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Lectin Foods: All You Need To Know About This Protein

There are many assumptions about the benefits of lectins. Many people think it has more disadvantages than advantages. Like some nutrition experts insist that these are harmless proteins that can have damaging effects on your body, creating problems in the immune system and elevating your risk of chronic diseases. Similarly, many experts highly recommend lectin food for all the benefits it has. Plant-based foods such as beans and legumes, whole grains, and certain vegetables have a high number of lectins present in them.
What are lectins?
Lectins are a type of protein in humans that may help in the interaction of cells. Few scientists also believe that lectins help in defending plants to keep insects away. These proteins also comprise nitrogen that is needed for the growth of plants. Even though many parts of plants contain lectins, yet people eat the seed most often.
Lectins can be harmful to humans
If plant-based foods are eaten raw, there are high chances that the presence of lectins may cause an upset stomach that may further cause digestion problems. In lectins are resistant to the body’s digestive enzymes and can cross through the stomach unaltered. Lectins are likely to stick to the intestinal wall and disrupt body’s routine of maintaining cells, thus worsening functioning of intestines. It is probably because of lectins that eating undercooked or uncooked legumes is considered harmful for the body. For instance, eating even four raw kidney beans can cause symptoms like severe nausea and diarrhea.
Effects of lectins on the body
Lectins are considered to be toxic and can cause inflammation and autoimmune diseases like celiac disease, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis. Lectins combine with antibodies, which are a core element of the immune system. An autoimmune reaction is when the immune system wrongly begins to strike the body’s own structures. This is how lectins may increase the risk of autoimmune diseases.
The wheat germ lectin affects immune system by enhancing inflammation. Long-term inflammation is linked to several severe medical conditions like heart disease, cancer and depression. Researchers believe that lectins may make it easier for bacteria or other toxins to pass the gut barriers. They can also say that whole grains comprise antioxidants which help fight inflammation.
Cooking degenerates lectin in foods
To avoid lectin action in the body, it is suggested to cut down on legumes in your diet. However, avoiding legumes because of lectin activity in raw legumes is not what your body demands. The solution lies in the cooking method. Cooking breaks down few plant starches into simpler carbohydrates. Lectins attached with carbohydrates are eliminated from the body before they cause adverse effects.
Other ways to decrease lectins in foods
Soaking or sprouting seeds and grains helps to reduce the presence of lectins and other anti-nutrients. Traditionally prepared whole grains are way healthier because of the fermenting process. Fermenting foods provides friendly bacteria to ingest the anti-nutrients easily. Grains nowadays are more problematic because they are no longer prepared like they used to be, and hence are higher in anti-nutrients.