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Book Summary of The Plant Paradox by Steven Gundry

For the audio and video version, click here.

What is the book about?

The Plant Paradox exposes the hidden dangers in plants and animal meat, that are making people fat and sick. The book goes beyond textbook explanations of key substances and ingredients in foods recommended in the standard American diet.

It introduces the highly toxic plant-based protein called lectin, and how it destroys the equilibrium in the gut flora. The bacteria and other organisms live inside the intestines; thereby paving the way for bad bacteria to infiltrate the body.

The aim of the book is to educate people about foods that are commonly regarded as healthy but are actually designed by nature and evolution to harm people that consume them.

What’s alarming is that foods that fall under this category are included in several dietary regimens whose goal is to achieve optimum health and wellness.

This is a book written for people to understand why they’re not losing weight, despite their best efforts. It’s also for patients who are diagnosed with diabetes, cancer, and autoimmune diseases; so that they can better understand the diseases that plague them and find the right solution to reverse their effects.

It’s not written to favor one diet regimen over another, but to illuminate the dangers that lurk in seemingly healthy foods. It’s not a miracle cure that immediately takes effect but 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.

Through the plant paradox program, Dr. Gundry hopes to debunk myths, explain the true nature of plants and expose the agricultural and industrial practices that are causing 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.

About the author

Steven R. Gundry, MD, is the director of the International Heart and Lung Institute in Palm Springs, California, and 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, and has written more than three hundred articles published in peer-reviewed journals on using diet and supplements to eliminate heart disease, diabetes, autoimmune disease, and multiple other diseases.

The Plant Paradox book summary

Summary of The Plant Paradox

The natural world is all about eating and avoiding being eaten. Many psychologists say the survival instinct is the most primal and powerful animal drive. And in order to survive, animals have developed all kinds of defenses including claws, teeth and long fast legs.

Well, plants are no exception, they also want to avoid being eaten. It looks like they’re sitting there helplessly, but they’re not. Plants have also developed many sophisticated defense mechanisms through evolution.

Plants have physical strategies to protect themselves, but also chemical – one of which is lectins. The most well-known lectin is gluten, but gluten is just the tip of the iceberg.

Lectins are proteins, and serve as a protection mechanism of plants towards insects and other plant predators, being produced in the skin as an outside barrier – and 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 actually removing most of the lectins.

The same plant toxins that can kill or weaken an insect are also capable of silently destroying your health. Because of our size, the effects of these lectins are subtle, but over the years they can accumulate and cause conditions such as auto-immune disease.

The good news is that these issues can be reversed by first healing your gut, learning which lectins you are personally sensitive to, and avoiding them.

Healthy Lectins

Not all lectins are bad, some are actually healthy. What determines how well you handle certain lectins depends on your ancestry.

The longer your ancestors consumed specific lectins, the more time and opportunity their immune system and microbiome had to develop a tolerance to them.

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, which is where they can do real damage.

Through molecular mimicry and being almost indistinguishable from other natural proteins in our body, they trick the immune system into attacking our own organs. They also have the ability to act like hormones, sometimes blocking our real hormones.

The book outlines a few major occurrences in the recent history of humans that have introduced problematic lectins into our diets.

Firstly, the agricultural revolution about 10,000 years ago. 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, and the first cases of arthritis were noticed.

 Our ancestors did have their ways to minimize the negative effects of these foods, such as fermentation, and also as they developed the technology for it, they preferred to remove the outer bran or hull from the grain.
Whole wheat 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 big change was a mutation in northern European cows about 2000 years ago This caused them to create the protein casein A-1 instead of the previous casein A-2. During digestion, it turns into a lectinlike protein called beta-casomorphin. Because this type of cow produced more milk, farmers preferred them, and now they are the standard milk-producing cows.

 Thirdly, new plants from America. Only 500 years ago, Europeans discovered America and brought back new foods to their homelands, foods that they had never consumed before. This includes the nightshade family, many types of beans and legumes, grains, the squash family, and certain types of seeds.

Additionally, new innovations in the last five decades have had a serious negative impact on our gut health and increased our sensitivity to lectins.

Broad-spectrum antibiotics

 Although they can be lifesavers for certain extreme conditions, antibiotics have a devastating effect on your microbiome. Using them is like carpet bombing your gut microbes. It can take up to two years from them to return, some may be gone forever.

Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)

NSAIDs, short for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, are today very popular to relieve mild pain, fever, and inflammation. These drugs include ibuprofen, naproxen, Celebrex and many others. These NSAIDs were developed in the 1970s and marketed as a safer alternative to aspirin because long-term use of aspirin had been found to damage the stomach lining. The drug companies celebrated finding a new alternative.

These damages the mucosal barrier of the small intestine and the colon, which allows lectins and other particles to pass through the intestinal wall.

Unfortunately, modern humans aren’t so savvy. Instead, if we eat something that doesn’t agree with us or makes us sick, we find or invent something—think Nexium, a stomach-acid reducer, or a drug such as ibuprofen that lessens pain—so we can continue to eat a substance designed to destroy, cause pain in, or at least weaken us.

Stomach-acid blockers (PPIs)

Acid from the stomach naturally acidifies the small intestine, confining most of our gut bacteria to the large intestine. PPIs, however, disrupt this and can cause the overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine where they don’t belong.

Artificial sweeteners, such as sucralose, saccharin, and aspartame, kill good bacteria and allow overgrowth of the bad ones.

Endocrine disruptors

 These are chemicals found in many plastics, cosmetics, preservatives, sunscreens, and cans. They have the ability to prevent proper vitamin D conversion by your liver, which prevents regeneration of the cells in your intestinal wall.

 People with the autoimmune disease almost certainly have low levels of vitamin D. One category of these are called phthalates and have the ability to permanently attach to cells, such as thyroid hormone receptors, blocking the real hormone from delivering its message.

A study found that the greatest source of these in America was grains, beef, pork, chicken and milk products.

GMOs and glyphosate

 Genetically modified foods have foreign lectins put into them, without properly knowing how they affect humans.

Lastly, the herbicide used on genetically modified foods, glyphosate, is devastating to the microbiome, and which is found in residual amounts on the food it is sprayed on.

Lots of foods contain lectins or lectin-like compounds that are known to cause issues in humans. The book presents a lectin avoidance diet that prohibits these foods.

summary of The Plant Paradox

It should be noted that beans, lentils, and quinoa are OK after you’ve established that you don’t have an issue with them, but they should always be pressure-cooked to minimize the content of lectins.

 The food, that your food ate, matters a lot. Many livestock animals these days are fed grain and soy, which is a completely unnatural diet for them, making them unhealthy for human consumption and indirectly causing you to consume the lectins that they consumed.

Lectin-Free Diet Sneak Peek

As a quick “sneak peek” at the Plant Paradox Diet, here’s a quick list of foods to avoid and to eat:

Foods to Avoid (Contain Lectins)

  • Grains including wheat, quinoa, rice, and corn. This includes whole-grain foods.
  • Legumes like beans, soy, lentils, peas (also cashews and peanuts which are actually legumes)
  • Nightshades like tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, sweet or hot peppers, and eggplant
  • Any industrially farmed meat or fish because they’re fed lectin-containing grains

Foods to Eat (Lectin-free)

  • Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, and brussels sprouts
  • Leafy greens like spinach and romaine lettuce.
  • Certain oils including olive, perilla, coconut and sesame oil.
  • Nuts: macadamia, walnuts, pecans, etc.
  • Naturally-fed meat. Wild-caught fish, pasture-raised chicken, and grass-fed beef
  • Resistant starch foods like sweet potatoes, yams, and unripened bananas

Like any organism, plants don’t want to be eaten so they have many defense systems. This includes producing lectins designed to hurt insects who try eating them. Dr. Gundry says lectins also cause problems to the human gut and immune system and they are responsible for many chronic health problems modern people face.

The author also recommends supplementing with Vitamin D3, and omega 3 fatty acids DHA and EPA, to help heal your gut.

Even in Dr. Gundry’s practice in sunny California, 80% of his patients are deficient in vitamin D3, yet it’s essential to improving our gut health. It helps us grow enterocyte stem cells which repair our gut wall barrier.

As a rough guide, Dr. Gundry says to take 5000 IUs of Vitamin D3 every day. Many people need more, but it’s best to do that under advice and observation of a doctor.

Although this diet is very restrictive, this is only until you repair your gut, at which point you can start introducing a food item one at a time. This way you can see if you react to any of the specific foods. Often when symptoms of the autoimmune disease return, they will return with a vengeance, making it very clear that you do not tolerate this particular food.

These are all conditions that have been successfully treated with the use of the plant paradox diet protocol, including: Multiple Sclerosis Parkinson’s disease Allergies Asthma Alopecia Arthritis Crohn’s disease Lupus Chronic fatigue syndrome Fibromyalgia Dementia and Irritable bowel syndrome.

Dr. Gundry Recommended Food List:

here’s a quick and rough list of what foods you SHOULD eat to follow a lectin-free diet. Dr. Gundry also published a great food list on his own website.

  • Cruciferous vegetables, as many of them as possible including: Broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cabbage, bok choy, and kale.
  • Leafy greens, as many as possible including: spinach, romaine lettuce, arugula, etc.
  • Other vegetables including carrots, onions, garlic, celery, radishes, artichokes, asparagus, mushrooms, etc.
  • Herbs like cilantro, basil, parley, and mint.

Also eat a lot of good fats like:

  • Nuts: especially pistachios, walnuts, macadamia nuts, and pecans.
  • Oils: Extra-virgin olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, flaxseed oil, sesame seed oil, Thrive algae oil, perilla oil, and MCT oil.
    • Perilla oil: Dr. Gundry is a big fan of this. Very popular in Asian countries like Korea, but virtually unheard of in America. It has one of the highest proportions of Omega-3 fatty acids of any vegetable oil.
    • MCT oil: short for “medium-chain triglycerides,” this oil usually comes from coconut oil and has many proven health benefits.
  • Fish and shellfish, preferably wild-caught. This includes sardines, herring, and salmon. These contain the healthy Omega-3 type of fats in large amounts.

What did you learn from the summary of The Plant Paradox? What was your favorite takeaway? Is there an important insight that we missed? Comment below or tweet to us @storyshots.

Related books:

Thinner Leaner Stronger

The 4-Hour Body

The Keto Reset Diet

Bigger Leaner Stronger

The Keto Diet

How Not to Die

The Bulletproof Diet

Not a Diet Book by James Smith (open in the app)

The Plant Paradox book summary

Text shot is adapted from Mind Drip and Premium Books Youtube channels.

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