The Plant Paradox Diet Explained
The Plant Paradox diet is not just about eliminating lectins. Although, that is probably the most popular (or unpopular) aspect of it. There are several other exciting and controversial components. More noteworthy, eliminating “healthy” fruit that’s not in season. Also, cutting out “lighter” seed and vegetable oils that industry told everyone was healthy.
For successful followers, the diet is only the beginning. The Plant Paradox lifestyle involves a total re-structuring of the standard American way of eating and living. To reap the long-term rewards, we eliminate foods, substances, and actions that disturb gut and hormonal health. People start the Plant Paradox diet to put chronic disease in remission. They adopt the Plant Paradox lifestyle to keep it in remission.
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The Plant Paradox Diet
This is a summary and individual interpretation of the protocol outlined in Dr. Steven Gundry’s book The Plant Paradox. Please read the book for more in depth info on the Plant Paradox diet. Nothing in this article replaces medical advice from a licensed professional. Consult your doctor before making any dietary or lifestyle changes.People start the Plant Paradox DIET to put chronic disease in remission. They adopt the Plant Paradox LIFESTYLE to keep it in remission.Click To Tweet
The Plant Paradox diet is an eating protocol that eliminates certain dietary lectins, limits sugar in any form, and curbs high intake of polyunsaturated omega-6 fats. The diet kick-starts with a 3-day cleanse, wherein one repopulates the gut bacteria with leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, clean protein, and good fats. Beyond those three days, there is a second phase where one eats only from the list of approved foods for at least six weeks.
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Lectins are a type of protein found in almost every living thing. They serve multiple functions, the most relevant theory maybe that they protect a plant from predators (humans). Lectins have demonstrated that they are capable of something called molecular mimicry. This is a term for when the sequence of peptides on a dietary lectin mimic those of human molecules, thereby causing the immune system to cross-react, triggering autoimmune disease.
So, which lectins are capable of inciting our body to attack itself? Unfortunately, that will take decades and decades of research and trials to prove in a lab. Fortunately, there are researchers and theorists, like Dr. Gundry, who are already treating patients for disease by prescribing a diet that eliminates the biggest culprits. Hence, the “Plant Paradox” diet. Foods we thought were healthy are actually triggering inflammation and disease.
The NO List of High Lectin Foods
The following items are on the No list because they contain lectins that have, in clinical patient studies, demonstrated an ability to trigger inflammation:
- peas and sugar snap peas
- green beans
- soy (except fermented)
- soy protein
- textured vegetable protein
- beans and bean sprouts
Nuts & Seeds
Fruits (Culinary Vegetables)
- bell peppers
- chili peppers
- goji berries
Non-Southern European Cow’s Milk
The milk of most American cows contains a lectin-like, inflammatory protein called A-1 beta casein.
- yogurt and frozen yogurt (especially Greek)
- ice cream
- cottage cheese
- casein protein powders
Grain or Soybean Fed Animals
Not only can the meat of feedlot raised animals contain residual lectins, but the nutritional profiles of feedlot raised animals lack antioxidants and promote inflammation:
- fish and shellfish
Sprouted Grains, Pseudo-Grains, and Grasses
- einkorn wheat
- all rice (white, brown, wild)
- corn and corn protein
- barley grass
–> Click HERE for a printable list of high lectin foods to avoid.
Free weeknight recipes for going lectin-free.
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Sugar By Any Other Name
The Plant Paradox diet is not the first diet to curb sugar intake. It is, however, a first to lay claim that fruit–especially year-round–is not healthy. The days of “fruits & vegetables” occupying the same category on a food pyramid are over. In contrast, artificial sweeteners that are zero calories have made the No list because of their ability to incite an insulin response and alter gut bacteria.
The No List of High Sugar & Artificial Foods
Some items on the following list could be there for more than one reason, such as breads, crackers, and cookies made from wheat flour, for example. Due to the fact that grains are listed separately on the No list for lectin content, I’ve chosen to place some things on this High Sugar list.
Some things on this list may not contain lectins. Rather, they are listed because they spike blood sugar or–in the case of nonnutritive sweeteners–alter the gut bacteria (in a bad way).
Refined, Starchy Foods
The following foods are all refined, starchy, or both:
- potato chips
- flours made from grains and pseudo-grains
- corn starch
Sweeteners & Artificial Sweeteners
- corn syrup
- sugar (including juice and natural sugars)
- acesulfame K
- diet drinks
Those following the Plant Paradox diet treat fruit as seasonal candy. It may contain vitamins and nutrients, but it packs a lot of sugar. Because of this, fruits out of season–and some altogether–make the No list.
- all fruits (except avocados, olives, and those in season on the Yes list)
- ripe bananas
- ripe mangos
- melons (also on the No list for lectin content)
–> Click HERE for a printable list of high sugar foods to avoid.
Fat is only bad if you’re eating the wrong kind of fat (with a lot of sugar). Also, different fatty acids perform unique & necessary functions within the body’s cells. Furthermore, studies show that a near 1:1 ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 is associated with a decreased risk of almost any chronic disease. For this reason, The Plant Paradox diet prohibits the western diet seed and vegetable oils to make way for crucial inflammation-fighting omega-3 fatty acids.
The No List of High Omega-6 Oils
The following oils are on the Plant Paradox diet No list. Even more if they are expeller-pressed (may contain residual lectins):
- grape seed
- anything partially hydrogenated (trans fat)
–> Click HERE for a printable list of high omega-6 oils to avoid.
–> Get a complete pantry checklist HERE.
The Plant Paradox Lifestyle
Above all, the most important part of the Plant Paradox diet is eliminating the foods on the No list. However, there is an additional No list of substances in our everyday environment that can be detrimental to our long-term health. Certainly, those who go above and beyond to eliminate these substances adopt the Plant Paradox lifestyle of bodily and environmental healing.
Endocrine & Bacterial Disruptors
The following items are major culprits in destroying good gut bacteria and disrupting the endocrine system. If it seems like these things are impossible to eliminate because they’re everywhere, don’t get overwhelmed. Start by making small changes to your environment. Maybe consult with your doctor about gut and hormone-friendly alternatives to the following:
- broad-spectrum antibiotics
- non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- stomach acid-blockers
- endocrine disruptors (found in plastics, personal care products, and processed foods)
- genetically modified foods
- herbicide Roundup
- exposure to blue light (from electronic devices)
–> Click HERE for a full printable list of endocrine disruptors to avoid.
The reward is in the long journey, not the quick fix. The Plant Paradox lifestyle calls for us to continue to make additional tweaks. As a result, we reap long-term health benefits that prevent disease and promote longevity. These are:
- Increase ketogenic fats (MCT, coconut oil).
- Stop snacking, giving the gut, brain, and mitochondria time to rest between meals.
- Reduce animal protein to no more than 2 ounces per day.
- Practice intermittent fasting: there are many ways to do this. Learn more here.
- Get outside for an hour each day, around midday.
- Exercise regularly (not too strenuously, though).
- Avoid blue light from electronics in the evenings.