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Are You Familiar with Lectins?
August 10, 2018 No comments
Here’s the lowdown on lectins in your food
Lectins are a kind of protein that interact (bind) with carbohydrates on the cells of plants and animals. There are several types of lectins which perform different functions. For example, plants use lectins to defend themselves from harmful microorganisms and insects. Some lectins are good for us, some are bad. In this article, we are going to focus on lectins found in the foods we eat.
The Bad Things Lectins Can Do
- Lectins don’t like to be digested and can enter your bloodstream. In your bloodstream, they can stimulate your immune system to do crazy things, alter your hormone levels, and they can reside in your blood vessels thereby clogging them.
- Lectins interact and stick to the cells lining your gastrointestinal tract. This can lead to damage and leaky gut syndrome. Click here for more information on leaky gut syndrome.
- Lectins alter the population of beneficial microorganisms in your intestinal tract. The lower the concentration of beneficial microorganisms, the more susceptible you may become to autoimmune diseases.
- Some people experience a variety of symptoms when they consume moderate to large quantities of lectins like nausea, vomiting, indigestion, flatulence, diarrhoea, and crampy abdominal pain.
What You Can Do To Reduce the Lectins in Your Food
- Beans and grains are classically prepared by soaking and boiling them. Soaking and boiling helps to deactivate lectins. Some food items are already sold sprouted, pre-soaked, and germinated.
- Sprouting. Practice sprouting beans, grains, and seeds before consuming them. The more time you spend sprouting them, the more the lectins will be deactivated.
- Try digestive enzyme supplements to minimise digestive problems from lectin consumption.
The Latest on Lectins (A Few Good Things about Lectins)
- Some lectins show potential as cancer treatment. Recent studies have found that the lectins in tumour cells may prevent cancer from building its blood supply. No blood supply, no delivery of nutrition to keep the cancer cells alive. Intensive research is going on right now regarding this.
- The lectins found in some mushrooms have recently been discovered to possess anti-viral (fight viruses) and immune-stimulating (activate your immune system) properties to combat certain diseases.
In the End…
For now, it’s best to avoid consuming a lot of lectins. They do more harm than good. They’re more beneficial to the plants than to us humans. The effect they have on your digestive tract provides a gateway for different medical conditions to settle in. Though for selected groups of people, lectins may provide a few important benefits. For example, those with cancer, viral infections, or problems with their immune system. But it's important to consult your health practitioner first to make sure you are getting the right type.
- Ross, A. C., Caballero, B., Cousins, R. J., Tucker, K. L., & Ziegler, T. R. (2014). Modern nutrition in health and disease. Philadelphia, Pa: Wolters Kluwer/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.