All about Grains…Good or Bad? 

Inflammation is the root cause of all diseases; many medical studies are affirming this. If we could overcome inflammation, we would have no disease. 

Understanding LECTINS

A lectin is a Hemagglutinin, a protein or glycoprotein, usually derived from a plant origin, which has the ability to bind to carbohydrate molecules. These lectins bind to sugar molecules in cell walls or membranes causing biochemical changes in the cells. A lectin is a key that fits a specific type of carbohydrate lock. If a lectin with the right key comes in contact with one of these “locks” on the gut wall or artery or gland, it “opens the lock” which disrupts the membrane and damages the cell, and may initiate a cascade of immune and autoimmune reactions which can lead to cell death. 

  • High levels of lectins are found in
    Grains, especially wheat and wheat germ but also quinoa, rice, buckwheat, oats, rye, barley, millet, and corn.

  • Legumes (all dried beans), soy and peanuts, also in soy and peanut oil

  • Dairy, because dairy herds are frequently fed supplemental grains. Lectins will find their way into breast milk as well.

  • Nightshades (potatoes, eggplant, peppers, tomatoes).

Other foods may contain lectins as well but are not considered as high.

Lectins can damage the microvilli in the intestinal tract and decrease the ability of the small intestine to absorb food. Lectins are hard proteins and they do not break down easily. They are resistant to stomach acid and digestive enzymes. Lectins can cause changes in the gut lining and have been related to Colitis, Crohn’s disease, Celiac, Sprue, and IBS.

Lectins can cause allergic reactions in the gut and cause degenerative diseases such as: Arthritis, Allergy, all forms of IBS, Crohn’s, Colitis, Celiac; Asthma, Atherosclerosis, Congestive heart failure, autoimmune diseases, Lupus, MS, Hashimoto’s, Parkinson’s; chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, diabetes, dementia, Alzheimer’s; autism, ADD/ADHD, osteoporosis, hormonal imbalances, adrenal insufficiency; cancer, many types including breast cancer.

GM (genetically modified foods) are even more dangerous; GM foods are modified by splicing lectins from one plant to another; many times one food can contain lectins from several other plant families. If you have a reaction, you do not know anymore what “toxic lectin” you are reacting to.

  • How does a Lectin sensitivity develop?
    Grains and legumes were not consumed in ancient (Paleolithic times). They have introduced thousands of years later when people became homesteaders. Our bodies have not adjusted to the consumption of a constant flood of lectins in our diet.

  • The use of medications, such as anti-inflammatories, antibiotics, and many others can increase the permeability of the gut and allow more lectins to enter general circulation. Use of these drugs even for just short periods of time can do that.

  • Infections in the gut such as parasites, bacteria, viruses can damage the intestinal lining and making them susceptible to lectin reactions.

There is also the link of environmental chemicals, pesticides, heavy metals, refined and artificial sugars or excess of sugar consumption disrupting the bacterial flora of our intestines and damaging the intestinal barrier, thus allowing the lectins, gluten and gliadin (all from grains) to enter the bloodstream.

Also, do not think because you do not have any noticeable reactions that your organs were not compromised by this chain of events. Most of the conditions associated with sub-clinical lectin intolerance are degenerative, such as arthritis or autoimmune diseases, and can result in cancer. I personally believe that cancer, if unresponsive to conventional treatments, is a degenerative condition that will continue to progress if these underlying health-compromising inflammatory reactions are not addressed.

What have we learned from this so far?

A person might be lectin intolerant but not show antibody reactions if an allergy test is done. A person that is lectin intolerant can have an allergic reaction to a food. Lectin intolerance means that the person is unable to deactivate the toxic lectin. This does not just occur in the gut but in an organ, an artery, a gland, and in the brain as well.

From all the research that has been done and from all the patients who learned to avoid certain foods that cause them great distress, pain, and sickness, we have leamed that all of us need to steer away from more and more grain consumption. With the latest research (urine tests) now showing that 90% of the population is reacting to gluten and 80% to dairy products, it is advisable, if you want to prevent disease, that we make sure we incorporate more vegetables, fresh fruits (in moderation) and quality proteins.

IF you have any health concerns and are suspicious that you might have a lectin reaction, try to eliminate one lectin group at a time and see how you feel. If you find the offending group, stay away from it for a few months, then try to reintroduce it gradually. Bloating, gas, joint pain, mental fog, weight gain are typical symptoms of a gut allergen or lectin reaction.

  • These are the major lectin groups:

  • Gluten found in wheat, rye, barley, malt, and oats.

  • Legumes, all beans including soy and peanuts (and their oils)

  • Nightshades including tomato, potato, and eggplant.

  • All milk products, cheese, kefir, yogurt, cottage cheese

  • Eggs

Mojka Renaud L.N., A.P.

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