One look at the list of foods to avoid when eating for gut health is usually enough to turn many semi-health-conscious people away. But unfortunately, one doctor's hunch about certain plants containing lectin proteins may make that list even longer.
Enter Steven Gundry, MD, an esteemed heart surgeon, cardiologist, and author of the best-selling book The Plant Paradox. Gundry has devoted his career to treating his tens of thousands of patients suffering from autoimmune diseases, diabetes, leaky gut syndrome, heart disease, and more by simply treating the gut and nourishing the body through certain foods.
We now know that typical gut offenders include gluten, processed foods, and dairy for some. But Gundry argues that seemingly "healthy" plants containing lectin proteins, like tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants, and red peppers, are just as bad (if not worse) for your gut than the aforementioned offenders.
"Lectins are a protein that plants use to defend themselves," said Gundry to Well+Good. "Not all plants want to be eaten—they actually have lives." In other words, these plants contain these inflammatory proteins for the specific purpose of warding off animals, including humans. Unfortunately, gluten is the only one that's been widely recognized (and demonized) in our culture. "Many people with leaky gut think gluten is their troublemaker. It's usually not," he explains.
While escaping lectins entirely is "almost impossible," Gundry recommends opting for white rice instead of brown, shopping for ripe, in-season fruit only, and peeling and de-seeding your veggies since that's where most of the lectins live. Above all, it's vitally important that you pay attention to your own body's response to these foods; everyone is different.
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