LECTINS ARE THE NEW GLUTEN
As I mentioned in my previous blog ‘What you don’t eat is more important than what you do eat’, I believe lectins are going to eclipse gluten within the next ten years and lectin free products and restaurant meals will become easily available. Gluten, as you may know, is just one of many lectins. Lectins are proteins produced by plants to protect them against predators. Humans have no trouble with the lectins they’ve been eating for tens of thousands of years, but struggle with grains (grasses) which have only been part of the diet for 10,000 years – not enough time to develop the enzymes and microbes needed to digest the lectins in them. Lectins are also found in dairy, as it is produced by lectin eaters, and also in nightshades and beans and some fruits like melon.
The immune system sees these new lectins as invaders, so it mounts an inflammatory response. Lectins also discourage the growth of healthy microbes increasing susceptibility to infections and allergies. This is because your immune system is on the one hand alert and reactive causing inflammation (allergies and autoimmunity) but leaving you prone to infections.
Many people find they have more energy and feel better when avoiding gluten. If this is you, you may find you feel even better going lectin free for a while to give your gut and immune system time to repair.
Lectins open-up the gut wall, allowing leakage into the blood stream of undigested food stuffs, toxins which should be removed in the stool and, of course, the lectins themselves. Muscle and joint aches, stiff necks and shoulders, headaches and migraines, eczema, asthma, food cravings and eating disorders are all linked to lectin sensitivity. If you find it hard to cope with stress, have difficulty sleeping or a behavioural problem like OCD, lectin sensitivity may be causing inflammation in your brain, which can eventually lead to neurological disease.
That is not to say that lectins are the sole cause, but they lay the foundation for more serious health problems. If your immune system is constantly attacking lectins it will eventually get exhausted. Allergies too are a sign that lectins are an issue for you. In one study, 82% of asthmatics got better when avoiding high lectin foods such as grains and dairy. Wheatgerm agglutinin, WGA, a particularly nasty lectin in wheat, gets lodged in insulin receptors on the cells, blocking the action of insulin and causing blood sugar highs and lows and sweet cravings. If insulin isn’t able to get glucose into cells, they won’t have the fuel they need to work. And if brain cells aren’t getting glucose, they think there is a shortage of food, so they send out a message to keep eating resulting in carb cravings and weight gain. Anyone who is overweight, or has an eating disorder, has a lectin problem.
Sensitivity to food has become widespread over the last few years. This is because of changes in our microbiome (from industrialised foods, agricultural chemicals, antibiotics and other drugs) which is now epigenetic. Children born to parents and grandparents who have a dysbiotic microbiome are likely to be reactive to foods that were tolerated a few decades ago. Heavy metal toxicity is also passed down epigenetically, and exposure to radiation from wi-fi also has a negative effect on our microbial population.
It is only a matter of time before people realise that gluten and dairy are actually a lectin problem, and when this happens lectin awareness will become mainstream.
Bread is a comfort food. The texture and versatility of bread is hard to beat. So, here are a couple of lectin free bread recipes you might like to try.
COCONUT AND GREEN BANANA FLOUR BREAD
Makes 2 Loaves
- 2 cups Coconut Flour
- 1 cup Green Banana Flour
- 12tbs Arrowroot
- 10 tbs Sprouted Flaxseed Meal
- 4 tbs Tapioca Starch
- 1 ½ tsp fine Salt
- 1 ½ tsp Baking Soda
- 8 tbs Coconut Oil, melted and cooled
- 8 Eggs, beaten
- 2 cups Almond or Coconut Milk
- 1 tbs Apple Cider Vinegar
Preheat oven to 180.
Place baking parchment in two loaf tins.
In a large bowl mix coconut flour, almond flour, arrowroot, flaxseed meal, tapioca starch, salt and baking soda.
In another large bowl, whisk together the slightly cooled coconut oil, eggs, almond milk and vinegar.
Add the wet ingredients to the dried stirring until combined, adding more almond or coconut milk if necessary.
Pour the batter into two loaf tins lined with the baking parchment and bake until a toothpick inserts comes out clean – about 40 – 45 minutes.
Cool on wire rack before slicing and serving. Can be toasted.
COCONUT AND ALMOND FLOUR BREAD
Makes 1 loaf
- ½ cup Coconut Flour
- 1 cup Almond Flour
- 1 cup Arrowroot
- 1 tsp Celtic Salt
- 2 tsp Maple Syrup
- 1 ¼ cups water 43 degrees C
- 1 sachet dried Yeast
- 2 tbs Psyllium Husk powder
- 1 beaten Egg
- Yoke of 1 organic Egg with 1 tsp water
Mix coconut flour, almond flour, arrowroot and salt together in a bowl.
In a separate bowl, add yeast to maple syrup and stir in the warm water. Leave for 10 minutes when it should foam.
Whisk in psyllium husk powder and let it sit for one minute.
Whisk in beaten egg.
Add the liquid mixture to the dried ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon, add more warm water if necessary.
Place dough back in the bowl and cover with damp tea towel.
Leave in warm place, like airing cupboard, for one hour after which time it should have risen.
Heat oven to 220C, GM7.
With wet hand, shape dough into round loaf and place on baking parchment on flat baking tray.
Brush with egg yoke and water.
Score slices across top of the loaf.
Bake 35 – 40 minutes. The internal temperature should reach about 96C.
Cool on wire rack before slicing.