SED rate and CRP levels are in normal ranges, and previously they were in the 100 range. I hope my story can help or inspire others….
Verdict: While there are some criticisms of the lectin-free diet, there are followers who have experienced great health benefits like weight loss, added energy, and reduced joint pain.
Lectin-Free Diet Review – Conclusion
The lectin-free plant based diet by Dr. Stephen Gundry offers many possible health advantages such as improving digestion, decreasing gas and bloating, boosting energy levels, promoting weight loss, and enhancing mood. However, as lectins do offer some key benefits it’s important to make sure you include enough of the moderate-level foods.
There aren’t a lot of reviews from followers of the diet online, but we did find some that are highly positive. People mentioned great weight loss and improvement in other health parameters like energy, mood, and decreased inflammation.
There are also critiques of the diet from some reviewers, saying it lacks key food groups or is not adequately balanced. As we’ve said, we think it can offer a range of health benefits for many people with proper meal planning, and we especially recommend that those with autoimmune conditions and digestive health problems look into the lectin-free diet plan list.
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