Is The Gundry Diet healthy?
All involve eating whole foods (as opposed to packaged and processed) and filling your plate with quality sources of protein, healthy fats, complex carbohydrates, and vitamin-, mineral-, and fiber-rich vegetables. (Again, we’re talking about the ones that fall somewhere on the healthy spectrum, not unhealthy fad diets like, ahem, the Grapefruit Diet.)
However, each proposes a slightly different path that leads to fulfilling those principles.
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In this column, Diets Decoded, we’ll be breaking them down for you one by one so you can figure out which (if any!) is right for you. We’ll quickly explain the facts and then provide quick, actionable tips on how to follow the diet as part of a Nutritious Life.
What Is The Gundry Diet?
Steven R. Gundry, MD is an accomplished heart surgeon based in Palm Springs, California who left the traditional world of treating cardiac disease in 2002 to start his own wellness clinic, the Center for Restorative Medicine. The Gundry Diet is his approach to eating, which he says he’s used to successfully treat “tens of thousands of patients suffering from autoimmune disorders, diabetes, leaky gut syndrome, heart disease, and neurodegenerative diseases.”
He wrote a book, The Plant Paradox, to bring that approach to the masses, and the diet is focused on one major principle: that proteins called lectins found in a variety of foods increase inflammation and are bad for gut health. Eliminating them from your diet, he says, can lead to weight loss, overall wellness, and the prevention of chronic diseases.
What You Eat
Whole, unprocessed foods are key, starting with low-lectin vegetables like greens, carrots, and cauliflower, in-season berries, and avocado. Fish, grass-fed beef, and pasture-raised poultry are on the table, as are healthy oils like olive and coconut. A very small amount of cheese is allowed, as is butter if it’s “French or Italian.” A2 milk is also a “yes” food.
What You Don’t Eat
Gluten is a lectin, so this diet is gluten-free from the get-go. A lot of vegetables that contain lectins are forbidden, like tomatoes, eggplant, (okay, those are fruits, but you eat them like veggies), cucumbers, and peas. Fruit, in fact, is almost entirely out except for in-season berries, and you can’t eat any legumes either—no chickpeas, lentils, or black beans. Also on the “no list”: nuts and seeds like pumpkin and chia seeds and peanuts and cashews, and grains like quinoa, oats, brown rice, and rye. Regular milk and yogurt are also out.
Pros and Cons
The main benefit of the Gundry Diet is that it eliminates processed foods and has followers focus on whole foods that are produced in healthy ways that result in maximum nutrients—like in-season produce and grass-fed beef.
But there are many downsides. There is little to no research that backs up Dr. Gundry’s thesis that humans shouldn’t eat lectins. All we really know for sure is that if you eat high-lectin foods in excess, it can cause digestive distress. (Like, maybe you’ve been bloated after eating lentil soup for lunch a few days in a row?)
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And if you cut lectins out, you’re cutting so many incredibly nutrient-dense foods out of your diet. Tomatoes, cucumbers, Greek yogurt, beans, whole grains, fresh fruit…many of these foods are key elements of a healthy diet, providing important nutrients like antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, fiber, and protein.
The Bottom Line
The Gundry Diet just doesn’t line up with Nutritious Life’s principles because it eliminates so many nutritious foods that work for so many people.
Obsessing over which fruits and vegetables are the healthiest is not worth your time when there are so many other things about eating empowered that are hard to master, like ditching sugar and avoiding overeating. Come on…you should be able to enjoy a delish ancient grain salad filled with produce!
If you’re still worried about lectins, you can significantly reduce the amount of lectins in beans and grains via soaking, fermenting, sprouting, and cooking. (Yes, simply cooking.) You can also peel tomatoes and eggplants.
(Featured Photo: Shutterstock)