July 24, 2017
430 Lectins [24 July 2017]
Are you eating healthy foods and still can’t lose weight or have a few nagging little (or big) health problems? A recent book called “The Plant Paradox: the Hidden Dangers in Healthy Foods that Cause Disease and Weight Gain” by Steven R. Gundry, MD, might explain why.
The culprit, according to Gundry, is a group of proteins in plants called lectins. These lectins, of which glutens are the most well-known but not the worst, are the plants’ defense against being eaten. They are designed to attack the digestive tract of animals that eat them and make them sick so they will learn not to eat that plant again. The paradox in the title comes from the fact that lectins occur in many of the plant foods that we promote as being healthful for the nutrients they contain – vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and protein. Examples are legumes, nuts, grains, most fruits, nightshades, and squashes.
One of the effects of lectins is to create holes in the gut wall. The wall of our intestines is only one cell thick to facilitate nutrient absorption. These cells, called enterocytes, are bound together by “tight junctions”, separating the contents of the gut from the rest of the body. Lectins release a compound called zenulin which breaks the tight junction bonds, creating what is known as “leaky gut”. These holes allow the lectins, lipo-polysaccharides (tiny particles of bacteria) and partially digested proteins to enter the blood stream. This triggers a strong immune reaction which can lead to auto-immune disease as I have previously described.
Lectins also bind to a sugar called sialic acid in the gut, in joints, blood vessel walls, and between nerve endings, where they promote inflammation and disrupt cell communication (brain fog). Gundry believes that lectins are the root cause of almost all allergies, arthritis, heart disease, diabetes and auto-immune diseases.
So what can we do to protect ourselves from lectins? First Gundry recommends removing all lectin containing foods for a month or more to give the gut a chance to heal (I have the list of foods to avoid and foods that are lectin-free). Then re-introduce the milder lectin foods one at a time. The lectins in beans and some other foods can be neutralized by cooking with a pressure cooker. The worst foods he recommends avoiding completely. Finally, Gundry formulated a lectin-blocking supplement to be taken with meals which binds the lectins before they can do damage.
For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.