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Lectins: little trouble makers

Category: Uncategorized
4 November 2009, Comments: 5

The following questions were posted to comments the other day:

I thought lectin was mostly risky with uncooked beans, but thought canned ones were fine? Also, isn’t lectin present in raw tomatoes?

Are string beans considered beans?

Lectins also known as “sticky proteins” are just that. Lectins are types of proteins commonly found in foods such as fruits, vegetables, and seafood, but especially grains, beans and seeds. They are present in about 30 percent of the American diet and about 5% of the lectins we eat will enter our circulation. Lectins provide the way for one molecule to stick to another molecule (cell walls). When ingested they may bind to the gut wall and damage it leading to diseases like Colitis, Crohns Disease, IBS, inflammation and in severe case auto-immune conditions. Weight gain and low energy has also been linked to these trouble makers. Sound familiar? That’s because Gluten has a similar effect and for similar reasons. Humans become sensitive to lectins because we did not evolve eating foods with lectins and our immune system may not be able to handle it. Genetics and environmental reasons also play a role as well as bacterial and viral infections. Regardless of the reason, if you have lectin sensitivity then the only solution is to avoid it completely.

Lectins are found in foods, and the amount of lectins contained in the food depends on the type of plant, how it was processed, and the species. Current practices of Genetic Modification of foods today also make it difficult to assess the lectin levels. The main foods that may contain toxic lectins include:

  • grains such as wheat and wheat germ but also quinoa ( I did a post on how fabulous this was a few weeks ago but it’s definitely not perfect), rice, oats, buckwheat, rye, barley, millet, and corn
  • Legumes: Include all beans including string beans.
  • dairy foods
  • the nightshade family e.g. potato, tomato, eggplant, cucumber and capsicum

It is true that the lectins in foods may be inactivated by soaking, sprouting, cooking, or fermenting.  Soaking legumes overnight and rinsing them well does seem to remove or inactivate many of the lectins present.  Heating may remove lectins in some foods, but not all. However, they do not completely remove them so depending on your level of lectin sensitivity you may still experience a response.

Also of interest is that lectins have a similar fat producing response that insulin spikes illicit. Lectins can bind to fat cells just as insulin does and can trigger fat production, however unlike insulin it attached indefinitely and continues to ask fat cells to make more fat. Definitely not a response we are looking for.

Interesting fact: The word lectin comes from the Latin phrase “I choose” funny because they are very particular of what they will bind to.

Experiment with eliminating lectin and let us know how you feel…



** BODY FAT TESTING** Friday November 6, 2009

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5 responses on “Lectins: little trouble makers

  1. smita says:

    So foods that may contain toxic lectins include the nightshade family (potato, tomato, eggplant, cucumber and capsicum)
    Aren’t these all good for you? You also put tomator in bold, a reason why?

  2. Ritu says:

    I put tomato in bold to answer the question stated above. The nightshade foods have lots of valuable properties and are good for you however they fo contain lectins. Depending on your sensitivity to lectins they should be avoided as needed especially in the raw form.

  3. gusty for says:

    oh la la!

  4. What are some differences or similarities of lectins compared to antibodies

  5. Jim Tousek says:

    I’m new to this lectin phenomenon. Damn interesting!!

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