General Gut Health

Should You Try the Plant Paradox Diet?

After one of my friends told me she found much relief from her autoimmune issue with Lupus after working with Dr. Gundry, I was certainly intrigued by his new book I was seeing all over the internet. To my delight, my stepmom bought be a copy for Christmas and I read it page to page over my Christmas break.

For science geeks and health nuts, you will LOVE the science and detailed explanation about the mechanisms in our body that support and hurt our gut health as well as all the research that Dr. Gundry put into this program. While his naturalist theories as to why these mechanisms exist can be argued, the scientific data demonstrates clearly and sensibly what physiologically is happening in the body when we eat certain foods and how that affects our health. In addition, he offers a plethora of  researched data, as well as anecdotal and lab evidence to substantiate the diet indeed makes a difference in our health.

But for those who can get overwhelmed or bored by the science and just want a gyst to understand why or how it works and then get to it, you may want to grab his Quick and Easy version of the book or just go straight to the cookbook he just came out with as he does briefly explain the science behind the program.

Personally, I need to understand WHY something works before I’m willing to put effort into a new way of eating. I also want to make sure I have bought into the belief that it is good for me and not harmful to switch to a different way of eating. There are a lot of fad diets out there that will help you lose weight or reduce certain symptoms but it doesn’t mean it is good for you long term. Especially when such a lifestyle requires me to cut out certain foods from the daily staples I love. I better really understand why I need to do it, or I just won’t do it. My tastebuds will win every time.

I had actually heard about reducing lectins in one’s diet last year. Didn’t understand why but read that lectins could bother some people and aggravate health issues. I looked at the rules and was like, nope. Ain’t going to do that. Too hard. But I didn’t understand the why or the how. Once I did, it certainly seemed worth the effort. And it is much easier after you change some habits and learn alternatives!

But after reading the book, I was certainly sold and ready to start the program.

Here is the summation of what it looks like:

Phase 1--(3 Days)- Cleanse to prepare the gut for healing

Phase 2-– (6 Weeks Minimum)– Plant Paradox Eating Plan. 

Phase 3–(After healing) Modified Plant Paradox lifestyle with intermittent fasting. 

Would the Plant Paradox Work for Me?

woman tired and sick eating foods with lectins

This program is for you if you fit any of the following types:

  1. You want to lose weight and reduce bloating
  2. You want to heal from a disease or illness like thyroid disease, diabetes, lupus, multiple sclerosis, etc.
  3. You want to improve your gut health and reduce digestive problems

So what is the essence of the Plant Paradox diet?

Well the title alludes to it a bit. Paradoxically to our prior thoughts, there are some plants that are just not good for our gut. What?! Yep. And this diet, seeks to reduce or eliminate them so that our bodies can heal because much of our health issues are caused by a lifestyle of overconsumption of such plants.

Some of the big ones include corn, wheat, soy, beans, traditional dairy, some fruits under certain conditions, and night shade vegetables (the hardest for me)!

So what is wrong with these plants? They are full of what is called lectins or proteins that act like lectins.

Now this is not the entirety of what Plant Paradox is about. There is much more he discusses and encourages us to eliminate for our health, but as far as food goes–this is the essence of what we eliminate/reduce on the Plant Paradox diet.

So What are Lectins and Why are They Bad?

bell peppers tomatoes beans, potatoes with lectins

As Dr Gundry explains it, seed bearing fruits have a self-protective mechanism built in them to make sure their seeds are spread only when they are ready to actually reproduce. To protect the plant from being eaten too early and defeat the purpose of it’s seeds, it produces a chemical called lectins that hurt the predator trying to eat it. These lectins can paralyze insects and make larger prey feel sick. When the fruit becomes ripe, however, the lectins decrease making the plant edible, increasing its chances of its seeds spreading out.

In today’s world market, much of our fruit is now imported. In order to make sure the fruit survives its ride to your local market, it is picked while still not ripe and therefore full of lectins. The unripe fruit is then gassed to bring it a ripe-like color and then we consume it before it’s lectins have naturally dissipated. The effects are wreaking havoc on our bodies.

Night shade veggies tend to have a lot of lectins all the time, in their skin and seeds. But in our fast paced world today, most of us are not blanching the skin off or removing the seeds from these plants and so are eating all of the lectins and continuously bombarding our gut with this organic chemicals (no, natural is not always good!).

Then due to the whole grain health craze, we are now over consuming grains with the hull still around it (full of lectins) and don’t recognize that this type of fiber we are eating is actually hurting our gut even more.

What Lengths Does it Require of Me to Get Healed? 

pasture raised chickens have low to no lectins in their meat

The Plant Paradox seeks to give your gut a break from the constant intake of lectins for a minimum of 6 weeks. Because our gut can be so hurt by the harmful effects of these lectins, in order for us to completely heal it, we need to try and eliminate all forms.

Some of these lectins sneak in through the animals that we eat, because those animals are now fed by Big Agra with tons of lectin-packed foods. Our cows are eating corn and soy instead of grass.

Our chickens are eating corn and soy instead of insects and fruits/veggies (non soy or corn), and even our farm-raised fish are not eating what they were created to eat in their natural environment. So all the lectins they are eating are now found throughout their protein fibers and so we eat even more. You think you are eating beef, but really it’s just beef flavored corn and soy.

Trade Joes has a great french butter with only A2 proteinTherefore, part of Plant Paradox seeks to reduce meat intake to 8 oz maximum and only grass fed beef, pasture-raised poultry, eggs,  and pork, and only wild caught fish.

As for dairy, most cows today produce two casein proteins and their A1 protein acts much like a lectin, and the cause of most people’s dairy issues. Plant Paradox requires you to eat dairy only from French or Italian cows which only produce A2 protein just like the other safe dairy producers like Sheep and Goat.

What Can You Eat?

While many people can get so hung up on what they can’t eat, they can fear they can’t eat anything, but that is not the case. What I loved about going on Plant Paradox is that it opened me up to discovering a delicious array of other veggies I used to rarely eat or never even tried because I had become so accustomed to my same ol’ lectin containing veggies I had grown to love.

cruciferous vegetables are lectin free

Cruciferous veggies like cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli. Roots and tubers like parsnips, jerusalem artichokes, turnips, and more! A2 dairy is delicious and so are the grass fed and pasture-raised meats!

While it is not the official Plant Paradox list, I have created a pdf guide for what to eliminate and what to replace those foods with for anyone interested in getting well and taking care of their gut. I include the essentials and then offer different levels for those who really want to get deep in their healing, with the latter levels including some of the more detailed changes needed in the Plant Paradox diet. To get a copy, sign up here. It will connect you to my FB Page and you can ask questions or get more help from there. I can also send you alerts when I post more articles or videos on gut health so you can continue your journey!

Did it Work for Me? 

IMG_4476After phase 1, I stayed on phase 2 for the full 6 weeks 99% of the time and saw immediate improvement in my bloating, focus, energy, and overall feeling well. I also lost about 10 lbs!

I am continuing on in phase 2 because when I have cheated my body has gotten mad at me, so I know I will need longer to heal. And honestly that makes sense to me. I’ve eaten a lectin packed diet for almost 40 years and have IBS. I have eliminated wheat and dairy for the last 2 years but going night shade, legume, and rice free, was not something I had yet considered. I have noticed that when I stick to the diet, my bowel movements look healthy (which rarely if ever happened before I went on the diet, even with all my prior restrictions and “healthy” choices), and my belly is flat, not bloated, and my shoulder does not hurt. :). Yesterday I did not follow the diet and I reaped the consequences. So I will stick to it.

For many people with autoimmune diseases, staying on the Plant Paradox as a lifestyle is the best way to keep symptoms away. For the rest, at least reducing lectins or living the lifestyle 70/30 is ideal to make sure damage doesn’t return. He definitely recommends slowly bringing foods back and seeing how your body does as well as making changes in how you prepare the food to reduce the lectins. Read the book! Full of tips!

If I do cheat on occasion, which I plan to (I enjoy an 80/20 lifestyle as I find that it is realistic while being relatively stricter than what others may need), I will make sure to skin those squashes and deseed them, etc as well as take some anti-lectin supplements to help smother them before they reach my gut. 🙂 I don’t want to over use them (that would get expensive) but it’s nice to have them if I go out to dinner or go to a birthday party and want some refried beans or a good corn-fed carne asada!