Kelly Clarkson credits the Gundry diet with her newfound weight loss and it was one of the top trending diets of the year. But what the heck is it? And what do lectins have to do with… well, anything? We break down this buzzy new eating plan, including what the experts have to say.
What is it? According to diet creator Dr. Steven Gundry, a group of proteins called lectins are wreaking havoc on our health. The former cardiac surgeon argues that by eliminating lectins (found in nightshades, grains and dairy, amongst other foods), you can lower inflammation, lose weight and boost your wellness. He even credits the diet with curing his arthritis, high blood pressure and migraines, while he shed 70 pounds in the process. His book detailing the diet, The Plant Paradox, is a best-seller.
So, what’s on the menu? Low-lectin foods like leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli and cauliflower), avocado, olive oil, nuts and seeds, pasture-raised meat and wild-caught fish. (And this special bread—kinda, sorta.)
That doesn’t sound too bad. So what can’t I eat? Nightshades (think: tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and eggplant), dairy, grains, raw legumes, conventionally-raised meats and out-of-season fruits.
Oh, I don’t want to do that. And you probably shouldn’t. There haven’t been any human studies to back up Dr. Gundry’s claims and multiple health experts that say that the diet is bogus. Although lectins can cause health problems when eaten in high doses, most people don’t consume enough of them for it to be an issue. “Anytime a diet starts to take out a massive amount of food groups, it’s a little more faddish by nature,” registered dietitian Amy Goodson tells Women’s Health. “The benefits of eating whole grains and vegetables, which provide vitamins, minerals, and fiber, significantly outweigh the risk that a small amount of lectin will cause GI issues.”
Bottom line: Give this one a miss. Instead, try a healthy eating plan that focuses on whole, nutrient-rich ingredients and doesn’t eliminate entire food groups like the Mediterranean diet or the Nordic diet. Sorry, doc—we’re keeping pasta and wine on the menu.