Keeping of red meat and processed food should further better your odds of maintaining optimal health. So without question, many have adopted a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle to ensure that they keep disease at bay. Apparently, there a few caveats to this theory, some “healthy plants” can actually make you sick and overweight. This article sheds some light on the plants that may be unhealthy for you.
Plants That Cause Disease
Steven Gundry, author of “The plant paradox” has argued that a couple of “healthy plants” are actually capable of causing disease. In his theory, lectins are responsible for causing disease. Lectins are a form of proteins found in plants; they are also known as anti-nutrients.
It is believed that the human digestive system is not able to digest lectins, and so they pass through the gut unchanged. Gundry’s theory has been criticized by a number of people, but research indeed shows that lectins are capable of causing disease in humans. Lectins cause chronic inflammation of the intestinal walls and may trigger “leaky gut syndrome” as well as. They also hinder the absorption of important minerals such as calcium, iron, phosphorous and zinc. Some evidence also suggests that lectins may contribute to the development of autoimmune diseases. Below is a list of foods that are high in lectin.
Red Kidney Beans
Red kidney beans contain a lectin called phytohaemagglutinin which causes red blood cells to clump together. Consuming undercooked kidney beans may trigger symptoms such as nausea and vomiting, diarrhea and bloating.
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Wheat-free diets have been a popular fad in the last decade. This is because of the health risks that are associated with gluten, a lectin found in wheat. Barley and rye also have significant amounts of gluten. People with celiac disease or general gluten intolerance may not be able to digest gluten.
When gluten is not digested, it crosses over the intestinal walls and spreads into other parts of the body causing an immune reaction. A person experiencing gluten sensitivity may suffer from the following symptoms: headaches, diarrhea, vomiting, joint pains and fatigue. People with autoimmune disease may also suffer from severe symptoms after consuming gluten. The mechanism through which this happens is referred to as molecular mimicry. A number of studies have shown that people suffering from autoimmune diseases may benefit from a gluten free diet.
However, for healthy people there may be more benefits to consuming wheat than there are risks. Wheat is a major source of carbohydrate and is therefore essential in body building. The form in which you take the wheat matters; taking wheat in the form of cakes and other sweet treats may increases chances for obesity.
Tomatoes belong to the nightshade family of vegetables together with potatoes, eggplants and peppers among many others. They are a rich source of fiber, potassium, folic acid, and vitamins. They also contain lectins which may pose a threat for people with autoimmune diseases. People with a healthy digestive system are able to withstand the minimal amounts of lectin present in tomatoes. However, people with preexisting immune conditions may experience a heightened immune response which may be detrimental for them.
Alkaloids found in tomatoes may also increase permeability of the intestines and cause leaky gut syndrome.
Potatoes are a staple across many cultures. Like tomatoes, they are members of the nightshade family. They also contain lectins and alkaloids. One study found that consuming potato skins was linked to significant gut inflammation.
Another study published in 2017 also showed that people who ate fried potatoes at least twice a week had an increased mortality risk. But the same did not apply for people who consumed non fried potatoes.
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Potatoes are high in simple carbs which are easily digested and make you feel hungrier faster. This can lead to overeating and expose you to the risk of obesity.
Is Lectin Bad For Everyone?
Studies on the health risks associated with lectins are not yet conclusive. But as it stands, lectins have been linked to worsening of autoimmune diseases and causing leaky gut syndrome. They also interfere with the absorption of essential minerals such as calcium, zinc, iron and phosphorous from the gut.
Is adopting a lectin free diet suitable for everyone? No. People with autoimmune conditions may benefit from minimizing the amount of lectin-containing foods, such as those listed above. People with celiac disease as well as gluten intolerance should definitely stay away from gluten containing foods. As for the rest of the population, it is best to consult with your nutritionist to determine whether lectin containing foods are doing you more harm than good.
Plants That Worsen Disease
Citrus fruits include oranges, lemons and limes. They are a rich source of vitamin C. However, they may not be recommended for people with gastritis because they will worsen symptoms of inflammation.
Cruciferous vegetables include cabbages, turnips, broccoli, and cauliflower. They are a rich source of vitamins and minerals. However, they are goitrogenic substances meaning that they may cause goiter. They do this by inhibiting the uptake of iodine which prevents goiter.
In healthy individuals, this risk is minimal. But in people who are predisposed to goiter or suffer from it cruciferous vegetable are best avoided or taken in minimal amounts.
Asparagus is a rich source of fiber and vitamins. However, it is also packed with purines which make up 15% of the uric acid that we have in our bodies. Uric acid is bad for gout as it fuels the disease. Because of this, gout patients are advised to limit their intake of asparagus.
However, people not suffering from gout may have to more to benefit from this plant than they have to lose. A 2012 study showed that there was no correlation between a high purine diet and the development of gout in healthy individuals.
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Kale and Spinach
Kale and spinach are packed with vitamins and essential minerals. Among the vitamins is a high presence of vitamin K which promotes blood clotting. People on blood thinning drugs such as Coumadin may suffer an increased risk of clotting when they consume these vegetables.
Legumes and nuts
Both legumes and nuts are rich sources of plant protein. They are rich in phytic acid as well. Phytic acid impairs the absorption of iron, zinc and calcium which are essential minerals.
For people consuming a balanced diet, this risk is not significant. However, people with malnutrition need to bear this in mind and either limit their consumption of legumes and nuts or supplement these minerals.
Plants That Cause Obesity
“Plants that cause obesity” may sound like an oxymoron to some people, but it actually is not. Some plants may cause you to gain weight and they include:
Eggplants are nutrient dense and low in calories. Due to this, they are an all-time-fav for many dieters. However, how you prepare eggplants make all the difference. Eggplants are spongy and when you deep fry them, they can soak up to four times the amount of fat soaked up by French fries. This means that having fried eggplants thrice a week is worse than having French fries daily, if your aim is losing weight.
Avocados provide us with vitamins, minerals and healthy fats. They are also a rich source of fiber. However, they are high in calories; 100gms of Avocado contains 160 calories which is relatively high. 100 grams of potato has 77 calories. Because of these, eating a lot of avocados will make you gain weight.
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Coconuts contain a high amount of saturated fats, which is the bad type of fat that increases the risk for heart disease. Coconut is also high in calories; one tablespoon of coconut oil contains 115 calories, which is more than you will get from a tablespoon of cheese. Eating lots of avocado could sabotage your weight loss effort significantly.
“Healthy plants” may not be ideal for every person, at every time. A good number of healthy plants are actually disease causing while others may worsen the symptoms of pre-existing conditions. Because of this, it is important to consult with a nutritionist when working out a diet plan that’s ideal for you.
Plants provide us with a wide array of beneficial nutrients. On the other hand, animal products such as eggs and red meat have been criticized for being the source of many chronic illnesses.
Is switching to a plant based diet healthy for you? New evidence is suggesting the contrary. For one to fully benefit from a plant based diet, they will need to have a wide selection of plants at their exposure in order to get all the nutrients that they need. People not able to access this variety are likely to suffer from inadequate protein intake and mineral deficiencies as well.