By Sharmini Jayawardena
Lectins, are the proteins or poisons that plants produce to repel insects from attacking the fruit of their labour like the fruits they give us, leaves and roots. So, while lectins are beneficial in protecting plants from insect attacks on them, they are not so good when consumed by us.
What happens with consuming lectins is, once in your stomach, they feed on your good gut bacteria. This makes your stomach open to an intake of the unsuitable foods that destroy your own healthy gut bacteria, which they feast on.
Lectins are sticky. They attach themselves to your stomach wall, destroying it in the process and leaving it open to an invasion by the unhealthy bacteria. This is one of the causes that lead to what is known as Leaky Gut!
Leaky gut can also be caused by eating vegetables and fruits that are contaminated with chemicals like Glyphosate which completely destroys your microbiota.
Your gut communicates directly with the brain 🧠. Once the wrong signal is given to your brain, the brain demands that you eat more and more of the food that is bad for you, leaving yourself open to diseases like cancer, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and obesity.
These are the foods demanded by the bad gut bacteria that have now invaded your most important organ next to your brain – your stomach. In order that they thrive. they make you feel these are the foods you want to eat. But, in reality, you are not in control of your diet anymore!
This is how some people end up gauging themselves on fast food and processed foods which are mostly wheat based, saturated with vegetable oil, and are full of badly reared meat which are factory farmed and pumped with antibiotics! These foods are also processed sugary foods and need to be eaten with caution.
Now, we have digressed from our main topic of the dangers of a plant based diet, somewhat, here.
To get back to lectins –
Lectins are mostly to be found in tomatoes 🍅, brinjals, beans and also in seeds like cashews which is actually a seed and not a nut, in peanuts which are legumes. They are also found abundantly in wheat 🌾 and certain grains. Flax seed and hemp seed excluded.
The toxins in brinjals for example are removed traditionally by cutting it and immersing in water for sometime and by squeezing out the water from the pieces of brinjal. In the Mediterranean you see brinjals hanging from lines outside houses. This is done possibly to drain out the toxins from them.
My experience in consuming food has been that, as long as you do not take too much of anything, like over dose on any food item or group, you are good to go!
This is why we need to consume everything in small portions and irregularly!
Moreover, in tomatoes lectins are found mostly in the seeds. May be that’s why most tomato sauce recipes call for de-seeding and de-skinning. And, only the pulp of the tomato is used in making these sauces as well as in making tomato soup.
Avoiding the tomato altogether would be foolish. This may also be Nature’s secret way of telling us to consume less of everything for a balanced ecosystem within us as well as without.
For, tomatoes also have the great ingredient known as Lycopene, which is to be found in most red and orange coloured fruits and vegetables which are also rich in carotenoid, like carrots🥕, watermelons 🍉, and papayas, and so on, though not in cherries 🍒 and strawberries 🍓
Lycopene helps in combating inflammation which is the root cause of diseases like cancer! So, you are definitely going to lose this very important nutrient if you avoid eating tomatoes altogether, in order to avoid consuming lectins.
Everything in moderation is the key when it comes to eating especially, just like in everything else.
I have seen this happen in my mother’s family, very clearly. My mum and her older sisters were brought up on non-fat dairy 🥛 and were also used to eating small portions of food. They were disease free! No cardiovascular disease, no diabetes, no hypertension. Lean and strong! One of them died of cancer though. And I believe her lifestyle after marriage was to blame for that. My mum battled breast cancer in her later years and survived it!
My mum died at the age of 94! My mum’s only unmarried sister died at 100, disease free! Her younger sister died disease free at the age of 98! My grandma, the grandest of them all, who ate a meat free diet most of her life, died disease free, at 109!
Due to a gross lack of real care by their offspring and extended families, sadly, they suffered from dementia in their later years, which could easily have been averted. Though, not my grandma!
A way of getting over your gut problems is to treat yourself to some natural prebiotics which are to be found in alliums like onion, raw garlic, raw leeks and cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage 🥬, broccoli 🥦, cauliflower, brussel sprouts and others. Then give it a probiotic like yogurt🍦, kefir, kimchi, kombucha, miso, or other fermented food. Probiotics feed on Prebiotics. These will see to the maintenance of good gut health.
Prebiotics produce inulin that Probiotics feed on and produce Butyrate, and other short-chain fatty acids, which helps maintain gut health.
“Gut bacteria produces fatty acids, vitamins and amino acids that have a range of beneficial effects for the body, from promoting healthy immune system function to maintaining the integrity of the gut lining.”
You can eat raw onion in a salad 🥗👍🏽
The way to eat raw garlic would be to chop it finely and adding it to your cooked food or sprinkling it on your food before eating. Raw scallions and raw leeks could be roughly chopped and added to food after cooking or before eating. Raw garlic can also be consumed by keeping cleaned raw garlic in a jar 🏺 together with honey 🍯 . You can take a pip or two daily. The honey makes it easier to take it.
According to certain suggestions, Butyrate can be increased by consuming more butter!