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LECTINS: BENEFICIAL OR HARMFUL?

By August 12, 2019 No Comments

By Carla Abellan Valle, Student at UH Manoa

WYAO Hawaii collaborates with the community through one of UH Manoa’s Nutrition classes, Community Nutrition and Nutrition Education, instructed by Jinan Banna, PhD, RD, CDN to help students translate nutrition science into terms the general public can understand using blogging as their tool.

First was gluten, now it’s lectins. Recently, a lectin-free diet has been trending and followed by many celebrities; reducing inflammation and diseases such as obesity by cutting many vegetables and legumes such as beans, potatoes, lentils, among others. But are lectins really dangerous for our bodies?

What are lectins?

According to Encyclopedic Reference of Cancer, lectins are carbohydrate-binding proteins mostly found in plants but also present in animals. They act as agglutinins and may cause nutrient deficiencies and improper digestion of food when consumed in excess and uncooked. Lectins are primarily found in plant products and mostly in grains, vegetables and beans. Some of the common foods include rice, potatoes, tomatoes, soybeans, among others.

The lectin-free diet

The lectin-free diet was first mentioned in a recent book called “The Plant Paradox” written by Steven Gundry, a US heart surgeon who believes that lectins are toxins driving obesity as well as other health conditions. However, research about lectins haven’t showed yet those effects the doctor’s book talked about. Even more, there is a study that shows that lectins may help treat different cancers such as esophagus cancer or stomach, among others. By using lectins as medical tools. Therefore, further research should be made in lectins and its effects on the body.

Meanwhile, you can reduce the concentration of lectins in foods by sprouting, fermenting, soaking and cooking grains and beans, among other plant products. Overall, nutrition experts recommend consuming a well-balanced diet which consequently will reduce risk of developing health diseases.

References

Lectins. Encyclopedic Reference of Cancer. January 2001:496. http://eres.library.manoa.hawaii.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=23678262&site=ehost-live. Accessed March 28, 2019.

Warner A. Hard to swallow: First came the gluten-free fad; now the lectin-free diet is trying to demonise more perfectly healthy foods, warns Anthony Warner. New Scientist. 2017;235(3137):24-25. doi:10.1016/S0262-4079(17)31514-2.

Vojdani A. Lectins, agglutinins, and their roles in autoimmune reactivities. Alternative therapies in health and medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25599185. Published 2015. Accessed March 28, 2019.

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