Benefits of Lectins
Lectins are proteins that bind carbohydrates. By binding to carbohydrates during digestion, they reduce the glycemic effects of food. By stabilizing blood sugar, there may be benefits such as weight loss, sustained energy, improved focus, and reduced blood pressure. Many foods with lectins are nutrient dense foods such as beans, nuts, tomatoes, eggplant and peppers.
Plant lectins are thought to be a defense. They protect plants against pathogens and insects similar to phytochemical in plants. For this reason, plant lectins offer anti-microbial properties and immunity support.
Problem with Lectins
One common lectin that poses issues is wheat germ agglutinin (WGA). It is found in wheat as well as other cereal grains including the sprouted forms. Like gluten, it may cause inflammation in the body, not only in the gastrointestinal system, but also may affect the endocrine, neurological and immune systems.
A diet that has received press lately is the lectin free diet. This is a very restrictive diet removing many nutritious foods and may not be necessary for the majority of people.
Should You Remove Lectins from Your Diet?
While checking for gluten anti-bodies and sensitivities have become more common place, testing for WGA has not. Fortunately a blood test, called Wheat Zoomer by Vibrant-America, can test for WGA. The Wheat Zoomer also assesses anti-bodies to wheat proteins including gluten and non-gluten components as well as intestinal permeability (leaky gut). I use the Wheat Zoomer test for patients who display digestive issues such as IBS, skin issues, low Vitamin D, weight issues, joint pain, and brain fog.
Instead of guessing whether lectins are an issue for you, test your body’s response. They may not be harmful for you, but if they are, avoidance may help as well as NAET (a gentle allergy treatment).
Dr. Melanie MacLaren is a naturopathic doctor and registered yoga teacher who is passionate about natural health as well as the individualized needs of each of her clients. Contact Dr. Melanie at (317) 344-9840 to learn more or to schedule an appointment in Indianapolis.