Do Lectins Cause Leaky Gut & Inflammation?
Today, we're talking about a really controversial topic: lectins. So I'm probably gonna get some hate mail, but it's probably gonna be from people who don't actually watch my video because if they did, they might start to second guess their very strong opinions on the hate of lectins.
The thing is, we do have some research showing that lectins can negatively impact gut health. However, when pulled together with all the other research we have and looked at from a big picture point of view, there are ways to eat lectins, where we get all the health benefits from the lectins without the harm of them, wreaking havoc on our gut. So we're gonna talk through all of that in this blog.
What is Lectins?
Let's rewind a little bit and talk about what exactly are lectins. So we know about 500 different lectins that we can pull from different plants. The plants that are highest in lectins include legumes, grains, some fruits, and veggies.
So mostly like beans and lentils and such and grains. Now the amount of lectin does vary based upon where it was grown. And then also the part of the growing cycle in which that plant was harvested.
So what the lectins do for the plant is that they actually help to protect the plant. So the plant creates them to help ward off insects, funguses, and diseases. And that's where the research shows that if humans consume too many of these lectins, they can cause micro damage in the gut and possibly contribute to intestinal permeability.
And then things like food sensitivities where it's triggering your immune system. There's also research even in the past two years showing the antiviral properties of lectins and the anti-Cancer properties. And the researchers are really interested in lectins because of the health benefits of it.
So it is very interesting that these have these two camps, right? Like, well, lectins and all the health benefits, and oh my God, don't ever eat lectins because it's gonna destroy your gut and thus destroy your body because the guts are the center of so much, right? All right. We're gonna talk through all that.
So I'm Ashley Oswald. I'm a gut health dietitian and founder of Oswald Digestive Clinic, where we help people improve and eliminate bothersome gut issues like gas, bloat, diarrhea, constipation, and more. And we now accept insurance. So many of our clients get full coverage, which is very exciting.
You can become a client by scheduling your initial appointment with us, and then you'll get some questions in our intake forms that you can call your insurance to check what sort of coverage your specific plan might have. If you're not ready for that, you can also download our free guide of Five Ways to Improve Gut Health and end Food Intolerances for Good. Without further ado, let's dive in to talk more about lectins.
What research says...
So let's just dive right into it. We're gonna be comparing animal research to human research. And this is the key to the point I'm trying to make animal research is really concerning showing how, when the animals were given these lectins, it damaged the gut. It caused alterations.
It caused damage to the vili, which are these little you can think of them as like mounds that increase the surface area to help with food absorption. So it started to damage those, it decreased enzyme activity, which decreased nutrient absorption. It negatively impacted the immune system and intestinal permeability.
And so yeah, it's a concern, but the human research we have, even though it's limited, does not show those same concerns. That's the most important thing for you to remember, especially when these foods are cooked and eaten in traditional ways so that they are well broken down and tolerated.
So let's talk about what that means. So there are four ways to decrease lectins in foods: soak, autoclave boil, and ferment. So you can boil legumes at about 200 degrees Fahrenheit for an hour.
And just the simple practice will reduce the lectins by 94 to 99.8 percent. You can do high-pressure steam for just 20 minutes, eliminating lectins in Lima beans completely. So it would make sense that it could do the same for other types of beans you can ferment for about three days, which can also destroy almost all the lectins in lentils as well.
Then just know that the microwave is ineffective, and then roasting, and baking could actually increase lectin, but that doesn't make sense when you're preparing beans, right? You're not gonna like roast raw beans. So just, yeah, some of its common sense and what you're probably doing already.
So if eating real foods and preparing them properly, you really do not have to worry about lectins damaging your gut is the end of the story.
So thanks for staying with me on this topic. You can schedule an appointment with us or download our free guide.
I hope you have a great rest of your day, and I will see you at the next one!
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.
Or you can just start by downloading our FREE GUIDE: 5 WAYS TO IMPROVE GUT HEALTH