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Lectins - How To Protect Against Them?

by Carly Neubert, BA, NC April 14, 2021

I know our blogs usually focus on those naturally-occurring molecules that are good for you, however, today we’re going to take a step back and review something that can be quite the opposite: lectins.

Lectins are often considered anti-nutrients - they can prevent your body from absorbing the nutrition it needs. In this article, we will be discussing what lectins are, why they can be bad for you, how you can protect your body from them by using Supreme Nutrition’s Lectin Protect, and what this means in terms of avoiding adverse side effects. To know how to effectively protect your body against harmful molecules, it is best to know a little bit about them first. This article will aim to do just that.

What are lectins?

Lectins are naturally occurring proteins that are found in plant and animal food sources. You can think of them as sticky proteins. They force carbohydrate molecules to clump together and stick to certain cells in your body. The sticky mess of lectins and carbohydrates stops communication between cells and actually helps bacteria and viruses enter your cells. Neither of these situations is positive for your overall health.  

You may have heard of gluten intolerance or gluten sensitivity. Gluten is a lectin that is found in wheat and barley. But gluten isn’t the only lectin that can cause digestive symptoms, inflammation, and weight gain.

Lectins are found in all plants. But before you stop eating plants, keep in mind that some plants have very little lectins, while others are loaded with them. Beans, lentils, peas, soybeans, peanuts, and whole grains, like wheat, contain the highest amount of lectins.

Why are lectins bad for you?

Lectins play a vital role in protecting plants in nature, thus they are resistant to digestion when consumed. Lectins have evolved as a toxin that plants use to deter animals from eating them. Lectins are basically the only defense a plant has against being devoured by insects or animals.

Raw kidney beans are an extreme example of the dangers of lectins. Even a small serving of raw or undercooked kidney beans have enough lectins (phytohaemagglutinin)  to cause your red blood cells to clump together. Not all foods with lectins are quite so dangerous.

Lectins have received a ton of negative media attention due to Dr. Gundry's diet books linking them to obesity, chronic inflammation, and autoimmune diseases. Is this really the case?

In the best case scenario, lectins travel through the gut unchanged and don’t hinder your body’s ability to absorb the nutrients it needs. But, with an estimated 45 million people in the United States who suffer from IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) it is obvious that not all of us have the “best case scenario” going on in our digestive tract.

Eating foods that are high in lectins can cause or aggravate inflammation and leaky gut. Lectins have been linked to the cause for autoimmune diseasesAlthough lectins haven’t been convicted of causing IBS or Crohn’s, they will most certainly make the conditions worse.  

Although this is a fairly new finding, the science points to lectins as a cause and contributor to numerous diseases and health issues.

What foods are high in lectin?

As mentioned above, raw legumes and whole-grain sources contain the highest amounts of active lectin. Specifically, red kidney beans, soybeans, wheat, peanuts, tomatoes, and potatoes are among the richest sources of lectins. However, these foods also contain many beneficial properties, and shouldn’t be avoided entirely. There are several steps you can take to reduce lectins’ negative side effects.

How can you protect yourself from lectins? 

Lectins can be purified, or removed, via processes of cooking, sprouting, and fermentation. In most individuals, this helps to limit some of their adverse effects. Dr. Gundry has published several books on the dangers of lectins in our modern diet. His research has linked autoimmune disease, obesity, and cancer to lectin sensitivity. He recommends a lectin-free diet.  

Another way to protect yourself is by taking supplements like Supreme Nutrition’s Lectin ProtectThis supplement comes in the form of vegan cellulose capsules and aims to bind lectins to heal leaky gut and lessen some of their nasty side effects. The main ingredients are bladderwrack (fucus vesiculosus), larch (larix occidentalis), and okra (abelmoschus esculentus). 

Bladderwrack is popular in Asian cuisines. It is a seaweed that has been prized for its iodine content. But more recently, it has been noticed for its ability to bind to lectins in your GI tract.

Larch extract is also known as arabinogalactan. Larch does not bind to lectins, but rather is a prebiotic for good bacteria. If lectins have created an inflamed environment in your gut, you will need both prebiotics and probiotics to heal your gut lining.

Okra, is a pod vegetable that most of us have never seen, let alone eaten. It is popular in southern food and is quite slimy when cooked. Okra extra has a type of fiber that binds to lectins so that they can’t cause havoc in your digestive system.  

Lectin Protect contains many beneficial properties, such as lectin detoxification, trace mineral support, antiviral and antioxidant, and decreases gut permeability. 

Lectin blockers, like Lectin Protect, are best when incorporated into a lectin-free or low-lectin diet. If you are sensitive to lectins, you likely have a leaky gut and will benefit from other lifestyle and diet changes. If you are eating food with lectins, I recommend taking 1-2 Lectin Protect capsules per meal.

Do lectin blockers really work?

Bladderwrack and okra have been shown to bind to inflammatory lectins in foods. Larch has long been studied and recognized as a food source for the good bacteria in your gut. Larch has been studied and proven to produce butyrate which nourishes cells in your digestive tract.  

"I appreciate the fact that I don't have to worry whether or not I am eating too many lectins. I just take a Lectin Protect capsule before each meal and I am set!"

Linnea S.

Does turmeric have lectin?

Turmeric, a commonly used food, spice, and coloring agent, does contain lectin. Like in many other plants, turmeric contains lectin for binding and stabilization properties. Specifically, it contains Curcuma longa rhizome lectin, a binding protein of turmeric’s non-seed parts. Still, it contains lectin in rather small amounts. It has been labeled as one of the allowed spices and herbs in several lectin-avoidance diets.

In the end, lectins could be preventing your body from fully absorbing crucial nutrients. To remedy this, a variety of adjustments can be made, including taking Lectin Protect as a dietary supplement. But wait, we aren’t done yet!

For an in-depth overview of gut health, click hereFor another way to address gut health, check out the blog linked hereTo discover an additional supplement that can assuage a leaky gut, visit this blog. Happy healing!

For a personalized plan for a lectin-free diet and healing your gut, schedule a consult with me.


Sources

  1. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/anti-nutrients/lectins/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK22545/
  3. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods-high-in-lectins#TOC_TITLE_HDR_2 
  4. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/phytohaemagglutinin

Carly Neubert, BA, NC
Carly Neubert, BA, NC

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