How Plant Evolution and Human Intervention Are The Greatest Cause of Inflammation and Gut Ailments.
Lectins: Bitesize 1
I get somewhere between 80 - 100 emails a month from customers with numerous gut ailments such as IBS, Leaky Gut, Bloating, Constipation, Diarrhea, type 2 diabetes, Inflammation, autoimmune ailments, also Joint Pain, Rheumatoid Arthritis etc.
Many of you have read that probiotics, increasing fibre in the diet, taking supplements and fad diets are the solution. But how long do they last, before we return to the biscuit tin, Pringles, that healthy looking wholegrain bread and even that pasta in a tomato sauce that we think is associated with a Mediterranean diet.
In my opinion what’s so important is to understand WHY ? these modern day ailments have arisen. Just look around you and we see an overweight, unhealthy population living on highly processed food, and NHS crumbling under the weight of the above ailments.
This series of bitesize blogs will focus on the one single protein that we must all minimise in our diets. LECTINS.
Let’s remind ourselves of two facts:
"YOU SIMPLY ARE WHAT YOU EAT"
OUR GUT WALL IS ONE CELL THIN AND COVERS THE AREA OF A TENNIS COURT. Just imagine how delicate and vulnerable this complex barrier becomes to a little damage and the endotoxins that will seep into our blood system if not repaired.
Your body is the only home you will occupy all your life. If you spend the same effort on this home that you spend on your house or apartment or car, the dividends will last a long vibrant lifetime.
Before we dive into the WHY ?, I want to go back nearly 400 million years when a distant ancestor of mine was a single cell mitochondria coated in bacteria.
Plants have evolved like all living species to germinate, live a life of healthy growth, reproduce and die. The next season the whole cycle repeats itself.
Many plants are essential for our good health. They power our bodies and provide most of the hundreds of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and nutrients that we need and to thrive upon.
We consider plants as our friends, but plants regard all plant predators, including humans as enemies.
Therein lies the dilemma we plant eaters (including other animals) face; the very food we need to eat have their own ways to discourage us from consuming them and their offspring. The result is an ongoing battle between the plant and animal kingdom that has evolved over some 400 million years. But some of the very vegetables and fruits that sustain us, simultaneously contain substances that can harm us.
Gluten is one example of a plant protein that is problematic.
But glutens are just one example of the kind of protein known as LECTINS.
Plants have actually devised incredible strategies to protect themselves, or at least their seeds, from animals including us humans. From sticky sap to smells to the very skin than covers their surfaces, to colour, lectins are having a slow and long term effect on our human health.
Plant seeds can fundamentally be divided in two camps:
Plants where the seeds fall to the ground ready to germinate again when conditions are right.
Plants where their seeds want their predators to eaten them. These seeds are designed to survive the predators GI Tract by birds, animals etc and carried to another area. There with some poop they can germinate when the time is right.
As far as evolution is concerned we have all evolved over millions of years, not to be eaten wherever possible. Unless plants can protect themselves in some way their chances of reproduction are vastly reduced so lectins have evolved to provide a defensive strategy that plants use to protect themselves, but unfortunately they also play a key role in harming us. It’s also worth mentioning that many of the plants we eat today are GMO and have been genetically modified with a high lectin content to reduce the amount of insecticides and herbicides used in global farming (Wheat being the worst).
Lectins are large proteins found in seeds, grains, skins, rinds and the leaves of most plants. Once in the body of the predator (human, cow, elephant, chicken etc) they bind to carbohydrates (sugars) and particularly to complex sugars called polysaccharides in the predators body after it consumes a plant. Like a smart bomb, lectins target and attach themselves to sugar molecules, on the surface of cells and to sialic acid a sugar molecule found in the gut, the brain, between nerve endings, in joints and in all bodily fluids, including blood vessels.
Referred to as "sticky proteins" they can interrupt messaging between cells and cause toxic or inflammatory reactions. If you have ever experienced brain fog, some aching joints, or bloating….. thank lectins. Lectins also facilitate the attachment and binding of viruses and bacteria to their intended targets.
Believe it or not, some people who are sensitive to lectins are therefore more subject to viruses and bacterial infections than others.
But worst of all, lectins trigger the production of a protein called ZONULIN in the gut. Zonulin in turn activates a switch that breaks apart the tight junctions in the gut wall, causing the gut wall to start leaking (leaky gut).
A plant will do just about anything to keep your mouth off its seeds and save its babies.
EXAMPLES OF NEGATIVE FOODS.
These are foods that if you minimise or stop eating will have a far greater impact on your health than what you start eating or following popular diets.
Broad beans *
Kidney beans *
Butter beans *
Black beans *
Cannoli beans *
*unless soaked for 24 hrs and pressure cooked or tinned.
Shop bought yogurt
Next weeks blog will explain how plants defensive lectins enter our bodies through the gut wall and reek inflammatory havoc, causing so many of the new lifestyle illnesses affecting us all.
Over the coming months I will include some solutions to many of the ailments described and recipe cards to:
A) minimised lectins in your diet
B) recipes and diet changes to improve your gut health and therefore overall health and wellbeing.
Tim Spector. Food for Life
Dr Gregor. How not to Die
Lectins. A 360 Analysis
Dr S Grundy. The Plant Paradox
Dr S Grundy. The Energy Paradox
Ed Young. The Microbes within us and a grander life
Tuval Noah Harare. Sapien
Rodney Deitert. The Human Super Organism