The Lectin Avoidance: For People with a Lot of Food Sensitivities
Avoidance diets are extremely beneficial for individuals with food sensitivities and intolerances. And while gluten and dairy-free diets are well-known, the lectin avoidance diet is starting to take notice. But what exactly are lectins and should you be avoiding them?
What Is the Lectin Avoidance Diet?
Lectins are a group of compounds primarily found in plants, including grains, beans, and nightshade vegetables, and thought to be the plant’s defense mechanism against prey. Lectins are largely distributed within the food supply, making their removal not only appearing challenging, but even dangerous. However, it is implied we as human have difficulty digesting lectins related to their stability, as they remain intact when consumed, and lead to believe they may cause digestive distress. A large intake and overexposure is inferred to trigger “leaky gut,” a growing topic of interest in the health world. While not much is known about the condition, health experts suspect probable causes of leaky gut are associated to a compromised stomach lining, allowing harmful substances to “leak” from the gut into the bloodstream.
Particularly for individuals with concurrent food allergy or intolerance, a lectin-free diet has been endorsed. When the gut lining is predisposed and vulnerable to various food proteins or sugars, including gluten and lactose, it may be more sensitive to lectins. Removing lectin from the diet, along with the underlying food allergy, may ease up unpleasant gastrointestinal side effects and allow the gut to function at its greatest potential.
How to Remove Lectins Safely
Identify Lectin-Containing Foods
Perhaps one of the more obvious ways to remove lectins is by identifying and knowing which foods contain them. As mentioned above, lectins are predominately found in plant-based foods, such as these 14 sources that include wheat germ, potatoes, eggplants, kidney and lima beans.
Practice Various Cooking Techniques
Along with identifying and potentially removing lectin-containing foods, lectin concentration may be reduced by ultimately retarding the outer bran or shell. Soaking, cooking, sprouting, and fermenting are all processes advertised to reduce lectin content.
Keep A Food Journal
Keeping a food journal is extremely beneficial in detecting food allergies. If suspicious of a food allergen, be as detailed as possible to help pinpoint the culprit. Consult with an allergist or immunologist for the best guidance, as food allergies can be extremely harmful, and potentially even fatal without, the proper care.
Consult with A Dietitian
Along with consulting with an allergist or immunologist, it is imperative to discuss with a dietitian or other nutrition expert before trying to eliminate any sort of food group. Their knowledge and expertise can help determine a personalized dietary path, along with reducing the risk of potential nutrient deficiencies.