Lectins are sugar-binding proteins that are found in plants, animals and microorganisms. They can be distinguished as glycoproteins or heteroglycans depending on their combined structure.
In actual, lectins act as an important defense mechanism for plant seeds, protecting them from consumption and germination by predators.
Lectins have a wide variety of functions, including:
There are different varieties of lectins that include:
Some of the most common foods high in lectins include wheat, soy and legumes. They are generally found in undercooked or raw forms of these foods.
Foods high in lectins are a problem for the majority of people and it is one of the many reasons why people need to incorporate an anti-inflammatory diet into their lifestyle. As already mentioned above, lectins are found in legumes, grains, dairy and vegetables.
Not all lectins cause us problems when we eat them. However, some lectins are very problematic and cause us a lot of digestive distress. Lectins are proteins that plants use to defend themselves against predators. Our bodies don’t recognize these proteins as food and therefore they do not get digested as most other foods do. Instead, they bind to the lining in our intestines which causes irritation to our gut and also causes many other health problems.
Dr. Ben Kim and his team of researchers have made significant progress in discovering the major nutrient triggers associated with inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. The research has revealed that a diet rich in whole plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains may reduce the risk of developing inflammatory bowel diseases.
However, there are certain lectin rich foods that have been shown to trigger inflammation in the gut and other parts of the body. These include: soy beans, kidney beans, black beans, peanuts and matasan peas.
The primary reason why we should make an effort to avoid these foods in our diet is because they have been shown to damage the protective gut lining, which results in poor absorption of certain nutrients and can contribute to the development of various health problems.
One of the keys to understanding why some lectins are harmful to our health is through the gut-brain connection. The gut sends messages to the brain about what we eat throughout our day via hormones and other chemical reactions, and this process can be affected by damaging lectins that cause inflammation in the body.
The immune system has a tough time dealing with lectins due to their characteristics, which include: being sticky and hard to digest. In many cases, the body may respond to lectins by sending out white blood cells and antibodies in an attempt to fight them off. However, if too many of these proteins are consumed on a regular basis, this can lead to significant damage and plenty of health problems as a result.
Our bodies are not able to easily digest lectins because they are designed by nature to be difficult for us to eliminate from our systems. This makes it easy for many lectin proteins to get stuck in the gut, where they may cause significant amounts of damage over time.
The immune system becomes a key player here as well because lectins can also contribute to inflammation in the gut and other parts of the body. When small amounts of lectins are consumed, our immune system may not respond too aggressively or be able to eliminate them from the body. It is only when a large amount of lectins enter the digestive tract that inflammatory effects can occur.
Dr. Ben Kim’s research has found that many of the foods on the above list are also rich in lectins. For example, soy beans contain a harmful type of lectin known as trypsin-like inhibitors, which have been shown to cause cancer and growth problems in animals. Black beans contain phytohaemagglutinin, which has been shown to damage human cells in a test tube and lead to bleeding from the gut.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways we can stop these harmful lectins from entering the body. One of the most effective methods involves simply knowing how to prepare foods properly. For example, it is important to make sure that you remove the seeds and skin from certain plant-based foods such as kidney beans, peanuts and black beans.
Also, most lectins become heat sensitive when they reach boiling temperatures, which means you should take extra care to wash your food properly.
Another effective method involves paying attention to your caloric intake. Consuming too many calories may lead to digestive problems and more inflammation in the gut. Avoid eating large portions of lectin-rich foods, such as peanut butter, at any given meal if you want to avoid triggering an immune response in your body.
You should also consider taking supplements during times when you consume high amounts of lectins. Some good options include the following:
Last but not least, make sure you get plenty of exercise every day. This will help to improve gut health and keep your immune system working at full capacity. The best form of exercise is to take long, slow walks every day. These will improve the circulation of oxygen-rich blood throughout the body.
Apply these tips in your life to avoid the foods that are high in lectins, so you may lead a healthy lifestyle:
Avoiding the foods that are high in lectins will enable you to enjoy a healthy lifestyle. We really hope the above guide will have helped you out in understanding about it, why and how to avoid these food sources which are high in lectins. What are your thoughts on this topic, share with us in comments section?
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