Learning about Lectins

Learning about Lectins

Throughout the plant and vegetable world, you can find these tiny little toxins. Though they’re tiny, they can have a huge effect on your health and well-being.

They’re called lectin, and they’re one of Mother Nature’s biggest defenses against any predator – including humans.

You see, Nature looks out for her babies, and that’s why these little bombs can hurt you if you’re after any of her little green babies.

But there’s a doctor out there trying to inform as many people as he can about how to avoid ingesting these toxins. He’s the leading researcher on lectins, and he’s gone through the trouble of putting everything he knows into his latest book – The Plant Paradox.

Can The Plant Paradox Teach You About Lectins?

Why, yes. Yes, it can.

The book tells the true story of how lectins in certain plants – certain fruits and veggies, grains, seeds, and legumes – could possibly harm your health. You are likely telling yourself, “That’s odd. Fruits and veggies are supposed to be good for me.” And a lot of them are.

And that’s what best-selling author, Dr. Steven Gundry, calls the “plant paradox.”

You see, Dr. Gundry reports that plants are among the smartest chemists in the world. They’ve learned how to use their chemicals to make you sick. That way, you won’t eat them again and again. So, how do these plants do that?

It’s simple … lectins

The most well-known lectin – the one you’ve heard of before – is gluten.

But gluten is only one of a bunch of different kinds of lectins.

And all kinds of lectins can mess up your body pretty bad. For instance, lectins might cause –

  • Nausea 
  • Leaky gut  
  • Digestive issues 
  • Bloating 
  • Gas 
  • Diarrhea

Scientifically, lectins are “proteins of nonimmune origin that agglutinates cells.”1 Just in case that doesn’t make a ton of sense, let’s put it a different way …

Lectins are proteins that force carbs to clump together, and they can bind themselves to specific cells in your body when you digest them.

Let’s say you eat a lectin-rich seed, or the rind of lectin-filled fruits. Suddenly, the sugars in your body become easy targets for the toxic proteins.

Sialic acid is a really easy target for lectins – that’s a sugar in your brain, gut, and nerves.2,3 And once lectins attach to those sugars, they can really interfere with the regular bodily functions of the person who eats them.4

How Lectins Mess with Your Body

The biggest problem that lectin can cause is breaking the communication between important cells in your body. Often, the result of interrupted communication is inflammation or another odd reaction, e.g: vomiting or nausea.5 Or, maybe you’ll start to feel fatigue or brain fog.

But lectins can also hold onto bad bacteria and damaging viruses, helping them attach to the cells in your body, too.

Lectins might also cause you to gain weight. This is why people used to rely on lectin-heavy foods, like fruit. When the hunter/gatherer generations weren’t sure where their next meal was going to come from, they tried to gain weight to get through winter. So, people relied on wheat and fruit.

But now, most folks eat three square meals a day and don’t need their food to fatten them up. If you can, you really want to avoid –

  • Soy 
  • Barley 
  • Lentils 
  • Beans 
  • Potatoes  
  • Wheat6 

If you happen to realize you’re sensitive to lectins, there might be an issue in your gut lining – the protective barrier of your gut – and this can result in pathogens and toxic materials making you sick.7

But, your gut also relies on good microorganisms to keep it well. When you ingest lectins, a cycle of damage and destruction begins. And if your gut is damaged, those good microorganisms can’t get what they need to keep your gut healthy. 

But, if you decide to cut down on lectins, you can really start to heal your gut. Of course, everyone’s body is different, but some people say they feel relief right away, or within weeks, when they stop consuming lectins.

Lectin-Avoidance Diets

In The Plant Paradox, Dr. Gundry shares all he can about the best and worst foods for you. In fact, if you want to test the waters, give yourself a couple days without the following foods –

  • Peanuts 
  • Beans 
  • Seeds 
  • Potatoes 
  • Tomatoes 
  • Eggplant 
  • Peppers 
  • Grains

On those days, eat more –

  • Pasture-raised meats 
  • Wild-caught seafood 
  • Cage-free Omega-3 eggs 
  • In-season berries 
  • Bitter leafy greens 
  • Celery or broccoli

By starting with those basics, you can see how your body responds to taking in fewer lectins.

The Takeaway

To see if you’re one of the many people sensitive to lectins, track what you’re eating, and how it’s affecting you, for one week. The following week, adhere to the lectin-friendly lists above. You’ll likely be surprised at how much you like eating from the YES list, and how much you don’t miss the items on the NO list. Then try out the supplement made by Gundry MD, and see how using both a supplement and reducing lectins in your diet can improve digestion. Lectin Shield helps reduce the negative effects of lectins on the body. For more information on Lectin Shield, check out this podcast.

You might feel better, sooner. Maybe you’ll even find a system that works for your body and well-being for the long-haul.

Sources 

The Lectins: Properties, Functions, and Applications in Biology and Medicine 

  1. http://www.nature.com/ejcn/journal/v57/n11/full/1601704a.html 
  2. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0041010104001916 
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC157596/pdf/1090347.pdf 
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC157596/pdf/1090347.pdf 

The Lectins: Properties, Functions, and Applications in Biology and Medicine (Irvin Liener; 1986) 

  1. http://www.nature.com/mi/journal/v4/n6/full/mi201141a.html