Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Lectin-are you intolerant to beans?

Have you experienced having stomack ache ,diarrhea or discomfort after eating beans,peanuts ,legumes or pulses? Lately there seems to be a large number of people who are suffering from chronic digestive disease and auto immune conditions . Food intolerance, allergy or sensitivity to a particular food content maybe the cause of the problem. IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) Crohns disease, colitis,lysis of adhesions ,persistent diarhhea maybe caused by ingesting foods that the body can not digest or tolerate.

Lectin is present in all foods.It is a sugar binding protein found in seeds and other parts of certain plants that binds with glycoprotein and glycolipids in the surface of animal cells causing agglutination. Ingesting too much undercooked lectin can cause nausea,diarrhea and vomiting and also food poisoning. Food with high concentration of lectin are beans,grains (cereals and pulses) seeds and nuts.These foods maybe harmful if consumed in excessive amounts in uncooked or improperly cooked form. Adverse effect may include nutrient deficiencies and immune (allergy) reaction which can lead to GI discomfort or distress through interaction of lectin to the epithelial cells.

The trend towards consumption of unprocessed food, although more nutritious and beneficial to the body can result in increase consumption of lectin. When food with lectin is ingested, it binds with specific type of carbohydrates. If lectin happens to attached to the right cell membrane in the gut wall or artery ,gland or organ it will disrupt the membrane and cause cell damage and may initiate a series of immune or autoimmune events leading to cell death. Lectin can be inactivated by specific carbohydrate known as mono or oligosaccharides which can bind with lectin and prevent the protein from attaching to the carbohydrates in the membrane. Glucosamine is specific for wheat lectin and it is this specificity that may protect the gut and cartilage from cell inflamation and destruction in wheat (gluten) responsive arthritis. Known drugs and supplements can inactivate these substances to protect the cells from harm, however these drugs may have adverse effects to the body. The safest step however is to avoid known toxic lectin . Common food include soy and wheat products including oil from these products. Avoid deadly nightshade vegetables such as tomatoes, potatoes and eggplant. Gluten found in wheat ,rye,barley ,malt and oats , legumes and all beans including soy and peanuts.dairy, all milk,cottage cheese,yoghurt,kefir and eggs. The epithelial lining is a continous natural barrier between ingesting food in the GI tract and the blood supply. When intact it allows only good stuff like nutrients to pass through,if its damage it will allow entrance of lectin and other undesirable compounds to bind with the carbohydrates and can result in cell death.

There is no magic bullet to prevent lectin from entering your body. It is however prudent to make note of foods that appears to give you discomfort. Since cure is individualized, in addition to the listed foods to avoid, be attentive to the needs and reaction of your body when you consume foods.

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