Atlanta Integrative and Internal Medicine
Forrest A. Smith, M.D. 45 W. Crossvi-
lle Rd, Suite 501 Roswell, GA 30075
770-594-1233    www.atlantaintegrativeandinternalme...

Crabapple Internal and Integrative Medicine

Dr. Smith's Lectins - Natural Toxins in Food

Lectins- Natural Toxins in Food!

By Vinette Wilson, APN, MSN

Are you suffering from food sensitivities, allergies, autoimmune diseases, gastrointestinal problems, fatigue and/or brain fog, if so, please read on!  There is a natural toxin in your food that is the culprit behind many health issues. 

Lectins, not to be confused with Leptin are the most likely causes of myriad of symptoms and diseases.  Lectins are sticky carbohydrate binding proteins found in virtually all plants and animals and serve as a natural “pesticide” to protect plants from predators (including humans) and to support plants and animals in immunological functions against pathogens and parasites.  Some lectins that naturally occur in foods are so toxic that they are deadly.  The deadly toxin Ricin is made from the lectins in castor beans and black beans carry enough lectins to kill rats in a week.   Red kidney beans contain high levels of lectins and cause extreme nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and severe abdominal pain immediately after consumption if they are raw or undercooked.  

Lectins are so powerful that the agriculture industry saw the benefit of a “natural pesticide” and has now genetically modified (GMOs) many of our crops to be more resistant by either increasing the amount of lectin within the plant family or inserting lectins’ genetic material from other plant families.  Although they have a beneficial purpose of protecting crops, lectins can be extremely toxic when consumed at even higher levels due to genetic modification.

Lectins are found in every plant and animal at differing levels.  Ironically, some of the most commonly consumed foods have some of the highest levels of lectins.  Foods such as grains (especially wheat), legumes, soy, nuts, nightshades (tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, peppers, etc.) as well as any of its derivatives such as oils can do tremendous harm when eaten raw or not prepared properly. Now we have an understanding as to why we have such a high rate of health issues with consumption of these foods.  Consider this, GMOs have a high concentration of lectins not only within that particular plant family, but differing plant families which is design to provide more protection.  So if you think you may be allergic to soy, you may well be responding to wheat also if the soy was modified with wheat lectins to enhance its protection against pest and fungus.

Once lectins are introduced into the body they can wreak havoc.  Lectins are not completely broken down by digestion.  Instead this sticky substance binds to the walls of the intestines causing damage not only to the wall itself, but also to the ability of the wall to absorb nutrients.  After time, the walls become so damaged that they increase in permeability allowing bacteria, partially digested food particles and lectins themselves to pass into the bloodstream.  This is known as leaky gut syndrome.  Leaky gut syndrome results in allergies, system inflammation and autoimmune disease.

How do we protect our bodies from the damaging effects of lectins?  We start by reducing the consumption of lectins, especially the top offenders listed above.  Eliminating those offenders starts the healing process of the intestines.  That doesn’t mean that you will never be able to eat a favorite food again.  They can possibly be reintroduced slowly at a later time once the intestines have healed and symptoms have disappeared.  We also know that certain foods and supplements provide protection for the intestines against lectin.  Mucilagenic foods and supplements such as Okra, Marshmallow root, Slippery Elm coat the intestines and prevent lectins from binding.  Mucin is a glycoprotein that is normally excreted by the intestinal epithelial cells. It coats the intestinal lining and neutralize intestinal antigens. L-Glutamine is a nutritional substance that powerfully heals the intestines and there are several other nutritional supplements that aid in protecting and healing the intestines.

Getting started…Eliminate or reduce lectins!

  • Consider a diet that is grain, legume, soy, dairy, egg, nightshade, processed food and especially, GMO free.  The Paleo-diet is an excellent option with minor modifications. 
  • You can reduce lectins in legumes/nuts by pre-soaking for at least 12 hours. Sprouting and fermenting foods also decrease lectins considerably.
  • Eat a variety of foods! This decreases concentrations of certain types of lectins.
  • Cook your food!  While going raw is great and contains a lot of nutrients, raw foods contain far more lectins than cooked foods. Cooking also releases nutrients and makes them more bioavailable in many instances. So cook your food, especially if you are symptomatic.
  • Lastly, improve and maintain good intestinal health. Probiotics such as TruFlora® and TheraLac® are an excellent source of beneficial bacteria that balance the offending bacteria. Also, products such as GI Revive® provide a synergistic blend of supplements that heal and support gastrointestinal health.  

“Let food be thy medicine……” not thy poison!

Have a healthy and happy life!!!

Please Note: Above statements are not written by Health Realizations nor the opinion of Health Realizations

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Roswell, GA 30075

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