Lectins can be found in almost every food that is highly nutritious. However, it has been scrutinized lately for its inflammation effects and health issues. This has caused lectins to be included in the list of foods that are anti-nutrients and because of this, doctors have warned consumers on foods highest in lectin content. Nutrition experts say that these seemingly harmless proteins could have seriously detrimental effects. It could expose the body to risks of chronic diseases and is said to permanently damage the immune system.
Debates and studies are being conducted with this series of negative effect claims as some would argue that the benefits outweigh the potentially harmful effects of foods that are rich in lectin. Some studies also agree that there can be steps and precautions that could be followed so that the lectin content you find in your everyday foods could be minimized. In this read, we will know more about lectins and their possible pros and cons. We will also include a list of foods highest in lectin contents so that you can go through it.
Lectins in a Nutshell
Lectin is a part of the protein’s large family and it can be found in almost all the foods that you eat daily. It can be found in all animals and plants. It is most common in legumes and grains as it usually binds with foods that are rich in carbohydrates. The combination would form glycoproteins which are important for immune system regulation to make sure that proteins in the blood levels are controlled.
Animal lectins are known for their various roles in physiological functions and lectin from plants is still unclear. What we know now is that it involves the defenses of the plants against herbivores and insects. There are toxic lectin plants and in cases where it is consumed, it can be positively lethal.
Despite its claims of regulating blood proteins, it is also reported that lectins could have adverse health effects. It may cause diarrhea, vomiting, and could lead to a leaky gut. It may also alter the processes in the immune system.
Just like animals, humans could also have issues when consuming lectins as lectins are highly resistant to the enzymes in the body’s digestive system. It could easily pass in the stomach without being changed. Fortunately, there are various ways on how to reduce the lectin content in the food that we eat daily without completely doing a lectin-free diet.
There are various ways on how you can reduce the lectin content in your food and the following could be done:
Doing so would promote and increase better health and could cut the don what concentration of lectin in some foods.
Pros and Cons
The question now is, are lectins altogether bad for health? While it is true that eating foods that contain a high content of lectin could result in adverse effects on health, lectins also play various roles in the body that are important for normal function. We have compiled a list of all the benefits and pros of consuming lectin in your diet here.
- It regulates the adhesion of cells that are important for immune function.
- Lectin is involved in regulating the immune system.
- Helps in glycoprotein synthesis.
- Could have antimicrobial effects
- Help fight viral infections and fungi
- Found to be effective in fighting numerous bacteria including bacteria strains that could cause E.coli and staph.
- It may possess activities and processes that are anti-cancer
The debate on whether it is truly beneficial for health is because of the many negative effects that are springing forth from studies and research. These immediate negative and side effects may include:
- Could damage the wall of the gut and could contribute to a syndrome called leaky gut
- It is difficult to ingest and may act like an ant nutrient.
- It may increase the possibility of nutritional deficiencies.
- It can interfere with food absorption and digestion.
- Could upset the normal process of digestion which may lead to gastroenteritis and lectin poisoning.
- May play a role in rheumatoid arthritis and autoimmune conditions.
Lectin poisoning may cause several effects like diarrhea, nausea, cramps, and vomiting that’s why it is important to always practice the proper preparation with foods that are high in lectin content so that harmful lectin effects could be reduced allowing the body to take advantage and make use of the health benefits that it is supposed to do.
Foods Highest in Lectins
Keep in mind that lectins are found in almost all the foods in the food supply and they are usually very common in many kinds of legumes and grains. The anti-nutrients to cut out lectin completely from your diet if you are aware of foods highest in lectins and you also know how to prepare it to reduce its lectin content. As mentioned, lectin is important but too much consumption could lead to possible health problems. Here are some of the foods that are high in lectin content:
- Soybeans: These are a great source of isoflavones, protein, minerals, and vitamins. You can reduce the lectin content drastically by sprouting, cooking, or fermenting them.
- Red kidney beans: It is high in fiber and protein. When it’s properly cooked, it can be a valuable and healthy addition to your regular diet.
- Peanuts: This food is rich in minerals, vitamins, proteins, and unsaturated fats. Although it is high in lectin, health benefits outweigh the risks.
- Wheat: The lectin content in wheat is eliminated during processing and cooking.
- Potatoes: This crop is very versatile and nutritious. Despite its high lectin content, there is no concrete evidence yet that it should be completely taken off your diet.
- Tomatoes: It is rich in lycopene, antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins and its lectin content does not have any adverse effects.
Note that at least only a third of the foods that you eat are foods highest in lectin content. It is eliminated and often removed through various preparations like fermentation, cooking, and sprouting. The process would make these foods generally safe so there is nothing to worry about adverse health effects. Too much of everything is bad and yes, there is no need to completely remove lectins from your diet. Just make sure that it is regulated and you follow cooking and preparation processes to reduce its content in the foods that you eat regularly.