Kelly Clarkson is back in the spotlight and looking better than ever. It’s hard not to notice that she has been looking a little bit lighter now days, and fans have been guessing about how she did it. Luckily she recently took the guess work out of it and explained it is all part of the Plant Paradox, a she read last year by Dr. Gundry.
Since then, Gundry’s book has been flying off the shelves, and the terms “plant paradox” and “lectin-free” are trending online. Clarkson is quick to say that “this wasn’t the goal,” but her eating changes have resulted in quite the change—so what exactly is The Plant Paradox, and is it an approach we should all be following?
The Plant Paradox is based on Dr. Gundry’s theory that plants are smarter than we give them credit for and, like animals, they have defense mechanisms they use for survival. One of the primary forms of chemical and “biological warfare” that plants use on the human body to defend themselves is lectins—a group of proteins that can leak through intestinal walls into the bloodstream, where they disrupt neural and hormonal communication between cells and trigger confusion within the immune system to cause inflammation.
Dr. Gundry suggests that lectins—and these changes—are at the root of autoimmune conditions, weight gain, and most chronic health issues. The problem is, humans haven’t gotten smart enough to stop eating the foods that contain them.
What are Lectins—and Are They Bad for You?
Lectins are found in most foods—but particularly plant foods—and they are highest in legumes, whole grains, and some vegetables and fruits. Lectins are classified as “anti-nutrients” which means they are compounds known to reduce the body’s absorption or usage of a food’s nutrients.
From a biological perspective, lectins serve as a defense mechanism within plants to protect them from insects, fungi and pathogens, and some lectin-containing foods can cause illness if eaten raw or undercooked. Dr. Gundry’s focus in The Plant Paradox is that plants use lectins as ammunition to attack the body and to deter humans from eating lectin-containing foods. He advises that humans should consume a lectin-free diet to heal the body and to restore health.
What Foods Contain Lectins?
Lectins are found in 30 percent of our food supply, so a “drastically-reduced lectin” is probably a better name than a “lectin-free” Here are foods with little to no lectin recommended in The Plant Paradox, followed by foods high in lectin to avoid.
Foods with Little or No Lectin
- Cruciferous vegetables, leafy greens, and other vegetables without seeds
- Most fruits, in limited amounts
- Some starchy vegetables (particularly those with resistant starch)
- Most oils, tree nuts, and seeds
- Wild-caught fish, grass-fed meat, and pasture-raised poultry
- Goat and sheep milk and cheeses, milk, and cheese without A1 protein
Foods High in Lectins
- All forms of grains, including whole, refined, and flours (wheat, quinoa, all forms of rice, oats, corn and corn products)
- Beans, lentils, and peas
- Soy foods like edamame and tofu
- Fruits often referred to as vegetables such as cucumber, tomato, all squash, peppers, melons, and eggplant
- Vegetables with seeds or beans, such as green beans and sugar snap peas
- Peanuts, cashews, chia, sunflower, and pumpkin seeds
- Cow’s milk, and most products made with cow’s milk (including yogurts, ice creams, and cheeses)