- In 2018, Grammy-winning singer Kelly Clarkson lost almost 40 pounds within a year.
- Clarkson credited her weight loss to an eating plan known as the “Plant Paradox” diet, though weight loss was never her goal.
- Instead, Clarkson said the diet helped improve her overall health.
- The author of the book, “The Plant Paradox,” claims that removing lectins from a person’s diet can improve their health.
- Despite Clarkson’s success story, nutritionists have expressed concern about the diet’s safety.
In June 2018, Clarkson appeared at the CMT Music Awards where fans and red carpet guests noticed she’d lost a fair amount of weight.
Clarkson later revealed to “Today Show” host Hoda Kotb that she changed her eating habits following a thyroid condition and autoimmune disease diagnosis.
The goal, the Grammy Award-winning singer and “The Voice” coach said, was never weight loss.
“For me, it wasn’t really the weight. For me, it’s I’m not on my medicine anymore,” she told Kotb. “My blood work came back, and I haven’t been on my medicine since February.”
Gundry claims in his book that eliminating lectins from your diet can reverse these health complications. According to Clarkson, this is why she followed this eating plan.
However, other health experts say many foods containing lectin are among the world’s healthiest. These include fruits, vegetables, and grains. The Plant Paradox diet has some nutrition experts and plant-based eating proponents concerned about its safety.
For plants, lectins act as a natural defense against fungi and insects. In humans, Gundry claims the proteins attack the body, leading to numerous health and digestive problems.
“Lectins are known as pro-inflammatory and autoimmunity-triggering proteins,” said Dr. Luiza Petre, an assistant clinical professor of cardiology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and a cardiology clinical instructor at New York University’s Langone Medical Center.
“Once they enter the bloodstream, they trigger an autoimmune response. They can also directly irritate the intestinal lining, leading to leaky gut syndrome, or the condition where our gut is not working as an effective filter anymore.”
The Plant Paradox diet requires followers to eliminate lectin-rich foods, including:
- legumes like beans (including all soy), peas, lentils, and peanuts
- grains, such as wheat, rice, oats, corn, and quinoa
- some nuts and seeds, including cashews, chia, sunflower, and pumpkin
- squash, zucchini, and cucumbers
- nightshade vegetables, such as tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, and eggplant
- most fruit, except for in-season berries and avocados
- any dairy foods that are made from the milk of grain-fed cows
What’s left is pasture- and grass-fed meat, most nuts, leafy greens, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, fish, and olive and coconut oil.
It might seem limited. But, Gundry believes this is the key to restoring health for many individuals.
“[This diet] asks people to eat and party like it’s 9,999 years ago, before the dawn of agriculture,” Gundry, who’s a heart surgeon, told Healthline.
“Humans thrived on this diet in the past and are thriving again as they return to their dietary roots and eliminate the ‘disruptors’ that have destroyed their gut microbiome.”
Gundry describes “disruptors” as chemicals and environmental factors that wreak havoc on the body, including herbicides, certain medications that can have side effects, and artificial sweeteners.
However, research to support Gundry’s claims is very limited. Indeed, no human studies have verified his proposed theories.
Instead, he says, he has anecdotal evidence to support his claims.
“[Kelly Clarkson’s] experience is exactly like tens of thousands of patients who have followed the program,” he told Healthline. “In short, it works.”
Many medical experts, though, are wary of relying on anecdotal evidence instead of published data.
Plus, the foods you’re required to give up for the Plant Paradox diet are considered some of the healthiest. That’s a problem for many nutritional experts.
“While any diet that is highly restrictive will likely help people lose weight in the short term, this diet unfortunately severely limits the intake of many foods central to a plant-based diet,” said Dr. Nicole Harkin, a board certified cardiologist and lipidologist in San Francisco, CA.
She points out there’s good data about the type of diet that’s healthy for the brain and heart.
“While there is little to no evidence that a lectin-free diet is healthy for you, there are an abundance of studies indicating that a whole-food, plant-based diet is good for your heart and brain,” Harkin said.
For Clarkson, her adherence to the Plant Paradox diet required her to eliminate a lot of processed and packaged foods.
Eliminating processed foods can cut calories, reduce sugar intake, and help you shed unwanted pounds. That step alone could be a successful option for most people.
Clarkson told Kotb in her “Today Show” appearance that it also helped her gain an understanding of the quality of food she was eating.
“It’s about understanding food and what we do to food, like spraying and pesticides and genetically modified and hormones we pump in,” the 41-year-old mother of four said.
If eliminating all of these foods for a diet feels overwhelming or complicated, keep in mind that cooking destroys lectins.
“It seems unrealistic to eliminate these foods entirely from your diet, as there are ways to prepare them and lower lectin content while reaping the benefits of fiber, vitamins, and other antioxidants,” Petre said.
Petre said that soaking, pressure cooking, removing seeds, peels, or sprouting, fermenting, and adding bicarbonate can reduce the lectin content of your favorite foods.
Indeed, much of the lectin in foods is inactivated long before you eat it.
“My advice is to cut the processed and packaged food, as the Plant Paradox diet recommends, but don’t miss out on all of the antioxidants, fiber, and phytonutrients found in fruits, legumes, whole grains, and vegetables,” Harkin added.
Grammy award-winning singer Kelly Clarkson lost 37 pounds on the Plant Paradox diet, an eating plan that advises against foods containing lectins.
While Clarkson said the diet improved her overall health, nutrition experts remain skeptical about its benefits.
Whether for weight loss or improved health, always talk with your doctor about which dietary patterns best suit your nutritional needs.