What are Lectins?

What Are Lectins? The Health Implications and How to Avoid It

What Are Lectins? The Health Implications and How to Avoid It

Over the past few years, there has been so much hype and speculation around gluten, with many people considering it the number one gut health enemy. While you could genuinely be having gluten intolerance or any other health condition linked to gluten, sometimes this protein isn’t the real menace. Individuals claiming to have gluten intolerance may actually be suffering from lectin sensitivity. So if you have been experiencing symptoms of gluten intolerance especially after eating something that’s made from wheat, then lectin could be the cause of your problems. Read on to find out more about lectin and how you can avoid lectin intolerance.

What Are Lectins?

Lectin is a protein that binds carbohydrates together in an organism. It is contained in a wide range of the foods we consume-fruits, vegetables, meats, and even oils. Lectins are particularly concentrated in legumes and grains. Once consumed, lectins can stick to body cells, increasing vulnerability to bacteria, viruses, and various illnesses.

While many varieties of lectin are not harmful, a few are toxic, which is why it is advisable to avoid them altogether especially if you already have lectin intolerance.

The Health Effects of Consuming the “Sticky Proteins”

Lectins can lead to various functional breakdowns once they get into your body. Your body will usually respond to this compound in various ways which leads to different health implications, including;

  • Leaky Gut
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloatin
  • Nausea
  • Gas
  • Digestive problems

This protein will also expose you to opportunistic pathogens. Think of it like some molecule with small hooks like Velcro.

Now if another molecule comes along, it can easily get hooked up. Pathogens like bacteria and viruses can attach themselves to lectins leading to even more health problems.

Much research shows that lectins can also lead to weight gain. In one study published in the Journal of Cereal Science, researchers found that lectins can lead to obesity through leptin resistance.

Leptin is an essential hormone that helps to regulate energy intake and expenditure. Lectins can attach to leptin receptors leading to their malfunctioning, which in turn, reduces satiation signals. Reduced satiation often triggers overeating, leading to weight gain.

Another study done on rats also showed similar results. The study was published in the International Journal of Experimental Pathology.

However, as noted earlier, not all lectins are harmful. While this is the case, this compound can still result in some mild effects to individuals that are sensitive to it. Seek medical attention if you experience any of the health issues listed above.

Foods You Should Be Wary About

About 30% of the foods we eat have significant amounts of lectin. If you are looking to avoid this “sticky protein,” here are some foods you should start avoiding:

Grains and animal foods

  • Barley
  • Wheat
  • Rice
  • Oats
  • Cheese
  • Frozen yogurt

Legumes

  • Beans
  • Peas
  • Kidney peas
  • Peanuts
  • Soy
  • Cacao beans

Nuts, seeds, and oils

  • Cashews
  • Hazelnuts
  • Almonds
  • Chia seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Canola oil
  • Peanut oil
  • Cotton oil
  • Safflower and sunflower oil

Fruits and vegetables

  • Corn
  • Pumpkin
  • Peppers
  • Eggplant
  • Cucumber
  • Tomatoes
  • Zucchini

The health implications and the extent of discomfort caused by lectins vary from one individual to another depending on such factors as how well-balanced your gut flora is to handle the harmful compound.

What’s Gut Flora?

Gut flora, also called gastrointestinal microbiota or gut microbiota refers to the community of microorganisms living the intestinal tracts of human beings and animals, including insects. Gut flora has a plethora of functions that help your body. They, for instance, help in digestion and metabolism processes as well as fighting infections and sickness.

So to help your body to deal with lectins effectively, it is imperative to keep your gut microbiota well balanced. Fermented plant-based foods and probiotic supplements can help you to maintain the right balance.

Some Symptoms of Lectin Intolerance

Lectin intolerant individuals often experience some of the following symptoms;

  • A sensation of nausea
  • Nagging joint pain
  • Allergies or sensitivities to certain foods
  • Rash breakouts
  • Reactions like headaches and stomachaches that crop up after meals
  • Constantly feeling tired
  • Diarrhea

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, then you might want to reconsider what is in your diet. Avoid foods with high lectin content and incorporate the following options in your diet;

Grains and animal foods

  • Wild rice
  • Amaranth
  • Grass-fed meats
  • Grass-fed dairy
  • Wild-caught seafood
  • Poultry like waterfowl, ostrich, pastured chicken, and turkey

Nuts, oils, and seeds

  • Coconut and Coconut oil
  • Macadamia
  • Pistachios
  • Pecans
  • Walnuts
  • Flaxseeds
  • Hemp seeds
  • Sesame
  • Avocado oil
  • Rice Bran
  • Red palm, walnut, olive, and sesame oils

Fruits and vegetables

  • Apples
  • Citrus
  • Blueberries
  • Plums
  • Kiwi
  • Yacon
  • Stevia
  • Monk fruit

It is worth mentioning that increasing protein consumption while decreasing sugar and carb intake will go a long way to help with your recovery. Moreover, taking a supplement such as Lectin Shield can go a long way in your road to recovery.

As health experts continue to study lectin and their various effects on human physiology, you can avoid the health problems caused by lectin by simply avoiding foods containing it. Hopefully, this information can help you to start making better food choices.