Every food that is consumed is made of very specific compounds. Most food contains proteins, fats, sugar, and carbohydrates among other things. Some of these things are good for the body while others are not. It is also worth noting that some things are good for the body if consumed in small quantities while other things should be consumed in larger amounts.
Over the years, there are have many new diets that claim to be the ultimate diet and each one center around taking certain things out of your diet and instead concentrating on very specific ingredients. Some of the most popular of these diets are low carb (carbohydrate), low sugar, low calorie, high protein, and high fiber. There are many more variations, but these are some of the most popular. Each of these takes something specific out of a person’s everyday diet (e.g. carbs, fat, sugar), but it also requires higher concentrations of something such as protein or fat.
There have also been certain things contained in foods that have been deemed to be overall bad for a person’s health. These ideas are numerous and constantly changing. Some are legitimate concerns while others are quite far-fetched. Recently, it has been discovered that a high intake of something called lectin may be bad for health. Unfortunately, lectin is present is a great many foods. Here you will find a basic guide to what lectin is, the types of food it is found in, how to determine how much is safe to consume, and much more.
Before you can learn to have an appropriately balanced lectin intake, you need to know what lectin actually is. Therefore, this is the first topic of discussion. Lectin is a type of protein that binds with carbohydrates and is found in large amounts in roughly thirty percent of all foods. Grains and legumes have particularly high concentrations of lectin. If consumed in small quantities, this protein is not bad; however, if a person consumes high amounts of this protein and does not have sufficient enzymes to digest them, the lectin has an opportunity to enter the bloodstream.
When this happens, it can cause several problems including digestive malfunctions and deficiencies in nutrition. Some even believe that a high intake of lectin can cause something referred to as “leaky gut” which inevitably leads to an autoimmune disease. In small quantities, lectin is actually quite useful. When the lectins combine with carbohydrates it encourages particles within the molecular level to interact with each other. It also provides necessary aid to certain physiological functions. When there is an abundance of lectin, it can potentially catch onto unsavory things such as viruses and hold them in the body which is a very bad thing.
Now that you know what lectins are, the next thing you should know is which foods tend to have the highest levels of lectin. While this is a fairly long list, the following section is dedicated to listing the foods in the top slots of lectin levels.
Here is a list of lectin-rich foods.
- Beans – This includes string beans, mung beans, and soybeans.
- Berries – Included berries are blackberries and raspberries.
- Fruits – Pomegranates, grapes, cherries, tomatoes.
- Vegetables – Green peas, carrots, potatoes, and zucchini.
An interesting fact about castor beans is that they are quite toxic to many animals due to their extremely high levels of lectin. Also, the lectin found in castor oil has been to put to very nefarious purposes in the past. This, of course, is a reference to the synthesis that creates ricin which is a poison used in biochemical warfare.
Recent studies suggest that those who experience severe adverse symptoms from lectin intake have compromised digestive systems. The symptoms vary greatly and include a myriad of things. Some people may experience an upset stomach while others may have a rash, brain fog, headaches, fatigue, and/or a lack of mental clarity. Different people will experience different symptoms and symptom combinations.
Because it is so difficult (essentially impossible) to entirely avoid lectins, the next thing you need to know is how to reduce the number of lectins you are consuming. It is sadly a little-known fact that properly cooking and preparing food can reduce or even eliminate the lectins that are present. Soaking is required for many foods when attempting to eliminate lectins. This is especially true of beans and legumes. it is vital to soak them for an extended period of time before cooking. This allows the bean or legume to properly receive the heat from cooking which will virtually extinguish the lectins that are present.
Be careful with your heat settings when cooking, especially for beans. Extended exposure to low heat can actually make lectins more active rather than get rid of them. For this reason, low heat and slow cookers are not recommended for cooking beans to get rid of lectins. Five to ten minutes of boiling will sufficiently rid soybeans of their lectins. With all of this being said, so long as you properly prepare your food, lectins should not be an issue.
If you are in need of recipes designed specifically for a low lectin intake, there are some great ones on various websites. It is a very simple process to find any type of recipe that you may be interested in. All you need is the right combination of keywords to use as your search term. To begin your search, head to the homepage or search bar of your favorite search engine. The next step will be determined by the type of recipes that you are looking for. If you just have a general interest and are open to any type of low lectin recipes, you will use equally general search terms. An example of a generalized search is “recipes of a low lectin diet” or “lectin free recipes”. On the other hand, if you are looking for a low lectin recipe using specific ingredients, you will want to use more specific search terms. For example, “low lectin recipes with legumes” or “string bean recipes low lectin”.
If you are interested in learning more about lectin and its effect on the human body, be sure to look up Lectin Foods Base. They have a wealth of information on the subject.