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Lectin is a kind of protein which many plants and animals possess that can bind to sugar (carbohydrate) molecules. Plants contain this protein for their self-defence against insects and animals. Since they can bind to sugar molecules, lectins are always attached to carbohydrate. Usually, lectins are sticky proteins and get connected to sugar molecules and cause the cells to clump up. They activate the complementary immune system to fight against pathogens. So, lectin-containing fruits and vegetables are beneficial for reducing the risk of diseases and preventing autoimmune diseases as most of them contain antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
The trouble arises when lectins are consumed in large quantities or eaten undercooked. Some of the lectins can be toxic and lethal to humans like the ones present in kidney beans called Phytohaemagluttinin. Some people are susceptible to lectin-like in case of gluten which is also a lectin. Some more information about gluten in my previous post https://healthhappinesshealing.org/wp-admin/post.php?post=3865&action=edit
Structurally, the intestinal lining has the epithelial lining, microvilli and the cellular part which is the innermost lining of the intestinal wall. The primary purpose of the intestinal lining is the absorption of nutrients and prevent the entry of toxins. When lectins are consumed in high quantities or undercooked, in the process of digestion, they get attached to the cellular (internal) lining of the gut, causing damages to the intestinal wall. They start destroying the intestinal villi and prevent the absorption of nutrients. This result in leaky gut syndrome. Therefore, trauma to the gut lining causes inflammation, which in turn disturbs the gut microbial flora and result in a myriad of issues. Due to leaky gut, lectin and also other toxins get flown into the bloodstream which otherwise wouldn’t have happened. The immune system gets threatened to produce antibodies and creating autoimmune issues in the different organs of the body. Lectins are also very easily attracted to insulin receptors and leptin receptors. So, lectin sensitive individuals are also prone to diabetes, insulin resistance and leptin resistance.
The truth is that lectin-containing food when consumed in moderation and properly cooked, work advantageously towards good health and complement the immune system as these foods are highly nutrient-dense. But when consumed raw, or in large quantities, or improper method of cooking causes all the problems. Those individuals who are lectin and gluten-sensitive should altogether avoid consuming such foods.
Some lectin rich food is rice, barley, oats, wheat, quinoa, rye, milk, lentils, beans, soya, peanuts, tomatoes, eggplants and pumpkins. People should not remove this food from the diet unless medically advised. These foods, like grains and legumes, should be soaked in water for several hours or overnight before cooking. Cooking at high temperature denatures the lectin and can safely be consumed. Other ways of reducing the lectin content are by fermenting and germinating.
Low lectin-containing foods are wild rice, sweet potatoes, spinach, lettuce, broccoli, avocados, cauliflower, olive oil, coconut oil, asparagus, mushroom, pasteurized chicken, eggs, grass-fed dairy and beef.
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