Vegetables are dangerous and make us sick, claims US doctor Steven Gundry in his book “The plant paradox.” How healthy food makes us sick. Lectins – the hidden danger in food.”

Steven Gundry believes that the plant’s active ingredient, lectin, clogs the gut and disrupts our immune system. That is why he recommends a diet of lectins.

Now lets us take a more in-depth look at the lectins.

 

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Lectin-free diet for irritable bowel syndrome

Whether lectins are harmful to us or not differ widely as to scientific opinions. If you already experience irritable bowel syndrome, your digestive system is susceptible to a whole range of disruptive factors, and these may include lectins. It’s worth to take a more intimate look at lectins, even if an utterly lectin-free diet is challenging to implement.

 

What are lectins?

Lectins are proteins that occur in plants and protect them from herbivores by causing poisoning after consumption. Therefore, plants containing lectins are getting ignored by most animals and can grow unhindered. 

Some lectins attach themselves to the inner walls of the intestine and loosen the otherwise tight connections between the cells of the intestinal mucosa, which can cause the protective barrier of the intestine to become perforated, resulting in a leaky gut.

It means that the body is unable to absorb the required nutrients properly, and the nutrients required are not available. The permeable protective barrier allows the lectins to spread throughout the body. 

According to some scientists and doctors, such as the heart surgeon Steven R. Gundry, lectins can trigger autoimmune diseases. There is no proof of this.

However, it is widely getting agreed that lectins can cause digestive problems similar to gluten intolerance in people with sensitive bowels. 

In nutritional science, lectins have long been known and well researched. Every person has individual metabolism. One single ingredient is never responsible for intestinal problems or other diseases.

It always works together with others and differently in a different intestinal environment. Everyone has to find this out for himself.

It is also scientifically proven that lectin-rich foods such as legumes are valuable antioxidants and suppliers of fibers and protein. Those who do not want to do without these foods completely can render the lectins harmless by cooking or fermenting them.   

 

Lectins in food

  • Cereals: Wheat contains a high proportion of lectins. Unfortunately, this also applies to several gluten-free alternatives such as corn, millet, rice, and potatoes but except sweet potatoes.
  • The occurrence is particularly high in nightshade plants. These include potatoes, peppers, tomatoes, and aubergines.
  • Various types of spices, such as chili or pepper powder, are also affected. 
  • Eggs and milk
  • Legumes such as soy, peanuts, beans, lentils, and all kinds of peas.
  • Crustaceans and seafood

 

List of lectin-rich foods and how you make them edible

List of lectin-rich foods

  • Legumes like lentils, peas, beans, especially soya and kidney beans
  • Cereals like wheat, corn, and rice
  • Zucchini
  • Oatmeal 
  • Pumpkin
  • Cashews
  • Quinoa
  • Goji berries
  • Peanuts
  • Meat from animals fed with maize
  • Pepper
  • Casein A1 milk
  • Nightshade plants like tomatoes, potatoes, and aubergines
  • Soy and soy products which have not been fermented

 

Foods free of or low in lectin

List of foods for a lectin-free diet

  • Olives and olive oil
  • Asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts
  • Vegetables cooked in a pressure cooker
  • Eggs from free-range hens
  • Leaf green, celery, kale and spinach
  • Dark berries
  • Garlic and onions
  • Fermented vegetables, such as sauerkraut and kimchi
  • Root vegetables cooked, for example, sweet potatoes and parsnips
  • Fish and seafood
  • The meat of grazing animals

 

It’s crucial to find out which lectins you can tolerate

A diet low in lectins is particularly helpful because, especially at the beginning, it is difficult to remember how much lectins are getting contained in which foods. 

Typical physical reactions in case of lectin intolerance are:

  • Diarrhea
  • Flatulence
  • Burping
  • Heartburn
  • Feeling of fullness

Persistent discomfort can also be a sign of lectin intolerance. Lectins are all the more effective when the intestine is already affected, as in irritable bowel syndrome patients.

However, some people generally tolerate lectins better or worse than others, regardless of the condition of their bowels.

It is often enough to minimize the intake of lectins. If that is not enough, you can always go one step further and avoid all foods that are rich in lectins.

If your symptoms improve, as a result, you can introduce individual foods or carefully try out whether you can tolerate them.

It only works if your symptoms are significantly getting reduced, otherwise you will not notice any change. And it helps immensely to keep a record of your meals, including snacks.

Otherwise, it is difficult to keep track of what you have eaten just 24 hours later. A nutrition diary will help you with this.

 

Render lectins harmless

If you don’t want to do without foods containing lectins, there are two relatively simple ways to make the lectins held almost safe, or to neutralize them: 

Boil foods containing lectins for at least 15 minutes, which will significantly reduce or even eliminate the number of lectins. It is also a reason why we do not eat beans and potatoes raw because they contain a lot of lectins. 

Or you can ferment food by adding lactic acid. Apart from the low lectin content, fermented foods are right for your intestinal flora.

 

Tips to reduce lectins in food

About 30% of fresh food contains lectins. A lectin-free diet is difficult, but with the following tips, you can reduce lectins:

  • Prepare lectin-rich food in a pressure cooker.
  • Peel and seed fruit and vegetables.
  • Bread made from sourdough has fewer lectins than others.
  • Ferment vegetables.
  • Put beans in water for at least 12 hours before cooking.
  • Let seeds, beans, and grains germinate.
  • Soak them and replace the water with fresh water again and again.

 

FAQ Lectins

Which foods are high in lectins?

These foods are rich in lectins: Sugar, bread, soy, vegetable oils, potatoes and potato products, cereals, rice, pumpkin, pasta, cucumbers, tomatoes, beans and legumes.

Which foods not contain lectins?

If you want to reduce your lectin intake, it is best to use foods such as salad, sweet potatoes, carrots, green leafy vegetables, broccoli, horseradish, mushrooms, avocado, celery, and asparagus.

Where are lectins found?

Lectins are getting found wherever gluten is also getting noticed in all cereal products, including corn. Still, most of them are discovered firstly in legumes and secondly in nightshade plants and vegetables, in lentils, beans, soya, potatoes, tomatoes, aubergines, cucumbers, peppers, and lentils.

Does cooking destroy lectins?

Dried legumes should be getting soaked in water before further processing; this way, the lectins are dissolved. The lectins are then getting destroyed by the cooking of the legumes. Sprouts should also be getting heated before consumption to destroy the toxic proteins.

How dangerous are lectins?

Even the consumption of a small number of raw beans can cause blood to clump together due to the glue reaction. However, since most lectins are very sensitive to heat, they change their structure when cooked and become harmless.

What do lectins do?

Lectins are complex proteins or glycoproteins that bind specific carbohydrate structures and are therefore able to bind specifically to cells or cell membranes and trigger biochemical reactions from there.

Do lupins have lectins?

Lupins contain lectins, like all legumes. These are protein compounds that make the red blood cells clump together.

Does spelt have lectin?

Spelt contains fewer inhibitors of our digestive enzymes and less aggressive lectins. Unlike wheat, spelt gluten is very fragile and is better getting deactivated by baking and cooking. Spelt starch differs in structure from wheat starch.

Do peanuts have lectins?

Peanuts are not nuts but legumes. They are related to peas, beans, lentils and contain particularly high levels of lectins and phytic acid and are therefore poisonous in the raw state.

Does rice have lectin?

Rice does not contain gluten but other lectins, which can affect the absorption of nutrients by the intestinal walls. However, these lectins are also only present in the bran, and they are also sensitive to heat.

Do almonds have lectins?

So we eat the kernel and not the seed. With almonds, lectins are mainly getting found in the brown shell, therefore peel almonds!

Does buckwheat have lectins?

Sprouted buckwheat has a higher content of vital substances such as iron, magnesium, and zinc, and its proteins can be getting digested more easily. Apart from the fact that buckwheat is gluten-free, it also contains no lectins.

 

Conclusion:

Every person has individual metabolism. One single ingredient is never responsible for intestinal problems or other diseases.

It always works together with others and differently in a different intestinal environment. Everyone has to find this out for himself.

Feel free to share this article with someone who has an interest in foods high in lectins.

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