Lessons from The Plant Paradox

High Level Thoughts

An innovative approach to reducing inflammation by changing what we eat, The Plant Paradox explains how plants protect themselves from being eaten and how we, as a result, can suffer from eating them. By teaching us how plant’s protection mechanism works, we learn about the danger of a class of plant proteins called lectins, and how to reduce the negative effects lectins can have on our lives.


  • Plants protect themselves through mechanisms that hurt the ability of predators that eat them to survive and reproduce
  • One of plant’s most effective means of protecting themselves is through the production of lectins
  • Lectins are proteins found in the protective lining of plant fruits and plant seeds.
  • Lectins promote inflammation in the body by causing problems during their digestion.
  • Lectins particular molecular structure interferes with our digestive system and interacts with numerous types of cells within our body.
  • Inside of our digestive system, the shape of lectin molecules pry open the sensitive and thin lining of our gut and intestinal wall allowing in larger and unwanted molecules into our body that cause negative effects.
  • These negative effects are primarily caused by triggering and weakening our immune system and deprioritizing other biological processes involved in maintaining our health.
  • This decrease in biological efficiency leads to a diverse set of negative effects that accumulate from lectin consumption.
  • Because lectins create openings in the gut and intestinal wall, the initial damage lectins cause increases our sensitivity to their negative effects over time.
  • When the immune system is compromised, the body increases fat storage to ensure fuel is available to be used by the immune system against incoming threats.

Negative health effects of lectins:

  • allergies
  • arthritis
  • decreased energy
  • decreased strength
  • digestive issues
  • heartburn
  • joint pain and aches
  • memory loss
  • weight gain
  • and many more

Food groups that have lectins

The most prominent food sources of lectins are legumes, nightshades, and whole grains.


  • Peanuts, Cashews, Corn, Peas, Beans, and Lentils
  • Lectins within legumes can be deactivated by pressure cooking


  • Tomatoes, Potatoes, Eggplant, Goji Berries, and Peppers
  • Lectins with nightshades can be mostly avoided by removing the skin and seeds

Whole grains:

  • Wheat, Brown Rice, Barley, Rye, and Oats
  • Lectins within whole grains can be mostly avoided by removing the husk and bran
  • Gluten can be mostly eliminated by using natural yeast and sourdough fermentation methods

Lectin-free Carbohydrate Alternatives

Not all carbohydrates are created equal, certain types of carbohydrates do not cause inflammation when eaten.

Resistant starches:

  • sweet potato, white rice, yams, taro, and plantains
  • Resistant starch carbohydrates boost fat burning and reduce fat storage
    • Bacteria in the gut convert resistant starches into digestible fats

Lectins found in dairy products

  • Lectins can be found in dairy that comes from cows
  • About 10,000 years ago cows experienced a mutation that altered the molecular makeup of one of the prominent proteins within their milk: casein
    • This type of casein is called A-1 casein and is found in most American dairy
    • Like other lectins, casein A-1 produces inflammation in humans

How to avoid lectins in dairy

  • Lectins in dairy can be avoided by drinking and eating dairy made from A-2 milk and animals that produce it: goat, sheep, buffalo, and A-2 milk cows

How to avoid lectins in meat and fish

  • Because lectins are hard to digest and cause negative effects, animals that eat foods containing lectins also negatively affect us when we eat them
  • To avoid the damage that lectins can cause us, avoid eating animals (both meat and fish) that eat lectins in their diet
  • Instead of following a memorized list, ask these questions:
    • Is this meat pastured or grass-fed?
    • Is this seafood caught wild?

How to avoid lectins in plant foods

  • Instead of following a memorized list, ask these questions:
    • Does this plant food have a shiny protective outer shell?
    • Does this plant food have seeds?

The outside shell of plants and seeds are the largest source of dietary lectins.

How to repair the gut wall

Avoid ongoing damage, enable the body to repair itself, and give the gut time to repair:

  • Avoid exposure to lectins to stop ongoing damage
  • Take supplements that help the body repair itself and bind to lectins to block their effect
  • Give the gut time to repair itself by following a fasting schedule such as intermittent fasting (16/8), OMAD (One Meal A Day), and/or fasting for multiple day-periods

How to follow an intermittent fasting schedule

  • Constrain eating to an 8 hour period, such as:
    • Begin eating at 10am and finish eating by 6pm
    • Begin eating at 12pm and finish eating by 8pm

Supplements that help the body repair the gut wall:

  • Vitamin D3
    • Vitamin D is essential to stimulate the growth of enterocyte stem cells, which repair the gut wall
    • Normal vitamin D blood levels: 70 to 105 ng/ml for serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D, the active form of vitamin D in your body.
    • Take 5000 IU of vitamin D3 daily.
      • For autoimmune disease, take 10,000 IU a day.
  • Long-Chain Omega-3s
    • Fish oil helps repair your gut wall
    • Take a fish oil supplement before each meal
    • Take the capsule with the highest number of milligrams of DHA you can
    • Take 1000 mg of DHA per day.

Supplements that block lectins:

  • Glucosamine and MSM
    • Take in tablet form
  • D-mannose, the active ingredient in cranberries
    • Consider D-mannose in a dose of 500 mg twice a day

Eating meat can cause inflammation

  • Subtle differences between the biology of mammals and humans can trigger inflammation when our diet includes them
    • Both humans and mammals carry sugar molecules on the lining of our gut wall and blood vessels
      • Humans carry a sugar molecule called Neu5Ac
      • Most mammals carry a sugar molecule called Neu5Gc
    • If our body detects a large enough amount of these blood sugar molecules in our bodies, it will trigger our immune system and produce inflammation as a response.
    • For this reason, traditional religious practices such as Halal improve the healthiness of meats by reducing the amount of foreign blood sugar types we ingest.

How to avoid most inflammation from eating meat:

  • Avoid eating foods that directly incorporate animal blood
  • Examples include ground meat

How to improve insulin response:

  • Certain compounds change how your body and insulin handle the sugars you eat.
  • To improve insulin response consider taking:
    • Turmeric, cinnamon, chromium, zinc, selenium, berberine, and black pepper.
      • Turmeric requires black pepper extract for absorption.