What Are lectins?
Lectins are types of protein that, in humans, may help cells interact with one another. Some scientists also believe that lectins provide a form of defense in plants to keep insects away. These proteins also contain nitrogen, which is needed for plants to grow.
Sow The Seeds
While many parts of plants contain lectins, the seed is the part that people eat most often. Lectins may impact health in multiple ways, ranging from digestion to chronic disease risk. They have been shown to cause red blood cells to cluster together.
The lectin in red kidney beans is called phytohaemagglutinin. It is responsible for red kidney bean poisoning, which results from eating raw or undercooked kidney beans. According to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), consuming just four raw kidney beans could cause symptoms including severe nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Castor Oil Is Still Safe
Lectins were first described in 1888 by Stillmark, who observed that crude extracts of castor beans (Ricinus communis) contained a toxic substance named ricin that agglutinated human and some animal red blood cells. However, the modern age of lectinology started nearly 100 years later (Bies et al., 2004; Sharon and Lis, 2004). Only few drops of ricin can kill an adult.
Legume Lectin Content
Lectins are found in abundance in legume seeds. Phaseolus vulgaris is an herbaceous annual plant grown worldwide for its edible beans, popular in both dry and green bean forms. The commercial production of beans is well distributed worldwide.
Lectins In Beans
There are different varieties, including anasazi bean, black beans, cranberry bean, borlotti beans, pink beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, shell beans, white beans, yellow beans and French beans, etc. Lectins or hemagglutinins have been purified from different varieties of P. vulgaris. The lectin contents are low in some varieties and high in other varieties.
Immune System And LectinsBecause we don’t digest lectins, we often produce antibodies to them. Almost everyone has antibodies to some dietary lectins in their body. This means our responses vary. Certain foods can even become intolerable to someone after an immune system change or the gut is injured from another source. The presence of particular lectins can stimulate an immune system response.
What is An Anti-Nutrient
Lectins are categorized as antinutrients since they block the absorption of some nutrients. Lectins may cause an upset stomach when plant foods are eaten uncooked. They are also the reason why it can be dangerous to eat undercooked legumes.
Current estimates of gluten sensitivity in the US are 30-40% of the population with the majority of these people not even being aware that they have the problem.
People who are the most sensitive end up with Celiac’s Disease. Gluten causes inflammation in the gut lining and pain.
Celiac’s Disease can cause severe symptoms (Ciliac’s) or be subclinical and exhibit almost no symptoms. With time though, people will begin to exhibit clinical symptoms: abdominal cramping, dry skin, dry hair, diarrhea, nausea, constipation, and low energy to name just a few.
So, how do Lectins cause me to gain weight and not be able to lose it?
Lectins interfere with leptin. Leptin tells us to stop eating, stores excess calories in fat, supports the growth of blood vessels, bone, the immune system, glucose- and fat-metabolism, and the reproductive system.
In mice, the administration of leptin causes satiation and weight loss. In overweight humans it does not. Overweight humans often have high levels of leptin already. This points to Leptin Resistance as a cause of their obesity.
Lectins appear to interfere with leptin receptors, blocking leptin’s effect of controlling appetite/satiation. This may lead to an increase in glucose in the blood and start insulin resistance (Type II Diabetes) in some people.
Lectins may also contribute strongly to the metabolic syndrome.
So, where do you think you would be if you followed the old USDA food pyramid?
It recommended 6-11 servings of grain a day!
Consider how much the obesity rate in the US has gone up and you might just see a connection.
How do you reverse the process?
The first step is to get off of the foods that have potentially toxic Lectins in them. Hunter-Gatherer diets, the Paleo diet, the Atkins diet, and other similar diets will reduce your exposure to Lectins. However, you should consult with your physician/nutritionist before starting any dietary program to make sure that it is right for you and your problems.
The majority of people do not even know what a leaky gut is. Most people are surprised to learn that 70% to 80% of your immune system is in your gut! The reason for the concentration of your defensive system in this area is the bacteria that are growing there.
There are more bacteria in your gut then there are cells in your body! These bacteria help us digest and break down our food so that it can be absorbed. We supply them with things that they need and we can’t use. These include fiber and sugars that we are unable to digest or utilize. The bacteria eat these. This forms a symbiotic relationship that works quite well, when it goes as it was designed too. When the system develops a problem, we pay a price.
Causes of Leaky Gut
What can cause the system to go out of balance? Medications (antibiotics), diet, stress, bad bacteria, yeasts, fungi, and food allergies. Antibiotics set the stage for problems because they destroy most of the bacteria in the gut. Good, bad, or indifferent, they all go. This leaves the gut open to invasion by yeasts, fungi, and molds.
If you use antibiotics, you must repopulate your gut with good bacteria as soon as possible to prevent over-growth of bad organisms. Probiotics should contain several different organisms to provide adequate coverage.
Diet, including food allergies, is one of the most common ways to develop a leaky gut. Gluten, found in wheat, barley, rye, spelt, malt, and oats, contains compounds called lectins. Lectins are sugars attached to proteins or fats. These compounds cause irritation and inflammation of the gut.
This inflammation and irritation causes the junctions between the cells in the gut to loosen. When the gaps between the cells lining the gut widen, all kinds of things can cross into the body, partially digested proteins, bacteria, and other products slip through.
The immune system assumes that proteins made up of three or four amino acids is a virus and mounts an attack on it. If one of the bodies organs or other parts happens to have the same combination of amino acids, the immune system will attack it too.
Enter autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and Hashimoto’s autoimmune thyroiditis.
So what can you do to fix this problem? The first step is to identify the source of the leaky gut. I have only discussed a few of the more common ones. It often takes testing and a through history in order to discover the source or sources of your specific problem.
The second step is to eliminate it from your life. Next, you may need to detoxify in order to eliminate the products of the leaky gut from your system. Lastly, you will need to heal you gut through nutritional means in order to seal up the leaks and enable you to improve your overall health.
The gut is a crucial and often overlooked part of your total health. People may have gut problems without symptoms. Other people end up with Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD), Celiac’s Disease, and Gastritis, to name a few.
Until this area is assessed and properly treated, no program, nutritional or otherwise, will cause lasting improvements in your health!
6 FOODS THAT ARE HIGH IN LECTINS
When Lectins are in small amounts, they may provide several health benefits. However, large amounts can damage the gut wall. This causes irritation that can result in symptoms such as diarrhea and vomiting. It can also prevent the gut from absorbing nutrients properly.
The highest concentrations of lectins are found in healthy foods like legumes, grains and nightshade vegetables.
Luckily, there are several ways to reduce the lectin content of these healthy foods to make them safe to eat.
Research shows that by cooking, sprouting or fermenting foods that are high in lectins, you can easily reduce their lectin content to negligible amounts.
This chapter reviews six foods that are particularly high in lectins, and explains how you can make sure they don't reduce your nutrient absorption.
Below are six healthy foods that are high in lectins.
1. RED KIDNEY BEANS
Red kidney beans are among the richest sources of plant-based protein. They are also a great source of carbs that are low on the glycemic index (GI). This means that they release their sugars more slowly into the blood, causing a gradual rise in blood sugar rather than a sharp spike.
They are also high in resistant starch and insoluble fiber, which can help with weight loss and improve general gut health. Red kidney beans contain many vital vitamins and minerals, such as iron, potassium, folate and vitamin K1. However, raw kidney beans also contain high levels of a lectin called phytohaemagglutinin.
If you eat them raw or undercooked, they can cause extreme nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. As few as five beans can cause a response. A hemagglutinating unit (hau) is a measure of lectin content. In their raw form, red kidney beans contain 20,000–70,000 hau.
Once they're thoroughly cooked, they contain only 200–400 hau, which is considered a safe level. As long as they are properly cooked, red kidney beans are a valuable and nutritious food that shouldn't be avoided.
Soybeans are a fantastic source of protein. They are one of the highest quality plant-based proteins, which makes them particularly important for vegetarians. They are a good source of vitamins and minerals, particularly molybdenum, phosphorus and thiamine.
They also contain plant compounds called isoflavones, which have been linked to cancer prevention and a decreased risk of osteoporosis. Research shows soybeans can also help lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of developing obesity and type 2 diabetes.
However, soybeans are another food that contains high levels of lectins. As with red kidney beans, cooking soybeans almost completely eliminates the lectins. Yet make sure you cook them for long enough at a high enough temperature.
Research shows that soybean lectins are almost completely deactivated when they're boiled at 212°F (100°C) for at least 10 minutes. In contrast, dry or moist heating of soybeans at 158°F (70°C) for several hours had little or no effect on their lectin content.
On the other hand, fermentation and sprouting are both proven methods of reducing lectins. One study found that fermenting soybeans reduced the lectin content by 95%. Another study found that sprouting decreased the lectin content by 59%.
Fermented soybean products include soy sauce, miso and tempeh. Soybean sprouts are also widely available, and can be added to salads or used in stir-fries.
Wheat is the staple food for 35% of the world's population. Refined wheat products have a high glycemic index (GI), which can cause your blood sugar to spike. They've also been stripped of virtually all nutrients. Whole wheat has a similar GI, but it's higher in fiber, which can have beneficial effects on gut health.
Some people have difficulty digesting gluten, a protein found in wheat. However, if you tolerate it, then whole wheat can be a good source of many vitamins and minerals, such as selenium, copper and folate. Whole wheat also contains antioxidants such as ferulic acid, which has been linked to a reduction in heart disease.
Raw wheat, especially wheat germ, is high in lectins, with around 300 mcg of wheat lectins per gram. However, it appears that the lectins are almost completely eliminated by cooking and processing.
Whole-wheat flour has a much lower lectin content of about 30 mcg per gram. When you cook whole-wheat pasta, it appears to completely inactivate the lectins, even at temperatures as low as 149°F (65°C). In cooked pasta, lectins are undetectable.
Moreover, research shows that store-bought whole-wheat pasta doesn't contain any lectins at all, since it's usually exposed to heat treatments during production.
Peanuts are actually classified as legumes, and are related to beans and lentils. They are high in mono- and polyunsaturated fats, making them a great source of energy. They are also high in protein and a wide range of vitamins and minerals, such as biotin, vitamin E and thiamine.
Peanuts are also rich in antioxidants, and have been linked to health benefits like a reduced risk of heart disease and gallstones. Unlike with some of the other foods on this list, the lectins in peanuts don't appear to be reduced by heating. A study found that after participants ate 7 ounces (200 grams) of either raw or roasted peanuts, lectins were found in their blood, indicating that they had crossed through from the gut.
One test-tube study found that peanut lectins increased growth in cancer cells. This, alongside the evidence that peanut lectins can enter the blood stream, has led some people to believe that lectins could encourage cancer to spread in the body.
However, this study was carried out using high doses of pure lectins placed directly onto cancer cells. There are no studies as yet on the exact effects in humans. So far, the evidence for peanuts' health benefits and role in cancer prevention is far stronger than the evidence for any potential harm they might cause.
Tomatoes are part of the nightshade family, along with potatoes, eggplants and bell peppers. Tomatoes are high in fiber and rich in vitamin C, with one tomato providing approximately 28% of the recommended daily intake. They are also a good source of potassium, folate and vitamin K1.
One of the most studied compounds in tomatoes is the antioxidant lycopene. It has been found to reduce inflammation and heart disease, and studies have shown it may protect against cancer. Tomatoes also contain lectins.
The available studies have been on animals or in test tubes. In one study on rats, tomato lectins were found to bind to the gut wall, but they didn't appear to cause any damage.
Another study found that tomato lectins do manage to cross the gut and enter the bloodstream once they've been eaten. Indeed, some people do appear to react to tomatoes, but this is more likely to be due to something called pollen food allergy syndrome or oral allergy syndrome.
Some people have linked tomatoes and other nightshade vegetables to inflammation, such as that found in arthritis. So far, no formal research has supported this link. Lectins have been linked to rheumatoid arthritis, but only for those who carry genes that put them at a high risk of the disease.
Potatoes are another member of the nightshade family. They are a very popular food and are eaten in many forms. Eaten with the skin, potatoes are also a good source of some vitamins and minerals.
They contain high levels of potassium, which has been shown to decrease the risk of heart disease. They are also a rich source of vitamin C and folate. The skins, in particular, are high in antioxidants, such as chlorogenic acid. This compound has been associated with a reduction in the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer's disease.
Potatoes have also been shown to increase feelings of fullness, which can help with weight loss. That said, it is important to consider how they are cooked. Potatoes are high in lectins that appear to be resistant to heat. About 40–50% of their lectin content remains after cooking.
As with tomatoes, some people report experiencing adverse effects when they eat potatoes. Animal and test-tube studies have shown that this could possibly be linked to lectins. However, more studies in humans are needed.
Natural K2 Vitamin as MK7 Menaquinone
Chewable Multivitamins Minerals Trace-Minerals Supplement for Kids, Adults and Seniors
Chewable Enzymes for Digestive Enzyme Therapy
Ultra Pure Omega 3 Krill Oil 1000 mg with Astaxanthin
Probiotics for Intense Digestive Support With Colonizing Human Specific Strains
Triphala Churna 1000mg Pure Fruit Extract Gentle Colon Cleanse, Liver Cleanse and Liver Detox Herbal Supplement
Vegetarian D3 Vitamin 5000 IU