Do Lectins Cause Leaky Gut and Inflammation? Know the truth!
Dietary lectins are a family of proteins that bind to carbohydrates, and they're actually found in almost all of our foods. Now, this protein-carb bond protects the plant in the wild and does have the ability to cause some gut upset in humans.
Now, some people claim that lectins can increase or cause gut permeability leading to autoimmune diseases. And it's true that some lectins are toxic if they're consumed in excess.
But the beauty of this is that lectins can be eliminated through cooking.
So today, we're going to explore and answer the question, do lectins cause leaky gut and inflammation?
My name is Marcie Vaske. I'm a functional medicine nutritionist, and I specialize in gut health. So I see a lot of individuals who really struggle with gut permeability or diarrhea or constipation or heartburn or bloating and cramping.
So if this sounds like you or someone you know, you can easily make an initial appointment with me or our other practitioner, Katie. We'd be happy to help you relieve some of those symptoms that you've been struggling with.
But if you are the kind of person who likes to do things on their own, you can download our free guide, which is, Five Ways to Improve Gut Health. So go ahead and take a look at those resources.
We do have a blog that shares a lot of information, and I know it's fun to kind of learn and kind of figure out things on your own. But remember, if you can't and your gut seems super complicated, we're happy to help.
Now, let's get back to our discussion on lectins.
Do Lectins Cause Leaky Gut And Inflammation?
So it's true that lectins, in the raw form, can be harmful to our gut and increase intestinal permeability, causing some damage.
And what's also true is that lectins actually aren't even bothered by our digestive enzymes or our hydrochloric acids. So they just get right through into our intestinal tract, and that's where they do a lot of that damage.
Now, lectins can even interfere with the absorption of certain minerals such as iron, zinc, calcium, and phosphorus. And so if you're eating raw lectins, which cause intestinal damage, of course, we know that intestinal permeability does have the ability to lead to autoimmune diseases.
How to Reduce Lectins in Foods
So what can we do with these lectins to make them less, less adverse?
Now, there are well-documented cases of food poisoning of lectin toxicity, even after only eating three or four raw kidney beans.
An individual may experience nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, but within three to four hours, the toxin has gotten out of the body and they're feeling better.
But who wants to eat a raw kidney bean in the first place?
And so the way to reduce lectins in a kidney bean and in most beans is just by cooking it for at least 10 minutes, and that reduces it to a negligible amount of lectin.
Although nearly all foods contain some lectins, only about 30% of foods consumed in the United States contain lectins. And so if you are eating a diet high in beans, legumes, also foods like peanuts or nightshades and grains, they do contain a significant amount of lectins.
But we don't eat those raw, right? I mean, it'd be very unusual that you would eat a raw bean or a raw lentil, for example.
So by cooking them, that, as I said earlier, really reduces that risk or reduces the lectin in that food. Therefore, it's not harming your gut and really causing increased gut dysbiosis or permeability.
Embracing Beneficial Lectins: Promoting a Healthier Diet
So the answer is YES. You can eat foods with lectins in them without causing harm. And actually, a lot of those foods mentioned, the beans, legumes, things like fruits and vegetables that contain lectins. They also really promote a healthier diet and a healthier body in general.
So if you feel a little concerned about eating lectins, research has found that vitamin D actually does protect the intestinal wall.
So making sure that as running a simple Vitamin D test with your practitioner and making sure your levels are nice and high, can help protect your gut from many things, many things that we're eating, and the environment in general.
So feel free to eat lectins. I guess my bottom line would be to make sure you cook them. That's really what it comes down to.
So I hope that answers your question on how does lectins increase leaky gut and inflammation.
If you'd like to explore any of this information further or obtain an individualized nutrition plan, you can schedule an initial appointment at our clinic. We also take insurance and some of our clients get full coverage, which is great.
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