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Lectin-free Diet: Does It Benefit Your Health?

You must have probably heard of the keto diet, paleo diet, gluten-free diet and so on. But we are sure you have never heard of the lectin-free diet. Lectins are a type of protein that may help the cells interact with one another.

Lectins impact your health in a number of ways, ranging from digestion to increasing the risk of chronic disease. So, what are lectins? They are found in grains and beans and they like to bind to carbohydrates, which can help the cells communicate with each other.

Eating lectins will increase the inflammatory response in the body, which can lead to weight gain and other serious health conditions, such as leaky gut syndrome and irritable bowel syndrome.

Lectins may lead to an upset stomach when plant foods are eaten uncooked. The lectin in red kidney beans is called phytohaemagglutinin and it is responsible for red kidney bean poisoning. It results from eating raw or uncooked kidney beans.

Consuming four raw kidney beans could cause symptoms like nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea, according to the United States Food and Drug Administration.

What Is the Lectin-free Diet?

The lectin-free diet was made popular by Dr. Steven Gundry, who is a former heart surgeon who switched his focus to food and supplement-based medicine.

The lectin-free diet involves taking out high-lectin foods such as quinoa, whole grains, legumes and vegetables like tomatoes, peppers and eggplant. Instead, the diet suggests you to load your plate with low-lectin foods like leafy greens, vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, asparagus, mushrooms, nuts and seeds, millets, and wild-caught fish.

Benefits Of The Lectin-Free Diet

1. Benefits People With Food Sensitivities

Eating foods which contain large amounts of lectin may cause gas or gastric distress in some people. As lectin is not digestible, it binds to cell membranes lining the digestive tract. This may disrupt metabolism and cause a damage to the digestive tract.

2. It Will Help You Avoid Toxic Foods

Cooking can help destroy most lectins in food. That's the reason it's necessary to avoid raw, soaked, or undercooked beans, such as kidney beans. These beans have been found to be toxic to people due to their lectin levels. Soaking beans for a while is also not enough to remove lectin content.

3. It May Reduce Peptic Ulcers

Do you know lectins may reduce peptic ulcers? Peptic ulcers is a lesion in the lining of the digestive tract, typically in the stomach, or lower part of the oesophagus. The symptoms include indigestion like pain, nausea and weight loss. Having a lectin-free diet may reduce the risk of peptic ulcers.

Also, following a lectin-free diet could be a way to lower inflammation in the body.

Can A Leptin-free Diet Help You Lose Weight?

People who remove leptins from their foods tend to start losing weight. A noted study showed that a lectin-free diet can have a positive effect on people with cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome (a group of conditions indicated by increased blood pressure, high blood-sugar levels, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol levels).

Also, most foods with lectins can be super beneficial for weight loss. For example, people who eat pulses over a six-week period lost significantly more weight than those who didn't consume any pulses.

Risks Of The Lectin-free Diet

The lectin-free diet is a restrictive plan, which may make it difficult for some people who want to follow it long term. The lectin-free diet plan also limits or cuts out many nutritious foods, such as whole grains, beans, and certain vegetables.

Consumption of whole grains can help reduce the risk for heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Legumes and vegetables provide dietary fibre and lower constipation.

Also, a lectin-free diet may be difficult for vegetarians to follow, since legumes, nuts, whole grains, and seeds provide plant-based protein and they are mostly omitted out from the lectin diet plan.

Foods To Eat On A Lectin-free Diet

All plants and animal products contain lectin. But some are low in lectin, which includes the following:

  • Onion
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Sweet potato
  • Mushrooms
  • Pumpkin
  • Asparagus
  • Cherries
  • Carrots
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries
  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Lemons
  • Fish
  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Eggs
  • Butter
  • Olive oil
  • Avocados

Foods To Avoid On A Lectin-free Diet

The foods to avoid are:

  • Tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and eggplant.
  • Legumes such as lentils, peanuts, beans and chickpeas.
  • Peanut butter and peanut oil.
  • Products made of grains or flour.
  • Dairy products like milk.

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