Lectin free diet seems to be the latest food paradox trending everywhere. One thing that interests me most is that we don’t play with our health. Lectins in foods seem to be inevitable. But do we stop eating because of food lectins to avoid?
What we should be asking at this point is what these lectins are all about. Are they all that deadly as claimed? Yes, they are. Though lectins have been claimed to be toxic to our body, they also play important roles in the same body system. If that is the case, how do we find the right balance for this?
And God said, “Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in they which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed. To you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life. I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so”. ~ Genesis 1:29-30 KJV
Man has existed centuries ago and these lectins have been there, even before man. The lectins in foods were there when God gave all trees and herbs as food to man. It has lived with man all through the centuries till this our generation.
So I get confused with the recent social tension on this lectin free diet stuff. What the heck is it all about? I recommend everyone that has put effort in one way or the other to bring up this lectin issue to limelight. I strongly believe that everything was geared towards reminding us the need for us to be monitoring the amount of lectins in foods that we ingest on daily basis.
To that effect, I tried everything possible to make sure that I put this piece together for a better understanding of this recent lectin issue. This piece is solely written to guide us on how to go about this lectins in our foods in order to prevent them from having adverse effects on our health. So there are simple rules mapped out for every one of us to follow in order to safely manage food lectins. Though it is important to promote lectin free diet but at the same time we don’t have to run away from foods that contain lectins because we need them too.
What Are Lectins?
Lectins are carbohydrate-binding proteins that stick to the cell membranes in our digestive tract. They are known to exist in most animal plant-base foods like the grains and legumes. They contain the nitrogen plants need for growth. Of course, they are abundantly found in legumes, nightshades, vegetables and grains.
Some lectins like the ricin found in Castor oil are poisonous. Moreover, lectins are known to be toxic to human health, especially when they are in high concentration in the guts.
However, some researches have shown that some lectins like phytohemagglutinins and Concanavalin A help in cell interactions and cell division, which is very important for the entire body system for growth. These lectins are also reported to be beneficial to some friendly bacteria in the body.
Also, some lectins play vital roles in our immune system. For instance, the mannose-binding lectins serve as the first-line defense against microorganisms that invade the body system. They are known for their active pathogen removal function in the immune system. CLEC11A we know today promotes bone growth. Generally, lectins are important to health. But…
Why Are They Considered Bad Guys In Our Body System?
Lectins as we know are highly specific to sugar moieties of molecules, and they stick to the cell membrane of our digestive track, which is our gut lining. Cell membranes are semi-permeable thin films that enclose our body cells. Our blood stream is shielded by this lining. When lectins find their way into the guts they try to bind to these linings.
Having few amounts of these indigestible proteins in the gut is not bad to our health. But when the concentration of these lectins increases and becomes to much for the gut, the pressure exacted by these lectins leads to wear and tear on the membrane surface. Hence, cutting open then membrane wall, causing leak into the intestinal cells.
You know what it means, right?
Substances and microbes that are not permitted to pass through the membrane can now go through without much resistance. And when these lectins find their way down to the blood stream and veins they cause noticeable health effects which include vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, headache, fatigue, inflammation, etc.
This gut leak issue is what many call LEAKY GUT SYNDROME.
Do I Have Leaky Guts?
No you don’t. But leaky gut can lead to many confusing health issues such as fatigue, inflammations, headache, diarrhea, nausea, and even allergies. When your gastrointestinal wall is cut open, then your system is prone to lots of health effects because bacteria, virus and toxic substances now have easy access into your bloodstream.
This is the sole reason why lectins are avoided in our diet. But if you notice any or combination of these symptoms, don’t rush into conclusion that it is a result of leaky gut.
So What Do I Do?
Discuss with your doctor first. Well, no research has been extensively done in this regard. But you can start by speaking with your doctor first. Then you can add turmeric, ginger, coconut oil and broccoli to your diet. They are known to be healthy for the gut. Supplementing with probiotics can also help the process.
But our body system was designed to fight against these health invaders. Yes, from the outside down to the inside, our body is awesomely gifted with microbes and chemicals that help it to naturally fight against invaders. The microbes, the chemicals and their sources make up the immune system.
How Does It Fight Lectins?
Well, just like we know before now, lectins like sugars a lot. They are ready to cling to anything that can give them the sugar they need. And rember that we stated earlier that our body is made of strong armies that defend it against invading enemies. Among these armies include;
Friendly Microbes serve as the first line of defence against disease causing agents. When lectins find their way into the body system, these microbes help to fight against them. They use the camouflage mechanism to prevent lectins from attacking us. These microorganisms provide an active site for these lectins to bind, and thereby deactivating them against gut attack.
Saliva and Mucus help the immune system in various ways. These guys also serve as first line defense against invading pathogens. In the case of lectins, they work differently. As we must know, saliva has loads of sugars. In fact, sugar is the building block of saliva.
Thus, since lectins are sugar addict they get trapped by the sugar mioties in the saliva. Once trapped, they become virtually deactivated from attacking the gut. The mucus also trap these lectins and render them inactive as the pass through the intestinal track.
Stomach Acid also serves as a defense against invading pathogens and toxins. This acid produced by the stomach keeps the stomach acidic which is unfavorable for many pathens, and some substances. Hence, it destroys some of the excess lectins that made their way down the guts.
I believe we have arrived at a balance here. Lectins won’t kill you if you play it safe. Having too many in the system will definitely give them victory over all these body defences. So how do we go about this? Reduce the amount of lectins in your diet!
How Do I Reduce Lectins In My Diet?
Research has shown that there is no cause for alarm if we can do these simple things on daily basis.
- Limit your intake of legumes, especially beans.
- Limit your intake of grains and grain-associated products.
- Limit your intake of night shades like tomatoes and pepper.
- Limit your intake of squash.
- Deseed your fruits before eating.
- Peel all nightshades before use.
- Presure-cook your nightshades, legumes and grains.
- Soak your grains and legumes multiple times, preferably overnight before use.
- And ferment your grains and fermentable foods before use.
- Eat more bitter greens and heathy oils like olive oil.
These ten simple commandments will definitely help you wade off all lectin related health issues.
To that effect, we came up with simple guide, which some may call rules to help everybody who values healthy living and still want to eat with freedom to follow. With these simple rules, there will be no more question like “what is left for us to eat?” Of course you can eat virtually everything and still stay healthy. After all, man has lived with lectins for centuries and nothing remarkable happened. So why should we starve ourselves in this generation.
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