If you’re interested in learning how to live your longest and best life, consider learning about which foods contain lectins and how to maximize the benefits of a plant-based diet.
You see, many people today are struggling with health issues like digestive problems, compromised immune responses, and fatigue… but is it possible these types of issues are all the results of lectin sensitivity?
Continue reading to learn how lectins may affect your health and which foods are high in these harmful proteins.
Lectin Sensitivity: What Are Lectins?
What are lectins in food? Lectins are dangerous plant proteins. And you will come across lectins when trying to consume a number of vegetables or legumes. Actually, lectins have turned out to be one of the natural world’s best weapons against any predator (animal or human).1
Lectins are “carbohydrate-binding proteins of nonimmune origin that agglutinate” various cells in your body.2 While that may seem like some scientific gibberish, it simply means that lectins are a kind of protein that force carbs to stick together. Lectins can also attach to various different cells in your body when you consume them.
Why Should You Avoid Foods Containing Lectins In Your Diet?
Imagine you consume some lectin-rich seeds. Or maybe you indulge in a whole wheat bagel or you chow down on the rind of your favorite lectin-heavy fruits or vegetables… the lectins in that plant food go on a spree to find the sugars in your body. And when they locate the ones they can stick to most easily, they latch on for dear life.
Lectins love to seek out the sialic acid in your body. Sialic acid is just one kind of sugar in your gut, brain, nervous tissue, and human milk.3,4 But lectins can latch onto sialic acid (and other sugars). This ability has earned lectins the nickname “sticky proteins”.
The problem with these sticky proteins is that when consumed, they can really mess up your regular bodily functions.5 When lectins interrupt the communication between certain cells in your body, it can respond with discomfort, puffiness, bloating or some other reaction to lectin toxicity. Potential reactions could include diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting.6
And, as if gut issues weren’t bad enough, lectin stickiness can give them the strength to grab hold of dangerous bacteria and viruses. Once they grab viruses and bacteria, they can actually assist those viruses in attaching to your cells too.7 It’s best to remove lectins from your body.
Which Foods Contain Lectins? Lectin-Rich Foods To Avoid
Wheat and other grains are high in plant lectins. Generally, the public knows about these sensitivities. Many are aware of the types of lectins called gluten in certain grains. And there are several people avoiding that particular lectin these days. But, there are a lot of other foods high in lectins you’ll absolutely want to steer clear of.
Here is a beginner list of foods high in dietary lectins that you’ll want to avoid —
- Certain vegetables, especially nightshades such as tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplant
- Certain nuts and seeds including cashews, peanuts, pumpkin, and sunflower seeds
- Beans and legumes
- A1 dairy products
- Grain-fed and farm-raised animal proteins
Lectin-Free Foods To Include In Your Diet Daily
Of course, if you’re wondering which foods are best for you and what types of foods offer the most dangerous effects, you can visit the Gundry Diet YES/NO list.
But, for a beginner course on which foods you should absolutely indulge in, see the list below. Focus on these foods —
- Olive oil
- Wild-caught fish
- Omega-3 eggs
- Walnuts, macadamia nuts or pistachios
- Extra dark chocolate (72% or greater and in moderation)
- Leafy greens
- Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, kale, and brussels sprouts
A Word About Olive Oil And Avocados
While eating lectin-free can do a great deal for your health, let’s aim the spotlight at two Gundry Diet powerhouse foods for a moment: olive oil and avocados.
Avocados — Avocados are rightfully dubbed a “superfruit” and this is one fruit you don’t need to eat in moderation on a lectin-free diet. Avocados are chock full of nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and zinc. Moreover, the fruit boasts 13.5 grams of dietary fiber and almost no sugar.8
Olive oil — There’s really almost no limit to how much olive oil you can consume. In fact, feel free to set a goal at consuming a liter of olive oil each week. Why? Olive oil boasts large amounts of good-for-you monounsaturated fatty acids like omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. These excellent monounsaturated fats are known to support heart health and healthy cholesterol levels.9,10
Are You Experiencing Any Digestive Issues? See Your Doctor As Soon As Possible
Starting and maintaining a new diet can be tough, but eliminating lectins from your life can be a wonderful step toward longevity and healthier living. If you are motivated to learn more about a lectin-elimination plan and whether it’s right for you, talk to your doctor.
The right kind of diet includes getting all the best vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. So once you get the “go ahead” from your doctor, do your best to steer clear of lectins. Instead, load up your plate with lectin-free vegetables, wild-caught fish, millet, sorghum, and other delicious lectin-free options. And remember, you can indulge in in-season fruits (especially berries) in moderation.
Disclosure: The GundryMD team creates these articles as a way to provide you with the latest information on health and nutrition. Unfortunately, we cannot make specific product recommendations for our website visitors, such as “Total Restore” or “Lectin Shield.” Please consult with your healthcare provider to determine the best products for you.
2. The Lectins: Properties, Functions, and Applications in Biology and Medicine