#59 Should You Go Lectin-Free after Bariatric Surgery?

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Listed as a top-10 celebrity diet, the lectin-free diet has been promoted for weight loss. Should you try it after bariatric surgery to prevent that dreaded weight regain?

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One of my wonderful podcast listeners, Mohsen, sent me an email saying there’s a bit of information out there in regards to lectins and what they do to the lining of your intestines and bacteria in your gut. Dr. Steve Gundry is the big advocate against lectins and I am not sure whether I should listen to him or not. I think legumes are a really nutritious food and I love having them for my snacks including small cans of Edamame. What is your opinion?

Very glad you asked Mohsen. The internet is full of lectin pseudo-science as I call it. You may have also read about celebrity Kelly Clarkson losing 37 pounds or 17 kilos on the lectin-free diet. This kind of weight loss alway creates a buzz, healthy or not.

Trying to cut out lectins means cutting out grains, beans and legumes, fruits, veggies such as tomatoes and eggplant and more.

First of all, what the heck is a lectin? Found in almost all food, it’s a protein that binds to carbs such as sugars and has important functions in both plants and humans. It seems that the sugar-binding activity of this lectin protein may be necessary for normal digestion and absorption of foods. In other words, according to scientists following a lectin-free diet may alter normal nutrient absorption.

Let me stop right here and bring it home. Is there a downside to a lectin-free diet for you? Put on your science 101 cap. Think about this. Why would it matter to you if normal nutrient absorption is altered? It matters because going thru bariatric surgery already alters nutrient absorption. Why would you want to add insult to injury meaning add on additional issues you don’t need?

There is so much research now on the benefits of consuming plants, specifically fruits and vegetables, which include supporting your immunity, fighting inflammation in the body, and just living a long life. For example, lycopene which gives tomatoes their red color, has a role in cancer prevention and heart health. This lectin-free advice is so controversial and goes against current recommendations from science-based groups including the American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association.

Ok, but you heard that lectins are toxic. This is true and you hear about the toxic lectin in raw or undercooked kidney beans. Eating raw kidney beans can cause you to vomit along with other ugly gastrointestinal symptoms. Bottom line: do not eat raw beans. Fully cook them to reduce the lectins. Lectins are found in beans but when you cook the beans, the lectins are basically wiped out and don’t affect the body.

But why the weight loss with this diet? I would suspect it has much more to do with cutting out carb-heavy processed foods, typically high glycemic, which also significantly cuts calories.

Your take away: restricting foods with another pseudo science diet doesn’t help your journey or transformation. Restriction is not a positive lifestyle change. And lectins are not something you need to worry about. Your diet needs to be individualized for you after surgery which includes a lot of high quality protein, small amounts of high fiber complex carbs such as legumes (which includes beans, peas and lentils), vegetables, whole grains and fruit.

Focus on you. Follow your bariatric-specific plan and take your bariatric supplements. Forget lectins. You have enough to focus on and you’re worth it.

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