I keep hearing a lot about lectins. What are they and why are they important?
According to The Institute for Natural Healing –
While most of the world seems to be touting the benefits of whole grains these days, a few people are insisting that grains are not as healthy as we think.
One of the reasons grains may be a problem in human nutrition is because they contain lectins, a class of molecules called glycoproteins (molecules that contain a protein and a sugar).
While dietary lectins are known in the scientific and nutritional communities, most lay people and even many medical professionals don’t know about them.
Lectins are involved in food allergies/sensitivities, inflammation and autoimmune disease, just to name a few. For instance, lectins are linked to celiac disease. Even weight gain and low energy can be linked to lectins.
Whole grains, peanuts, kidney beans, and soybeans are high in lectins. Cow’s milk, nightshade vegetables (like potatoes and tomatoes) and some seafood also contain fairly high amounts of lectin. In fact, estimates are that about 30% of our foods contain lectins, and about 5% of the lectins we eat will enter our circulation.
Lectins are problematic because they are sticky molecules that can bind to the linings of human tissue, especially intestinal cells. In so doing, they disable cells in the GI tract, keeping them from repairing and rebuilding.1 Therefore, lectins can contribute to eroding your intestinal barrier (leaky gut).
Because the lectins also circulate throughout the bloodstream they can bind to any tissue in the body — thyroid, pancreas, collagen in joints, etc.2 This binding can disrupt the function of that tissue and cause white blood cells to attack the lectin-bound tissue, destroying it. This is an autoimmune response. The lectins in wheat for example, are specifically known to be involved in rheumatoid arthritis.
Unfortunately, some dog food manufacturers are adding lentils and other legumes to their dog foods! It’s like the new “thing” to do and lots of dog food companies are jumping on the legume bandwagon. Whether it’s due to $$$ or whether their looking to make a lower glycemic food or other reason. I still will not buy it. If my dog had diabetes, I would feed something else.
Do sprouted grains and legumes contain lectins?
Sprouting neutralizes lectins.. I have a research article at work but….I’m at home.
In addition to neutralizing lectins, sprouting deactivates phytic acid and the enzyme inhibitors as well. The grain or seed becomes a living food (a baby plant) and since the enzyme inhibitors are inactivated the enzymes within the food is activated. Sprouting increases protein and vitamins within the grain too.
This is, in my opinion, a really interesting article on lectins. A quick quote
“A number of animal studies have shown that an increase in polyamines caused by a high lectin diet resulted in increases in the size of the intestines, liver, and pancreas.7
Lucretius said, “One man’s food is another man’s poison” and lectins give us part of the reason why. It is our individual genetic inheritances that determine how and to what degree lectins can affect us. Almost everybody has antibodies to some dietary lectins in their bloodstream. ” http://www.vrp.com/digestive-health/lectins-their-damaging-role-in-intestinal-health-rheumatoid-arthritis-and-weight-loss
Thanks Shawna, that’s good to know. I’ve been doing a lot of sprouted grains and other sprouted foods for myself and I was thinking about incorporating some sprouts into the dogs’ diet (I’ve been giving them sprouted chia once in awhile but that’s it). I found a mix specifically for dogs that has red clover, alfalfa, broccoli, 7 types of lentils, mung beans and hulless oats – wasn’t sure about feeding because of the lentils and oats…sounds like it’d be fine if I use it as the veggie portion of their meal a couple days a week though?
Yeah, I think that would be a great option.. I have NO issue with sprouted grains or lentils. Chia seeds are GREAT.. Where do you find all this stuff?? Have you tried Ezekiel breads (products) for yourself? I like their tortilla shells. I like the bread when I’m eating eggs but otherwise I don’t eat much of the bread.
Interesting article! And Lectin Lock looks like an interesting product. I was just thinking I’ll need to eat more okra!
Hi Shawna –
Check out sproutpeople.org – they have tons of stuff and that’s where they’re selling the sprout kit for dogs. I LOVE Ezekiel products – my freezer is full of them! In fact for lunch yesterday I had a spinach and mushroom omelet with one of their English muffins and before bed I had a PB&J on their cinnamon raisin bread. I’m going to attempt to try and make my own bread soon.
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