What Is The Lectin-Free Diet?

It seems we're always trying to cut out or cut down on certain foods while on our weight loss journey. Carbs, fats, calories — all minimized in an effort to get healthier. That is why we were intrigued when we heard about a diet that was asking its participants to nix something a little less well known than carbs and fats. According to Aaptiv, the lectin-free diet calls for removing all high-lectin foods from one's diet.

So what exactly is lectin? Registered dietitian nutritionist Grace Derocha, of Blue Cross Blue Shield in Detroit, Michigan, tells Everyday Health, "Lectins are a plant-based protein naturally found in certain foods like beans, legumes, lentils, seeds, nuts, and a variety of nightshade vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants." Derocha goes on to add that they are also found in fruits, grains, and in animals fed with corn. A lot of these foods are synonymous with health, and there are a few nutrition experts who do not agree with this diet's premise. Here is what we found.

The lectin-free diet is based on theory

Everyday Health describes what the diet's founder, Steven Gundry, believes. In his book, The Plant Paradox: The Hidden Dangers in "Healthy" Foods that Cause Disease and Weight Gain, Gundry claims lectins can increase inflammation by interrupting cell communication. His theory is that this will lead to a slew of digestion problems like gas and diarrhea, and cause weight gain. So by eliminating foods high in lectin from your diet, you are at less risk for these unwanted symptoms.

Scott Schreiber, R.D., chiropractic physician and rehabilitation and clinical nutritionist explains to Aaptiv why he's critical of the lectin-free diet. "The diet is based on theory as opposed to fact," he says. Registered dietitian nutritionist Christen Cupples Cooper, assistant professor and founding director of the Nutrition and Dietetics Program at the College of Health Professions at Pace University, agrees with Schreiber. "Anytime you come across a diet that seems to cut out common-sense healthful foods, run the other way and save your money," she states.

If you have noticed you do, in fact, experience uncomfortable bloating or diarrhea with one or more of foods that contain lectin, it might be worth a try cutting them out of your diet to see how your body reacts. Not because the lectin-free diet says so, but because we want you to do what you can to feel your best!