Why You Should Avoid Lectins in Your Diet!

Lectins are a way that nature has equipped itself with its own system of defense and the way that vegetation defends itself against larger predators such as humans and animals.  Lectins found in grains, nuts, legumes and nightshade vegetables have been linked with digestive distress, leaky gut syndrome and chronic inflammation (123).  Find out how to minimize the damaging effects of lectins in your diet.

Lectins are carbohydrate binding proteins that are present in both plants and animals (4).  There role is to protect plant species and they also support immunological functions within their respective species (4).  They are sticky molecules that bind sugars and cause functional shifts in the body.  Lectins have been reported to damage the gastrointestinal lining and create states of chronic systemic inflammation (5).

Lectins and Leaky Gut Syndrome:

Lectins have been shown to bind with the intestinal lining and in particular the villi of the small intestine.  The villi are the little pockets that nutrients flow into before they cross into the bloodstream.  When the villi are damaged by the lectins the body is unable to effectively digest and absorb nutrients from the small intestine.  The damage and inflammation the lectins cause also creates a dysbiotic gut flora that encourages parasites and other pathogenicorganisms (6).

This process leads to leaky gut syndrome in which the intestinal lining has open gaps and now lectins and other particles and pathogenic organisms are able to get directly into the bloodstream.  Lectins that are free floating in the bloodstream have an affinity for the insulin and leptin receptors and are believed to desensitize these receptors contributing to insulin and leptin resistance in the body (7).

Lectins and Chronic Inflammation:

The body also creates an immune response to the lectin molecules as it tags them as antigens or foreign particles that could be harmful.  This leads to an auto-immune reaction where the immune system will attack tissues that lectins attach (5).  Once this sensitization of the immune system takes place the body will also become highly inflamed when one consumes foods containing high amounts of lectins.

Wheat contains a lectin called wheat germ agglutin or WGA.  Many individuals have a high level of sensitivity to WGA and this is often mistaken as a gluten sensitivity (8).  Lectins inhibit nerve growth factor which affects the ability of the nerves to heal and repair effectively.  Many individuals never test positive for a gluten allergen yet they have WGA sensitivity that is causing severe inflammatory problems in their body.

List of High lectin foods:

You can reduce the lectins by soaking the seeds, beans, grains and nuts overnight before use. Use the high lectins favorite foods only every 4 days.

Grains: Barley, Bulgur, Buckwheat, millet, Quinoa, Kamut, Rye, Spelt, Wheat, Oats, Rice.

Dairy: All dairy is high in lectins

Vegetables: Corn, cucumbers, eggplant, peppers, Pumpkin, squash, zucchini, tomatoes, Potatoes

Legumes: Beans, Cacao, Chickpeas, Kidney, Lentils, Mung, Peas, Peanut, Soy,

Nuts: Almonds, Cashews, Pine nuts, Hazelnuts,

Seeds: Chia, Pumpkin seeds, Sunflower Seeds,

Low Lectin Foods

Grains: Amaranth, Wild Rice    Legumes: there are no legumes low in lectins

Nuts: Coconut, Macadamia, Peacans, Walnuts

Seeds: Flax, Hemp, Sesame,

Fruits: Limit These Fruits: Apples, Blueberries, Cherries  Citrus, Kiwi, Nectarines Plumes, Pomegranates, Raspberries, Strawberries

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