Lectins are a group of plant proteins that have special properties. They are not all the same and, like all proteins, they play important roles in the growth and development of the human body. What makes lectins so interesting is that they are being studied for their potential to cause harm in the human body, particularly in those with genetically vulnerable immune systems.
Are you tired of feeling tired, weak, and mentally unwell? Are you ready to put an end to the ongoing struggle with fatigue, brain fog, lack of energy, and more? You have come to the right place! In this post, we are going to discuss all you need to know about lectins—a type of carbohydrate that is found in tons of foods, and is responsible for many of your symptoms. For the most part, lectins are not very good for you, but they are also a tricky foe—one that requires proper diagnosis, as well as some healthy lifestyle changes.
Lectins are a group of proteins that are usually found in many plants, fungi and bacteria. Lectins have been linked to a variety of health problems, including obesity. But before you go tearing up everything in sight, it’s important that you understand what lectins are, and whether they’re harmful to you, your pets or your kids.
Is it true that lectins are harmful? | The goal of this research is to see how lectins in the diet affect the quality of life of children and adolescents.
Lectins are a kind of protein present in beans, maize, and other high-fiber foods that has sparked a lot of controversy in the nutrition world.
Some individuals think lectins are to blame for inflammation, gastrointestinal issues, leaky gut syndrome, joint discomfort, and a slew of other issues.
Is there anybody else? According to them, lectins are not only harmless, but also beneficial to our health since they offer fiber and other nutrients that help us fight illnesses like cancer.
Who is correct?
They’re both of them.
The solutions to these issues, like most nutrition disputes, are complex.
Nutritional science, as you may be aware, is still in its infancy. He isn’t old enough to trust with scissors yet.
To put it another way, we’re still attempting to figure out how lectins operate. Nonetheless, we are learning more about who lectins are beneficial for and who they aren’t, as well as how to tell the difference.
It turns out that most individuals don’t need to fight this chemical with their diet. Food-sensitive individuals who suffer stomach discomfort, nausea, or other gastrointestinal symptoms after consuming lectin-rich foods may benefit from a lectin diet that contains minimal (or no) lectins.
In this post, you’ll discover how to tell whether you or a customer is lectin sensitive and how to decrease the quantity of lectins in your diet.
We’ll talk about it.
- What exactly are lectins?
- What are lectins and how do they work?
- Is it true that lectins are harmful?
- Which foods have the most and which have the least lectins?
- What can you do to minimize or eliminate lectins in your favorite foods?
- How to Stay Away from Lectins
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What exactly are lectins?
Lectins are a kind of protein that binds carbohydrates. (Gluten, dubbed the “diet killer” by some, is the most well-known lectin.)
When we speak about lectins in this article, we’re mostly talking about phytohaemagglutinins, which are plant lectins (PHA). PHA is found in raw beans and legumes, and in high amounts, it may cause severe poisoning. 1 (Don’t worry; when beans and other foods rich in lectins are cooked, most of the PHA is eliminated.)
Plants have built-in bodyguards, which are known as lectins.
Plants are totally helpless against food, while animals have teeth and claws to defend themselves. Furthermore, they are typically securely entrenched, preventing them from escaping at all.
To resist bacteria, insects, and other pests, plants have evolved to generate chemical substances such as lectins2.
These chemicals also assist to keep the seeds intact as they travel through the digestive tract if the animal eats the plant. As a result, when an animal defecates, the seed lives, germinates, develops, and produces more seeds, guaranteeing the species’ survival.
Lectins are indigestible to humans. In most cases, these chemicals pass through our digestive system unaltered. However, lectins may reach the circulation when a person’s digestive tract is damaged, such as by Crohn’s disease or another inflammatory illness. Lectins may be problematic in this situation.
Is it true that lectins are harmful?
Many elements of human health are influenced by lectins.
Let’s have a look at their function in the body.
The intestinal wall and lectins
When food travels through the gut, it causes little harm to the digestive tract’s lining. In most cases, our cells rapidly heal the damage. It’s critical that the intestinal mucosa regenerates correctly since its job is to enable tiny nutrients to flow into the bloodstream while retaining bigger particles.
Lectins, on the other hand, may disrupt this mechanism, causing our cells to fail to renew as fast as they should in order to protect the gut. Our stomach gets irritated and no longer functions correctly if the damage continues. The tight connections in the gut walls stretch under normal circumstances, enabling undigested food particles, poisons, and germs to enter the bloodstream3.
Before you give up on beans, peas, and lentils, keep in mind that reducing the quantity of lectins in food before you consume it is simple. In fact, it’s likely that you already do.
Because lectins are substantially reduced by soaking, boiling, sprouting, and other techniques, most of us do not experience symptoms. (See below for additional information on ways to minimize lectins in meals.)
However, some individuals are more susceptible to lectins than others, particularly if they already have an intestinal condition (such as Crohn’s disease or celiac disease). Even tiny quantities of lectins induce immune-related symptoms in some individuals (such as intestinal inflammation, joint pain, or skin rashes). 4 A lectin-free or low-lectin diet may be beneficial to them.
The immune system and lectins
Antibodies are formed against lectins when they enter our circulation. Antibodies detect foreign things such as bacteria and viruses and cause the immune system to launch an inflammatory reaction in order to protect us.
Antibodies to specific dietary lectins are found in almost everyone. This implies that lectins may trigger an immunological response when they reach our circulation.
Some meals, particularly if they aren’t prepared correctly, may trigger a powerful immunological reaction. This may induce digestive system irritation, which can result in nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting.
For example, lectin poisoning may be induced by raw or undercooked and soaked kidney beans, which contain a lot of lectin. (When kidney beans are completely cooked till mushy, this virtually disappears: raw kidney beans have between 20,000 and 70,000 units of lectin, while fully cooked beans usually contain between 200 and 400 units.) 5
Inflammation and lectins
Lectins have been related to autoimmune inflammatory illnesses including inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and type 1 diabetes because they may activate an immune response.
The notion that lectins may induce or even worsen chronic inflammatory illnesses is incorrect, since little is understood about the processes behind these connections.
Well-cooked food is not an issue for most healthy individuals.
Even if you consume raw kidney beans by mistake, lectins typically only produce inflammation and temporary discomfort. To put it another way, you may need to use the restroom often over the next 24 hours, but you should be OK thereafter.
Which foods have the highest levels of lectins?
Grain and legume lectins (particularly wheat, kidney beans, soybeans, and peanuts) are often linked to digestive issues.
If you wish to avoid the highest lectin sources, use this table.
|Lectin-rich foods are those that contain a lot of lectins.||lectin reduction method(s)|
|Beans from the kidneys||Soaking and preparing|
|Chickpeas||Soaking, sprouting, and cooking are all steps in the process.|
|Peas, green||Soaking, sprouting, and cooking are all steps in the process.|
|Beans||Soaking, sprouting, and cooking are all steps in the process.|
|Lenses||Soaking, sprouting, and cooking are all steps in the process.|
|Wheat, rice, oats, quinoa, barley, buckwheat, rye, and other grains||Soaking, sprouting, and cooking are all steps in the process.|
|Soy products in general||Soaking, fermenting, and cooking are all steps in the process.|
|Maize and maize derivatives are a staple food in many parts of the world.||Kitchen|
|Bread, crackers, muesli, biscuits, muffins, and other cereal flour derivatives*||Kitchen|
|Tomatillos (if not peeled and deseeded)||Cooking, peeling, and hollowing|
|Cucumbers are a refreshing vegetable (without skin and seeds)||Remove the peel and the seeds.|
|Peppers from Bulgaria (without skin and seeds)||Cooking, peeling, and slicing|
|Chipotle (if not peeled and deseeded)||Cooking, peeling, and hollowing|
|Peanuts||Preparing food (frying)|
|Seeds from pumpkins||Soaking and preparing (frying)|
|Sunflower seeds are a kind of sunflower.||Soaking and preparing (frying)|
|Chia Seeds are a kind of chia seed that is||Dip|
|Nuts of cashew||Soaking and preparing (frying)|
* Nutrients are higher in unrefined grains than in refined grains. They do, however, contain more lectins.
Grain and lectins
Because the typical North American diet is primarily grain-based, we get the majority of our lectins from the foods we consume every day (and sometimes at every meal): bread, pasta, rice, cereals, and a variety of processed goods.
Our forefathers never had an issue with grains. Grains were a minor and seasonal food source prior to the advent of modern agriculture.
Our forefathers and mothers cultivated and harvested grains in modest amounts, then soaked, fermented, germinated, and boiled them to remove lectins and increase nutritional accessibility.
For the whole year, we can go to the market in 10 minutes and purchase whole wheat pasta, bread, rice, quinoa, kamut, amaranth, oats, barley, and tiny animal-shaped crackers. We’ve gone from tiny amounts of grain to huge amounts in a very short period of time.
What should you do if you’re allergic to lectins?
There are measures you may take to minimize the impact of lectins if you are susceptible to them.
Consider the following suggestions:
- Grain, legumes, and lectin-rich seeds should be properly soaked, fermented, germinated, and/or cooked. (For further information on how to accomplish this, see the section below.)
- Vegetables high in lectins, such as tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and white potatoes, should be peeled and/or deseeded.
- Reduce the quantity of lectin-rich foods you eat and how often you eat them. You may always attempt to cut out lectin-rich foods from your diet, since they are one of the leading causes of symptoms.
Use the low electin foods mentioned in this table as a reference if you wish to reduce your consumption of foods rich in electin:
|Products for low-level conferences|
|Cruciferous veggies are cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, kale, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, radishes, etc.)|
|Onion and garlic are both members of the onion and garlic family.|
|Herbs in their natural state|
|Salad with green vegetables|
|Plantains in their natural state|
|Sweet potatoes are a kind of potato that is used|
|In the meadow, there are a lot of chickens.|
|Meat that has been grass-fed or that has been semi-processed|
|The majority of seafood, particularly wild-caught seafood, is|
|Coconut and coconut oil are both delicious.|
|Olive oil with olives|
|Cannabis and hempseed products|
How can lectins be reduced or neutralized?
The following ways of preparation may assist in lowering lectin levels:
To decrease lectin content, sprout seeds, grains, or legumes.
The seed coat is the primary source of lectins. The seed germinates when water is added, and the husk is digested along with the lectins. In general, the longer the germination period, the more inactivated the lectins become.
However, lectin activity may rise during germination in certain circumstances (e.g., in alfalfa seeds).
Seeds, grains, and pulses germinating
Fill a container halfway with water and add the seeds, grains, or legumes. Place them on a table and soak them overnight. Rinse well under running water in a colander, drain, and store in a clean container. For the following several days, cover the container with gauze or mesh and rinse and dump it at least twice a day. Rinse it and cook it to your taste after a little splash emerges. Leftovers may be kept in the fridge for up to five days.
Soaking and preparation
Have you ever wondered why Grandma went through the trouble of soaking, rinsing, and cooking grains and beans?
Our forefathers understood that this was the best method to improve the digestibility of this meal. We now know that it reduces lectin levels.
Pulses and grains are soaked.
Fill a pot with one to two inches of water and the grains or legumes. Place on a table and let to rest for 4 to 8 hours. Rinse completely in a colander under running water when the timer goes off. Cook until the beans are cooked, as normal.
Fermented foods are a staple of most traditional diets throughout the globe. Miso, tempeh, and natto, for example, are fermented soy products popular in Japan. Sauerkraut and kvass, a fermented drink derived from beets or rye berries, are popular in Eastern Europe. Indians create dosas and lassis using sour milk and a yeast dough based on lentils and rice.
If you eat sourdough bread, beer, yogurt, and even chocolate, you’re definitely eating fermented foods.
Beneficial bacteria degrade several difficult-to-digest chemicals, including lectins, during fermentation. However, fermentation does not fully eliminate all lectins, and certain especially resistant lectins remain in the beans regardless of treatment time.
Food Fermentation Techniques
There are just too many ways to ferment various foods to mention here.
Beneficial microorganisms or a starting culture from a previous batch of enzymes are often used to kickstart the process. Fermented foods may be an excellent source of probiotics and have a pleasant, sour, and occasionally effervescent flavor.
So, should you consume lectins or avoid them?
As is customary, the judgment is ambiguous. Some individuals have issues with lectins. No, in other instances.
Some lectins may be beneficial to your health.
Although many kinds of lectins have detrimental effects on the body, other lectins are beneficial in preventing the development of illnesses like cancer.
Lectins are also used by the body for a variety of activities. Lectins have a role in immune system modulation and proper cell function6.
Many foods high in lectins are also high in B vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber, and healthy fats. If you’re not sensitive, the advantages of consuming lectin-rich foods are likely to exceed the disadvantages.
So let the beans (fully cooked) begin!
To view the sources of information used in this article, go here.
1. Lectins as crop protection proteins, Willy JP and EIS J. M. Van Damme. Plant Physiol. 109: 347-352 (1995).
2. Dolan LC, Matulka RA, Burdock GA. Natural-source nutritional poisons. 2(9):2289-2332. Toxins (Basel). 2010;2(9):2289-2332.
Phytohaemagglutinin is a kind of phytohaemagglutinin. FDA (Food and Drug Administration) of the United States
Reaction of lectin-specific antibody with human tissue: Possible contribution to autoimmunity, Voidani A, Afar D, Voidani E. 2020;2020:1438957. J Immunol Res. 2020;2020:1438957. On February 11, 2020, it was published.
5. Q. Mu, J. Kirby, C. M. Reilly, and X. M. Luo. As a warning indication for autoimmune disorders, a leaky gut is present. The journal Front Immunol published an article titled “Front Immunol 8:598” in 2017. Published on the 23rd of May, 2017.
6. Ribeiro, A. C., Ferreira, R., & Freitas, R. (2018). Vegetable lectins : Bioactivity and bioapplications. Research in the chemistry of natural products, 1-42.
7. Grant, G. A review of the antinutritional effects of soy. J Anim Sci, vol. 55, no. 10, pp. 1087-1098, 1982.
8. B. Watzl et al. Ovalbumin-induced immunological responses in brown Norway rats are modulated by wheat germ agglutinin in the diet. Br J Nutr, vol. 85, no. 4, pp. 483-490, 2001.
K. Falt-Magnusson et al., Falt-Magnusson K, et al., Falt-Magnusson The gluten lectin hypothesis of celiac disease is supported by increased levels of blood antibodies to wheat germ agglutinating lectin in children with celiac disease. 98-102 in Pediatr Allergy Immunol, 1995.
Increased intestinal permeability in Crohn’s disease patients and their families, 10. Hollander D, et al. An etiological factor is a possibility. 105:883-885 in Ann Intern Med, 1986.
Dietary lectins are metabolic signals to the gut that regulate immunological and hormonal processes, according to A. Pusztai. 691-699 in Eur J Clin Nutr, 1993.
Anti-nutrient effects of wheat germ agglutinin and other N-acetylglucosamine specific lectins, Pusztai A, et al. 313-321 in Br J Nutr, 1993.
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15. Cordain L, et al. Dietary lectins modulate immunological function in rheumatoid arthritis. 83:207-217 in Br J Nutr, 2000.
16. Livingston JN & Purvis BJ. Effect of wheat germ agglutinin on insulin binding and insulin sensitivity of fat cells. Am J Physiol 1980;238:E267-E275.
Dietary lectins in food allergies and intolerances, by D.J. Freed. Bailliere Tindale Publishers, London, Brostoff and Callacombe Editing
18. Shemer J & LeRoith D. Interaction of brain insulin receptors with wheat germ agglutinin. Neuropeptides 1987;9:1-8.
Wheat germ agglutinin replicates the metabolic effects of insulin without insulin, Ponzio G, et al.
Cell Signal 1990;2:377-386. 20. Increased receptor autophosphorylation.
Insulin mimicking bound lectins generate sustained insulin action, 21. Schechter J. Endocrinology 113:1921-1926, 1983.
Detection of antibodies against wheat germ agglutinin-related glycoproteins on islet cell membranes. 22. Kitano N, et al. 5:139-144 in Diabet Med, 1988.
The function of galectins in inflammatory bowel disorders, Hokama A, et al. 5133-5137 in World J Gastroenterol, 2008.
24. Rabinovich GA & Toscano MA. Introduce softness into immunity: Galectin-glycan interactions in immune tolerance and inflammation. Nat Rev Immunol 2009;9:338-352.
Dietary lectins as disease-causing poisons, Hamid R and Masood A. Pakistan Journal of Nutrition, vol. 3, no. 3, 2009, pp. 293-303.
Insulin-mimetic effects of wheat germ agglutinin and concanavalin A on particular mRNA levels. Messina JL, et al. 254:110-115 in Arch Biochem Biophys.
M. Jordinson, M. Jordinson, M. Jordinson, M. Jordinson, M. Jordinson, M. Exocrine pancreatic secretion in rats is stimulated by soy leclectin through CCK-A receptors. 270(4 Pt I):G653-G659. Am J Physiol 1996;270(4 Pt I):G653-G659.
Chemistry of active compounds based on the sugar code: Fundamentals of lectinology and experimental methods utilizing lectins as targets. 28. Rüdiger H, et al. Curr Med Chem 7:389-416 in 2000.
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Vegetable lectins are a kind of lectin found in plants.
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The two main groups of lectins are N- and P-lectins. N-lectins bind to the cell membranes of other organisms, which can cause leaky gut and food sensitivities. P-lectins bind to sugars, and disrupt cell growth and reproduction. In some cases, these foods are also linked to autoimmune conditions.. Read more about what beans are low in lectins and let us know what you think.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the 3 foods Dr Gundry says to avoid?
A: -Alcohol -Sugar -Processed foods
What are the side effects of lectins?
Lectins are proteins found in plants, animals, and microorganisms. They are capable of binding to sugar molecules on the surface of cells. This causes an immune response that can lead to inflammation and autoimmune disease.
What are the worst lectins to eat?
The lectins that are the worst to eat are the ones found in grains, especially wheat.
This article broadly covered the following related topics:
- how to remove lectins from tomatoes
- lectin toxicity
- lectin foods
- foods high in lectins