Gundry: Lectin, Inflammation and Chronic Diseases

Posted June 14, 2018; Updated November 22, 2021.  Disclaimer

This article provides information about plant seeds, the protective lectin in the seeds and how we can minimize the amount of lectin so as not to make us sick and still be able to eat the seeds.

So what is lectin? Lectins are protein chemicals that protect seeds from being eaten by insects and animals.  Lectins are found in hundreds of common foods like wheat, tomatoes, beans, potatoes, and seeds.  Eating seeds with the poison lectin is what makes people sick and obese.

Dr. Steven Gundry:, American cardiac surgeon performed over 10,000 heart surgeries, states that inflammation is a response to an internal problem like lectin in the diet. He says if you want to heal autoimmune disease, IBS, arthritis, migraines, and brain fog, then you need to "stay away" from bad foods completely.

Gundry as a cardiac surgeon, was obese and restored his body weight to a normal state.  He experimented on himself with different foods and lost a lot of weight. The very things he teaches his patients to eat and the supplements he recommends they take today are all things that he has done on himself – literally experimenting on himself first. Today he advocates his patients eat good food instead of having surgery. Although Gundry is somewhat controversial as he has a vested interest selling anti-lectin products, his current medical approach is good "food is man's best medicine".

Why is lectin in seeds?  The primary defense most plants have against predators like insects and us are a group of proteins called lectins. Turns out, most lectins are found in the skin or outer coating of seeds.  Plants protect their seeds from being eaten by insects and animals by having a protein poison usually in the outer skin or coating of the seed.  There may also be a trace of lectin in the meat of the seed as well.  The lectin discourages insects and animals from eating the seed and stopping the seed from reproducing the plant. Article by Strebe: What is lectin 2018 is no longer active.

Basically, research seems to prove time and time again that some of these plant defense mechanisms – like the lectins found in beans, for example – are at the root of causing many of our diseases and physiological discomforts like pain, bloating, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.  These discomforts are linked to body inflammation and chronic diseases. 

HOW DO LECTINS ‘ATTACK’? Dr. Gundry gives us a simple explanation of this:

"Well, lectins are like little barnacles that look for specific sugar molecules in our blood, the lining of our gut, and on our nerves. When they find a good spot to land, they cling to those cells, breaking down their ability to communicate with our immune systems. 

Then, they literally tear open little holes between the cells that line our intestines. This perforation is the cause of Leaky Gut Syndrome, which we’re learning can cause a great deal of unpleasant symptoms and autoimmune issues or symptoms similar to those of food poisoning."  Gundry: Reducing lectins in diet 2017

The secret is to be able to reduce the amount of lectin in the seeds so we can eat the seeds.

Managing your life now: At this time you are probably wanting information about lectins and your health problem, like obesity or autoimmune disorder. The information and videos in this article would be incomplete without Sarah Ballentyne's book, The Paleo Approach. Herein is a quote from her book:  Ballantyne Paleo Approach 2013

"Managing autoimmune disease is very much like solving a puzzle.  Understanding what factors fit together to cause autoimmune disease is the first step in being able to put all the right pieces together to reverse it. As scientists learn more  about the causes of autoimmune disease, it is becoming increasingly obvious that genetics is only one piece of the puzzle. In fact, the most current evidence points to autoimmune disease being just as tied to diet and lifestyle factors as [are] obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease."

You should buy her book or get a copy from your local public library and read it.  Ballantyne's comments could just as easily help to understand the impact lectin and inflammation have on chronic diseases and wellbeing. 

Reducing lectins in diet:  Gundry: Reducing lectins in diet 2017

Lets use beans as an example:  Beans carry more lectins than any other food. Do your best to limit beans, peas, lentils, and other legumes. There are two approaches to deal with the lectins.  Here is what you need to do to reduce the lectin in the beans.

  • Approach 1:
    • 1. soak them in water for 4 hours, then drain the water, and re-soak again for another 4 hours. 
    • 2. add sea salt, pepper, oil, onions.
    • 3. Put the beans in a pressure cooker and heat for about 20 minutes, then drain. If you’re cooking the beans, tomatoes, potatoes, and quinoa, the pressure cooker is your best bet for destroying plant lectins.  But, using a pressure cooker doesn’t get rid of all lectins – it won’t even touch the lectins in wheat, oats, rye, barley, or spelt. 
    • Using this procedure, most of the lectin in the skin and meat of the beans will be destroyed.  But heating the beans in a pressure cooker with the temperature raised to steaming will destroy the natural enzymes in the beans.   Natural enzymes in the beans are needed to help the first stage of digesting the beans when you eat them.  When you ingest beans, the bean enzymes will begin digestion in the stomach for the first half hour or so, before the body digestive enzymes begin their breakdown of the beans [or food].  So consider the second approach.

      Steam cooking beans, tomaties and eggplant  by Dr.Gundry; Length=5:15mns.

      Source: Cooking beans

  • Approach 2:
    • 1. buy natural raw beans that have not been heated or processed.  These beans will contain lectin and also the natural enzymes. [these are the beans you would use to plant in the soil]
    • 2. soak the beans for about 4 hours in water that has sea salt and lemon. and drain.
    • 3. let beans dry out for several hours.
    • 4. save the beans so they sprout in several days.
    • 5. Eat the sprouted beans quickly before mold sets in.

By Dr. Eric Berg; Germinate Your Seed & Nuts to Enhance Vitamins and Minerals; Length 1:43 mns.

Source: Berg: deactivating seed poisons

So which approach is better?  Since we are all bio-chemically different, you may need to experiment  what is best for you.  It is important to keep in mind that plant seeds contain a lot of essential nutrients like minerals, vitamins, proteins, low fats and carbohydrates that we need. Recall Sarah Ballantyne and her comments that all the pieces of the food puzzle are not in yet.  Until we have more information about nutrition, food and how our body works, we need to compromise in a safe manner.  

Below are two videos that may be of help to you:

Gundry MP4 video: Steven Gundry, MD discussing rapid weight loss and diet with Randy Alvarez; Length = 26.26 mns.

Source: Gundry MP4 video 1

Dr. Gundry healthy breakfast; Length = 5:30 mns.

 Source: Gundry healthy breakfast

Many people don't 'feel' what lectins are doing to them until they eliminate them.


Ballantyne Sarah, The Paleo Approach, Amazon [paperback], 2013.  Ballantyne Paleo Approach 2013

Gundry Steven, "15 Ways to Reduce Lectins in Your Diet," Gundry MD, May 23, 2017.  Gundry: Reducing lectins in diet 2017

Peumans Willy J. and EIS J. M. Van Damme, "Lectins as PIant Defense Proteins," Plant Physiol., 1995, 109: 347-352.  Peumans: Lectins in plants 1995

Sorochan Walter, " Food Inhibitors and Allergies,", June 12, 2013.  Sorochan: Food inhibitors 2013

Strebe Sacha, "The One "Healthy" Food a Doctor Would Never Eat (It's Not Dairy)," WELLNESS April 20, 2018.  Article by Strebe: What is lectin is no longer active.