What Lectins Actually do Inside Your Body
In recent times, there has been a whirlwind of speculation around gluten. It’s highly likely that you know someone who has an intolerance to gluten in one way or another, and over the years, healthcare entities have almost grown obsessed with it. However, quite frankly, gluten’s not likely the actual menace here. People who term themselves as gluten-intolerant could really be having an intolerance to lectin. Gluten is just one type of the broad lectin category and only one of the numerous wheat varieties of lectins.
Simply put, lectins are plant proteins that are present in a wide array of vegetables and are the greatest weapon in a plant’s armory, keeping them safe against hungry humans and animals, alike.
A few varieties are toxic, while a good number aren’t harmful at all. Either way, it might be best if you steer clear of these plant proteins, particularly if you have an intolerance to lectins. The consequences of consuming the unsafe kind could be dire.
The lectin-defense strategy employed by plants is quite ingenious really. By making you ill when you consume lectins, plants kind of offer that “or else” threat that’ll make you think twice before repeating the same mistake.
The serious health implications lectins pose include:
• Leaky Gut
• Digestive problems
Delving Deeper into Lectins
We have already established that these proteins are a plant’s means of self-protection, but what exactly are they? According to science, they are a carbohydrate-fusing protein that isn’t produced by the immune system and whose purpose is to cleave cells.
If the above explanation seems like a combination of 18th century Greek and algebraic Chinese, here’s a much simpler version: The compound, i.e. lectin, is a protein that instigates the concentration and lumping together of carbs. The resulting clamp sticks to the body’s cells when consumed. It also increases vulnerability to all sorts of viruses, bacteria, and illnesses.
Lectins, once inside the body (which can be ingested through a grain or seed of some sort, or even just by tasting the surface of a vegetable or fruit) go on a hunting spree with sugars as the element locked in on their radar.
The Ugly Side of Consuming Sticky Proteins
Lectins earn the tag “sticky proteins” because of the self-bonding trait discussed above. The compound could result in numerous functional breakdowns within the body. Normally the body responds to the foreign element in a variety of ways. For one, it could be as simple as an inflammation. At other times, nausea, diarrhea, or the urge to vomit might creep up.
And those side effects aren’t even the worst part. Lectins tilt the battle in favor of opportunistic pathogens, as it serves to them on a platter those cells in the body most susceptible to these viruses and bacteria. Those overly sensitive to the compound could be far worse off than their counterparts.
Lectins can also catalyze an increase in weight. This is an aspect that has been exploited by those looking to put on a few pounds in readiness for the biting cold of winter or to gain a big belly that is perceived as a sign of prestige and wealth. Usually, people turn to wheat for their lectin needs, as it packs a potent punch of the compound.
Foods to be wary about
Aiming to eliminate lectins from your diet entirely? If so, then these are the foods to kick off the menu:
• Red Kidney Beans
• Lima beans
• Split Peas
Not all Lectins are bad
While we have painted a picture of a toxic compound that should be avoided by all means necessary, the truth of the matter is that there’s a small group that’s utterly harmless and safe to consume. However, generally, lectins could trigger some mild complications, in which case medical attention should be sought forthwith.
Other times, it could weaken the Secretory IgA, simply known as SIgA, which is the gut lining’s go-to defense mechanism that keeps it safe from ingested toxins that pave way for infections.
Breaking Down Lectin-Intolerance
Generally, people are affected by the same chemicals, but the degree of discomfort varies according to how the defense of your gut flora is set up to handle lectins.
What is gut flora?
The term refers to a civilization of micro-organisms that call the insides of your digestive tract home. To show just how minute they can be, these organisms are also found in the guts of insects. These gut florae have a say in:
• Determining the efficiency of your metabolism
• The manner in which you process and digest nutrients
• The readiness of your body to combat sickness and infection
With a little effort, you can ensure your gut flora is always in top shape to execute their functions with ease.
Stay off the Lectins and you’ll be fine
No one, and I repeat — no one, has a 100% healthy gut, because lectins are not the sole cause for a damaged gut, they are just the most established.
Picture this, your gut is akin to an ecosystem for the flora residing in it, and it takes on the role of the provider and shelter. Your gut’s fate and that of its micro-organisms are intertwined. Like how the vines of tomato plant work to provide support to the heavy fruits, similarly, these florae hold the key to staying healthy.
If you stand by as lectins interfere with the aforementioned ecosystem, then it could be the start of a dangerous chain reaction. In the long run, the good bacteria’s provision is curtailed and, consequently, they can’t see to it that the digestion process runs the way it should: in a healthy manner.
The red Flags to Watch out For
Are you experiencing:
• Sensations of nausea?
• A constant feeling of tiredness most of the time?
• Nagging joint paint?
• Sensitivity or allergies to certain foods?
• Reactions that always crop up after eating such as headaches, rash breakouts and/or nausea?
If your symptoms checklist coincides with a number of the side effects highlighted above, then probably you have an intolerance to lectins. The next course of action is to sever the supply line that encompasses:
• Nightshades such as peppers, tomatoes, eggplant etc
So, what should you eat then? Incorporate the following into your diet:
• Pressure-cooked vegetables
• Specific fruits like pineapple and citrus
• Specific vegetables like lettuce, romaine and celery
• Cage-free eggs
• Wild-caught seafood
Decreasing consumption of carbs and sugar while increasing protein intake can also go a long way in getting you back on the road to recovery.
Health experts are working round the clock to learn all there is to learn about lectins and their effects on the human physiology. Lectin-heavy foods have infiltrated the menu across most homes, but it’s never too late to get off that unhealthy highway. In under a week of a lectin-free diet, you’ll start to notice the massive differences. I assure you that it’s a lot easier than you think, and all you need is to set one foot into that door and you will never look back.