With so many diets denying grains such as gluten free, paleo, and the latest, keto inspires the question, why? What’s the connection in this Venn Diagram of diets? So we followed the food…all the way to the gut and how it behaves.
When we look to the gut, we find an interesting relationship between lectins, gut flora, and the gut lining. Read with us as we explore our gut!
What are Lectins and why should you care?
Lectins are a type of protein that bind to cell membranes and can breakdown endothelial cells. Endothelial cells have very thin cell membranes and for this specific conversation, line the wall of your stomach. When your body breaks down food, the nutrients are absorbed in that very thin lining of endothelial cells. If your diet doesn’t consist of very high amounts of lectins, your body can repair these micro holes relatively quickly. However, when foods with high levels of lectins are eaten in large quantities and consistently, bigger holes in the GI lining can form, and your body doesn’t have enough time to repair these holes before the next onslaught/meal comes. This is where the gut becomes “leaky”. These holes allow endotoxins (microscopic pieces of feces) to get into the blood stream. When the gut lining is damaged without recovery, our bodies have problems also absorbing important nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. If too many lectins are consumed and there is too much damage to the GI lining at once, you will probably experience a GI evacuation, which is: vomiting, cramping, and/or diarrhea.
Let’s go back to these endotoxins that get through the breaks in the gut wall. Endotoxins can ultimately reach the brain — creating brain fog, depression, anxiety, fatigue, sleeplessness, and create joint paint. If endotoxins reach your skin they can create acne, rashes, and a myriad of inflammatory conditions like psoriasis and eczema. In an extreme situation, if too many endotoxins get into the blood stream your body can go into sepsis.
According to Harvard Medical School, “some studies show that leaky gut may be associated with other autoimmune diseases (lupus, type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis), chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, arthritis, allergies, asthma, acne, OBESITY, and even mental illness.” Additionally, in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, August 2018, “The Perturbance of Microbiome and Gut-Brain Axis in Autism Spectrum Disorders” describes in detail the disruption of the microbiome (gut bacteria) and the correlation to autism.
Interestingly, some experts recognize the correlation between the top 8 allergens and the fact they contain some of the highest amounts of lectins (including: dairy, egg, wheat, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish).
So now that we know we need to avoid and have in limited quantities, where do you find lectins?
- Pasta Rice
- Potato chips
- Non-Southern European Cow’s Milk Products (these contain casein A-1)
- Yogurt (including Greek yogurt)
- Ice cream
- Frozen yogurt
- Cheese Ricotta
- Cottage cheese
- Sweet One (Acesulfame K)
- Splenda (Sucralose)
- NutraSweet (Aspartame)
- Sweet’n Low (Saccharin)
- Diet drinks
- Sugar snap peas
- Green beans
- Chickpeas* (including hummus)
- Soy protein
- Textured vegetable protein [TVP]
- Pea protein
- All beans, including sprouts All lentils
- *Vegans and vegetarians can have these legumes only if they are properly prepared in a pressure cooker.
- Squashes (any kind)
- Melons (any kind)
- Bell peppers
- Chili peppers
- Goji berries
- Grape seed
- “Partially hydrogenated” Vegetable
- Kefir Grains
- Sprouted Grains
- Pseudo-Grains,and Grasses
- Wheat (pressure cooking does not remove lectins from any form of wheat)
- Einkorn wheat
- Oats (cannot pressure cook)
- Quinoa Rye (cannot pressure cook)
- Bulgur White rice
- Brown rice
- Wild rice
- Barley (cannot pressure cook)
- Corn products
- Corn syrup
- Barley grass
Are there foods with protective qualities or can neutralize lectins?
Because lectins are so widely distributed in foods we consume on a daily basis, you may find your current health may warrant a reduction in your consumption or try to reduce the amount by soaking, fermenting, sprouting and/or cooking. You can also add baking soda to soaking legumes to help in decreasing lectin levels. Unfortunately, lectins are resistant to dry heat so baking doesn’t decrease affect on the gut lining.
What foods can I eat if I want my gut to stay healthy and intact?
The majority of your plate should have leafy green or cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, cabbage, kale, garden cress, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and good fats like olive oil, avocados, grass fed ghee, coconut oil, walnut oil, macadamia nut oil.
In a smaller portion, avocados, paleo wraps with coconut flour, green plantains, green bananas, cassava, sweet potatoes or yams, rutabagas, parsnips, taro root, turnips, jicama, green mango, green papaya just to show you have some options in starches.
Climbing higher on the pyramid of foods in smaller amounts berries, avocados, poultry, wild seafood.
In moderation, Southern European Cow milk and cheese, A2 milk, goat, sheep & buffalo milks and cheeses, along with red wine, champagne, dark spirits.
Finally, in very limited quantities of 1-2 per week, grass feed beef.
How to Repair the Gut?
In terms of repairing the gut, zinc L-carnosine is a mucosal protectant. Here in the U.S. it’s a supplement, but in Japan it requires a prescription for the treatment of gastric ulcers. Clinical studies have also shown its efficacy for oral mucositis, esophagitis, proctitis, taste alteration and dermatitis during and after radiotherapy. Its mechanism of action is that is can remain in the stomach without rapid dissociation and adhere specifically to ulcerous lesions, after which L-carnosine and zinc are released to heal the ulcer. It has been shown to stimulate mucus production and to maintain the integrity of the gastric mucosal barrier. It maintains homeostasis of the gastric mucosa by prostaglandin-independent cytoprotective effects due to anti-oxidative membrane stabilizing actions, and it promotes the repair of damaged tissues by wound healing action.
With a long history of more than 20 years of clinical use in Japan, zinc l-carnosine has recently become available in Italy for the treatment of any condition that requires a mucosal protection and mucosal repair within the gastrointestinal tract, including GERD.
Bottom line, if you’re struggling with weight loss or have any of the aforementioned ailments like painful joints, skin conditions, fatigue or depression, gastrointestinal conditions like GERD, Crone’s Disease, Celiac, eliminating the quantity of lectins you consume may help you live a more active, less painful and more enjoyable life.
If you can see that you will have a tough time incorporating a new lifestyle decreasing your lectin intake and actualizing your body image goals, we can help. Our trainers are exceptional at creating the most efficient and straight pathway to your goals. We have over 100 Google 5 Star Reviews and over 75 Yelp 5 Star Reviews because we care about you to do our very best!
-1 cup whole wheat couscous
-1/4 cup dried apricots, chopped (or golden raisins)
-2 tablespoons olive oil
-1/2 cup 2-percent plain Greek yogurt
-1 tablespoon prepared hummus
-2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint or dill
-1 1/4 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails removed
-1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
-1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon hot paprika
-Juice of 1/2 lemon
1.Preheat your broiler to high and combine 1 tablespoon of olive oil, apricots, and couscous in a bowl. Add 1 ¼ cup of boiling water to bowl, cover, and set aside until all the water has been absorbed and the couscous is tender.
2.Combine yogurt, hummus, mint, and 1-2 tablespoons of water in another bowl. Mix together, season with salt, and set aside.
3.In a bowl toss shrimp, tomatoes, and paprika with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Spread it out on a prepared baking sheet and cook it in the oven until the shrimp is opaque and cooked through. Drizzle with lemon juice after shrimp is done cooking.
4.Fluff your cooked couscous with a fork. Be careful not to over fluff. Scrape off any remaining juices from the baking sheet into your yogurt sauce.
5.Serve shrimp over couscous and the sauce either drizzled over or on the side.
This recipe was previously featured on the Food Network.