Lectin-free diet: ‘Controversial’ program that led to Kelly Clarkson’s weight loss

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WATCH: Earlier in June, Kelly Clarkson spoke about The Plant Paradox, a controversial lectin-free diet that helped her lose 37 pounds following a thyroid issue. But some dieticians caution following the diet as it's still not conclusive – Jun 26, 2018

Kelly Clarkson has most of us wondering what a lectin-free diet looks like.

The singer and mom-of-two recently spoke to Extra on how she lost 37 pounds, following a thyroid issue.

“I literally read this book, and I did it for this autoimmune disease that I had, and I had a thyroid issue,” Clarkson said during the interview. “I’m not on medicine anymore because of this book.”

The book Clarkson refers to is The Plant Paradox by Dr. Steven Gundry, a controversial program that claims plant-based proteins called lectins (found in everything from beans to grains to nuts to legumes to fruit) are the root cause of modern-day illnesses, Live Science reports.

“It’s basically about how we cook our food, non-GMO, no pesticides, eating really organic… Literally, I haven’t worked out at all,” she continued. “Honestly, I’m gonna be real with you: It’s really expensive to do… I was poor growing up, and there’s no way my family could have afforded this.”

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“Kelly Clarkson is a great example,” Gundry told Live Science. “All she did was to remove these foods from her diet, and her thyroid problem went away.”

What is it?

The program also forbids eggplants, tomatoes, potatoes and dairy, and notes these foods can lead to problems like obesity, gastrointestinal issues and allergies. He adds lectin binds to sugar molecules found in the body, changing how these cells work.

Registered dietitian Anar Allidina tells Global News humans are unable to digest lectins, so they travel through your gut unchanged and they can bind to cells on the gut wall.

“Large amounts can damage the gut wall and lead to inflammation and leaky gut. This causes irritation that can result in symptoms such as diarrhea and vomiting. It can also prevent the gut from absorbing nutrients properly.”

On his website, Grundy also includes a “yes” and “no” list of food items that are suitable for the program. Anyone following is told to avoid everything from pasta to chia seeds to all fruit to Greek yogurt to whole grains.

And while many of these are deemed healthy, his “yes” list consists of everything from cabbage to onions to pork to taro roots to hemp tofu.

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Allidina continues that for those who have an autoimmune disorder like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, eating foods that can reduce inflammation can be very beneficial.

“Your thyroid is a very important gland in your neck that controls metabolic activities,” she explains. “It does this by producing thyroid hormones that regulate heart rate and metabolism. Underactive thyroids don’t produce enough of these hormones, which can leave you feeling tired, depressed and susceptible to weight gain.”

The controversy

She adds the research behind not eating lectin-based foods is still highly controversial and not conclusive. She adds you can reduce lectin in some of these foods if you cook, ferment or pressure-cook things like lentils, veggies and legumes.

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“The weight loss Kelly Clarkson experienced is likely due to reducing her intake. Any time you restrict a food group, you are scaling back on how much you eat which results in weight loss. Also, it’s likely she is avoiding processed high-sugar foods while following a lectin-free diet.”

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Speaking with Women’s Health, registered dietitian Julie Upton of Appetite For Health also notes there is no evidence to suggest lectins in grains, beans or peanuts are pro-inflammatory to begin with.

“I suspect Kelly Clarkson has lost weight by following an eating style that has fewer calories than what she was previously eating,” Upton told the site. “When people lose weight, if overweight, they tend to feel better and most health biomarkers improve, too.”

Following celeb diets

And while this program worked for Clarkson and led to her 37-pound weight loss, it doesn’t mean it will work for everyone, Allidina adds.

“If you have thyroid problems, cutting back on grains and nightshade vegetables can help, but make sure you speak with your doctor and work with a dietitian to make sure your nutrition needs are being met,” she says.

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And not only can it be expensive, but this program isn’t something that is easy to sustain either, she adds.

“Whole grains, beans, and vegetables are rich sources of fibre, which is a crucial nutrient that is universally recognized for maintaining a healthy weight, lowering the risk for heart disease and promoting healthy blood-sugar levels.”

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