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Plant Paradox or Total Bunk? Straight Talk About Lectins

By |2018-09-12T13:45:10-04:00September 12th, 2018|Categories: Food & Nutrition|Tags: , , , |6 Comments

The Plant Paradox Book CoverQuick-fix diets often single out one component of food and blame it for all of our health woes. Shortly thereafter, products begin popping up on shelves that are fat-free, gluten-free, wheat-free, sugar-free, and so on. That brings me to a recent diet that is beginning to gain traction — the lectin-free diet promoted by Dr. Steven Gundry in his book The Plant Paradox: The Hidden Dangers in “Healthy” Foods That Cause Disease and Weight Gain.

In his book, Gundry asserts certain plant proteins called lectins are primarily responsible for a wide range of chronic illnesses, including obesity, autoimmune disorders, and cardiovascular disease. Critics argue that Gundry fails to back up his claim with scientific research, using only his own and his patients’ results on the diet as clinical evidence of its effectiveness.

Others question whether his dietary recommendations are sound. For example, the lectin-free diet calls for replacing whole grains with white bread and white rice, even though these refined grains have been linked to spikes in blood sugar levels.

Where do I stand on The Plant Paradox? Somewhere in between Gundry and his critics. Placing a limit on the amount of lectins consumed in some populations — people with arthritis and autoimmunity, for example — certainly makes sense. However, I believe the book Continue reading…

Seeing Through the Coconut Oil Smokescreen

Is coconut oil a silent killer? Is it a superfood? A cursory Internet search only reveals how entrenched the factions are on either side of this heated debate and serves as a smokescreen to cloud what we really know about the connection between nutrition and good health. So, is coconut oil a silent killer or a superfood? Maybe it is neither or both.

Challenging the Coconut Critics

As the critics of coconut oil point out, it certainly contains a lot of saturated fat. However, saturated fat is not necessarily bad for you. The anti-saturated-fat faction, such as the American Health Association, bases its argument on the premise that low levels of HDL (good cholesterol) in the blood and high levels of LDL (considered bad cholesterol) is a good predictor of cardiovascular disease (CVD). However, HDL and LDL are broad categories, each of which contains numerous subtypes, and those subtypes matter a great deal.

For example, LDL can be divided into two categories:

  • Small, high-density LDL particles, which really are bad, can get lodged in compromised arterial walls and cause blood clots. These small LDL particles are even more of a concern when the blood contains high levels of Lipoprotein(a) or Lp(a), which inflames the blood and makes it sticky.
  • Large, low-density LDL particles are less likely to get lodged in the arterial walls, so they do not carry the same risk.

Likewise, HDL has different subtypes, some of which, such as HDL2, remove excess lipids more efficiently than others. What you want is high concentrations of HDL2 and low concentrations of small, high-density LDL particles.

So, yes, saturated fat can raise your cholesterol levels, but it raises it in a good way — increasing HDL and decreasing high-density LDL particles. If you are concerned about your cholesterol levels, have them tested, but make sure the tests are ones that break down the HDL and LDL into subtypes. HDL and LDL levels alone tell you very little.

The focus on saturated fat is a smokescreen that hides the real culprit — Continue reading…