October 2017 Issue

Editor's Spot: Another Dose of Food Fear
By Judith Riddle
Today's Dietitian
Vol. 19, No. 10, P. 4

Last month, Today's Dietitian published the article, "Food Fears," which examined the question of whether they're a deterrent to healthful eating. Many of you who read the article would agree that the answer is a resounding yes. The buzzwords "free from," "natural," and "organic," found on product packaging, have instilled fear in consumers' hearts concerning GMOs, pesticides, dairy, food additives of every kind, and gluten—to a point where many are avoiding the very healthful foods they desperately need to help prevent chronic disease.

The latest buzzword, and perhaps the most damaging to those who don't understand nutrition science and instead rely heavily on pseudoscientific articles written by nonexperts, is "lectin," which is a type of protein found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, tomatoes, peppers, dairy, and potatoes. There are many so-called health experts telling people to stop eating many of these nutritious foods because lectin is proinflammatory and can cause leaky gut syndrome and other gastrointestinal problems, autoimmune diseases, weight gain, and other ailments. What these experts aren't trumpeting, according to a recent Washington Post article by Cara Rosenbloom, RD, is that there are different types of lectin, some toxic, some nontoxic, and that Americans don't eat the toxic variety or much of the nontoxic kind.

Adding to the fear of eating healthful plant foods is the recently published controversial book, The Plant Paradox: The Hidden Dangers in "Healthy" Foods That Cause Disease and Weight Gain, by Steven R. Gundry, MD. In it, Gundry explains that lectin is "designed by nature to protect plants from predators (including humans)." And "once ingested, they incite a kind of chemical warfare in our bodies, causing … serious health conditions." Many of Gundry's colleagues praise the book and his discoveries, while many in the dietetics community consider it quackery.

David L. Katz, MD, MPH, says in his recent Huffington Post article that the notion that people should avoid nearly all of the most nutritious plant foods "takes nutritional nonsense to a whole new level." To read more about lectin and how to counsel clients and patients, turn to Ask the Expert on page 10.

Also in this issue are articles on counseling vegan clients, A2 milk, nutrigenomics, cultural disparities in obesity and bariatric surgery, and integrative and functional nutrition therapy for mood disorders.

Please enjoy the issue!

Judith Riddle