It’s likely that you’ve heard of the ketogenic diet, the Mediterranean diet, and the heart-healthy diet. You may also be familiar with the Budwig, alkaline, low-iodine, or neutropenic diets if you are a cancer patient or caregiver.
But What About a Diet Devoid of Lectins?
You’re not alone if you have no idea what lectin is. For advice, we turned to clinical nutritionist Sarah Cooke. This article discusses lectin and the reasons why some people would decide to consume less of it.
One class of protein that attaches to carbs is called lectin. Almost all plant-based foods include it, albeit some have far higher concentrations than others.
That being said, none of these foods should necessarily be avoided. They can all be included in a diet that is healthful. Dietitians at MD Anderson advise consumers to eat a wide range of nutrient-dense, healthful meals to lower their risk of cancer and other disorders. This means that two-thirds of your meal should consist of fruits, grains, beans, vegetables, nuts, and seeds; dairy products and lean protein can make up the other third.
How Does Our Body Respond to Lectin?
Even though there is some worry that lectins could upset the gastrointestinal system (GI), it’s critical to understand the difference between active and inactive lectins. What is present in raw plants are called active lectins. However, those lectins can be rendered inactive by boiling, baking, pressure cooking, and soaking, so their effects will differ from those obtained from eating them raw. The quantity of active lectin in plant meals can also be decreased by sprouting, peeling, and seed removal.
However, consuming a lot of active lectin is actually rather uncommon. This is due to the fact that lectin is soluble in water and typically found in plant exterior sections that are occasionally removed, like the oat or rice husks. Hard beans, lentils, and wheat are among the foods strong in lectins that are often not eaten raw. They can be baked in breads, boiled in stews or chilis, or canned in water and pasteurized at high heat.
Are There Any Advantages To Eating Lectin-containing Foods?
Indeed. In addition, many have minerals, fiber, protein, B vitamins, and healthy fats. Additionally, they have antioxidant properties that can aid in preventing cell damage. Furthermore, especially for diabetics, lectins can help stabilize blood sugar levels since they slow down the absorption of food.
What Could Motivate Someone to Cut Back on Their Lectin Intake?
Certain lectins can be spontaneously broken down by the body’s own enzymes. However, certain persons with autoimmune diseases like celiac disease or specific dietary sensitivities may still be harmed by others.
Individual differences can also be seen in tolerance levels. Therefore, discomfort from lectin consumption is more common in those with GI sensitivities such as Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and others.
A lectin-rich dish might be very distressing if it is not prepared correctly. That also holds true for a great deal of other things. Therefore, look at the cooking techniques and the amount being consumed before completely eliminating foods high in lectins. Then, investigate if you can pinpoint which food is causing the discomfort by removing possibly troublesome foods and then reintroducing them one at a time.
Must Cancer Patients Stay Away From Foods High in Lectins?
No. Although we don’t usually advise patients to avoid foods high in lectins, we could advise a low-fiber diet if they are feeling queasy or having other GI distress. The body finds it more difficult to break down fiber.
However, patients who experience nausea primarily in response to specific scents may find that they can tolerate foods high in lectins just fine. Thus, it truly depends on the person.
How Do Lectins and Inflammation Interact?
Currently, there is little evidence in human research to support the hypothesis that foods high in lectins routinely promote inflammation, with the exception of gluten-specific diseases like celiac disease.
Would you advise someone to follow a lectin-free diet?
Almost every food made from plants has some lectin in it. Therefore, unless you’re ready to be really stringent, eating a completely lectin-free diet is not really possible. Eat foods high in lectins; the many benefits seem to outweigh any potential drawbacks, unless and until more research shows otherwise.