What the heck are lectins and why should you care if you have digestive issues or an auto-immune condition?
Lectins are sticky proteins that can bind to cell membranes in the body including the nerves, joints, mouth, gastrointestinal lining and our blood vessels. This can influence cell-cell interaction negatively. Furthermore, in our guts, lectins increase gut permeability by opening the tight junctions between the lining of our intestinal cells. This contributes to leaky gut (undigested foods and harmful pathogens entering our bloodstream) which propels autoimmune conditions (attack on our own bodies) and systemic inflammation.
What foods are high in lectins:
Lectins are contained primarily in the peels and the seeds of foods.
Foods that are high in lectins include grains and cereals, barley, corn, rice, and wheat, especially wheat germ, beans and legumes, cashews, quinoa, squash, pumpkin seeds, peanuts and the nightshade family, including potatoes, eggplants tomatoes, peppers, goji berries, even chia seeds.
What conditions do these lectins most affect?
Lectins have been identified as one of the fundamental causes of autoimmune disease. Some of these conditions include lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, type 1 Diabetes, Hashimoto's, and multiple sclerosis. This is because they worsen leaky gut and contribute to systemic inflammation.
So how should you navigate your way to health in a world full of lectins?
My recommendations: Eat a paleo type diet void of grains and legumes! If a paleo diet is something you are not willing to adhere to, suggestions can be made to help reduce the lectin content in the foods you are eating. (Practices I’m currently implementing because I love my plant proteins) - Choose foods that are soaked, sprouted, fermented or cooked as these all decrease lectin content. Pressure cooking foods such as quinoa, beans and legumes can also completely destroy all lectins (except the gluten-lectin). Again, these methods of food preparation are particularly important for vegans and vegetarians who rely heavily on grains, beans, and legumes in their diet.
For more information on how to heal your autoimmune condition and undergo a full protocol for digestive healing, I recommend my DIGESTIVE HEALING GUIDE TO MANAGINE AUTOIMMUNITY. Click the link below to learn more.