Lectins and Health

I just read the Plant Paradox by Stephen Gundry and I highly recommend it. He talks about the presence of plant proteins in our diets called lectins that can cause inflammation and lead to chronic health issues and contribute to disease. These plant proteins that have evolved within plants were a strategy to ward off predators; basically make the person eating the plant either sick or triggering some sort of malaise so the person would think twice before eating that plant again. It makes sense to protect the plant kingdom as a whole that plants would have a substance to protect them in some way and these substances are lectins. With my history of having an autoimmune disease and being highly self aware of the foods that do trigger me, by looking at his list of lectin containing foods, I would agree that I might even do better than I already am by cutting out all lectin containing foods.

He claims success in treating all autoimmune conditions by eliminating lectins in the diet. Lectins contribute to molecular mimicry reactions (where similar amino acid structures in bodily tissues to lectins are attacked by the immune system when these proteins are ingested and not digested fully). The body tissues could include the myelin sheath (MS) or joints (RA) or any other tissue involved in autoimmune disease. Molecular mimicry reactions are thought to be the mechanism for autoimmune reactions in the body.

For a comprehensive list of lectin containing foods, please consult the book but I will mention some key lectins that must be eliminated. Lectin containing foods include gluten and dairy products (from A1 species) ;all grains but sorghum and millet are eliminated, nightshade vegetables (white potatoes, eggplant, tomatoes, bell peppers) are out. All nuts except macadamia, pistachio, walnuts and pecans must be taken out of the diet. (One thing I have included in my diet are organic peanuts because I have blood type A and they are highly recommended for blood type A. I also have not excluded organic soy milk for the same reason being that I am blood type A and soy is highly recommended for blood type A. I am also menopausal and do benefit from the phytoestrogens in my diet.)

The diet talks about the importance of resistant starch which helps to feed good microbes in your gut. Resistant starches include sweet potatoes, rutabagas, parsnips, plantain, celery root taro root, jicama, and radishes for starters. Fruits to include are green bananas, green mangoes, and papaya that is not yet ripe. These again have a beneficial effect on the gut. Other fruits like berries, lemons, limes and others can be included to a lesser degree. Hemp seeds or hemp milk, and coconut milk are beneficial dairy substitutes as are coconut yogurt.

This is yet another program that drastically cut back on the amount of carbohydrates in the diet. With the emphasis on protein in the form of wild seafood, shellfish, mussels, fatty fish that are low in mercury (wild salmon, wild sardines, wild herring, wild Alaskan halibut, see book for complete list). Grass fed meat and pastured poultry are included in the list of acceptable proteins. Protein amounts are reduced depending on the illness you are seeking treatment for. And there are options if you are Vegan and wanting to follow the program (think Hemp tofu!)

Emphasis on vegetables is prominent whether they be brassicas/cruciferous veggies, green leafy vegetables (spinach and the like). Start your day off with a green smoothie which is one thing I have recommended for years to patients! There is plenty of food that you can eat if you are following the Plant Paradox Program.

For a full list and a great read, pick up the plant paradox. Other conditions that he claims benefit from following the plant paradox program include neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s Disease, ALS and cancer. To discuss more in person, book an appointment with me at Parallel Wellness.

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