What are lectins?
Lectins are a strain of protein within specific plants, they act as a form of self-defence. They help to discourage predators from eating that particular plant in the future.*
Lectins are intended to pose a threat to animals in order to protect themselves and they actually have the same effect on humans. Lectins bind themselves to sugar molecules in the blood, digestive system, and nerves. This bond can cause a great deal of damage to your intestines as they damage the cell wall which leads to a plethora of digestive issues, poor immunity and premature aging. Symptoms can also include severe abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea.
“When lectins in food latch on to these molecules, they act much like barnacles do when they attach themselves to a boat.”
Which foods contain lectins?
While lentils and peas also have a lot of lectins, beans have more than nearly every other food. For instance, kidney beans are notorious for having high lectin content. And if you eat undercooked kidney beans, you could be at high risk for severe digestive problems.
The culprit is a specific type of lectin known as phytohaemagglutinin. If you have to eat legumes, make sure they are pressure cooked. Pressure cooking can help inactivate the damaging lectins.
Grains are a staple of many diets. But they are chock full of potentially damaging lectins. Wheat germ, for example, contains a lectin known as agglutinin.
The main staple for cows is grass which contains lectins. The milk from many cows contains a protein very close in structure to the casein A1 lectin. Research shows when your body converts casein A1 into beta-casomorphin (another kind of protein), pancreatic damage can result.
- VEGETABLES AND FRUITS
Unfortunately, many vegetables and fruits are filled with lectins. The lectins in fruits are mainly found in their peels and seeds. So when you eat fruit, discard all of the seeds and peels. And make sure you only eat fruit when it’s in season.
As far as vegetables are concerned, the main culprits are so-called “nightshade” vegetables. These include tomatoes and potatoes. Again, most of the lectins in these vegetables are found in the peels and seeds.
Which foods are lectin-free?
There are lots of healthy and nutritious foods that contain little or no lectins, such as:
Avocados – entirely free from lectins, they’re also packed with antioxidants. Avocados are also high in good fats and fibre.
Certain Vegetables –
- Brussels sprouts
Olive oil – Olive oil is filled with minerals and vitamins that are crucial to your health. These include calcium, iron, potassium, vitamin E, and vitamin K. Olive oil has also been shown to help boost the immune system.
The bottom line…
By avoiding lectins in foods you eat, you can help avoid issues like a digestive upset. Just make sure you speak with your doctor first before you make any sudden, substantial changes to your diet.
If you already suffer from digestive issues, avoiding lectins should reduce some of the symptoms associated with gut discomfort. We recommend you seek advice from a qualified naturopath or join us on retreat for a full naturopathic consultation and reset.