How A Low Lectin Diet Can Reduce Your Weight, Heal Autoimmunity and Make You Healthier
As someone with a history of autoimmune disease, I’ve been all over my diet in recent years. Aside from meeting, accepting and letting go of old traumas and stress, reducing my exposure to EMFs and being in nature as much as possible, diet has been consistent in keeping me healthy.
I’ve played around with many different diets over the years. I’ve been a vegetarian (an abysmal failure for me and most people with autoimmunity), played with macrobiotics (can you say, complicated?) and have been strictly Paleo at times.
The diet that has garnered, hands down, the most success for me has been a modified Paleo Diet. In a classic paleo diet, we remove all grains, legumes, refined sugar and dairy. In my modified version, I’ve kept in some organic, grass-fed dairy and that seems to work really, really well for me.
So why has the Paleo Diet become so popular for health enthusiasts, people struggling with weight and almost a wonder cure for those of us who have autoimmune disease? It may have something to do with the significant reduction of lectins.
Lectins are sugar-binding plant proteins that attach to cell membranes. The problem with these suckers is that many of them are immunotoxic, neurotoxic, cytotoxic and proinflammatory.
Oh! Is that all? Well, not really. They can also disrupt gene expression and interfere with healthy endocrine function.
Plants in nature are designed to procreate. And they will do anything to defend their lives and the lives of their offspring. According to Dr. Gundry, an expert on the topic, lectins “…literally tear open little holes between the cells that line our intestines. This perforation is the cause of Leaky Gut Syndrome, which we’re learning can cause a great deal of unpleasant symptoms and autoimmune issues or symptoms similar to those of food poisoning. So, you can see, these plants are literally declaring war on our bodies – dropping little bombs that wreak havoc on our intestines and immune systems. In fact, some lectins can actually paralyze certain bugs. So, clearly their defensive operations are working.”
So where are lectins found? They’re found in most plant foods. Obviously, we’re not going to give up vegetables because without vegetables we would be severely undernourished. But there are specific plants that appear to be super problematic for anyone – or anything – that ingests them.
Among the worst offenders are wheat germ agglutinin (WGA) found in wheat and other seeds found in grasses. With the protein gluten being such an issue with so many, when you add WGA into the mix, wheat is a real problem for pretty much everyone.
Corn is particularly bad and is almost entirely genetically modified (double whammy). Casein A1 milk, which is most store-bought milk, peanuts, cashews, soy, legumes, beans, grains (especially whole grains), and nightshade vegetables and fruits (including tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, tobacco, eggplant, goji berries) also have a high lectin content.
Again, this is why people who adopt an ancestral diet or Paleo Diet tend to feel better very, very quickly. Autoimmune symptoms go away and blood markers return to normal. Eczema, rashes, ADHD symptoms and ear infections diminish or heal completely.
People who have struggled to lose weight tend to lose it rapidly. Mood improves. Vision can clear.
So what can you eat on a low lectin diet that will ensure your best health? The following foods should be included:
Pasture-raised meats and wild caught seafood. These foods are, bar none, some of the best foods for us. They’re rich in vitamin A, omega 3 fatty acids, protein, B vitamins, and other crucial fatty acids, like conjugated lineolic acid (CLA), which may be one of our most potent defences against cancer. These meats and seafoods are true powerhouses.
Leafy green vegetables. These foods are full of antioxidants, phytochemicals and are leaders in Vitamin K and Vitamin C. They’re also incredibly rich in magnesium and calcium. These foods are potent cancer fighters and detoxifiers.
Fruit with deep colour pigments. Because of the popularity and now scientific backing of the benefits of ketogenic diets (where fat is burned as fuel as opposed to glucose) fruit is often kept out of the diet. I think this is a mistake. Fruit is not only delicious but it’s full of incredible nutrients. You find high amounts of potassium, Vitamin C, folate and dietary fiber in fruit. I always like to “eat the rainbow” in a day and there’s no better way to do that than by including fruit. Choose blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, avocadoes, bananas, apples and papaya, to start.
Cooked tubers. These include sweet potatoes, yucca and taro root. These foods are high in vitamins and minerals and full of fiber that feeds the good bacteria in your gut. They’re delicious too.
Olives and Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Olives and olive oil are superfoods. They contain vitamin K, vitamin E, calcium, iron, sodium, and potassium. In addition, olive oil contains polyphenols and fatty acids. When we include it everyday in or on our food, we’re supporting our bodies in the best possible way.
We’re quickly learning that although the advent of agriculture made it possible to feed vast numbers of people, it has come at a cost. We still haven’t caught up, genetically, with many of the bounties that agriculture, specifically grains, have brought to us.
Could it be that early humans had it right, in its simplest form? Meat, wild caught seafood, seasonally available fruits and veggies really do serve all of our nutritional needs without any of the biological compromise.
Try eating this way for 30 days and see how you feel.
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