Proteins form an essential part of any diet plan. You can obtain them from different types of food products. However, there are proteins which are good and bad simultaneously. They are called lectins.
Clinical studies suggest that lectins have both positive and negative health effects. This means that you should incorporate them into your diet. But apart from that, you need to ensure that you only consume it in moderation. Below is an overview of lectins, including their benefits, and downsides.
What Are Lectins?
They are mainly plant-based proteins which that bind to cell membranes. Lectins have sugar-binding properties. They can make the molecules in the body to stick together without the help of the immune system. As a result, it can lead to cell-to-cell interactions.
Foods That Are High in Lectins
This type of protein is found mainly in raw grains and legumes. However, you can still find them in certain seeds which become leaves as in plant sprouts. Apart from those, you can also find them in certain vegetables and dairy products. They include:
- Cashews and peanuts
- Legumes and beans such as red kidney beans, soybeans, lentils, peas, and other pulses.
- Vegetable oils
- Squashes such as zucchini, acorn squash, pumpkins, and butternut squash.
- Tomatoes and potatoes
- Casein A1 milk
How to Reduce Lectins in Food
Some of your favorite foods may contain high amounts of lectins. So, instead of completely eliminating them from your diet, simply try to reduce the lectin content in them. Techniques that you can use to reduce lectins in food include:
- Deseeding and peeling your fruits and vegetables: note that the skin or seeds of fruits and vegetables contain the highest amounts of lectin. By deseeding or peeling them before consumption, you can significantly reduce the lectin content.
- Cooking and chilling potatoes: this helps to reduce the lectin content by almost 60%. Chilling is essential in enhancing the nutritional value.
- Soaking beans before cooking: make sure that you soak beans for at least 12 hours before you cook it. Frequently change the water and you can also add baking soda to enhance the neutralization of lectins.
- Eating traditionally fermented soybean products.
Generally, you can reduce lectin content in various food varieties by:
- Sprouting: grains, beans, or seeds.
- Fermenting: soy products and certain vegetables like cabbages
- Soaking and cooking: beans and legumes.
What is Lectin Shield?
This is a type of herbal supplement. Lectin shield is a product created by Dr. Steven Gundry. It’s a quality formula which contains nine different ingredients. According to Dr. Gundry, lectin shield helps to support the digestive health and enhance intestinal strength.
The Benefits of Lectins
Are lectins bad for your health? There are different types of foods which contain this type of protein. This means that lectins play different roles in the body which are vital for development. Some of their benefits include:
These proteins help to regulate cell adhesion. This is important in immune regulation and improving the immune function. Some research studies indicate that lectins also have anti-microbial properties which make them effective in preventing infections.
Fighting Fungal and Viral Infections
Lectins are effective against fighting various fungal and viral infections. Multiple in-vitro trials suggest that they may help to prevent the growth of specific fungus, especially the one that’s responsible for yeast infections.
A research report published in Cell Proliferation indicates that certain lectins can help treat cancer. Some of these proteins have anticancer properties. These make them effective in minimizing the symptoms and spread of cancer.
Side Effects of Lectin
Consumption of foods with high amounts of lectins is often associated with numerous health effects. There is a direct connection between these proteins and inflammation in the body. Some of the potential downsides of lectins include:
These proteins are not easy to digest. So, consuming foods which are rich in lectins may cause damage to the gut wall. As a result, you may end up suffering from leaky gut syndrome. This condition is usually characterized by a permeable gut.
These proteins influence how the immune system works. So, there are high chances that they can also result in result in autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis. Lectins can attack healthy cells in the body and lead to cell inflammation.
Lectins are not easy to digest which means that they form unnecessary bulk in the digestive tract. They also have anti-nutrient properties. So, taking foods which have high amounts of these proteins can increase your risk of nutritional deficiencies.
Signs and Symptoms of High Intake of Lectins
From a leaky gut to autoimmune problems, the side effects of taking lectin-rich foods are numerous. Below are some of the most common signs and symptoms of high or excess intake of foods with high lectins.
- Gas and bloating
- Stomach discomfort
- Joint pains and fatigue
- Skin changes
Risks of a Lectin-Free Diet
As much as consuming too much lectins is bad, do not restrict your diet. This is because a lectin-free diet isn’t good for your health. It’s a restrictive type of diet that may limit your nutrient intake of foods such as beans, whole grains, and certain vegetables.
Note that whole grains are beneficial in reducing the risk of diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and heart diseases. Fruits and vegetables are essential for any type of diet plan. They help to lower the risk of lung diseases and heart problems.
The Bottom Line
Foods that contain lectins are good and also bad. There are certain lectins which improve the immune functions. They help to fight viral and fungal infections. The amount of these proteins varies from one food variety to the next. However, always make sure that you regulate their intake. This is because you may end up suffering from serious health problems.