Quite possibly some of the most disruptive and dangerous “foods” you can ingest, grains and legumes contain dangerous forms of lectins that have the following effects on your body.
- High degree of resistance to gut proteolysis
- Binding to brush border cells
- damage to microvillus membrane
- shedding of cells
- reduction in the absorptive capacity of the small intestine
- Increased endocytosis
- induction of hyperplastic growth of the small intestine
- increased turnover of epithelial cells
- Interference with the immune system
- hypersensitivity reactions
- Interference with the microbial ecology of the gut
- selective overgrowth
- Direct and indirect effects (hormones, etc.) on systemic metabolism (abdominal fat accumulation, anyone?)
Edit 2/9/12: Lectins also produce leptin resistance, and bind to insulin receptors, a real problem when we are trying to lose weight and get our metabolism back in check. So if grains are a large part of your diet, you are definitely leptin resistant. I’ve linked to leptin resistance before, and also given you a few tricks on lowering your body fat set point. Leptin resistance also predicts a worsening of the features of the metabolic syndrome independently of obesity.
One study showed that 29% of asymptomatic (not celiac) people tested positive for anti-gliadin IgA in their stool. Anti-gliadin IgA is an antibody produced by the gut that remains there until it’s dispatched to ward off gliadin – a primary component of gluten. Basically, the only reason anti-gliadin IgA ends up in your stool is because your body sensed an impending threat – gluten. If gluten poses no threat, the anti-gliadin IgA stays in your gut. This crap forms the base of the USDA food pyramid! No wonder everyone in America is fat and sick! But I digress…
Because plants like cereal grains are always competing against predators (like us) for survival. Unlike animals, plants can’t run away from us when we decide to eat them. They had to evolve other mechanisms for protecting themselves. These include:
- producing toxins that damage the lining of the gut;
- producing toxins that bind essential minerals, making them unavailable to the body; and,
- producing toxins that inhibit digestion and absorption of other essential nutrients, including protein.
One of these toxic compounds is the protein gluten, which is present in wheat and many of the other most commonly eaten cereal grains. In short, gluten damages the intestine and makes it leaky. And researchers now believe that a leaky gut is one of the major predisposing factors for conditions like obesity, diabetes and autoimmune disease.
Grains have a direct negative effect on the following systems:
- endocrine system;
- stomach and liver;
- nucleus of cells;
- blood vessels; and,
- smooth muscle,
Lectins are hardy proteins that do not break down easily. They are resistant to stomach acid and digestive enzymes.
Lectins may bind to the gut wall and damage the gut lining, are not altered by digestive enzymes, and may alter gut permeability and pass through the gut into general circulation. Lectins can cause alterations in gut function that may be related to colitis, Crohn’s Disease, Celiac-Sprue, IBS and gut permeability.
Lectin damage to the gut wall may allow other non-lectin proteins to cross undigested into general circulation and cause allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis. Having gained access to general circulation various lectins may bind to surface cell membranes in arteries and vessels, organs and glands, including the thyroid, pancreas, kidney and adrenals, in susceptible animals and humans.
This binding may begin antigen antibody reactions leading to autoimmune disorders and so-called degenerative diseases. Different lectins have been implicated in different diseases. Dairy lectins have been implicated in juvenile onset type I diabetes. Wheat lectins have been implicated in juvenile nephropathy.
High levels of lectins (specialized proteins) may be found in grains (also known as cereals or pulses), legumes (that is ‘beans’ including peanuts), dairy and plants in the nightshade family. Many other foods contain lectins but are less well studied and the amounts of lectins present are not thought to be as high or as potentially toxic.
Like this post? Want to find out more about how to get in shape fast? Check out these articles about getting in shape, feeling great, and controlling your genes!
Lose stubborn body fat. (Intermittent fasting)