Lectins= Inflammation-Causing Anti-Nutrient. Important Info for People With Autoimmune Issues, Joint Pain and More.
-photo by Linh Pham on Unsplash
I watched the video at this website again today: http://cutthecravings.com, and thought I'd write about it.
The link leads to a video by Dr. Steven Gundry, who wrote The Plant Paradox, warning about the dangers of lectins. Lectins are anti-nutrients, a type of carbohydrate-binding protein that some plants use to protect themselves against overgrazing. Lectins can kill off insects. In humans, the impact isn’t immediate, but can lead to leaky gut, joint aches, diabetes, obesity, and more. This is an infomercial video, but it’s got some good information. I think the prebiotic he’s selling would be a good support for people dealing with health issues like leaky gut or IBS, as well as for recovering addicts, but it’s not cheap, something like $50 for a month’s supply per person if one buys it in quantity. The info is helpful though, so here you go:
To save you the trouble of watching (it’s an hour long), according to Dr. Gundry the bad “health foods” we should reduce or avoid are:
1. All nightshades* (tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants, bell peppers, tomatillos)—although Roma tomatoes are fine if we squeeze out the seeds and discard the skin by dipping in boiling water and peeling it off, as the lectins are in the seeds and skin of tomatoes.
2. Beans* (according to Dr. Gundry, undercooked beans are responsible for 20% of the food poisoning in the US because of high lectin content. From government food safety websites, I’ve learned that incorrectly cooked kidney beans in particular are so high in lectins that they can theoretically kill. https://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodborneIllnessContaminants/CausesOfIllnessBadBugBook/default.htm. Undercooking them makes them more dangerous than they are in their raw state. I’ve completely stopped using kidney beans, especially since I don’t like them anyway...
3. Cashews* (these are actually a bean)
4. Peanuts* (can cause colon cancer in men)
5. Whole grains/any grains*. Lectin content is higher in whole grains than in processed flours.
*Note that peeling and deseeding nightshades, cucumbers, and squash will get rid of the high lectin content. Fermenting high lectin foods helps too.
**Note that soaking and sprouting beans and grains can reduce lectin content significantly, but be careful of possible mold contamination.
Superfood we should eat every day: prebiotics like acacia fiber, agave inulin, or plantain flour. (Plantain flour still has high lectin content according to some, but it's lower than the amount in raw potato starch. Some people do not respond well to acacia fiber or agave inulin, so I'm listing plantain as an alternative.) Be careful to go slow when starting prebiotics, as it can cause lots of gas and intestinal discomfort if not...
3 healthy treats from a lectin standpoint: dark chocolate, coffee, extra virgin olive oil. (Be careful with dark chocolate if you suspect you have a problem with oxalates!)
Artificial sweeteners: Duke University researchers found 1 packet of Splenda kills 50% of the microbes in your gut. If you drink a diet soda, you are killing 50% of your microbes, which take 2 years to grow back. Dr. Gundry recommends stevia only. I don’t use Truvia, just the natural whole stevia like Sweet Leaf products. I didn’t like the taste of stevia at all at first, and made the switch by adding a few drops at a time in with honey. Over time, my morning tea had half stevia in it, and then eventually only stevia.
There is still a lot of controversy about the importance of avoiding lectins. It may be that it's most important for those who are already in poor health in order to rebuild their health. In my case, I know my main issue is with oxalates. I am focusing on that. When I manage to eat a low oxalate diet, I have no pain. It's important to reduce oxalate intake gradually, because dumping oxalate can theoretically kill a person. I highly recommend Susan Owen's Facebook group "Trying Low Oxalates" if you are struggling with pain or fatigue.