The primary defense method most plants use against predators come in the form of a group of proteins called lectins.
Lectins are a protein found in many fruits and vegetables that are specifically designed to protect the plants in which they’re found. Many studies show that lectins are the root cause of many diseases and physiological discomforts such as nausea, vomiting, bloating, and diarrhea.
Lectins are like barnacles that bind to specific sugar molecules in our blood, the lining of our gut, and our nerves. Once they attach to these cells, the neurotransmitters can’t communicate with our immune systems.
Lectins tear little holes between the cells that line our intestines. These perforations can cause health issues like Leaky Gut Syndrome, autoimmune complications, and symptoms similar to food poisoning. So how do we avoid or diminish consumption of lectins when it’s in a lot of foods we eat? Here are a few methods to lower your exposure.
Rinse and soak beans and grains before boiling or cooking them. It reduces the lectin content.
If you have to prepare beans, tomatoes, or potatoes, your best bet for destroying the lectins is a pressure cooker. It won’t completely rid them of lectin molecules, but pressure cooking can do a pretty good job with certain vegetables and legumes. Just keep in mind that this does not work with grains or spelt.
Whenever you cook with high-lectin plant foods such as cucumbers, eggplant, and squash, you should peel and deseed them. The most harmful part of any plant is it’s lectin-filled hull, peel, or rind.
Once peeled, simply cut in half, then use a spoon to scoop out the seeds.
When you ferment a fruit or vegetable, you allow good bacteria to break down and convert lots of a plant food’s defensive and damaging substances. That’s part of the reason the world’s healthiest cultures eat so many fermented foods. Foods like tempeh and miso are great additions to your diet because they are fermented.
Not only are vegetables great when fermented, but the process makes them rich in probiotics. Again, fermenting doesn’t kill all lectins, but it can significantly reduce them.
While it is strongly recommended to give up grains completely, if you can’t, then choose choose refined “white” grains over whole grains. We know this sounds counterintuitive to everything you’ve been taught, but whole grains contain large amounts of the lectin protein. Refined grains and rice do not.
With lectin proteins being abundant in many of our favorite foods, It can be difficult to avoid lectins altogether, especially if you are new to the lectin-free way of eating. But, these five tips can help you cut down on those disease-causing proteins. Even just cutting back on your lectin intake will yield significant results which will have you feeling and looking better in no time.