What is All the Fuss About Regarding Lectins?

Lectin-free – Don't fall for the pseudoscience diet fad — DrFabio

So what are lectins?

Lectins are found in a good variety of grains, legumes, lentils, and beans.  Lectins are also found in fruits and vegetables that contains seeds.  There is much controversy out there as to whether lectins are good for you or bad for you.

The Bad:

Lectin is known as a “anti-nutrient” as they bind to carbohydrates (especially sugar) in the body.  This means they can interrupt messaging between cells or otherwise cause toxic or inflammatory reactions.


Organic Red Kidney Beans / Gram - Zero Waste BaliThe red Kidney bean is known to contain  phytohaemagglutinin which is a type of lectin that causes red blood cells to become sticky and clump together.  This can put one at risk of Coronary artery disease and a heart attack or stroke.

You would have to eat the Kidney bean raw for that type of damage.  Cooking the lentil or bean, especially with wet high-heat methods like boiling or stewing, or soaking in water for several hours, can inactivate most lectins. Lectins are water-soluble and typically found on the outer surface of a food, so exposure to water removes them.

Lectins tend to stick to the intestinal wall, causing the lining to become more permeable, allowing food particles such as lectins to slip into the bloodstream, which can trigger an inflammatory response putting one at risk for the production of antibodies to lectin.

Lectins have also been known to interfere with the absorption of minerals, especially calcium, iron, phosphorus, and zinc.


The Good:

Lectins can act as an antioxidant, which protects cells from damage caused by free radicals. They also slow down digestion and the absorption of carbohydrates, which may prevent sharp rises in blood sugar and high insulin levels.

In quite a few studies, lectin-containing foods like legumeswhole grains, and nuts are known to lower rates of cardiovascular disease, weight loss, and type 2 diabetes.  These foods are rich sources of B vitaminsproteinfiber, and minerals, and healthy fats. So, one may say, the health benefits of consuming these foods far outweigh the potential harm of lectins in these foods.Bioaccessibility and antioxidant activity of phenolic compounds in cooked  pulses,International Journal of Food Science & Technology - X-MOL





The take home message:

Some people may be born with a genetic predisposition to lectin-sensitivity, struggling with gas, bloat, gut irritation with eating any of the types of lectins.  Others can eat high lectin foods without any noted health issues.  If you tend to notice any gastrointestinal upset after a meal, start logging your meals and pay attention.  You may be one that would do much better overall avoiding these lectin foods.


At American Wellness & Rehab, we place a strong focus on the impact the food choices you make may have on your overall health.  We help you identify certain food triggers that may be causing a generalized inflammation.  Our goal is to help you avoid any chronic health issues  such as autoimmune diseases.  Please give us a call and we will be happy to meet with you!

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