Lectins: Consider Decreasing Consumption For Maximum Healing
Lectins are carbohydrate-binding proteins that are found in many foods you would con-sider to be healthy – yet they themselves can have negative effects on your gastrointestinal lining and create states of chronic systemic inflammation.
Common Foods Highest In Lectins:
- Grains of All Kinds (Wheat, Oats, Rice, Quinoa, Barley, Rye, Spelt)
- Legumes(Beans, Chickpeas, Kidney Beans, Lentils, Mung Beans, Peas, Peanuts, Soy, Cacao)
- Nuts/Seeds (Almonds, Cashews, Pine Nuts, Hazelnuts, Sunflower/Sesame Seeds )
- Cooking Oils (Canola, Corn, Grapeseed, Peanut, Sunflower, Safflower)
- Nightshade Vegetables(Corn, Eggplant, Peppers, Pumpkin, Squash, Zucchini, Tomatoes, Okra, Paprika, Cayenne, White & Red Potato)
- Sweeteners(Sugar, Agave, Sucralose)
Lectins are referred to as an anti-nutrients, due to their ability to damage the small layerings of your intensive (the villi and microvilli) which are responsible to the majority of nutrient absorption in the intestine. Gluten, perhaps the most well studied lectin, can trigger irritation and inflammation of the gut lining and lead to a condition termed “leaky gut” which allows for indigestive proteins, toxins and even pathogens to enter your bloodstream creating a cascade of inflammation and an immune reaction that can lead to development of autoimmunity – which has been correlated to diabetes, heart disease, thyroid disorders and even increased risks for cancer.
Symptoms Of Lectin Sensitivity: If you are sensitive to lectins you may experience any of the following symptoms, usually within 30 min or up to 2 hour after eating:
- Bloating, gas, nausea and abdominal cramps
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Painful and swollen joints
- Fatigue and tiredness
- Allergic Sensations (mouth/palate itching, skin itching)
How To Reduce The Lectin Effect On Your Body:
The simplest way to reduce negative effects lectins can have on your body is to simply reduce/eliminate consumption of the foods high in lectins (see above). Soaking or sprouting the legumes/nuts & seeds that high in lectins will neutralize the lectins – allowing you to still enjoy eating them. If you are unfamiliar with this process simply put the legumes nuts or seeds you are wishing to consume in some clean water with 1 tablespoon of Apple Cider Vinegar for at least 12 hours. Then drain and rinse and dry them before eating and you will have neutralized 50% or so of the naturally occurring lectins.
Common Foods Lowest In Lectins:
- Proteins (Grass Fed Meats, Grass Fed Dairy, Chicken, Eggs, Turkey)
- Nuts/Seed (Coconut, Macadamia, Pecan, Pistachio, Walnut, Flax, Hemp Chia, Pumpkin)
- Oils (Coconut, Olive, Avocado, Red Palm)
- Vegetables (All vegetables except nightshades)
- Fruits (Avocado, Green Apple, Blueberries, Raspberries, Blackberries, Strawberries, Kiwi, Pomegranate, Cherries)
- Sweeteners (Stevia, Monk Fruit, Bacon, Erythritol, Xylitol)
Should I Eliminate Lectin Foods Completely?
If you have been diagnosed with any health condition and are taking a prescriptive medication then yes, you should avoid lectins 100%. Over time as your body begins to heal you can consider adding a few of the lectin-containing foods back. Note that autoimmune conditions, thyroid disease, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, IBD/IBS has scientifically been linked to a high intake of lectin based foods.
Can Lectins Be Why I Struggle to Lose Weight?
Yes. Primarily due to the direct effects lectins have on promoting leptin resistance. Leptin is a hormone your body uses to signal fat burning and when lectins bind to the leptin receptor and damage it, your body does not efficiently able to signal your fat cells to burn. One of the easiest ways to restore your leptin receptor health is to intermittently fast and eat foods low in lectins.
Can A Digestive Enzyme Help Limit The Lectin Effect:
Lectins are a protein by definition – and increasing your digestive enzymes can certainly help neutralize the negative effects. Look for an enzyme that contains protease DPP IV(dipeptidyl peptidase IV) which aids in the breakdown of the lectins gluteomorphin (from gluten) and casomorphin (from casein). I recommend “Digestzyme” as it has DPP IV and other beneficial digestive enzymes for overall digestive health.
Given the number of lectin-containing foods, it would be nearly impossible to eliminate them from your diet entirely. Many lectin-containing vegetables also contain polyphenols, which are micronutrients with antioxidant activity that play an important role in pre-venting and reducing the progression of cancer, diabetes, heart disease and neurodegenerative conditions. While you don’t want to miss out on the polyphenols, it’s worth your time to experiment and identify lectins that may be problematic for your body. If you are eating a healthy, whole-food diet but continue to have health problems, it maybe time to limit the lectins. Such a change might possibly be the key to improved health.