5.3.17
plant paradox

Ever reached a point of “wellness fatigue”? As much as we love learning about natural health and nutrition and everything in between, everyone has their limit. Somehow, we found ours when it came to the topic of “lectins”.

That changed when we met with renowned heart surgeon, Dr. Steven Gundry, and got our hands on his new book, The Plant Paradox. Dr. Gundry has used a simple, but therapeutic diet on hundreds of patients in his private practice with some pretty astonishing results — and it’s all based on the notion that humans were never intended to eat the plant-based proteins called lectins. 

After reading The Plant Paradox cover to cover overnight and trying the diet for a few days ourselves, we can’t shake the notion that the lectin-free way of life might be as big a phenomenon as going “gluten-free” has been over the last five years. Read on to learn more and enter to win the book below…

Q: Before meeting you and reading your book, the topic of  “lectins” simply wasn’t a priority. Now it’s at the top of our list. Should a lectin-free diet be the new modern norm?

A: When I did a deep dive with very sophisticated blood tests, the results about lectins’ damaging effects on most people surprised me. Lectins aren’t just a cause of digestive upset or bloating. At a very basic level, lectins are the root of all disease. Why? Because they are the base cause of inflammation as they are designed to attack the body’s cells in order to discourage you from eating plants that make them again. Lectin-free diets or seriously reduced lectin consumption is a prescription for health for all, young and old, food allergic or not. In this country alone, if we all ate a lectin-light diet, the American obesity epidemic would plummet. That’s because lectins also promote fat storage.

Q: Could lectins be the root of the widely varying food sensitivities out there right now? There seems to be no rhyme or reason to the variety — how big a role do lectins play?

A: Not too long ago, no one had a reaction to peanuts even though 94% of all humans have pre-formed peanut antibodies. Ever wonder why food allergies and autoimmune diseases only appeared in the last three to four decades? It’s not that we are sensitive to foods all of a sudden, it’s that our immune system is hyper-sensitized and on high alert from the overdose of lectins and what I call the seven other deadly disruptors mentioned in my new book, The Plant Paradox. Because of these disruptors, the gut wall and the good bugs in our system have been decimated (i.e., leaky gut). Now our immune system is on guard 24/7 and shoots to kill things that it would never be sensitized to in the past.

Q: There are incredible case studies in your book. You’ve helped improve clients’ health from ALS patients to those with dementia by using this diet. It seems too good to be true! Is it?

A: If someone would have asked me if this was possible 15 years ago, I would have laughed them out of the room. As a medical doctor who bases everything on science and research, my patient’s blood work is the proof I needed and the proof required to publish in peer-reviewed articles. In one study on 1000 participants, 800 of them had a family history or personal history of autoimmune disease. Of the 800 patients that followed a lectin-free diet, 100% of the 800 participants had no markers of inflammation within three months!

Also the reverse of this study has happened – this is also in the same study mentioned above. You’ll read in my book several cases where patients inadvertently cheated, eating things like cashews, and then rushed into my office with flare-ups.

It’s quite incredible what avoiding lectins can do. Some of my favorite stories include: a patient with MS in a wheelchair who was able to walk again; an artist with such crippling arthritis he could no longer paint or sculpt, returned to creating art with no pain; a 42-year-old woman with metastatic inflammatory breast cancer that followed my Keto Plant Paradox program and abolished the cancer completely; and so many more success stories.

Q: Where are lectins generally found?

A:Lectins can be found in grains of all kind (especially whole wheat); beans and legumes (especially soy, as it has most of the 7 deadly disruptors); seeds (such as cashews, sunflower, pumpkin, chia, not sesame, etc.); nightshade veggies (eggplant, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers); dairy (avoid dairy products from U.S. cows, consume only Southern European dairy or substitute out sheep/goat milk and cheese); eggs (avoid commercial eggs and eggs labeled “cage-free,” “free-range.” Only eat omega-3 or pastured-raised; meats (eat only pasture-raised proteins. Grain-fed livestock are fed corn/wheat, which are full of lectins.)

Enter to win A Copy of The Plant Paradox!
We’re giving away one copy of Dr. Gundry’s new book, The Plant Paradox!
Enter for the chance to win by leaving us your email in the entry box below.


UPDATE: This giveaway is now closed!

The Chalkboard Mag and its materials are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. 
All material on The Chalkboard Mag is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health related program. 


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  1. I’ve read other sources explaining lectins are destroyed in the heating process (ex. raw kidney beans are toxic, cooked have a tolerable amount) as well as sprouting, soaking (add baking soda or AVC to aid in this) and fermenting. I’ve also read that although lectins do contribute to leaky guy syndrome, some are responsible for cellular and immune health as well. Is there a happy medium? It’s hard to think of discounting so many beneficial foods if preparation could make them more tolerated. Not trying to debunk your work- just trying to navigate through other nutritional research and keep a broader, well rounded diet. Thank you for your article.

    Rebecca | 05.03.2017 | Reply
  2. This really frustrates me, I am a vegan and am also gluten free after working with a naturopath and finding food sensitivities to dairy, gluten and eggs (I was already a vegetarian at the time, it was my choice to go vegan.) I feel like I hear about something else I shouldn’t be eating every other day and now to hear that a lot of the foods I eat throughout the day (like beans and veggies) are going to cause problems is incredibly frustrating. I’m ready to throw up my hands and just drink only water for the rest of my life…although there will probably be some problem with that too!

    Vicki | 05.03.2017 | Reply
  3. No grains, beans, veggies, dairy, eggs, meat… what exactly are people supposed to eat then? Only the finest imported Southern European eggs? Good lord.

    Lexi | 05.03.2017 | Reply
    • I have to agree. I changed my diet completely nine years ago following a cancer diagnosis. I follow the blood type diet — for the most part — but have mixed it a little with the paleo diet. I have to stop there. I feel healthy and have good energy. If I do anything more, I won’t be able to socialize outside my home.

  4. What people need is to pay attention to, learn and nurture themselves individually. People need to be Nourished. That comes from the foods they eat, yes. It also comes from the work they do, the purpose they have, the relationships they keep close, the rest they get, the self-care calendar they keep, the healing and life work they invest in and the love they experience.
    All of these diets and research and whatever hogwash comes out as “the new way to eat” is irresponsible, misguided and inappropriate.
    Please think about what you promote on your site. Perhaps having me write or be interviewed would benefit your audience.

  5. I went gluten free some time ago, and feel like I’m starving most of the time. Now this…

    Bodina | 05.03.2017 | Reply
  6. Agreed with the comments above. If diary is causing bloat, discomfort, and skin flare ups I would avoid dairy! If legumes cause you to have gas and inflammation, then avoid that. Every individual is different and we all have unique needs. To me, the most important part of a healthy wellness plan is to avoid processed foods, unhealthy saturated fats, and added sugars. Move every single day. Sleep and get to your yoga mat.

    Lindsay Rentz | 05.03.2017 | Reply
  7. Could TCM post a follow-up article on this with a few clarifications? I feel like the health community is always encouraging some of the items mentioned above such as chia and pumpkin seeds, eggplant, etc. To echo some of the other comments, it feels like soon we are going to be very limited on what “healthy” options are left.

    Tess | 05.03.2017 | Reply
  8. I agree with the comments above. As a vegan, I already avoid dairy and wheat gluten. But this is extreme. It basically limits me to eating only non-nightshade vegetables and healthy fats. There has to be a less extreme way to mitigate the effects of lectins. I’d really appreciate a follow-up clarification.

    • …yeah I’m vegan, am I not supposed to eat potatoes???!!

      Alli Carter | 05.04.2017 | Reply
  9. What the hell am I supposed to eat then?

    Kelsi | 05.03.2017 | Reply
  10. So basically we could eat…nothing???

  11. Absurd. I second everyone else asking what one is supposed to eat on this diet. Irresponsible to post this without affirmative suggestions instead of just listing everything (everything!) not to eat. This is not healthy reporting, it’s disorder-inducing.

    Ariana | 05.03.2017 | Reply
  12. “Obesity rates would plummet.” I feel like you’ve got to be incredibly dense to think the problem with the American diet is “legumes” and “nightshades” and not the McDonald’s, soda and Starbucks on every corner with their syrupy sweet coffee. If lectins were so bad I’d imagine population studies wouldn’t show that vegans and vegetarians have far lower rates of most diseases (heart disease, cancer etc). Plus, the Japanese eat a lot of soy and have one of the highest life expectancies.

    I feel like everyone is just looking for the next big thing to avoid eating. Rational or not.

    abnoyed right now | 05.03.2017 | Reply
  13. Hi ya’ll! I read this article, and I felt like I had the responsibility to comment as a health professional and food lover. I have Masters in Public Health and I am registered dietitian. Peer-reviewed nutritional research has demonstrated that “pulses” (beans and legumes) are beneficial to health. Pulses are linked to decrease cancer and diabetes risk among other health benefits. While pulses do contain “lectin,” lectin is mostly found in RAW beans and lentils. When you soak, cook, or ferment beans, most of the lectin is completely eliminated. Don’t worry about lectin, UNLESS YOU EAT RAW BEANS/ LENTILS! I’m pretty sure NO ONE is eating raw beans. Once beans sprout, lectin levels are also significantly reduced, so keep enjoying sprouted pulses. Let’s focus on the real culprits of inflammation ( fast food, sugary drinks ect.) NOT on attacking delicious and healthy beans!

    Alice, MPH RD | 05.04.2017 | Reply
  14. THANK YOU ALICE!!!!!! YOU ARE SO RIGHT! THANK GOODNESS WE HAVE EDUCATED READERS SHARING THEIR KNOWLEDGE!!

    Kristen Berry | 05.04.2017 | Reply
  15. YES! What a nightmare this article is.

    So glad all the comments here are intelligent and rational xxx

    Ellie | 05.04.2017 | Reply
  16. So.. I too read this piece yesterday. While I definitely panicked after reading his list that seemed to knock out everything I eat, I was intruiged enough to go buy the kindle book. I just want to highly recommend doing so. He goes much more in-depth about not only what you “can” and “can’t” eat in regards to this plan, but the science behind it and personal stories. I’m already fascinated and am about to start his plan this morning! What could
    it hurt to try? I’m eating (what I thought was) incredibly “healthfully” and still have way to much inflammation. Also when you read the book you see the diet is actually way broader and more inclusive than it seems here. Anyhow, just felt I should speak up. I’m excited about this!

    Jen | 05.04.2017 | Reply
  17. This article totally omits the fact that by boiling beans for a certain amount of time or cooking in a pressure cooker for only 8 minutes, all lectin activity is destroyed. This is another example of one doctor having a theory and some success treating patients, and painting with a broad brush to basically undo the healthy eating of many people throughout the world who have lived long, healthy lives eating beans and grains. Why are we always looking for the latest fad? I still go with Michael Pollan’s approach–eat food, mostly plants, not too much.

    • I definitely agree- the article is too short to give anywhere close to a full picture! I’m almost finished with Dr. Gundry’s book though, and there he states multiple times what you said about cooking beans in a pressure cooker, and has a lot of good tips for reducing lectins for vegans and vegetarians. This piece seems to make it come off way more fad-like than the diet really is, when in reality it’s much closer to Pollan’s approach. It’s been a very interesting read.

      Jen | 05.04.2017 | Reply
  18. you should all read the article about this on Goop! It explains it much better and made me a bit less paranoid (as another vegan haha).
    Here is a quote:
    “The cooking method today that is best for destroying plant lectins is the pressure cooker, which I highly recommend people use for foods like beans, tomatoes, potatoes, and grains. However, a word of caution; pressure cooking cannot destroy the lectins in wheat, oats, rye, barley, or spelt.”

    http://goop.com/are-we-wrong-about-what-makes-food-healthy/

    Eva | 05.04.2017 | Reply
  19. Hi TCM community,
    We felt the same – overwhelmed, curious, frustrated! – after speaking with Dr Gundry and reading his new book, but we knew his ideas were worth presenting for further exploration.
    Like most of our stories, this interview provides just a brief introduction to a topic. If the lectin-free philosophy interests you (or infuriates you!) consider leafing through the whole book to get the full story on Dr. Gundry.
    We’re kind of proud that our community has already chimed in with words of self-care, balance and “everybody just hold on a minute” kinds of messages! There is no ‘one size fits all’ way of living well – we love knowing our readers are mindful when it comes to their health choices and we encourage that 100%!

    The Chalkboard | 05.04.2017 | Reply
  20. The evidence around the impact of lectins on humans is extremely limited, according to current research. See: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0733521014000228

    Moira | 05.05.2017 | Reply
  21. This is what Atlantic Monthly had to say about this book, and I think it is very wise: ‘Book publishers are rarely held accountable for publishing invalid health information. Rather, there seems to be an incentive to publish the most outlandish claims that purport to upend everything the reader has ever heard. This is a problem much bigger than any plant protein. Cycles of fad dieting and insidious misinformation undermine both public health and understanding of how science works, giving way to a sense of chaos. It seems that every doctor has their own opinion about how to protect your body from calamity, and all are equally valid, because nothing is ever truly known.” I coach people who want to know what to eat, and this guy is confusing everyone so he can sell books.

  22. of course you can’t sustain life forever simply drinking water… lol

    Donna D | 05.12.2017 | Reply
  23. Perhaps a rational thought would be to test it out, if it works meaning your blood work numbers are better and you feel better and have more energy why not. As an athlete most of us are always trying to improve performance and there is a never ending supply of “stuff” that claims to help, some work some don’t for me but for others maybe.

    ironyogi | 05.22.2017 | Reply
  24. The intelligent way to think about this is “what can I eat?” but “How do I want to feel, health or unhealthy?”
    Then you don’t just read one article, but explore in depth a bit to see what you can easily eliminate. If eliminating grains works for you – you feel fantastic, drop weight and girth (belly fat) and pain in joints lessens, then why not? Same for any other foods.

    I started taking out grains, milk products, and most sugars two years ago. Dropped weight, belly fat going down, feeling really good and my aging joints felt much better. Hubby at home for winter holidays and he bought so-called healthy snacks which I had a bit, but over three weeks. It’s taken me five months to get over that imbibement and I’ll never do it again. Oh perhaps I’ll have a treat or two, but not regularly over time ever again.

    Even recent history can attest to this way of eating. Think about it. Even up to the 1940 people weren’t used to having everything they wanted at their fingertips at all times. People ate only enough to get work done during the week and special meals heavy on fats, dairy, cheeses and then dessert was reserved for Sundays. Six days of cleaner eating to clear out the heavy meals on Sunday.

    Since then wheat has been artificially engineered to produce more gluten than in ancient days – organic or not. Gliadin (look it up) is something I personally wanted to avoid since I don’t like my mood disrupted by anything unnatural. Not to mention the heavy loads of artificial ingredients in most foods – even some you find at the natural stores.

    So try it for six weeks. If you don’t feel better, give it up. If you do try introducing one food group that was eliminated sparingly and see what happens. Then make the decision that’s best for YOU.

    Don’t worry about other family members, friends or coworkers. They should want you healthy and happy, not miserable and depressed. Do what you have to there for yourself as well.

    Oh and yes, there is much more food than the doom and gloom naysayers are claiming. Here is “Dr. Gundry’s New Food Pyramid for Vitality (“The Plant Paradox” diet)” http://gundrymd.com/food-pyramid/

    Namma | 05.27.2017 | Reply
    • Hmmm, corrections to the above below;
      (website should consider allowing edits since your text entry isn’t all that good.)

      The intelligent way to think about this is NOT “what can I eat?” but “How do I want to feel, health or unhealthy?”

      If you do (feel better) try introducing one food group that was eliminated sparingly and see what happens. Then make the decision that’s best for YOU.

      Namma | 05.27.2017 | Reply
  25. Humanity has been dealing with lectins in the food supply for a long time, and we have come up with many ways to process the foods to make them edible (to render the lectins inactive). We have lost much of this wisdom because of our arrogance and belief in the superiority of technology and our blind belief in “science.” This book goes into much detail on how to remove all lectins from your diet and then how to gradually reintroduce foods that have been “neutralized” via processes like pressure cooking, etc. one at a time to test your response to them. One anecdotal story from the book describes how one woman with life-threatening allergies to nuts (always carrying around her Epi-Pen) was able to eat nuts after a few months of being on a lectin-free diet…..so some of the restrictions implied in the story above and which everyone is so freaked out about (Oh, God, what is left that I can eat?? BTW I had the same reaction…) are natural reactions but the reality is good news. ..Really good news – so much pain and disease relief is to be found as we explore and learn more about how to deal with these plant lectins. I recommend getting the book, checking out YouTube and podcasts by Dr. Gundry. You’ll be relieved and inspired at what you learn. Be well….

    Humzee | 06.02.2017 | Reply
  26. Me and hubby were getting very sore wrist and hand joints suddenly. We were eating lots of nuts at the time. We gave up nuts and the inflammation disappeared. Then read Plant Paradox and found out why. My old farmer daddy used to peel and unused his tomatoes before eating them. I was very young when he told me those parts have some poison in them. My hubbys Italian German stomach suffers no upset from imported Italian marinara because they cook it with no skin or seeds, but suffers upset Amercan brands. Same with my kids. I hardly eat tomato sauces. They always made me nauseous as a child so kind of spoiled me on them. Hubby also nearly vomited from a delicious casserole made from 4 of the nightshades. Poor man, now I know why I had to give up that recipe.
    Only thing I don’t agree with Gundry about is flax seeds. He may not know about a chemical in them that blocks iodine
    reception. It can hurt a person’s thyroid as well as in other animals. It happened to me. Taking extra iodine will not help. Look up thiocyanate. If you have a sore swollen thyroid with all your “healthy” eating, you are eating too many raw salads etc with that natural plant toxin in it. And your smoothies, salads, can make you gain and have headaches.

    Keekee | 06.07.2017 | Reply
  27. Eat Right for your blood type by Dr Peter J D’Adamo puts forth also a case for lectins which largely correlates with Dr Gundry. I wish I could find a way to ask Dr Gundry if he has read this book. I am type O blood and do not seem to have a problem with any tomatotes, and I love them. According to eating right for your blood type I can have them but Dr Gundry says avoid unless skinned and seeds are removed. Eating right for your blood type says if type O blood to avoid coconut oil or coconut, while Dr Gundry highly recommends this oil/flour. Just sort of wondering whose research is more detailed on these two products. Does anyone know of a way you can ask specific questions of Dr Gundry? Thanks

    Marsha Day | 07.11.2017 | Reply
  28. Dr Gundry had me at Lectins, but i stopped listening or trusting him after watching him always promote that junk “Quorn” fake meat protein made from fermented Fungus Protein (Mycoprotein). Have you seen the ingredients in that stuff? It has non-organic Canola oil, Yeast extract, Maltodextrin — Excitotoxins!! So, lectins are bad but promoting that junk is okay as long as it fills his wallet & retirement? Go see his videos & you’ll see. Quorn Fake Turkey INGREDIENTS are: [Mycoprotein (59%), Water, Onion, Natural Flavors From Non-Meat Sources, Canola Oil, Rehydrated Egg White, Milk Proteins. Contains 2% or less of Potato Maltodextrin, Salt, Tapioca Dextrin, Yeast Extract, Onion Powder, Sage Extract, Garlic Powder, Gum Arabic; Sunflower, Coconut and Palm Kernel Oil.] https://www.quorn.us/products/turkey-roast

    crosswind | 07.18.2017 | Reply
  29. I definitely react to nightshade vegetables with joint pain and some lectins, but that doesn’t mean we need to eat the processed junk that Dr. Gundry promotes with Mycoprotein & yeast extract & toxic canola oil & maltodextrin that will hurt our immune system. Yeast extract & maltodextrin are often hidden cover names for MSG.

    crosswind | 07.18.2017 | Reply
  30. I am 25, gained 30lbs and could not lose the fat while working out 2x a week. By removing the things he said to not have, i have returned to my original weight. Simply, our bodies hold onto fat when we eat lectins. In regards to the people who crave beans, have u ever seen the people who eat lots of beans. Its not something to fight for.

    John Michaels | 07.19.2017 | Reply
  31. I read the book this weekend. The gloom and doom crowd should read the book before moaning and groaning.

    As someone suffering from Lupus and Crohn’s Disease, I’ve been doing a lot of reading. You can’t just skim a quick article and declare something good or bad.

    Go to the library and read this book. He doesn’t say never again have beans or tomatoes, but once one is healthy, add them back in your diet but prepared a certain way in order to reduce lectins.

    theresa | 07.31.2017 | Reply
  32. This doc has meticulous credentials. Just do a little research. See the latest August 2017 Dr. Mercola interview with Dr. Gundry. Looks like Dr. Gundry has found the root cause of inflamation. Heads up everyone. Very exciting times!

    Susan | 08.04.2017 | Reply
  33. I did Gundry’s plant paradox for 2 weeks and it made me crazy. His breakfast recipes are flour and oil muffins or sausage and eggs. No fruit but he sells a product called vital reds that contains fruit. I didn’t know what to eat and over-ate things that I could and gained 6 lbs that I am still having a hard time getting off. I have learned severe restriction makes me nuts. However, my chronic jaw clenching at night improved and I went 2 weeks without my retainer. Interesting, finding the middle-way continues.



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