The Hidden Dangers in Healthy Foods That Cause Disease and Weight Gain
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Steven Gundry’s Perspective
Steven R. Gundry, MD, is the director of the International Heart and Lung Institute in Palm Springs, California. Plus, he is the founder and director of the Center for Restorative Medicine in Palm Springs and Santa Barbara.
After a distinguished surgical career as a professor and chairman of cardiothoracic surgery at Loma Linda University, Dr. Gundry changed his focus to curing modern diseases via dietary changes. He is the bestselling author of The Longevity Paradox, The Plant Paradox, The Plant Paradox Cookbook, The Plant Paradox Quick and Easy, and Dr. Gundry’s Diet Evolution. He has also written more than three hundred articles published in peer-reviewed journals.
The Plant Paradox exposes the hidden dangers in plants and animal meat that make people fat and sick. The book goes beyond textbook explanations of crucial substances and ingredients in foods recommended in the standard American diet.
The Plant Paradox also introduces the highly toxic plant-based protein called lectin and how it destroys the equilibrium in our gut flora. Foods that fall under this category are included in several dietary regimens to achieve optimum health and wellness.
This is a book written for people seeking to understand why they’re not losing weight, despite their best efforts. It’s also a book for patients diagnosed with diabetes, cancer, and autoimmune diseases. The author, Steven Mundy, suggests that cutting out certain foods can reverse diseases.
The Plant Paradox is not written to favor one diet regimen over another but to illuminate the dangers of seemingly healthy foods. It’s not a miracle cure that immediately takes effect. It is a gradual progression that involves learning about one’s body and how it reacts to certain foods. It’s a journey and not a race to the finish line.
The Plant Paradox Program aims to debunk myths and expose the agricultural and industrial practices that cause more harm than good. It offers a solution by providing substitute ingredients, teaching detox processes, developing lectin-free recipes, and showing how to enjoy plant-based meals.
StoryShot #1: The Purpose of Lectins
Lectins are proteins that serve as a protection mechanism for plants against insects and other plant predators.
Prey develop defensive mechanisms that prevent predators from eating them. Steven Gundry suggests the same can be said of plants. Plants are less willing to be our next meal than first thought. Like animals, plants have evolved defensive strategies that make them less prone to predatory attacks. A specific protein, lectin, is the primary weapon used by plants. Lectins are naturally present in the leaves, seeds, skins, and grains of most plants. Specifically, lectins are produced in the plant’s skin as an outside barrier. They are also concentrated in the all-important seeds, which are the next generation of the species. Italians have traditionally always removed the skin and seeds of the tomato. Whether they knew it or not, they were removing most of the lectins.
StoryShot #2: The Negative Side of Lectins
Once consumed, lectins bind to sugar molecules in the animal’s brain and nerve endings. So, the animal’s nervous system becomes less efficient. Reduced efficiency in the nervous system can be associated with brain fog in humans. Brain fog relates to moments when you experience difficulties with your memory and focus. For humans, lectins are also associated with weight gain. One of the worst types of lectin for weight gain is called Wheat Germ Agglutinin. This lectin is found in wheat and causes sugar to enter our body’s fat cells. Our fat cells then transform this sugar into fat, which ultimately means we put on weight.
These points are supported by humans from northern climates favoring wheat as their choice of grain. Eating wheat helped these people maintain their weight while food was scarce. Wheat helped them survive the harsh winters. That said, the benefits to these historic northern societies are no longer relevant. We live in societies with an overabundance of food and widespread central heating. So, putting on weight only negatively impacts our health.
The same plant toxins that can kill or weaken an insect are also capable of silently destroying your health. Due to our size, the effects of these lectins are subtle. Still, over the years, they can accumulate and cause conditions like autoimmune diseases.
The good news is that these issues can be reversed by healing your gut and learning which lectins you are sensitive to.
StoryShot #3: Which Lectins Are Fine
Not all lectins are harmful. In fact, some are actually healthy. How well you handle specific lectins is dependent on your ancestry.
The longer your ancestors have consumed lectins, the more time and opportunity their immune system and microbiome had to develop a tolerance to them. We will have inherited some of this tolerance.
Our bodies have an elaborate defense system towards lectins. Our saliva, mucus, stomach acid, and microbiome, all contribute to neutralizing and digesting lectins. If all is well with your gut health, lectins should not be successful in getting through your intestinal wall and entering your blood. Your blood is where lectins can do real damage.
Through molecular mimicry and being almost indistinguishable from other natural proteins in our body, lectins trick the immune system into attacking our organs. They also can act like hormones, sometimes blocking our actual hormones from working.
The book outlines a few major occurrences in the recent history of humans that have introduced problematic lectins into our diets.
StoryShot #4: The History of Lectins
The agricultural revolution of approximately 10,000 years ago was the start of lectins’ impact on humans. Up until that point, humans had never consumed legumes or grains. Human skeleton remains show that after this period, average human height and brain size decreased dramatically. This time was also associated with the first case of arthritis.
Our ancestors adopted specific approaches to minimize the adverse effects of lectins. For example, they utilized fermentation by developing specific technologies to streamline this process. They also preferred to remove the outer bran or hull from the grain.
Wholewheat contains a harmful lectin called wheat germ agglutinin, which the refined version does not. This lectin binds to your joints and cornea, among other things.
The second significant change was a mutation in northern European cows about 2000 years ago. This mutation caused them to create the protein casein A-1 instead of the previous casein A-2. During digestion, it turns into a lectin-like protein called beta-casomorphin. Because this type of cow produced more milk, farmers preferred them. Now they are the standard milk-producing cows and fill us with harmful lectins when we consume their milk.
Thirdly, new plants from America arrived in Europe approximately 500 years ago. Europeans discovered America and brought back new foods to their homelands. Some of these were foods that they had never consumed before. This includes the nightshade family. The nightshade family of foods includes many types of beans, legumes, grains, squashes, and certain types of seeds.
Over the last five decades, innovations in food production have severely impacted our gut health and increased our sensitivity to lectins. The following sections will cover these innovations.
StoryShot #5: Antibiotics and Your Gut Bacteria
Antibiotics can be lifesavers for certain extreme conditions. They also have a devastating effect on your microbiome. Using them is like carpet bombing your gut microbes. It can take up to two years for your microbiome to recover. That said, some microbes will be gone forever.
StoryShot #6: Improve Your Diet Rather Than Relying on Drugs
NSAIDs, short for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, are popular for relieving mild pain, fever, and inflammation. These drugs include ibuprofen, naproxen, and celebrex. These NSAIDs were developed in the 1970s and marketed as a safer alternative to aspirin. Aspirin has been found to damage stomach linings if used over an extended period. This damage to the mucosal barrier of the small intestine and the colon allows lectins to pass through the intestinal wall. The drug companies celebrated finding a new alternative.
Unfortunately, modern humans aren’t so savvy. If we eat something that doesn’t agree with us or makes us sick, we find or invent something equally damaging. We create drugs, like ibuprofen, that lessen the pain of eating foods that are destroying us. We should simply stop eating foods that contain harmful lectins.
StoryShot #7: Drugs and Foods That Overgrow Bad Bacteria
Acid from the stomach naturally acidifies the small intestine, confining most of our gut bacteria to the large intestine. PPIs disrupt this and can cause an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine. These bacteria don’t belong here. Artificial sweeteners, like sucralose, saccharin, and aspartame, kill healthy bacteria and allow overgrowth of the bad ones.
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