Could Lectins Be Making You Fat?
In a word … yes. But could lectins also be making you sick? Again, the answer is yes, they could be.
Let’s break it down a little more specifically. Let’s take one of the most offensive lectins out there – wheat germ agglutinin (aka WGA):
WGA is pretty good at being a lectin. It happens to do a decent job of protecting wheat from insects, yeast, bacteria, and even people. But, if something’s good at being a lectin, that means it’s bad news for your body.
In the case of WGA, problems really don’t start to arise until you ingest it, and it starts to mimic your insulin.1
But let’s start at the beginning …
Insulin and Sugar in Your Bloodstream
Normally, when sugar enters your bloodstream from your gut, your pancreas secretes insulin into your bloodstream. The insulin is then transported to three different places –
- Fat cells
- Muscle cells
- Nerve cells
You see, insulin’s main duty is to open the door to your cells and let sugar in to give you energy.
Here’s how it works in –
Fat Cells –
Insulin attaches to your fat cell membrane and sends a message instructing the cell to convert the sugar to fat and store it. Once insulin has accomplished its mission, it separates from the cell and is locked out.
Muscle Cells –
Here, insulin helps usher in sugar to be used as fuel.
Nerve Cells –
Same thing happens here, but the fact that your nerve cells require insulin to get glucose is a pretty new discovery. Also, insulin resistance can actually occur in the brain and nerves too.
When it works like it’s supposed to – insulin sends important messages to your muscles, fat, or nerve cells, and then tells the hormone the message has been received. At that point, it vacates the cell, leaving it open for the next hormone to attach.
But when lectins mimic insulin bad things can happen. The WGA (or other lectins) can bind to your cell walls. Once they’re in place, the lectins can either give your cells the wrong information – or completely block the release of the correct information from the appropriate hormone.2
It’s just like waiting for a parking space in crowded supermarket parking lot. If no car backs out to let you into a spot, you can’t get into the store to feed your family. And what if nobody ever comes back to their cars? You’ll never be able to park … never be able to get what you need.
So, as long as lectins hog all the spots in your lot, your cell communication becomes interrupted or silenced – maybe even indefinitely.
So, what happens when WGA takes over the spots your cells leave open for insulin?
Well, if it’s your fat cells, WGA can lock on forever and tell your cells to make fat from the sugar floating by – indefinitely. And, if WGA attaches to your muscle cells, it can permanently lock onto your insulin receptors there too, but the opposite effect usually results. That’s because WGA blocks the real insulin from being able to link up. So your muscle can’t get the glucose it needs as energy. Instead, it is shunted to an open fat cell, where WGA can pump in sugar.
And as it turns out, insulin mimicry could be leading to muscle wasting as we age! The more lectins we eat, the more the receptors for insulin in our muscles are filled with WGA and other lectins. So, of course, the more our muscles waste away.
Finally, when lectins block the insulin receptors in nerve cells, they block the entrance of sugar there, too. Without sugar sending messages to your neurons, your brain never gets the message that you’re not hungry. So, it keeps demanding more and more calories. And what does a higher calorie intake mean? Usually, it means a higher number on the scale.
So, in the end, know that if you block your insulin receptors with insulin-mimicking lectins like WGA, you’ll end up a pretty hungry person. And what are the results of being hungry and craving sugar all the time?
Well, less muscle mass, a starved brain, and plenty of fat – for starters. And while weight gain from lectins may have been beneficial for our ancestors during long winters when food was scarce, we don’t live like that today. All we end up with is more fat and less muscle.
So, keep working hard to cut the lectins with healthy lectin-free substitutes! It likely won’t be too long before you notice how much better you look, and more importantly – feel.
For more about lectins, how they affect us and how to avoid them, keep reading here: