Dr. Gundry’s The Plant Paradox Is Wrong

Dr. Gundry’s The Plant Paradox Is Wrong
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A book purported to expose “hidden dangers” in healthy foods doesn’t even pass the whiff test.

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

The Plant Paradox: Lectins

Earlier this year, I started getting emails about this book, The Plant Paradox, purporting to expose “The Hidden Dangers in “Healthy” Foods That Cause Disease and Weight Gain”—foods like beans, and whole grains, and tomatoes. Why? Because of lectins, which is a rehashing of the discredited Blood Type Diet from decades ago. They just keep coming back. Yeah, but this was written by an M.D., which, if you’ve seen my medical school videos, you’ll know is effectively an anti-credential when it comes to writing diet books—basically advertising to the world that you’ve received likely little or no formal training in nutrition. Dr. Atkins was, after all, a cardiologist. But look; you want to give the benefit of the doubt. The problem is that it doesn’t even seem to pass the sniff test.

I mean, if lectins are bad, then beans would be the worst, and so bean counters would presumably find that bean eaters cut their lives short, whereas the exact opposite may be true  with legumes (beans, split peas, chickpeas, and lentils)—found to be perhaps the most important dietary predictor of survival in older people in countries around the world. As Dan Buettner points out in his Blue Zones work, lectin-packed foods “are the cornerstones of” the diets of all the healthiest, longest-lived populations on the planet. Plant-based diets in general, and legumes in particular, are a common thread among longevity Blue Zones around the world—the most lectin-lush food there is. And, if lectins are bad, then whole grain consumers should be riddled with disease—when, in fact, “whole grain intake is associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease,” the #1 killer of men and women; strokes, too; and total cancer; and mortality from all causes put together—meaning people who eat whole grains tend to live longer, and, get fewer “respiratory diseases, infectious diseases, diabetes, and all non-cardiovascular, non-cancer causes” to boot. And, not just in population studies. As I’ve shown, you can randomize people into whole-grain interventions, and prove cause-and-effect benefits. The same with tomatoes. You randomize women to a cup and a half of tomato juice or water every day, and all that nightshade tomato lectin reduces systemic inflammation, or has waist-slimming effects, reducing cholesterol as well as inflammatory mediators.

Dr. Gundry’s Ulterior Interests?

So, when people told me about this book, I was like, let me guess: he sells a line of lectin-blocking supplements. And, what do you know? “Assist your body in the fight against lectins” for only $79.95 a month—that’s only like a thousand bucks a year—a bargain for “pleasant bathroom visits.” And then, of course, there’s ten other supplements. So, for only like eight or nine thousand dollars a year, you can lick those lectins. Oh, did I not mention his skin care line? “Firm + Sculpt” for an extra $120—all so much more affordable when you subscribe to his “VIP Club.”

Discrediting The Plant Paradox

But, you still want to give him the benefit of the doubt. People ask me all the time to comment on some new blog or book or YouTube video, and I have to sadly be like, look, there are a hundred thousand peer-reviewed scientific papers on nutrition published in the medical literature every year, and we can barely keep up with those.

But, people kept emailing me about this book; so, I was like, fine, I’ll check out the first citation.  Chapter 1, citation 1: “forget everything you thought you knew was true.” Diet books love saying that. For example: “Eating shellfish and egg yolks dramatically reduces total cholesterol.” What?! Egg yolks reduce cholesterol? What is this citation? This is the paper he cites. And, here it is. By now, you know how these studies go. How do you show a food decreases cholesterol? You remove so much meat, cheese, and eggs that overall your saturated fat falls—in this case, about 50%. If you cut saturated fat in half, of course cholesterol levels are going to drop. So, they got a drop in cholesterol removing meat, cheese, and egg yolks. Yet, that’s the paper he uses to support his statement “egg yolks dramatically reduce cholesterol.”

I mean, that’s unbelievable. That’s the opposite of the truth. Add egg yolks to people’s diets, and  their cholesterol goes up. I mean, how dare he say this? And, it’s not like some, you know, harmless foolishness like saying the Earth is flat or something. Heart disease is the #1 killer of men and women—this can actually hurt people. So much for my benefit of the doubt.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Icons created by Eva Verbeek, Marco Galtarossa, Vladimir Belochkin, Dinosoft Labs, Rflor, B Farias, and Creative Outlet from The Noun Project.

Image credit: Kristina DeMuth. Image has been modified.

Motion graphics by Avocado Video

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

The Plant Paradox: Lectins

Earlier this year, I started getting emails about this book, The Plant Paradox, purporting to expose “The Hidden Dangers in “Healthy” Foods That Cause Disease and Weight Gain”—foods like beans, and whole grains, and tomatoes. Why? Because of lectins, which is a rehashing of the discredited Blood Type Diet from decades ago. They just keep coming back. Yeah, but this was written by an M.D., which, if you’ve seen my medical school videos, you’ll know is effectively an anti-credential when it comes to writing diet books—basically advertising to the world that you’ve received likely little or no formal training in nutrition. Dr. Atkins was, after all, a cardiologist. But look; you want to give the benefit of the doubt. The problem is that it doesn’t even seem to pass the sniff test.

I mean, if lectins are bad, then beans would be the worst, and so bean counters would presumably find that bean eaters cut their lives short, whereas the exact opposite may be true  with legumes (beans, split peas, chickpeas, and lentils)—found to be perhaps the most important dietary predictor of survival in older people in countries around the world. As Dan Buettner points out in his Blue Zones work, lectin-packed foods “are the cornerstones of” the diets of all the healthiest, longest-lived populations on the planet. Plant-based diets in general, and legumes in particular, are a common thread among longevity Blue Zones around the world—the most lectin-lush food there is. And, if lectins are bad, then whole grain consumers should be riddled with disease—when, in fact, “whole grain intake is associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease,” the #1 killer of men and women; strokes, too; and total cancer; and mortality from all causes put together—meaning people who eat whole grains tend to live longer, and, get fewer “respiratory diseases, infectious diseases, diabetes, and all non-cardiovascular, non-cancer causes” to boot. And, not just in population studies. As I’ve shown, you can randomize people into whole-grain interventions, and prove cause-and-effect benefits. The same with tomatoes. You randomize women to a cup and a half of tomato juice or water every day, and all that nightshade tomato lectin reduces systemic inflammation, or has waist-slimming effects, reducing cholesterol as well as inflammatory mediators.

Dr. Gundry’s Ulterior Interests?

So, when people told me about this book, I was like, let me guess: he sells a line of lectin-blocking supplements. And, what do you know? “Assist your body in the fight against lectins” for only $79.95 a month—that’s only like a thousand bucks a year—a bargain for “pleasant bathroom visits.” And then, of course, there’s ten other supplements. So, for only like eight or nine thousand dollars a year, you can lick those lectins. Oh, did I not mention his skin care line? “Firm + Sculpt” for an extra $120—all so much more affordable when you subscribe to his “VIP Club.”

Discrediting The Plant Paradox

But, you still want to give him the benefit of the doubt. People ask me all the time to comment on some new blog or book or YouTube video, and I have to sadly be like, look, there are a hundred thousand peer-reviewed scientific papers on nutrition published in the medical literature every year, and we can barely keep up with those.

But, people kept emailing me about this book; so, I was like, fine, I’ll check out the first citation.  Chapter 1, citation 1: “forget everything you thought you knew was true.” Diet books love saying that. For example: “Eating shellfish and egg yolks dramatically reduces total cholesterol.” What?! Egg yolks reduce cholesterol? What is this citation? This is the paper he cites. And, here it is. By now, you know how these studies go. How do you show a food decreases cholesterol? You remove so much meat, cheese, and eggs that overall your saturated fat falls—in this case, about 50%. If you cut saturated fat in half, of course cholesterol levels are going to drop. So, they got a drop in cholesterol removing meat, cheese, and egg yolks. Yet, that’s the paper he uses to support his statement “egg yolks dramatically reduce cholesterol.”

I mean, that’s unbelievable. That’s the opposite of the truth. Add egg yolks to people’s diets, and  their cholesterol goes up. I mean, how dare he say this? And, it’s not like some, you know, harmless foolishness like saying the Earth is flat or something. Heart disease is the #1 killer of men and women—this can actually hurt people. So much for my benefit of the doubt.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Icons created by Eva Verbeek, Marco Galtarossa, Vladimir Belochkin, Dinosoft Labs, Rflor, B Farias, and Creative Outlet from The Noun Project.

Image credit: Kristina DeMuth. Image has been modified.

Motion graphics by Avocado Video

Doctor's Note

This is an unusual video for me. I normally try to stay out of the so-called diet wars and just stick to bringing you the latest science. Roughly 100,000 papers are published on nutrition in the peer-reviewed medical literature every year, and we have a hard enough time keeping up with them , but let me know what you think: Would you like me to allocate time to more of these types of reactive videos?

You’ll note I never really addressed Dr. Gundry’s thesis about lectins in this video, but I do in my next two, so check out How to Avoid Lectin Poisoning and Are Lectins in Food Good or Bad for You?.

Here are links to the videos I alluded to in the video, if you want to learn more:

What else can tomatoes do? See Inhibiting Platelet Activation with Tomato Seeds.

One of the key reasons whole grains may be so beneficial is their effect on our good bacteria. Check out Gut Microbiome: Strike It Rich with Whole Grains and Microbiome: We Are What They Eat to learn more.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

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