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Lectin Foods: All You Need To Know About This Protein

Lectins are a type of protein in humans that may help in the interaction of cells. Few scientists also believe that lectins help in defending plants to keep insects away. These proteins also comprise nitrogen that is needed for the growth of plants.

Lectin Foods: All You Need To Know About This Protein

Lectin proteins can cause problem with digestion

HIGHLIGHTS

  1. Lectin protein helps in interaction of cells in the body
  2. Lectin may lead to an upset stomach
  3. Cook legumes properly in order to avoid lectin activity in the body

There are many assumptions about the benefits of lectins. Many people think it has more disadvantages than advantages. Like some nutrition experts insist that these are harmless proteins that can have damaging effects on your body, creating problems in the immune system and elevating your risk of chronic diseases. Similarly, many experts highly recommend lectin food for all the benefits it has. Plant-based foods such as beans and legumes, whole grains, and certain vegetables have a high number of lectins present in them.

What are lectins?

Lectins are a type of protein in humans that may help in the interaction of cells. Few scientists also believe that lectins help in defending plants to keep insects away. These proteins also comprise nitrogen that is needed for the growth of plants. Even though many parts of plants contain lectins, yet people eat the seed most often.


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Legumes like kidney beans contain lectin and should not be eaten raw
Photo Credit: iStock

Also read: 9 Ways To Increase Protein Intake For Weight Loss

Lectins can be harmful to humans

If plant-based foods are eaten raw, there are high chances that the presence of lectins may cause an upset stomach that may further cause digestion problems. In lectins are resistant to the body's digestive enzymes and can cross through the stomach unaltered. Lectins are likely to stick to the intestinal wall and disrupt body's routine of maintaining cells, thus worsening functioning of intestines. It is probably because of lectins that eating undercooked or uncooked legumes is considered harmful for the body. For instance, eating even four raw kidney beans can cause symptoms like severe nausea and diarrhea.

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Lectin protein can interfere with digestion
Photo Credit: iStock

Also read: How To Improve Protein Absorption In The Body? Health Coach Luke Coutinho Has The Answer

Effects of lectins on the body

Lectins are considered to be toxic and can cause inflammation and autoimmune diseases like celiac disease, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis. Lectins combine with antibodies, which are a core element of the immune system. An autoimmune reaction is when the immune system wrongly begins to strike the body's own structures. This is how lectins may increase the risk of autoimmune diseases.

The wheat germ lectin affects immune system by enhancing inflammation. Long-term inflammation is linked to several severe medical conditions like heart disease, cancer and depression. Researchers believe that lectins may make it easier for bacteria or other toxins to pass the gut barriers. They can also say that whole grains comprise antioxidants which help fight inflammation.

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Lectins can cause autoimmune diseases like diabetes
Photo Credit: iStock

Also read: 7 Serious Signs That You Are Not Eating Enough Proteins

Cooking degenerates lectin in foods

To avoid lectin action in the body, it is suggested to cut down on legumes in your diet. However, avoiding legumes because of lectin activity in raw legumes is not what your body demands. The solution lies in the cooking method. Cooking breaks down few plant starches into simpler carbohydrates. Lectins attached with carbohydrates are eliminated from the body before they cause adverse effects.

Other ways to decrease lectins in foods

Soaking or sprouting seeds and grains helps to reduce the presence of lectins and other anti-nutrients. Traditionally prepared whole grains are way healthier because of the fermenting process. Fermenting foods provides friendly bacteria to ingest the anti-nutrients easily. Grains nowadays are more problematic because they are no longer prepared like they used to be, and hence are higher in anti-nutrients.

Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this  information.

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