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!
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.