Dr. Steven Gundry is one of the natural products industry’s leading experts on the microbiome and digestive and immune health. After a distinguished career as one of the world’s pre-eminent experts in heart surgery, Dr. Gundry founded the Center for Restorative Medicine in 2002 in Palm Springs, CA. In the ensuing years, he has been studying the microbiome and developing his theory of Holobiotics. He has become a New York Times best-selling author for The Plant Paradox, Dr. Gundry’s Diet Evolution, and The Longevity Paradox.
In The Plant Paradox: The Hidden Dangers in “Healthy” Foods That Cause Disease and Weight Gain, Dr. Gundry introduces us to the “anti-nutrient” lectins.
Gundry MD And Holobiotics
Dr. Gundry also founded Gundry MD, a company dedicated “to dramatically improve human health, happiness, and longevity through his unique vision of diet and nutrition.” The company markets supplements, skin and hair care products, food, dog food, and the doctor’s best-selling books, including The Plant Paradox Cookbook, The Family Cookbook, and The Plant Paradox Quick and Easy.
The underlying philosophy to Dr. Gundry’s practice is a concept he refers to as Holobiotics. There are trillions of tiny microbes that live everywhere in, on, and around your body. Some of these microbes are good, others not so much. Poor diet and lifestyle choices kill off the good bacteria and can increase the growth of harmful microbes, things such as lectins (plant-based proteins that impair proper cell function); pathogens (bugs that cause illness and infection); and gut yeasts (which harm healthy digestion and help make you overweight). Eventually, this microbe imbalance throws off the wellness balance of your entire body.
Holobiotics is based on the belief that true health happens when you’re living in a state of cooperation with these microbes. The key to sustainable health is our beneficial microbes, which he refers to as our “gut buddies.”
In this article, we will delve into lectins and their adverse actions in our bodies. We’ll provide you with a list of foods Dr. Gundry recommends, those he suggests you avoid, and introduce you to nightshade vegetables. For balance, in our summary, we will provide a few counterpoints regarding lectins from those with opposing views.
Lectins – The “Anti-Nutrient “
Lectins are a family of naturally occurring proteins found in almost all plant foods that serve to protect plant life in nature. Legumes, grains, beans, soybeans, and nuts, when raw, are particularly high in lectins. They’re considered an “anti-nutrient” because they inhibit the absorption of minerals, especially calcium, iron, phosphorus, and zinc, and possibly play a role in obesity and chronic inflammation. In the human digestion process, these proteins bind to carbohydrates and interfere with digestion, energy, and overall health. It is theorized that lectins cause increased gut permeability and drive autoimmune diseases.
According to Dr. Gundry, lectins are toxins that shouldn’t be eaten because of the many complications they cause, including inflammation, leaky gut syndrome, and weight gain. Lectins bind to cells lining the digestive tract, disrupting the digestion and absorption of nutrients, and affecting intestinal flora. Because these proteins bind to cells for an extended period, they can cause autoimmune responses and play a role in inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and type one diabetes.
In his clinic and in The Plant Paradox, Dr. Gundry recommends a lectin-free diet, focusing on avoiding grains, nightshade vegetables, and legumes.
What Are Nightshade Vegetables?
Nightshade vegetables are part of the plant family Solanaceae. The term nightshade may be apt as some species grow in shady areas and some flower at night. The belladonna plant, also called the deadly nightshade is toxic. Other species are commonly cultivated and eaten, such as potatoes, tomatoes, bell peppers, eggplant, and paprika.
Nightshade foods contain solanine, a chemical that some people believe may aggravate arthritis pain or inflammation.
Foods Recommended On The Gundry Diet
The Plant Paradox Diet is relatively simple in design; avoid eating foods high in lectins. Otherwise, you are encouraged to follow whatever strategy works best for you, including intermittent fasting, three meals per day, or any other combination of meals.
The diet features wholesome proteins and fats, with a focus on natural, organic, and grass-fed; see below:
- Alcohol: champagne, red wine, or dark spirits in moderation
- Proteins: grass-fed meats, pasture-raised poultry, free-range eggs, and wild-caught fish
- Starches and grain-free products: sweet potatoes, plantains, rutabaga, and parsnips
- Nuts and seeds: macadamia nuts, walnuts, pecans, hemp seeds, sesame seeds, and hazelnuts
- Fruits: avocados, berries, and coconut
- Vegetables: mushrooms, broccoli, spinach, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, okra, carrots, radishes, beets, kale, and cabbage
- Dairy: goat’s milk and cheese, organic sour cream, organic cream cheese, organic heavy cream, and Brie
- Fats and oils: grass-fed butter, olive, coconut, and avocado oils
- Dark Chocolate
As you can see, the Paradox diet is a low-carbohydrate type diet. Dr. Gundry also provides detailed recommendations for Energy Bars, Sweeteners, Herbs and Seasoning, even Ice Cream.
For a more comprehensive list of Foods recommended by Dr. Gundry, visit https://gundrymd.com/dr-gundry-diet-food-list/.
Foods To Avoid On The Paradox Diet
- Proteins: soy products, farmed fish, and all beans and legumes
- Refined, Starchy Foods: bread, cereal, pasta, potatoes, rice, tortillas, whole grains, wheat, rice, oats, quinoa, barley, corn, and popcorn
- Nuts and seeds: sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, peanuts, and cashews
- Fruits: all fruits, except berries
- Vegetables: cucumbers, zucchini, pumpkin, and other squashes, as well as nightshades like tomatoes, bell peppers, and eggplant
- Dairy: all conventional milk products, butter, Greek yogurt, cheese, and cottage cheese
- Fats and oils: vegetable, soybean, canola, corn, peanut, and sunflower oils
Again, this is a partial listing of foods to avoid. The complete list is found at https://gundrymd.com/dr-gundry-diet-food-list/.
Gundry Digestive Health Supplements
Gundry MD has developed an extensive line of digestive health products such as 24 Strain Probiotics, Prebiothrive – prebiotics, Lectin Shield – to eliminate toxic proteins, and Gundry’s Bio Complete 3 – a blend of pre, pro, and postbiotics. The company addresses other digestive health issues with its Total Restore to promote a healthy gut lining, Metabolic Advanced for metabolic support, and GI Renew for digestive enhancement.
Their Vital Reds and Primal Plants products are polyphenol blends of superfruits and superfoods, respectively, with added metabolic support and a digestive component of three billion CFU probiotics in each.
No other company in the dietary supplement space provides as comprehensive a product range to support digestive health as Gundry MD.
Counterpoints – Benefits Of Lectins
Lectins also act as antioxidants, protecting your cells from free radical damage. When these proteins bind to carbohydrates, they slow their digestion, which may help to prevent rises in blood sugar and insulin levels. Many lectins are rich sources of fiber, protein, B vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats.
The whole grains, beans, and vegetables restricted in the Paradox Diet are nutritious foods often staples in a vegetarian or vegan diet for their plant-based protein and dietary fiber.
In Summary: Gundry MD Recommended Foods
Dr. Gundry is an expert in digestive health and the microbiome after nearly twenty years of practice at the Center for Restorative Medicine. The company specializes in digestive health supplements, and Dr. Gundry’s Paradox Diet has helped many who suffer from digestive ailments. Although the lectin-free diet excludes many nutrient-rich foods, people with digestive sensitivities or a tendency to experience gastrointestinal distress may realize significant benefits.
Even for healthy individuals, it is an excellent general rule to properly prepare (wash and cook) any food high in lectins to avoid excess lectin consumption.