Why The Plant Paradox Is The Next Big Thing

What Exactly Is The Plant Paradox Diet? 

If you’re not familiar, The Plant Paradox is a lectin-free diet, where you eliminate foods like beans, legumes, whole grains, and some vegetables. Dr. Gundry claims that lectins—the naturally occurring protein in plant-based foods—are dangerous to your health because they cause inflammation that can lead to chronic diseases.

Lectins are a type of protein found in plant foods that also act as an antinutrient, which means that it can block the absorption of other nutrients in the body. They also travel through the gastrointestinal tract undigested and, when consumed in large amounts, can cause irritation and damage to the gut wall. Not only can this lead to inflammation, but it can also impair nutrient absorption and cause symptoms like bloating, constipation and impaired immune function.

According to Dr. Gundry, these lectins are basically a defense mechanism for plants to keep insects and animals away from eating them. Lectins are found in beans and legumes, including soy and peanuts, whole grains, and nightshade vegetables, such as tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes, and peppers. But they are also in cow’s milk and eggs since cows and chickens are fed lectin-containing grains.

So in view of Dr.Gundry’s theory, reducing intake of lectins can have far-reaching effects when it comes to weight loss and disease prevention. And, judging by the multitude of positive Plant Paradox diet reviews out there, eliminating lectins from the diet can be incredibly effective for many. Let’s take a closer look at exactly what the Plant Paradox diet entails are and whether or not it lives up to the hype.

What Can You Eat On A Plant Paradox Diet? 

So what do you eat on the Plant Paradox diet? When you’re first getting started, figuring out which foods to add to your Plant Paradox shopping list can be quite a challenge. The diet involves restricting lectins, which are found mostly in grains, legumes, and certain vegetables. Instead, it puts the focus on protein foods, healthy fats and fruits, and vegetables that are low in lectins.

The diet also specifies that there are three foods you should be consuming every day to really help maximize your results. These include avocado, one ounce of extra-dark chocolate and nuts like walnuts, pistachios or macadamia nuts. It sounds like a nutrition guide that would be a dream to follow right? 

Foods That Are Encouraged on the Plant Paradox Diet 

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The Plant Paradox Diet isn’t one of those “simple rule” style diet trends where you just avoid saturated fats or processed carbs. The foods that you are allowed on this diet almost seems contradictory to other massive diet trends that we have seen recently.

For example, the Plant Paradox Diet gives the okay to beef and certain kinds of cheese and milk. However, the diet plan says no to the health and nutrition wunderkind quinoa. Not something you see in your average new diet. 

The types of food you are allowed though are a wide range of vegetables, protein, and starches allowing you to whip up recipes like hearty soups and leafy protein-rich salads. 

  • Vegetables: broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, beets, celery, leeks, onions, carrots, asparagus, okra, mushrooms, garlic, leafy greens, etc.
  • Fruits: avocado, berries (in season and in moderation)
  • Seafood (2–4 ounces per day): any wild-caught varieties, including salmon, tuna, shrimp, lobster, sardines, etc.
  • Poultry (2–4 ounces per day): pasture-raised chicken, turkey, duck, goose, quail, eggs
  • Meat (4 ounces per day): grass-fed pork, beef, elk, bison, lamb, wild game
  • Plant-based proteins: grain-free tempeh, Quorn, veggie burgers, hemp tofu
  • Nuts (limit to 1/2 cup per day): walnuts, pecans, macadamia nuts, pine nuts, chestnuts, Brazil nuts, coconut
  • Seeds: hemp seeds, sesame seeds, and flax seeds
  • Healthy fats: grass-fed butter, ghee, olive oil, coconut oil, MCT oil, etc.
  • Herbs and spices: pepper, cumin, turmeric, oregano, rosemary, basil, etc.
  • Sweeteners: stevia and xylitol 
  • Resistant starch (in moderation): green bananas, green plantains, cassava, sweet potatoes, yams, etc.
  • Flours: coconut, almond, hazelnut, sesame, chestnut, arrowroot
  • Dairy products (1 ounce cheese or 4 ounce yogurt per day): goat cheese/milk, sheep cheese, buffalo mozzarella, coconut yogurt, goat/sheep kefir, A2 milk

Foods That Are Restricted on the Plant Paradox Diet 

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Ok, so here is where the not so fun part comes. If you are looking to follow the Plant Paradox then you are going to have to go through some pretty heartbreaking goodbyes with certain foods and treats. On the plant paradox diet, all cow dairy products are off the table and the same goes for sugar.

It’s good to keep a list of no-go foods with you because some of the items on the list you might not expect to be there. For example, the Plant Paradox Diet gives the ax to almost all common fruit, except for berries. So you might have to have a chat with your post-workout banana smoothie before you try this diet. 

  • Refined carbohydrates: pasta, rice, bread, potato chips, cookies, crackers, etc.
  • Legumes: beans, lentils, and peas
  • Nuts: cashews and peanuts
  • Seeds: pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, and sunflower seeds
  • Vegetables: tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, sugar snap peas, green beans, potatoes, zucchini
  • Fruits: all fruit (except fruit in season), ripe bananas, melon, squash, goji berries, pumpkins
  • Grains: whole grains such as oats, quinoa, rice, corn, barley, bulgur, etc.
  • Dairy products: cow’s milk products like Greek yogurt, frozen yogurt, American cheese, kefir, ricotta, cottage cheese, etc.
  • Sweeteners: sugar, aspartame, sucralose, maltodextrin, agave
  • Oils: soy, corn, peanut, safflower, sunflower, grapeseed, cottonseed

Potential Benefits of The Plant Paradox Diet 

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It’s true that lectins can cause issues for some people, and eating high amounts can be especially problematic. This is because lectins are very difficult for the body to digest and can easily stick to the intestinal walls, increasing the risk of digestive distress and symptoms like gas, bloating and constipation.

Certain types of lectins in foods, such as phytohemagglutinins, can be even more harmful in excess. Kidney beans, for example, are packed with phytohemagglutinins and eating them raw has been shown to cause gastroenteritis, an intestinal infection that can lead to diarrhea, cramps, and vomiting.

Overdoing it on the lectins could also potentially increase the risk of the Leaky Gut Syndrome, a condition that occurs when the lining of the gut becomes damaged, allowing food particles and toxins to move from the digestive tract into the bloodstream. This can cause widespread inflammation, worsening autoimmune disorders and amplifying symptoms like joint pain and brain fog. Although there are no studies on the effects of the Plant Paradox diet, it could possibly help prevent leaky gut syndrome and reduce adverse side effects.

The Plant Paradox diet also highlights many healthy foods like leafy greens, healthy fats and proteins. While it limits several that may not be so stellar for health such as refined carbs, added sugar and highly processed vegetable oils.

Making these simple swaps in your diet can be incredibly beneficial, especially for those with a diet lacking in whole foods and essential nutrients. It may also be useful for those looking to lose weight, boost energy levels or improve conditions such as diabetes or heart problems as it puts the focus on healthy ingredients that can supply your body with the nutrients it needs.

Drawbacks of The Plant Paradox Diet 

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Despite the potential benefits associated with the Plant Paradox, there are some drawbacks to consider as well. The biggest Plant Paradox criticism is that it’s based on the theory that all lectins are unhealthy, even though that isn’t necessarily true. In fact, lectins play a role in several aspects of health, such as immune function and, in some cases, could even be beneficial against cancer and other conditions.

Additionally, while it is true that lectins can be harmful in high amounts, there are several ways to reduce your intake without cutting entire food groups out of your diet altogether. For example, cooking foods like legumes can significantly slash lectin content. Soaking, sprouting and fermenting foods can also reduce the amount of lectins in your foods.

Furthermore, most people aren’t eating enough lectins for it to be a real concern. This is because most of the foods that contain lectin are almost always cooked prior to consumption, leaving only a negligible amount of lectins in the final product.

The Plant Paradox also requires to cut out many ingredients that are highly nutritious and can be beneficial when consumed in moderation. Beans, for example, are loaded with fiber, protein, and micronutrients and have been shown to help reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. Similarly, many of the fruits and vegetables eliminated on the diet are high in antioxidants and beneficial nutrients that your body needs to function and thrive.

So do you need to reduce your intake lectins to lose weight and improve your health? If you find that you’re especially sensitive to lectins, the Plant Paradox diet might be beneficial. However, for most people, cooking lectin-rich foods thoroughly and enjoying a well-rounded, balanced diet is likely all you need to help promote better health.

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Lesley George

Lesley is a content writer and community manager at Shape.
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