by Dr. Scott Saunders

Did you know that LECTINS are the immune system of plants to protect them from invaders?

When we eat any plant or seed, these leptin proteins bind to sugar molecules on the cells of our intestines.  When the intestines are damaged, lectins, and the foods that they bind to, can pass through the intestinal wall and into the blood stream, initiating an inflammatory response. These sticky molecules can then wreak havoc in the bloodstream.

While some lectins may be beneficial, they can prevent the replication of intestinal cells and destroy intestinal flora.

red kidney beans destroy intestinesLectins may also be responsible for food reactions that are not true allergies. Many food allergies are actually immune system reactions to lectins.

Some lectins don’t do a lot of harm, but many are quite toxic. Different types of lectins are found in many species of beans, but are highest in concentration in red kidney beans.  As few as 4 or 5 kidney beans can bring on symptoms within 1 to 3 hours. Symptoms include extreme nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.

Lectins are found in all plants, but they are abundant in nuts, seeds, beans, and lentils.  This doesn’t mean you should stop eating these otherwise healthy foods, rather you should be aware of how to cook these foods.

Some lectins are resistant to heating by cooking. As a side note, soaking beans and raw nuts before cooking them reduces the lectin content dramatically. Most people do not know why beans prepared this way makes them easier to digest but it is simply because the water-soluble lectins have been nearly completely removed through the changing of the water during soaking.

Cooking in water can also help deactivate harmful lectins.

Dry heat, like baking bread in an oven, doesn’t have a significant effect on lectins.

Take Home Message:

  • Wash vegetables
  • Soak raw nuts and lentils
  • Vary your diet – Even very nutritious foods shouldn’t be eaten every day.  It turns out, your body needs the lectins found in plants, but occasionally, and in small quantities.  A constant onslaught with these will bring on food reactions, nutrient deficiencies, and leaky gut syndrome.
  • Last, but not least, fast periodically for a day to allow the intestines to repair.  This can be one day a week, or one day a month for about 24 hours with water only.

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