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Keeping up with the latest food trends can prove difficult. What’s in fashion today could fall out tomorrow and vice versa. However, when it comes to keeping healthy, notice is taken.

This type of response is known as an autoimmune reaction, where the immune system mistakenly starts attacking the body’s own structures.

This is because lectins are tied directly to inflammation and autoimmune reactions in your body

Experts claim that lectins, a type of sugar-binding protein found in foods, should be avoided in large doses. They can cause weight gain and damage the stomach.

According to The Independent, Megan Rossi, a spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association, says a “high” intake of lectins can cause harm.

Rossi says lectins aren’t an issue for most people, insignificant amounts are not so much of a problem. Lectins can prove more harmful to those who have an intolerance to it, however.

A startling amount of foods on supermarket shelves contain lectins. Grains, eggplants, beans and legumes, nuts, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, eggs and dairy products all contain them. We must add here that each food contains a relatively small amount, and the way in which the food is prepared can either increase or reduce the problem.

“If a person is eating cooked legumes and whole grains, these low levels of lectins are tolerated,” Rossi adds.

Experts advise that for those struggling with their digestion or who suffer with diverticulitis or irritable bowel syndrome it’s best to cut lectins from their diet. However, before taking this drastic step it’s always advisable to seek advice from a healthcare professional or dietician before making such an important decision.

Debates Around Food and Health Ongoing

A graph of foods with lectins.

As always, as with the debate that has surrounded gluten and other foods we’re told to avoid, the facts around lectins can be difficult to discern. Many say that cutting lectins from a diet could do more harm than good unless you have a specific intolerance to it. Rossi points out that there are in fact very few foods that are perfect.

According to Bulletproof, lectins are bad, suck your energy and make you weak. “Lectins matter to the performance level of everyone, but they are particularly important if you have a thyroid condition, or if you have any kind of arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, cystitis, or even if you are simply 100 pounds overweight. This is because lectins are tied directly to inflammation and autoimmune reactions in your body,” the website states.

Lectins are vegetables’ natural defenses to attack from predators. Experts say the best way to avoid them is by either cutting out foods like potatoes, grains or tomatoes, or by soaking food in warm water before cooking to avoid the risk. Cooking itself even reduces the risk.

Authority Nutrition says that repeated consumption of lectins could damage the gut wall. This means your body can absorb more, which in turn can cause major health risks. The website states that “lectins can interact with antibodies, which are a core component of the immune system. This may cause an immune reaction not only against the lectins, but also the body tissues to which the lectins are bound. This type of response is known as an autoimmune reaction, where the immune system mistakenly starts attacking the body’s own structures.” This is, of course, an extreme reaction but can indeed happen.

Cutting gluten from diets has helped millions of people around the world, it’s always worth trying a lectin-free diet to see what benefits it affords you. Make sure you consult a doctor before making any rash decisions.

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