LECTIN: Gluten’s Harmful but Lesser Known Sibling

Some nutritionists have advised us to eat plant proteins to help with various health problems. However, new facts about these proteins have been brought to light, hence we may need to be wary of taking this advice.

In the past, we were made aware of gluten, a protein commonly found in wheat, barley and rye. A few years ago, a new protein called lectin has been highlighted by Dr. Steven Gundry, which according to him, is wreaking havoc on our health.

Some of the health problems caused by lectins are obesity, cancer, dementia, coronary diseases and autoimmune disorders. He had come up with a lectin-free diet which he credited with healing his arthritis, high blood pressure and migraines, while losing 30kg in the process.

As to date, however, lectin has been embroiled in a bit of controversy as his claims about lectins have been classified by scientists and dieticians as pseudoscience. Many in the mainstream science still consider his lectin-free diet a momentary fad.

In spite of that, there are many testimonies of people who eliminated lectins from their diet and have managed to cure their skin problems, joint pain, and nerve issues, including improving their moods and helping with brain fog, headaches and general fatigue.

So whether Dr. Gundry’s claims are just a fad or not remains to be seen. You can decide on your own by trying out a diet free from lectins for a month and see the results for yourself.


So, what exactly is lectin?

Lectin is a protein found in plant-based products. It functions as a self-defense mechanism in plants against their predators, by harming and scaring away insects and herbivores from consuming them. Sounds like a beneficial protein, except that when consumed, lectins become very toxic to our digestive system leading to acute inflammation and impaired immune system.

According to Dr. Gundry, the following foods have the highest amount of lectins and so should be minimized as much as possible:

  • Legumes, such as beans, peas, lentils and peanuts
  • Squash
  • Nightshade vegetables, such as eggplant, peppers, potatoes and tomatoes
  • Grains.

Whereas, the following foods should be completely avoided as advised by Dr. Gundry:

  • Corn
  • Meat from corn-fed animals
  • Milk containing casein A1.

Dangers of lectins:

  • Damage our immune system
  • Create many digestive issues
  • Leaky gut syndrome

When consumed, lectins are indigestible and has the tendency to stick molecules together, hence clinging to the intestinal walls and causing the imbalance of microorganisms, creating gastrointestinal disorders. When that happens, lectins can be directly absorbed into our bloodstream, inhibiting blood circulation and cell to cell interaction, suppressing gene expression, and messing with our endocrine system.


How to handle lectins in common day-to-day foods?

Because lectins are found in many foods that also have beneficial nutrients for our body, as well as in commonly consumed foods, it becomes almost impossible to completely eliminate it from our diet. For some people it may be feasible to live completely on a lectin-free diet, but for others, they can only reduce the intake of such foods.

So what are the best ways to reduce the unavoidable lectins in our food consumption?

  1. Boiling
  2. Fermentation
  3. Sprouting
  4. Peeling
  5. Deseeding
  6. Pressure cooking

For legumes and grains, it’s best to prepare them before cooking. Soak them overnight and change the water often. Drain and rinse again before cooking. Adding some baking soda or bamboo salt to the soaking water may help neutralize the lectins further.

To further protect our digestive system from the toxicity of lectins, it’s advisable to include digestive enzymes as a supplement to our daily food intake. /node/427


In Conclusion

It used to be in previous generations long gone that people used to consume many foods with no major consequence. With the world heading towards genetically modifying any form of seeds and plants in the name of innovation, likewise lectins have evolved for the survival of plants and protection against predators, most dangerously the human race.

To top it all off, humans today are highly medicated, living lives that are filled with stress and anxiety in an environment that is polluted by chemical and radioactive substances, it is no wonder that the strong immune system enjoyed by our forefathers is now completely impaired in us.


Undoubtedly, there will arise more allergies and food intolerance/sensitivities in the future if we continue down this path. So even if lectin is currently seen as a craze or worse, bogus, I believe it’s wise to consider taking this harmful protein a bit more seriously, if not for anything but “for our self-defense and survival of our species” (pun intended).