One minute it’s carbohydrates, the next it’s gluten and/or dairy and before you know it even avocados are suspect… when it comes to weight loss, the diet industry seldom has nothing to demonise.
However, according to one cardiologist-turned-restorative medic and author, the only thing people wishing to lose weight need to cut out is lectins.
Lightheartedly labelled 'the next gluten’ in 2017, lectins are sticky plant-based proteins that seek out and bind to sugar molecules that research has linked to causing weight gain, heartburn and even heart disease.
In his latest book, The Plant Paradox Cookbook: 100 Delicious Recipes to Help You Lose Weight, Heal Your Gut, and Live Lectin-Free, Dr Steven R Gundry explains why going lectin-free rather than everything else-free is the key to losing weight in a sustainable manner.
So, where do lectins come from and what foods are they commonly found in?
According to Gundry, the “highly toxic” protein is abundant in a myriad of so-called “health” foods such as gluten-free breads, conventional dairy products and even some fruits, vegetables, nuts and beans.
Despite numerous other health benefits, “clean eating” staples such as peanuts, courgettes, peas, aubergines, peppers and potatoes are all rich in lectins.
Why are they so terrible for us?
“Lectins bind to receptors on the surface of each cell lining the gut,” Gundry told The Independent, “breaking down the tight junctions that normally make an impenetrable barrier between the intestinal contents including bacteria and ourselves.”
This allows lectins to pass through the intestinal barrier which are then recognised as “foreign” by our immune system, resulting in inflammation.
This, he explained, can lead to weight gain as inflammation promotes fat storage within the abdomen, using it as fuel for the immune system fighting the “foreign” invasion.
“When we lessen lectin consumption, the gut wall reseals and the stimulus to store fat is removed,” Gundry added.
“Lectins no longer bind to insulin receptors, and we no longer store fat aggressively. Weight loss invariably follows.”
Gundry also claims that those who opt for a lectin-free lifestyle will also notice a “significant glow” and see a “youthful appearance” returning to their skin within a few weeks.
While he remains a firm advocate of a plant-based diet, Gundry adds it’s important to note that there are some plants we are designed to eat and others that are best avoided, hence the "Paradox" his book title refers to.
As for myths that eating carbohydrates lead to weight gain, this myth has since been disproved, with nutritionists and dieticians, in addition to Gundry, praising whole grains such as brown rice for their rich fibre content.
Some experts even claim that eating carbs can actually help promote weight loss.
So, perhaps it’s time to wave goodbye to lectins and say hello to carbohydrates.
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