Lectin-Free Diet: 6 Foods to Avoid for Better Health

Lectin-Free Diet: 6 Foods to Avoid for Better Health

Many studies have shown how gluten, the wheat compound found in breads, grains and many more food choices, adversely affects certain people’s systemic health, particularly the digestive tract.

As more practitioners recommended a gluten-free diet however, the free enterprise train left the station commercially making gluten-free a lot bigger than it actually is. It is estimated that, according to Dr. Gundry renowned cardiologist and author of the Plant Paradox, only 1% of the population needs to be gluten-free.

Now there is a new recommendation that may actually help more people than expected. This is the lectin-free diet and, although somewhat radical, it could help decrease gastrointestinal challenges, increase joint mobility and enhance overall health including weight management.

Sound too good to be true? Maybe, or it is yet another clue to the backwards way humans have been eating since modernization of food manufacturing and how your food can act as medicinal eating rather than mindless, health robbing gluttony.

The Lectin Protection

Humans have been eating just about anything living on the planet since they walked the earth. As superstition waned and science stepped in, it was found that consuming certain foods was not in the best interest of health. Now, with many more opportunities to decipher food in the lab, certain compounds, like gluten and now lectin, have emerged as possible risks to your health.

It turns out that certain plants which have no way of protecting themselves with growths like spikes, camouflage, or barbs develop a poison protection so as not to be eaten. This poison is lectin.

Livestrong reports,

“Lectins are a group of compounds found in vegetable foods to protect the plant against potential threat. The work of some researchers indicates that lectins could contribute to gastrointestinal problems, food intolerances and inflammatory and autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, according to Carolyn Pierini, a nutritional consultant and clinical laboratory scientist specializing in medical microbiology.”

How Lectins May Affect You

Much more of the population is susceptible to the deep effects of lectin than gluten with many, maybe even you, unaware of its long reach.

People have become used to dealing with systemic annoyances such as excess gas, weight gain, joint pain and fluctuating gastrointestinal health. Enter conventional medicine which masks these symptoms with over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription pharmaceuticals creating a type of cyclical systemic stress that may be leading to more serious results.

Dr. Gundry describes how lectins work on a cellular level,

“…lectins are like little barnacles that look for specific sugar molecules in our blood, the lining of our gut, and on our nerves. When they find a good spot to land, they cling to those cells, breaking down their ability to communicate with our immune systems. Then, they literally tear open little holes between the cells that line our intestines. This perforation is the cause of Leaky Gut Syndrome, which we’re learning can cause a great deal of unpleasant symptoms and autoimmune issues or symptoms similar to those of food poisoning.”

Allergist, David LJ Freed, warned of the effects of lectins as far back as 1999 in his work published in BMJ,

“Among the effects observed in the small intestine of lectin fed rodents is stripping away of the mucous coat to expose naked mucosa and overgrowth of the mucosa by abnormal bacteria and protozoa. Lectins also cause discharge of histamine from gastric mast cells, which stimulates acid secretion. So the three main pathogenic factors for peptic ulcer – acid stimulation, failure of the mucous defense layer, and abnormal bacterial proliferation (Helicobacter pylori) are all theoretically linked to lectins.”

Keeping Lectins Away

Just like gluten, lectins take some effort to avoid as they are in foods you probably eat on a daily basis. However, if you are suffering with gastrointestinal or inflammatory issues, even minor reactions, it may be worth a try.

Dr. Gundry describes lectin foods and why to avoid them,

Beans and Legumes – Beans carry more lectins than any other food. Do your best to limit beans, peas, lentils, and other legumes or cook them in a pressure cooker. Also, some legumes hide as nuts – so it’s best to cut out peanuts and cashews as well.

Grains – For the most part, grains are a relatively new food to us. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors didn’t search for grains. Plus, most grains are lectin bombs, as well as gluten-free grain substitutes. It’s best to limit grain intake. If you must, eat white flour over wheat.

Squash – An easy rule to remember is that any vegetable with seeds is actually considered a fruit. Such is the case with squash, pumpkins, and zucchini. The seeds and peels of these foods are full of lectins. If you MUST eat squash, make sure to toss the peels and seeds aside.

Nightshades – Nightshades are vegetables that include eggplant, any kind of pepper, potatoes, and tomatoes. The peels and the seeds of these plants contain loads of lectins, too. Make sure to peel and deseed them or pressure cook or ferment them. All these techniques reduce the amount of lectins.

Corn and corn-fed ‘free-range’ meats – It doesn’t take much to see why corn is among the worst lectin-filled grains. Just look at the American farm industry. Farmers use corn for the sole purpose of fattening up cattle. And, guess what? Corn has the same effect on us. Not only that, it causes fatty deposits in the muscle.

Casein A1 Milk – It may sound like science fiction, but a couple thousand years ago cows in Northern Europe suffered a genetic mutation. The result was a lectin-like protein in their milk called casein A1. Turns out, casein A1 is converted to a protein called beta-casomorphin. And this protein can prompt an immune attack on the pancreas of people who consume milk from these cows, or cheeses made from it. Most store-bought milk in your grocery store, even if it’s organic, is A1 milk. Instead, stick to A2 milk, Southern European cow’s milk, goat’s milk, and buffalo milk.

So What Can You Eat?

Some heavy hitters are lectin-free. Just ask NFL superstar Tom Brady and his supermodel wife Gisele Bündchen. Business Insider interviewed the couple’s personal chef, Allen Campbell, who commented,

“[Tom] doesn’t eat nightshades, because they’re not anti-inflammatory, So no tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms, or eggplants. Tomatoes trickle in every now and then, but just maybe once a month. I’m very cautious about tomatoes. They cause inflammation.”

It is recommended by Dr. Gurndy to eat the following,

Cooked tubers – Sweet potatoes, yucca, and taro root are a great source of vitamins and minerals. That’s because their roots have strong absorption abilities and draw water and minerals from the soil for nourishment.also, They’re also high in fiber that feeds your good gut bugs.

Leafy Greens – Romaine, red & green leaf lettuce, kohlrabi, mesclun, spinach, endive, butter lettuce, parsley, fennel, and seaweed/sea vegetables are all great to add to a lectin-free diet. They are high in nutrients and incredible for your health. To boot, they are very filling, especially if you drizzle olive or avocado oil on them!

Cruciferous & other great vegetables – Load up on broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts. And include these lectin-free veggies in your diet as often as you like: asparagus, garlic, celery, mushrooms, and onion. They are full of fiber and polyphenols.

Avocado – Now, avocado is a fruit, but it’s actually okay to eat when ripe because it’s essentially sugar-free! Not to mention, it’s full of good fat and soluble fiber – key when trying to lose weight and absorb antioxidants.

Olives and Extra Virgin Olive Oil – Olive oil is filled with essential vitamins and minerals. For instance, it contains vitamin K, vitamin E, calcium, iron, sodium, and potassium. Furthermore, olive oil contains polyphenols and fatty acids. It’s an all-around superfood.

As science continues to reveal the many unknown effects of the food we’ve been manufacturing and eating, you can benefit to not only enhance your nutrition but possibly heal yourself as well by starting the lectin-free diet.