Legumes, also known as hummus, refried beans, chick peas, black beans, peanuts, soy beans etc, all contain lectins (specialized proteins). Indeed, all plant foods contain lectins but the lectins in grains (such as wheat), dairy and legumes cause an inflammatory response in your body and are resistant to cooking and digestive enzymes.
Overall, research on legume lectin is young and there is a lot more to be explored. However, for this post I have pulled some data for those of you trying to eat paleo day in and day out while ‘digesting’ the biochemistry of Neolithic food.
Lectins are inflammatory, toxic or could be both. Mark Sisson writes in his new book, “Lectins are natural plant toxins that suppress immune function, interfere with normal protective gut barriers, and promote inflammation (skin, joint, reproductive, allergies and more health related issues) by allowing undigested protein molecules to infiltrate your digestive tract and trigger an autoimmune response – a situation characterized by the familiar term, leaky gut syndrome.”
But what if I have just a small portion of beans or a spoonful of peanut butter, would there be much harm? Yes.
In the Lancet, Dr. Wang and colleagues revealed that lectins can get into the bloodstream in as little 1-4 hours after subjects ate a handful of roasted, salted peanuts, and these lectins can cause damage beyond the gut – commonly in joints, brain, and skin of affected individuals.
But I already have type 1 diabetes and I am grain intolerant; the damage is done. Can I not possibly have a little bit of peanut butter? No.
Research supports the strong possibility that mild stimulation (inflammation) can further worsen gut injury and autoimmune disease. Avoidance of certain food lectins can help achieve optimal health and heal a damaged gut. This serves as a basis for ongoing research and probable success of the paleo diet.
There you have it, “Goodbye peanut butter. I will miss you but challenging my health just is not worth it.”
Regardless if you have an autoimmune disease or a food intolerance, dairy, legumes and grains contain toxic ingredients (lectins) and intolerance can be asymptomatic (silent). If eating paleo is not suiting you at this time, just try your best to eat your best. More great research on the paleo diet in relation to inflammation, disease and performance can be reviewed here.
Cheers to you and good health,
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