You may be unfamiliar with the term ‘lectins’ but some people put their best efforts to avoid foods that are rich in lectins. This is because they believe that it is not good for their health and weight.
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What are lectins?
Lectins are plant-based proteins that are found in many foods like beans, seeds, nuts, legumes, grains, and a variety of vegetables like tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, etc. According to Steven Gundry, eating foods that are high in lectins can cause inflammation leading to weight gain and other serious health issues like irritable bowel syndrome, digestive problems like gas, diarrhea. The plant paradox diet discusses the same idea of eliminating lectins from your diet which is an antinutrient mostly found in plants. It is an eating protocol that focuses on cutting dietary lectins, reducing sugar intake, and eliminating a high intake of polyunsaturated omega-6 fats.
Besides, Dr. Steven Gundry has also claimed olive oil to be the best health tonics ever found. The presence of polyphenol, a strong antioxidant in huge amounts, is what makes olive oil so effective. Cooking with high-quality olive oil can offer various health benefits as it is packed with healthy fats that are extremely beneficial for your health.
What is a lectin-free diet?
Lectin free diet encourages avoiding foods that are high in lectins. The three main categories of food that are high in lectins and should be avoided are grains, legumes, and nightshade vegetables like tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, etc.
The lectin-free diet instead suggests you fill your plate with low-lectin foods like cauliflower, broccoli, asparagus, mushrooms, leafy greens, millet, pasture-raised meats, nuts and seeds, wild-caught fish.
Benefits of lectin-free diet
A lectin-free diet can do a lot for your health like improving mood, reducing gas and bloating, reduces the chance of getting sick frequently, boosting energy, and helping weight loss. Lectins are proteins that stick to the cell membrane of the digestive tract. So, if you have chronic conditions like Crohn’s disease or colitis. you may gain huge benefits from avoiding them. If lectins are consumed in huge amounts through the foods that are high in lectins, it can disrupt your digestive process. It is due to the sticky nature of the proteins and their impact.
As it is unclear what dose of lectins could be harmful, many of the foods that are high in lectins are rarely eaten raw. Many foods that are packed with prebiotics can feed healthy gut flora. Hence avoiding it may cause constipation.
What should you eat when you are on a lectin-free diet?
When you are on a lectin-free diet, you are allowed to take only a few categories of food that can help you gain health benefits. Below listed are a few of them.
- Pasture-raised meats
- Italian or French cheese
- Green bananas
- Italian or French butter
- Pasture-raised eggs
- Sweet potatoes
- In-season fruits like apples, cherries, peaches, berries, etc.
- White rice
- Vegetables like broccoli, celery, leafy greens, onions
- Olive oil
- Pressure cooked legumes and beans
- Unsweetened and organic almond milk
Foods you can’t eat when you are on a lectin-free diet
- Wheat germ
- Brown rice
- Bell peppers
- Artificial sweeteners
- Split peas
- white potatoes
Can it help you lose weight?
Gundry says that he has lost 70 pounds by maintaining a lectin-free diet. The most amazing thing about cutting down calories by maintaining a lectin-free diet is, you don’t have to make any change other than removing major lectins. Although you eat a lot of calories you don’t gain weight as you are not storing it as fat anymore.
According to a 2006 study, a lectin-free diet can show positive effects on people with serious health issues like cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome. According to a study published in the American Journal of clinical nutrition, whole grains are linked with weight loss. Besides another study in the same journal shows that people who consumed pulses for six weeks have lost more weight than those who didn’t consume pulses. But you must also keep in mind that lectins can be troublesome if you consume them in high quantities or when you take lectin-rich foods raw. Also, there are different types of lectins. Where some are anti-microbial and have anti-cancer potential in them, other lectins may not be so good for you.
The bottom line
Although maintaining a lectin-free diet can help some people, it is unlikely to solve every individual’s problem. Even if it is a good thing but should not be applied globally. Instead of looking at a single protein, look at the overall picture. foods that contain lectins like whole grains, tomatoes, beans, etc. can be beneficial for you. Even if they contain indigestible lectins but there are other beneficial nutrients in them too. Besides, you can eliminate most lectins through cooking. If you are considering the diet, it is recommended that you consult your doctor first.