So simple, so effective
Minimizing your intake of harmful plant lectins can stop fat storage in its tracks and cause the weight to fall off your frame, says Yale-educated cardiologist Steven Gundry, M.D., author of The Plant Paradox (Harper Wave, 2017; Hardcover $28). To lose up to 4 pounds in 3 days and experience a wealth of health benefits—including increased energy and fewer aches— put these strategies to work:
In the supermarket…
Make low-lectin picks. The first step for many of Dr. Gundry’s patients is nixing processed foods and favoring organic produce, which isn’t grown with the GMO seeds that generate high levels of unhealthy lectins. Dr. Gundry also advises his patients to nix lectin-loaded grains (like brown rice, quinoa and wheat) in favor of sorghum and millet (which are naturally free of lectins) as well as Indian basmati white rice (which is naturally low in lectins and high in lectin-lowering resistant starch).
Favor these proteins. “Even organic and so-called ‘free-range’ animals contain harmful lectins because they are fed soy and corn,” asserts Dr. Gundry. “As a result, some of the most dangerous plant lectins now lurk in the meat of our favorite animal foods.” To avoid them, look for “pasture-raised” poultry (not “free-range”), “wildcaught” fish and “grass-fed and grassfinished” beef, lamb and bison.
Explore fermented grains. “Fermentation significantly reduces lectins because bacteria and yeast ‘eat’ lectins,” shares Dr. Gundry. That means common fermented foods like dill pickles, sauerkraut and pickled peppers are smart picks. And the recommendation also applies to wheat. “In Europe, bread is traditionally raised through fermentation with yeast or sourdough, unlike shelf-stable American bread,” says Dr. Gundry. Even most “fresh-baked” store-brand breads in the U.S. contain GMO wheat and the dough is rarely fermented. An exception: La Brea Bakery Reserve breads ($8 per loaf, supermarkets and Walmart stores) are GMO-free and the dough undergoes a fermentation process that removes harmful lectins.
Get a helping hand. “Our beneficial gut bugs have evolved to efficiently consume lectins before they can cause damage, but without these bugs, you don’t have this defense against lectins,” explains Dr. Gundry. Factors like taking antibiotics and eating artificial sweeteners can damage beneficial bugs, so many women don’t have enough helpful microbes to fight the ever-rising tide of lectins in the modern American diet. To nurse your beneficial bacteria back to health so they can help eliminate harmful lectins, Dr. Gundry suggests taking a targeted probiotic that contains the strain Bacillus coagulans (we like Schiff Digestive Advantage, $18 for a 50-day supply, drugstores). Also, aim to consume at least two daily servings of foods that contain resistant starch— a class of unique carbs that fuel the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. Good options include green (not ripe) bananas, potatoes, asparagus, okra, artichokes, onions and garlic.
In your kitchen…
Prep veggies this way. While it’s not possible, practical or even advised to eliminate all the lectins in our diet, Dr. Gundry says most of the harmful lectins in seeded veggies (especially conventionally grown eggplants, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, summer squash and winter squash) lurk in the peels and seeds.
“Removing the skins and seeds from tomatoes, peppers and squash greatly reduces the lectin load,” he says. “Americans have been slow to adopt these techniques, but the Italians and French always do this.” To quickly peel tomatoes, drop them in boiling water for 60 seconds or roast them under a broiler for 15 minutes, then once they’re cool, pinch off the skins. Peppers can also be roasted then peeled or carefully deskinned with a vegetable peeler. To de-seed a tomato, carefully cut it in half horizontally, then use a small spoon to scoop the seeds and pith out of the four seed cavities in each half.
Try a pressure cooker. “A pressure cooker will destroy almost all lectins,” Dr. Gundry asserts. That makes it the best cooking method for beans (which contain harmful lectins), tomatoes and grains—although Dr. Gundry notes that pressure cooking cannot eliminate the harmful lectins in wheat, oats, rye, barley or spelt. While traditional stovetop pressure cookers do the job, Dr. Gundry recommends a modern pressure cooker, like the Instant Pot DUO60 ($99 for a 6-quart model, Amazon.com), for ease of use. “It’s one-touch, like a rice cooker. And it makes meals so much faster.
For a busy family, pressure cooking meals is an amazing help.”