Lectins are substances found in many plants. They have a role of defence for plants. They are therefore toxic. Man has been exposed to them for a very long time. If lectins are so toxic and dangerous for humans, how is it that our ancestors were able to survive them?
The problem with lectins
Lectins are proteins. They are mainly found in many plants. They bind specifically and irreversibly to certain carbohydrates, which are found in different parts of the body. Lectins are toxic but they are proteins. Our digestive system naturally has the capacity to digest them completely or to a large extent.
With digestion, the toxicity disappears. For major intoxication disorders to occur, a large amount of lectins would normally have to be ingested. This is, for example, what can happen when eating certain undercooked legumes. Ricin can also cause major disorders due to its high concentration of lectins.
Health effects of lectins
Lectins have many adverse health effects. By binding to specific carbohydrates, they can attack the intestine, weaken it and create intestinal porosity or leaky gut syndrome. Locally the consequences for the intestine can be problematic with inflammation, pain, diarrhoea, poor assimilation of nutrients and, in the most severe cases, destruction of the intestine.
Lectins have widely varying adverse health effects. By binding to specific carbohydrates, they can attack the intestine, weaken it and create intestinal porosity. Locally, the consequences for the intestine can be problematic with inflammation, pain, diarrhoea, poor assimilation of nutrients and, in the most serious cases, destruction of the intestine.
The negative consequences can also be observed inside the body when the lectins pass the intestinal barrier and enter the bloodstream. Lectins are toxic when they are present inside the body. The immune system intervenes massively to protect us from them. Over time, when the immune overload becomes too great, it can lead to food sensitivities and intolerances and autoimmune diseases.
Lectins can also disrupt the regulation of blood sugar levels and promote fat storage in fat cells. They can disturb the functioning of nerve cells. They can cause toxin accumulation diseases with joint pain when stored in the joints, or muscle disorders when stored in the muscles. They can also lead to elimination diseases such as skin diseases. All this can be accompanied by a state of chronic fatigue.
Foods high in lectins
You have all heard about gluten. It’s the most famous of the lectins, but it’s not the only one. Here are the most problematic foods that contain lectins:
- Cereals, especially whole grains, mainly maize, rice and wheat ;
- Pulses: soy, red, white, green and white beans, lentils, chickpeas, lupine ;
- Some vegetables: tomato, pepper, aubergine, courgette, squash, pumpkin, potato ;
- Lectins are found in the bodies of animals that have consumed them and digested them poorly. Meat and milk from animals fed on maize and soy are affected ;
- Fruits and vegetables contain more lectins when they are harvested before ripe or when they are produced out of season and with accelerated growth.
Foods that contain lectins are not necessarily all bad for your health. It is not obligatory to remove them completely. But it is particularly important to digest them properly. You need to pay attention to your digestion. Your body tells you whether these foods are digested, and tolerated correctly or if this is not the case. To test your tolerance, you can do a cure without lectins and then gradually reintegrate the food containing them to see how your body tolerates them.