Nutrition
A Complete Guide to the Steven Gundry Diet

A Complete Guide to the Steven Gundry Diet

The Steven Gundry diet, also known as the plant paradox diet, first came into the fray through Dr Steven Gundry’s literary works.

In the book, “The Plant Paradox: The Hidden Dangers in ‘Healthy’ Foods That Cause Disease and Weight Gain” he introduces plant paradox.

Here, Dr Gundry proposes his theory stating that avoiding lectins is the premise for developing your diet.

A controversial statement considering how common lectin is in various foods especially nutritious ones. Naturally this sparked debate considering how common lectin is in a plethora of nutritious foods.

WHAT ARE LECTINS?

A Complete Guide to the Steven Gundry Diet

Lectins are anti-nutrients found in a variety of foods, i.e., legumes, grains and nightshade veggies. As a protein, lectin’s inflammation-inducing properties have earned them a reputation.

They are also associated with enabling obesity, auto-immune diseases on top of side effects such as vomiting and stomach upsets.

These effects occur as a result of lectin’s defensive properties considering lectins are used by plants as a defence mechanism.

The carbohydrate specificity in lectins helps protect the plant against organisms such as fungi. This is done through a phenomenon known as the biological recognition process.

This phenomenon is carried over to the digestive system when you consume lectins. However, similar results are not observed.

This is because lectins interfere with the absorption of minerals, i.e., calcium, iron, phosphorous and zinc. Lectins also bind to the cell lining of the intestinal tract.

As a result, this disruption may affect the growth and action of intestinal flora.

Because lectin proteins bind to cells for long periods of time due to carbohydrate specificity, they can potentially cause an autoimmune response.

Such biological responses are theorized to play a role in inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and type 1 diabetes.

These properties are what Dr Gundry cites. He implies that by getting on the Steven Gundry diet, you reduce your chances of weight gain and contracting autoimmune diseases.

However, there is insufficient evidence to prove that avoiding lectins will have such drastic an effect.

FOLLOWING THE LECTIN-FREE DIET

The term ‘lectin-free’ diet was coined by Dr Gundry and is pretty straightforward. It simply involves not consuming lectin-containing foods.

What’s different about this diet, however, is the flexibility. You can choose how you follow the diet based on your preferred eating pattern.

For instance, you can decide to follow the diet whilst eating three meals a day or intermittent fasting.

There are, however, 2 specialized programs that are featured in the ‘plant paradox’ book. One features a low carb, high-fat version of the diet which is tailored for people with chronic illnesses, i.e., cancer.

The second version features a 3-day detox plan for people who are getting started with a lectin-free diet.

Therefore, the detox diet means you will strictly follow the lectin-free diet for 3 days, coupled with light exercise and frequent hydration.

That said, other foods are also discouraged as you prepare your body to follow the Steven Gundry diet.

Below is a comprehensive Dr Gundry food list that guides the food you can’t eat and which ones you can eat:

FOODS YOU CAN’T EAT

Wheat

Quinoa

Wheat germ

Brown rice

Oats

Barley

Pasta

Bread

Flour

Crackers

Cookies

Cereal

Artificial sweeteners

Diet drinks

Tomatoes

White potatoes

Eggplant

Bell peppers

Hot peppers

Squash

Cucumbers

Beans

Peanuts

Soy

Lentils

Split peas

Seeds

Milk

Non-pasture-raised meats

Foods such as tomatoes, white potatoes, eggplants, hot peppers and bell peppers are nightshade veggies. As such, they are acceptable if they are peeled and the seeds removed.

This is because lectin properties attach themselves to these parts of the plant.

FOODS YOU CAN EAT

Pasture-raised meats

Pasture-raised eggs

Kimchi

Sauerkraut

Italian or French cheese

Italian or French butter

Berries, cherries, apples, nectarines and peaches

Green bananas

Sweet potatoes

Millet

White rice

Sorghum

Vegetables (leafy greens, broccoli, celery, onions)

Pressure-cooked beans and legumes

Olive oil

Avocados

Unsweetened almond milk

BENEFITS OF A LECTIN-FREE DIET

In the ‘paradox diet’ book, a Dr Gundry review of foods frequently eaten claims that the Steven Gundry diet has numerous benefits. Some of these benefits include such energy boost, improved mood, weight loss.

There is, however, insignificant scientific evidence to prove this as truth. However, from a theoretically scientific standpoint, some of these are expected benefits from following a lectin-free diet. They include:

IMPROVED GUT HEALTH

The carbohydrate specificity property of lectins can mean they stick to the digestive tract’s cell membranes for long periods. This instigates gastrointestinal issues.

The sticky nature of lectins also disrupts arguably the most important role of digestion – nutrient absorption.

However, there is a lack of clarity over what lectin dosage is actually harmful to the body. As such, this leaves room for a lot of speculation and approximation.

ELIMINATES PROCESSED FOODS

A lectin-free diet focuses primarily on eliminating lectins from your diet and preparing your body for said diet.

As such, that means doing away with a sedentary lifestyle which involves the consumption of processed foods.

Processed foods contain unhealthy amounts of sodium, sugar and saturated fats. If allowed to pile on, this can lead to weight gain, obesity and heart diseases.

Therefore, by eliminating processed foods, you create room for whole foods which are the healthier alternative.

HELPS WITH SPECIFIC CONDITIONS

Studies reveal that a lectin-free diet can help with conditions such as MS and inflammatory bowel disease.

By eliminating the hindrance lectin often brings about, you reduce the severity of these conditions’ symptoms.

RISKS

UNSUSTAINABLE FOR VEGETARIANS

Vegetarians do not consume animal-based protein. Therefore, they are dependent on the high plant-based protein content from legumes, nuts, and seeds, all of which are restricted in a lectin-free diet.

Therefore, if you follow this diet as a vegetarian, you risk excessively low consumption of protein.

RISK OF CONSTIPATION

Legumes, whole grains, and fruit and vegetable peels have high fibre content. They are, however, disallowed if you’re following a lectin-free diet.

This therefore dramatically decreases the amount of fibre you consume as it leaves a limited number of fibre-providing foods.

The reduced fibre intake can, therefore lead to constipation.

CONCLUSION

When it comes to the Steven Gundry diet, the primary question is, does it live up to its promises?

As it stands, the majority of the issues in the Steven Gundry diet remain contentious. There is insufficient evidence to back the claims that are made by the ‘paradox diet’ book.

To a certain degree, you might argue that the diet is myopic. The fact that it focuses on just one protein within a food shows that the broader picture hasn’t been properly looked at.

It is also worth considering that when the risk vs reward is compared, the rewards can’t really be empirically pointed out.

For instance, if your goal is weight loss, there is a lack of direction on matters such as portion control. As such, it remains objectively inconclusive just how helpful the Steven Gundry diet is.

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