The Plant Paradox Review

The Plant Paradox was written by Dr. Steven R. Gundry, and the tagline to the book is “The Hidden Dangers in “Healthy” Foods That Cause Disease and Weight Gain.” Dr. Gundry resides in California where he operates a wait list only clinic for people struggling with autoimmune disorders, diabetes, leaky gut syndrome, neurodegenerative diseases, and heart disease. [1] He wrote this book to clinically educate on lectin foods.

According to Mehmet Oz,  

The Plant Paradox elegantly explains how plants defend themselves from being consumed by humans, and how eating the wrong ones at the wrong times immeasurably hurts our health. An eye-opening read.”[1]   

Gluten is a hot topic in this book because of its popularity among diets and elimination.  

First of all, what is gluten? You might hear this word and just relate it to a gluten free diet, but according to the Celiac Disease Foundation,  

“Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat (wheatberries, durum, emmer, semolina, spelt, farina, farro, graham, KAMUT® khorasan wheat and einkorn), rye, barley and triticale – a cross between wheat and rye.” [2 

The book talks about gluten being a plant based protein that is called lectin. Lectin is said to cause inflammation throughout the body, and be harmful overall according to this author and book, but some people beg to differ in small ways. The big ah-ha moment in this book is when Dr. Gundry reveals lectins are not only found in grain and gluten foods, but also in non-gluten items. Even though a food item might appear healthy, it is not always the case. 

Let’s backtrack a little and I will explain what a lectin is. Lectins are a simple type of protein that can bind to cell membranes, which essentially forces cell interaction. They can be both good and bad in the body. The good news comes because they help broaden the immune system, but the bad is based on the fact that it can irritate certain people’s intestinal tracts. [3]

According to Precision Nutrition,  

“Lectins are abundant in raw legumes and grains, and most commonly found in the part of the seed that becomes the leaves when the plant sprouts, aka the cotyledon, but also on the seed coat.”[3 

These lectins can be found in gluten free items like vegetables (skin), seeds, and in certain dairy products too. If you are solely gluten free to avoid lectins, you might want to dive in and do more research on where they reside. A few tips the author gives in the book about how to avoid lectins are to:

  1. Peel your veggies because lectins can hide in the skin.
  2. Always shop for fruit in season because there are fewer lectins present in ripe fruit.
  3. Switch brown rice for white because grains with hard outer shells are more likely to cause digestive distress.

In the book, there is a full list of lectin containing foods, lectin free recipes, and a detox eating plan to follow to become more healthy.  

How tough is this book to follow and apply really? Is there truth to what is being told, or is it too over the top?

According to The Atlantic,  

“The publisher—the “health, wellness, lifestyle, and inspirational” division of HarperCollins called Harper Wave—elaborates that readers will learn to be wary of compounds found in “grains of all kinds (especially whole wheat), beans and legumes (especially soy), nuts (especially almonds), fruits and vegetables (eggplant, tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, etc.)” in addition to “dairy and eggs.” [4 

As you can see, this really does not leave a lot of wiggle room to eat many foods, especially because some healthy foods are even looked down upon. This is not all bad, but in reality, to follow this book to the tee will be a challenge.  

The Plant Paradox Reviews

Because there are a variety of people looking into this book for many different reasons, there are mixed reviews. Some people really liked the outline of the book and what it was saying, and others just thought it was pure regurgitation of many people’s ideas in one book. Others said the information matched up with science, but that following the suggested diet and eating plan was far too strict for many people unless medically they were forced into it. See below for a variety of different reviews in regards to the Plant Paradox book.  

Ben (2017, 5 star),  

“The book is Amazing, it has completely changed the way I look at food. It has changed the way I will plant my garden and the way I will eat in the future. The best side effect of this is I have lost 15 lbs. in three weeks..after eating healthy for 6 months prior to this, or what I thought was healthy.” [5 

Glmus (2017, 4 star),  

“I found this book to be very interesting and hopefully helpful. Dr. Gundry makes recommendations of what to eat and what to avoid. He also says that we can't avoid lectins. Thus, my goal is to eliminate the ones that have the highest percentage of lectins. That information is NOT in the book. I wrote to his website and was told that he does not have that information. My question: How can he make his recommendations without such a list? Does anyone know where we can find this information?” [6 

Inglish (2017, 3 star),  

“A very thorough explanation of why some plants are harmful to the digestive tract. Hard to argue with the science, but the solution proposed by Dr. Gundry is extreme. I doubt most of us are capable of adhering to his suggested diet unless we are so sick we are unable to do otherwise.” [7 

Julie (2017, 1 star),  

“He has essentially taken the writings of half a dozen well known health leaders and movements and consolidated them into a smorgasbord of advice that is not necessarily bad but certainly not cogent or deserving of reading. It seems to be an amalgam of plant-based and paleo ideas, some good, some bad, none original.” [8 

The Bottom Line: Is The Plant Paradox Book Worth Reading?

Risky.  Don’t get me wrong, the idea of the book overall seems to have the right motives in mind, but the approach might be a little over the top for many readers. You have to really be willing to change the way you think entirely about consuming food on a daily, if not hourly, basis. For some, this is just not going to be easy, and therefore the diet will not be doable in the long run. The science is there, and then it gets weird. The author believes that lectins are the most dangerous substances that plague the American diet, and many of them come in the form of plants. This is all true to an extent, but the bottom line is we need nutrients to survive, and taking it to this far of an extreme might not be the healthiest for you physically or mentally. If you are sold on the idea, however, there is no harm in trying it out, you are just risking your time and money.  

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