Are you interested in the plant paradox program and want a plant paradox food list? Are you looking for more information on the lectin-free diet and the plant paradox lifestyle? Or maybe you want a printable shopping list with plant paradox-approved food/lectin-free foods? Not only will you find a downloadable, pretty plant paradox shopping list in this article, but also a quick overview of the plant paradox program and of ‘Dr. Gundry’s YES & NO food lists‘.
What are a lectin-free diet and the plant paradox program?
If you landed on this page, you probably heard of The Plant Paradox book, by Dr. Steven Gundry. I hope you read it, and if you didn’t yet, I recommend you do. The plant paradox program covers more than food, but this article will only focus on lectin-free food lists. The premise of this program is that lectins are proteins found in certain foods, harming our health.
Just as a bit of a background, I discovered Dr. Gundry and the plant paradox in August 2017. While I was what, by many standards, is considered a clean eater, physically active, and doing daily yoga, I felt like I was continuously gaining weight (I was in my late 30s) and had digestive issues and lots of inflammation. One day I came across an interview with Dr. Gundry about the dangers of healthy food. It was the first time I heard about lectins. That’s when I realized my clean diet was high in lectins.
This approach resonated with me so much that I immediately stopped the NO foods, cleaned my pantry, and started eating only from the YES list. Weight loss came instantly, and since then, I’ve been able to maintain a healthy weight without making any efforts. While the primary focus of eliminating lectins is not losing weight, this is probably one of the first noticeable changes. My surprise came when I realized that the pains I had all my life suddenly vanished (like period pains).
What are lectins?
According to Dr. Steven Gundry (in The Plant Paradox book), lectins are large proteins found in plants and animals. They have been used strategically by plants as a defense system for survival. Lectins were discovered in 1884, as part of an investigation into different blood types. If you’ve heard about lectins before the Plant Paradox book was published, you probably heard in the context of blood type diet.
The most famous type of lectin is gluten, the protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and sometimes oats. But there are many harmful lectins (and some good ones too!) besides gluten.
Lectins are found in most plants’ seeds, some grains, skins, rinds, and leaves.
Now, a lectin-free diet or the plant paradox program is not against a plant-based diet; on the contrary. Humans and animals have been developing mechanisms of defense against lectins for millennia, rendering most lectins harmless.
So why are lectins bad for us?
So you are probably wondering why I should avoid lectins if we have these mechanisms in place. That’s a valid question. To understand the answer to this question, let’s review the humans’ four defense mechanisms developed against lectins and other anti-nutrients found in plants:
- The mucus in your nose and the saliva in your mouth are the first defense line. They are called mucopolysaccarides, and their role is to trap lectins. A runny nose or excess mucus is a way of the body to defend against lectins; when we eat too many lectins, like in spicy peppers, for example.
- Stomach acid is the second line of defense.
- Your microbiome in your mouth and gut is the third line of defense.
- The mucus line of your intestines is the fourth line of defense against lectins.
All this makes sense, and if these four barriers are intact and healthy, we should not be bothered too much by lectins. However, can you see what the problem is? The modern human diet, especially the Western diet, has a way of weakening these defense mechanisms with all its heavily processed foods and unhealthy lifestyle habits.
Most of us have a weakened microbiome, low stomach acid, and all sorts of imbalances in the gut. That’s the reason we became unable to process most of the lectins.
Is a lectin-free diet forever?
While eating a diet low in lectins is a part of a healthy lifestyle, the strict elimination of all harmful lectins is just a phase in your healing journey. Depending on your health problems and your goals, the strict elimination phase can last a minimum of six weeks and maybe years. But there are ways to prepare heavy-lectin foods to lower their lectin content.
Once you strengthen the four lines of defense, you will be able to tolerate lectins better.
Bioindividually and lectin sensitivity
There are a few things to consider when adopting a lectin-free or low lectin lifestyle:
- Bioindividuality – we are all different, so we need to personalize this plan to fit our needs and lifestyle, and we don’t all have the same sensitivity to lectins.
- This program is split into stages, also called phases (1, 2, 3), and some of the NO foods can be reintroduced in phase 3. There is also a Keto program.
- You don’t HAVE TO eat any of the foods on the YES list, they are just suggestions so you can make your own plan.
- There isn’t just ONE WAY to get healthy, or a ONE SIZE FITS ALL approach. Explore, try, and see what works for you.
- There is a plant paradox food pyramid, created by Dr. Steven Gundry – which will make it easy for you to understand how the plant paradox plate will look like.
What is different about this plant paradox shopping list?
There are quite a few plant paradox food lists on the internet, including Dr. Gundry’s YES & NO food lists. But this one is unique. It lists most of the plant paradox-approved foods and categorizes them into levels, according to Dr. Gundry’s food pyramid.
On Level 1, the base of the pyramid, are the lectin-free foods you can consume without restrictions, ending with Level 5, the top of the pyramid, with the foods/drinks approved but in minimal amounts.
So, when you go shopping, you will know which foods to stock up on all the time and which foods are occasional treats.
Naturally, the YES foods will be foods low in lectins, and the NO foods will be foods high in lectins, but also foods that are highly inflammatory (such as sugar and industrial oils).
Dr. Gundry’s ‘Just Say NO’ food list – The Plant Paradox, Phase 1 & Phase 2
While I like to focus on the food I choose to eat, it’s vital to have an overview of what is considered inflammatory and hence not a part of a healthy lectin-free diet. But remember, the plant paradox program is split into phases. Some of the foods below, like legumes, beans, or nightshades, can be reintroduced if prepared appropriately to reduce lectin content.
- Grains and pseudo-grains, except for sorghum, millet, fonio, and teff, which are considered lectin-free. I recommend reading my article ‘The 4 Gut-Healthy, Gluten-Free and Lectin-Free grains’ for more insight on grains and All About Teff, the Ancient Grain Gaining Popularity.
- Legumes, beans, and soy (fermented, organic soy products, such as miso, are allowed)
- Nightshades: tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, zucchini, eggplant, goji berries
- Pumpkins, melons, cucumbers, and zucchini
- Sugar, including maple or agave syrup; a small quantity of local, raw, or Manuka honey is acceptable
- Almonds with skin on or almond meal; peanuts and cashews
- Dairy made with milk from cows with casein A1 milk
- Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds
- Industrially raised and produced animal protein
- Inflammatory oils: canola, sunflower, grapeseed, soy, peanut oil, or anything sold as vegetable oil
- Fruits high in sugar like grapes and ripe bananas; fruits in season are allowed, in moderation, preferably organic and local; berries are low in sugar and can be consumed more often; avocados, lemons, and limes are fruits, but they are not restricted; fresh figs are excellent, they are flowers, not fruits.
- Heavily, industrially processed foods
The Plant Paradox Phase 3 Reintroductions
In theory, Phase 1 will last three days, Phase 2 will last six weeks, and Phase 3 will be the maintenance phase. I stayed in Phase 2 for two years; some people chose to wait even longer. It’s up to you, and it depends on how you feel and if you achieved your health goals. As you can imagine, a 20-year-old with no severe health conditions, who wants to do this for athletic performance, will have a different approach than a 50-year-old with an auto-immune disease and obesity. One size doesn’t fit all.
It’s important to note that, as in any reintroduction phase, these foods should be introduced gradually and in small quantities to understand how they affect your body, as we are all different. It’s also OK not to want to reintroduce any of these foods.
- Beans and legumes, only soaked and pressure-cooked
- Nightshades: heirloom, local, seasonal, and preferably organic, peels and seeds removed, pressure-cooking will also remove lectins
- White potatoes, pressure-cooked, cooled in the refrigerator (preferably overnight), and consumed cold or reheated
- White Indian basmati rice, red rice, and black rice (preferably organic), pressure-cooked and cooled in the refrigerator before eating or reheating
- True artisan white sourdough bread, made with organic flour, consumed in extreme moderation, as an occasional treat, and only if there isn’t any gluten allergy.
The Plant Paradox Food Pyramid
As mentioned previously, I found it helpful to make a list organized on levels. Level 1 is the base of the pyramid, and Level 5 is the tip:
- LEVEL 1 – Go nuts! You have the green light to eat as much as you’d like from this list. Stock up on these lectin-free foods every time you go shopping. Eat the rainbow. Use healthy fats for cooking and seasoning all your meals.
- LEVEL 2 – Don’t eat anything. Time restricting eating is part of a healthy diet. Avoid grazing and try to keep a 12-16 hour time gap between the last meal of the day and the first meal of the next day.
- LEVEL 3 – Eating a limited quantity of these foods per meal is OK.
- LEVEL 4 – Enjoy these foods in moderation, a small quantity a few times a week.
- LEVEL 5 – Eat/drink a very limited quantity of these foods, a few times a week.
It’s important to note that this is only a guideline, and the lines between levels are not strict. You can follow periods of feasts with periods of fast. Days are different, and our needs are different every day.
As Dr. Gundry likes to say: “Do the best you can with what you have.”
The Plant Paradox Pantry and Lectin-Free Shop
While this shopping list is mainly focused on produce, you can find plant paradox-approved pantry items in the SHOP section of this website. This shop contains carefully curated plant paradox-approved items that are essential for a lectin-free diet and healthy lifestyle, from pantry staples to cookware, to gadgets and books.
Visit my Gundry MD Ambassador Shop and start saving today on Gundry MD supplements and products for your lectin-free diet and plant paradox lifestyle.
Total Restore and Lectin Shield are a must. Stock up on olive oil and save more than 25%.
The Plant Paradox Shopping List (Printable pdf)
When it comes to food, something we will have to deal with for at least twice a day for the rest of our lives, we need to allow for a bit of flexibility.
I tried to keep this lectin-free food list as short as possible and to make it print-friendly while giving it a look that makes it visually attractive. I am a visual person, and that’s very important for me. Plus, I think this will make a great hand note if any of your friends and family are asking you: “So, what else is out there to eat?”
This is not an exhaustive lectin-free food list. I tried to cover as much as possible in as little space as possible. There are probably hundreds of plant species that could get on this list, but I chose those more commonly used and available in as many regions as possible.
Since starting the plant paradox journey, I have lived in the United States, Denmark, and Romania. I’ve been traveling and living abroad for two decades, so I’m familiar with the food landscape in many parts of the world, including specialty items. But I’m sure there are plenty of plants specific to different areas of the world that are not on this list. If you are curious if something is compliant and can’t find it on any list, you can always leave a comment below, and I’m sure we will find out.
I hope you find this plant paradox shopping list helpful, and if you do, please share it with your friends, family, and community.
Do you need this plant paradox food list in a different language?
I am open to translating this plant paradox food list into other languages if needed. Please comment below if you have any specific requests that you think will help a broad audience.
Also, I would be interested to hear your feedback. This list can certainly be improved if there is a need.
More articles that explain The Plant Paradox and the lectin-free diet.
- Quick Guide to Gluten-Free, Lectin-Free Flours
- A Day in the Life of Dr. Steven Gundry
- The Plant Paradox. How to Reduce Chronic Inflammation and Improve Your Health
- The Plant Paradox Diet, Explained in 12 Steps
- A Three Day Plant Paradox Cleanse Guide
- How to Stay Plant Paradox Compliant When Traveling
*This post contains affiliated links, which means I get a small commission if you choose to purchase something via one of my links at no extra cost to you.