Living Healthy Resources

A guide to living a lectin-free, healthy lifestyle (beyond food)

I will start by saying that The Plant Paradox book changed my life. In a good way. It provided me with the answers I needed about food and health when I was puzzled. I was leading a “healthy” lifestyle but that was not reflected in my health, my appearance or the way I felt. I started a lectin-free diet in August 2017 and since then I lost about 20lbs, I am pain and inflammation free and feel better than ever before. 

The Plant Paradox: The Hidden Dangers in “Healthy” Foods That Cause Disease and Weight Gain

by Steven R. Gundry, MD

The scope of this subject (diet and healthy living) is so vast, and we are all so different, that it is inevitable there are confusions, questions, misunderstandings, deniers, non-believers, fluid information that with time will change because of new research or resources available but I personally don’t get stuck in those. I do my best to understand the core of this program and apply it to the best of my abilities. I listen to my body. I stay informed. I test everything. It works for me and I heard so many other success stories, I have no doubt that we can take control of our health, because food is indeed medicine. It is not easy. It is a major lifestyle change, especially for those who have been following the guidelines of SAD (Standard American Diet) but it is not (only) about food and eating. If you look at my recipes and my Instagram account (@cretiveinmykitchen) you will see how many good choices we have when it comes to eating healthy and lectin free. The challenge is mental. We will have to un-learn everything we knew to be true or ‘healthy’. At least at the beginning, we need to invest a little bit of trust, because we will never be sure it works, unless we try. We will need to change habits, change the way we socialize. But change is good. And the benefits are enormous.

“Each one of us has the power, the green life force energy, to heal from within once the external forces that prevent that natural ability are removed.” Dr. S. Gundry, The Plant Paradox, pg. 64

For those interested to find out how I manage to stay compliant, beyond that fact that I am lectin-free, I put together this list with some guidelines that help me apply the plant paradox principles to my lifestyle, every day. It’s not always perfect, but I do my best! I really wanted to stress that I am not a nutritionist, I am not a doctor, I have access to a lot of nutritional information and all kind of data about how our bodies work, like everyone else, from books and online articles, but I will not pretend to be an expert. If you want to read what lectins are and how they affect your health, read The Plant Paradox, written by a medical doctor – Dr. Steven Gundry – who has dedicated all his life to research in this area. Where I can add value, is sharing with other people how The Plant Paradox worked for me and how I apply its principles to my everyday life.

“Certain plants can be harmful to your health, particularly those that contain a type of protein called lectin, which is designed to cause harm to any creature that consumes the plant. And that’s the paradox: plants are both friend and enemy, source of health and, in certain instances, triggers of disease.” Dr. S. Gundry, The Plant Paradox Cookbook, pg 4

So here it is, a list of things I try not to forget, and apply every day:

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Keep the core of my diet plant based (around 85%, I would say), lectin-free and rich in healthy fats (like extra virgin olive oil, nuts, coconut oil, avocado oil etc). I heard so many people scared to add olive oil to their food because they think they’ll gain weight by eating fat… That’s one of the things we need to un-learn.

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Consume only animal protein that comes from 100% grass fed beef, pasture raised chicken and eggs, or lamb, humanly raised pork (small quantities, from responsible local farms or Europe), wild and sustainably caught fish. Only in limited quantities, for my weight, about 20g of protein a day (and not forget plants provide proteins too). My guideline is animal protein should make maximum 15% of my meals. I practice plant-based fasts regularly to balance any excess (like having a week, or certain days when I only eat a plant based diet).

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Remember that not eating is good for us. Eating less is also good, in fact I believe is essential for good health. Practice intermittent fasting; sometimes not eating for 16 hours, sometimes for 22, sometimes restricting calories, but always include some kind of fasting in my diet.

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Fruit is candy. Sugar from fruits is still sugar. I didn’t use to eat a wide variety of fruits, but the ones I like I ate a tone at once. Many times I felt sick after eating a fruit salad or an entire watermelon, thinking I’m healthy, but never made the connection. I was poisoned with fructose. I have the occasional treat, but always in small quantities, mainly seasonal.

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Nightshades (tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, zucchini, peppers, potatoes), grains and legumes are a NO-NO for me. With the proper preparation, some can be reintroduced in our diet once we feel we are healed, but I do not feel the need to eat any of these at the moment, so I’ll stick to Phase 2. As a side note, I find this funny because nightshades was what I ate every day, and they were some of my favorite foods, but now I just don’t feel like having any.

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Refined carbs and refined sugar are bad news. No exceptions. Maybe sourdough bread, if you really have to eat bread made of wheat, but avoidance is best, especially if you live in the United Stated, where the regulations about making bread are really dodgy. That being said, my dream is to travel to Paris, sit in a beautiful cafe and enjoy a coffee and a croissant. And that will be my kind of cheat that is worth having. Just as a side note, in France regulations about bread are very strict.

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Processed food is tempting, for its convenience, but it is not the best choice, even if it’s 100% compliant and labeled as healthy, natural, organic, etc. Recently I saw a pre packed frozen cauliflower puree that had over 30 ingredients, most of them unrecognizable. For heaven’s sake, how many ingredients would you use to make a cauliflower puree at home? And how long can it take? Home cooked food is always the best. Choose real food, whole produce, and prepare your food at home.

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Food is not the only disruptor that has an impact on our health. Consider eliminating the use of plastic, of toxic cookware, furniture and household products (like fragrances and scented candles). Prioritize organic, sustainable, local, seasonal, responsibly made, plastic free products whenever possible. Pesticides and genetically modified foods, especially the three big mono crops: wheat, corn and soy, are doused in glyphosate. There is a list of produce called “The Dirty Dozen” published every year by EWG, after complex pesticides tests – when it comes to this list only buy organic (strawberries and spinach usually top the list). There is another list, called “Clean fifteen” with produce that is relatively safe even if conventionally grown (like avocados, cabbage, asparagus).

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Stomach acid blockers and NSAIDS, most of them sold over the counter, are big disruptors of our gut microbiome and only lead to more inflammation. This is something I know well about, because I was dependent on them. I could not lay down and sleep without an acid blocker and I had to take over 20 NSAIDS a month for different pains triggered by inflammation (mainly period cramps and sinus headaches). I have not taken any of those since the day I started the Plant Paradox program. Inflammation is triggered mainly by what we eat, and I personally have no doubts after my experience.

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Antibiotics are a life saver when administered right, but we abused the broad-spectrum ones so much – I’ve been given antibiotics all my childhood for a recurring tonsillitis, I could even buy them over the counter as a kid. Not even talking about the fact that they are used in feeding livestock to fatten them up and keep them alive.

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Our skin is our biggest organ, and unfortunately our cosmetic products are not safe. There are 1,500 toxic chemicals used in cosmetic products in the US that are banned in the European Union. Not to say that the ones made for the European market are all safe, but it raises a big question mark. According to Beautycounter, an organization committed to creating safer products and promoting safer legislation for personal care products, the United States has not passed a major federal law to regulate these ingredients since 1938 (before the WW2!), and that one is one page and a half long. Just imagine! More details about safer skincare here and what cosmetic products I use.

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Brain health is impacted by our gut health and implicitly what we eat in a big way – more than we ever imagined. But staying healthy in that department is not only about food and avoiding disruptors. It is about learning how to breathe, to control our emotions – to acknowledge and ride with them, but not letting them take the control – to stay active, curious, to continuously learn something new, read, travel, exercise, create, meditate, connect with nature.

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You know that saying “80% of our muscles are built in the kitchen” – this is tried and tested and it is true. But we do need that 20% exercise for optimal health. It’s not about killing yourself exercising, but finding a physical activity that you enjoy, suits your personality, and keeps you active. Some love running, some hiking, some yoga, some HIIT, some weight lifting, some play tennis, some swim, some just love walking… it doesn’t really matter. Our brains and bodies need that positive stress to stay healthy. I do yoga, my husband loves to run, and together we love hiking or walking in nature.

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Supplements wise, I used to be a non-believer. I only took Vitamin D3 because my doctor prescribed me a huge dose when we discovered my levels were dangerously low. But now I supplement my diet with Vitamin D3 (other than the long term benefits, it tremedounrly improved my mood and energy levels), Magnesium + Potassium (it helps me with cramps, which I’ve been having for a long time but never really knew this can help), fish oil (both my husband and I take Ultimate Omega, from Nordic Naturals, 450 DHA) and Biotin (which helped me with hair loss, something I suffered all my life with and was fixed few days after I started Biotin). I also take a blend of Polyphenols first thing in the morning, called Vital Reds, by Gundry MD, for a boost of energy and fast metabolism.

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By following all the above, or at least the best I can, I feel better than ever before, I am pain free, feel energetic, creative, I’m in the best shape of my life and feel very grateful, which is the reason I want to share my story and the Plant Paradox program with others. Please let me know if you have any questions, that will help me maybe expand this list or give additional information.

Additional resources that help me better understand and deepen my knowledge about living healthy, in line with the Plant Paradox principles:

The Plant Paradox Cookbook, by Dr. Steven Gundry – which has a great introduction about The Plant Paradox lifestyle and living lectin free, and 100 amazing recipes that make life easier for anyone interested to eat lectin free or just have a healthy lifestyle. Beautifully illustrated too, which matters a lot for someone like myself, who, when it comes to food, is inspired mostly by visuals.

Genius Foods, by Max Lugavere with Paul Grewal, MD – anything you need to know about brain health. Mind blowing comprehensive guide to brain optimization. Max is not touching the lectin topic but most of his recommendations are in line with the Plant Paradox principles.

The Complete Guide to Fasting, by Jason Fung, MD with Jimmy Moore – everything you need to know about fasting as a tool for improving health (addressing weight loss, type 2 diabetes, aging, cancer, heart health).

More to follow…