Are Lectins to blame for your chronic inflammation.
August 11th, 2017 92 post views
What are lectins?
Many people come to our chiropractic clinic in Eastbourne, but they don’t just suffer from back pain. Patients are often suffering from other illnesses as well. So, we try to guide them in the area of lifestyle and nutrition as well. Patients often have underlying inflammation and it is something we try to address through nutrition as well.
Lectins are proteins found in every living organism and are, for the most part, harmless. But some of them can be very harmful to humans. The lectins found in peanuts and ricin are responsible for the life-threatening reactions they cause in humans. Lectins are used by plants to protect themselves from predators. Plants are not defenseless. They are able to cause adverse reactions in the insects and animals that eat them in order to enhance their own chance of survival. Lectins tend to be found in higher concentration in the seeds, roots, and baby leaves of plants.
How are lectins harmful to you?
Lectins are known to damage the lining of the digestive tract causing “leaky gut syndrome” and create a state of chronic inflammation in the body. The lectins are sticky molecules and bind with the lining of the gut, especially in the small intestine. When this lining becomes damaged by the lectins, it negatively affects the body’s ability to digest and absorb nutrients. This damage leads to chronic inflammation in the body and disturbs the normal flora in the gut which can encourage bad bacteria and parasites to grow. The lectins and the pathogenic organisms are able to leak into the bloodstream through this damaged intestinal lining and cause you to be unhealthy.
The body will recognize these lectins and pathogens in the bloodstream as being foreign and dangerous and will therefore create an immune response to deal with them. Because lectins are sticky molecules, they like to attach themselves to various tissues in the body. The immune system will attack these tissues in an effort to protect the body from these foreign invaders. But instead of protecting the body, it causes an autoimmune reaction where the body sees its own tissue as an invader and tries to destroy it. As a consequence, the body is in a chronic state of inflammation. The effects of chronic inflammation in the body have far-reaching and detrimental effects on our health and it is believed that this chronic inflammation is the root of a lot of illnesses today.
If you know that you have a bad reaction to wheat when you eat it, but did not test positive to a gluten sensitivity test, it may actually be the lectins in wheat that you are sensitive to. In wheat, the lectin is called “wheat germ agglutin” or WGA, and you may in fact have a WGA sensitivity.
Lectin-containing foods to be avoided if you are on a Lectin Avoidance Diet.
As I mentioned previously, lectins are in all living organisms to one degree or another. But there are certain foods that have higher concentrations of lectins and should be avoided. The following is a list of lectin-containing foods to avoid:
All pulses/legumes including kidney beans, chickpeas/garbanzo beans, cannelloni beans, peas, sugar snap peas, peanuts, green beans, and soya.
All grains including wheat, oats, barley, quinoa, rye, bulgur, corn, rice, buckwheat, and spelt.
All nightshade vegetables including white potatoes (purple and sweet potatoes are OK), peppers of all sorts including sweet peppers, bell peppers, and chili peppers, goji berries, tomatoes, and eggplant.
Peanuts (a legume), cashews, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, and pumpkin seeds.
Seeded fruits such as pumpkins, squashes, zucchini/courgettes, cucumbers, and melons of all kind.
This list is not comprehensive but it is representative of the majority of foods you should avoid if you are on the lectin-avoidance diet due to food intolerances, IBS, or autoimmune conditions. At some point, you can start to reintroduce foods into your diet. Initially, to see if your body starts to feel better, you should try a six-week period of trying to eliminate all of these foods.
You can eat meat products as long as they are pastured animals and not grain or corn-fed, eggs that are not corn-fed or grain-fed (organic), dairy that is grass-fed (pastured), and most other fruits and vegetables not listed. And pressure-cooking legumes helps to decrease the lectins in them.
Thanks for reading,