August 14, 2017

433 The Low-Lectin Diet [14 August 2017]


After looking at last week’s list of all the things that lectins do to us you might suspect that everyone would benefit from a low lectin diet. And you would be right. But I don’t recommend a low-lectin diet for everyone for two reasons: 1) it eliminates many very nutritious foods, and 2) since lectins are in almost all plant foods and some animal foods it is very difficult to follow a low-lectin diet. But there are some people for whom it would be worth trying:

• Food allergies - if you have one or more severe food allergies, it could be the lectins that are the culprit
• Celiac disease or gluten intolerance – if you follow a gluten free diet but still have some symptoms, other lectins may be involved
• Auto-immune diseases – the potential benefits are huge for sufferers of these conditions so it is worth considering a low-lectin trial

There are three phases to a low-lectin diet:

1. Healing Phase: eat only foods from the low-lectin list until your symptoms clear. This may take a few weeks, months, or even a year.
2. Experimental Phase: add foods from the moderate list, a few at a time, eating in moderation those you can tolerate and eliminating any that cause symptoms to recur. Then see if you can tolerate the occasional high lectin food.
3. Maintenance Phase: Follow your customized diet for as long as you want to stay healthy and symptom free, reintroducing foods as your health improves.

Besides avoiding the high lectin foods completely, there are a few strategies we can all use to reduce the lectin content of foods.

• Peel and remove seeds of high lectin foods like tomatoes and peppers – lectins are concentrated in the skins, root hairs and seeds
• soak beans and legumes for 8 hours, changing water every 2 hours
• cook beans with a pressure cooker – the higher heat destroys more lectins
• sprout grains and seeds – sprouting reduces the lectins in the seed coat
• white rice is safer albeit not as nutritious as brown rice
• take a lectin-blocking supplement with each meal

For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

August 7, 2017

432 What Lectins Do [7 August 2017]

Lectins are proteins in plants designed to protect them from being eaten. Gluten is the best known lectin, but there are hundreds of them found in most plants, including many that we humans use for food. Lectins are not broken down in digestion and only partially destroyed by cooking.

In #430 I explained how lectins cause leaky gut syndrome which leads to inflammation and auto-immune diseases. But that’s not all they do. Lectins also:

• bind to the epithelial cells in the lining of the gut and damage the microvilli where nutrient absorption occurs. This significantly interferes with the absorption of nutrients, especially protein, and can lead to loss of muscle mass.
• bind to the surface of beneficial bacteria in our gut, wiping them out while allowing pathogenic bacteria to proliferate
• interfere with the digestive enzymes in the gut preventing proper digestion of food
• bind to glycoproteins on the surface of cells throughout the body including joints, brain, liver, heart, kidneys; the immune system responds by attacking the organs and tissues affected leading to a variety of auto-immune diseases
• create hyper-sensitivity to foods leading to food allergies; people have found that after being on a low-lectin diet for a year or so their food allergies improve or disappear
• stimulate the release of histamine from mast cells causing an inflammatory response
• suppress the production of T and B lymphocytes reducing the immune system’s ability to protect us from foreign invaders
• cause blood cells to stick together destroying the blood cells and causing blood clots
• block the satiety hormone leptin, resulting in food cravings, over-eating, and obesity [see #327 Leptin Resistance]
• interfere with the body’s ability to regulate insulin and blood sugar levels.
• cause enlargement of the pancreas and atrophy of the thymus
• bind to neurons damaging the nervous system including eyesight
• interfere with the cell nucleus preventing normal reproduction of the cell and accelerating the aging process
• in summary, contribute to most of the chronic conditions that plague mankind!

Sources:
Gregory Barton, Cure Your Autoimmune and Inflammatory Disease, 2010
Evelyn Carmichael, The Essential Handbook to Lectin, 2017

Next week: who would most benefit from a low lectin diet.

For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.