Autoimmune Diet Lectin Avoidance Guidelines

When immature or out-of-season, the seed, grain, vegetable or fruit are protected by chemical deterrents such as lectins to keep themselves from being eaten to extinction. Chemical deterrents in plants are called secondary metabolites, i.e. trypsin inhibitor, chymotrypsin inhibitor, α-amylase inhibitor, phytohemagluttinin (lectin), phytic acid, oxalic acid, nitrate and nitrite, L-mimosine, canavanine, L-DOPA, glucosinolates, cyanogenic glucosides/cyanogens, tannins, gossypol, chlorogenic acid, saponins, phorbol esters and alkaloids. The production of lectins, alkaloids and secondary metabolites are a defense mechanism to protect them from consumption while the plant is growing and before the seeds are ready for dispersal.

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Lectins inhibit the natural repair system of the GI tract, potentially leaving the rest of the body open to the impact of errant, wandering (i.e. unwanted) material from the digestive system.  Perhaps the most insidious impacts lectins can leave in their wake is leaky gut. Leaky gut is a term used for the breach of the Barrier Variables of the intestinal lining produced by lectins moving hand in hand with other physical/environmental triggers and other anti-nutrients. Once the intestinal breach occurs, lectins and other particles (like partially digested food, toxins, etc.) can “leak” into the bloodstream and provoke an inflammatory cytokine response throughout the body. Lectins cause much more than Leaky Gut.

Damage Caused By Lectins:

      • Lectins are toxic to wounded cells and inhibit the natural repair system of the GI tract.
      • Lectins are known to “unlock” (breakthrough) the barrier variables of the GI lining and allow large undigested protein molecules into the bloodstream.
      • Lectins serve as a “Trojan horse” allowing intact or nearly intact foreign proteins to invade our barrier variables (natural gut defenses) and enter behind the lines causing damage well beyond the gut and into the joints, brain and skin of affected individuals provoking cytokine immune responses.
      • They can bind to red blood cells causing the cells to clump together resulting in a form of anemia.
      • They can damage collagen and connective tissues in joints.
      • They are directly related to Rheumatoid Arthritis.
      • They can bind to the stomach lining even when the pH is 3 or less.
      • They stimulate abnormal thickening of the pancreas interfering with exocrine cells production of enzymes and endocrine cells production of insulin.
      • They stimulate abnormal thickening of the lining of the gut.
      • They damage the villi lining the gut.
      • They stimulate the shift the microbial ecology promoting the overgrowth of E. coli.
      • The abnormal thickening of the pancreas and gut lining plus the microbial shift exacts a nutritional penalty on the absorption of nutrition.
      • They can provoke IgG and IgM antibodies causing Type 2 Hypersensitivity immune responses.
      • They bind to the thyroid TSH-receptors acting as long-acting thyroid stimulator (LATS) stimulating the activation of TSH-receptor antibodies.
      • They provoke a direct cytokine driven immune response causing cytokine storms, invisible illness symptoms and cytokine-induced sickness behavior.

The most common source of lectins is from plants.  They are present in seeds to protect the seeds from those who eats the plant or seed-containing fruit.  The second most common source of lectins is seafood.  Virtually all known plants contain lectins, usually as one of a number of proteins in seeds, but often also distributed amongst the other parts of plants including leaves, roots, tubers and bulbs.

Plants are naturally genetically modified to survive in the primal environment of nature and are artificially genetically modified to survive their trip to the grocery store.

Lectins seed dormancy

Plant regulation of Fruit Consumption

Plants invest energy into the production of fruits. Plants have evolved to encourage fruit eaters to consume their fruit for seed dispersal but also evolved mechanisms to decrease consumption of fruits when unripe and from non-seed dispersing predators. Plants have physical and chemical adaptations.

Physical deterrents:

      • Cryptic coloration (e.g. green fruits blend in with the plant leaves)
      • Unpalatable textures (e.g. thick skins made of anti-nutritive substances)
      • Resins and saps (e.g. prevent animals from swallowing)
      • Repellent substances, hard outer coats, spines, thorns.

A seed is mostly food (starch, protein, fat) for the plant embryo that will grow from it.  This is also true of a chicken egg and just like the egg, the seed contains defensive proteins to inhibit the growth of bacteria, fungi and egg/seed eaters.  The egg has enzymes to degrade bacterial walls and proteins that bind iron, vitamins, etc. needed by bacteria and humans.  Eating many raw eggs can lead to vitamin deficiencies.  Boiling the eggs unravels the defensive proteins and makes them digestible and nutritious.

Plant lectins (phytohemagglutinins or hemagglutinins) have been shown to possess a remarkable array of biological activities.  Lectins ihibit the natural repair system of the GI tract, potentially leaving the rest of the body open to the impact of errant, wandering (i.e. unwanted) material from the digestive system. This is especially true when these lectins “unlock” barriers to entry and allow larger undigested protein molecules into the bloodstream.

Seeds block being digested by containing proteins that foul the digestion system of would be devourers.  Plants are naturally genetically modified to survive in the primal environment of nature and are artificially genetically modified to survive their trip to the grocery store.

Lectin protectionLectins Helps Seeds Survive Being Eaten

Seed dispersal is important for plants because it allows their progeny to move away from their parents in space and time. The advantages of seed dispersal may have led to the evolution of fleshy fruits, which entice animals to eat the fruits and move the plants seeds from place to place. While many fruit producing plant species would not disperse far without being consumed because they can usually germinate even if they fall to the ground directly below the parent plant.

Lectin fence line

The same is true for human digestive tracts.

In order for plants to protect themselves from natural predators, their seeds naturally contain a variety of very smart chemicals – lectins – which have the potential to disrupt the health of unsuspecting humans.  Lectins work at the cellular level by disrupting cellular metabolism.  Plant seeds are designed for survival in nature not a trip through the grocery store.  A single seed must have multiple lectins to survive being eaten and survive the trip from mouth to tail, i.e. chewing, digestive enzymes, gut bacteria and fermentation and finally transit through the colon.

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This is done by a combination of a hard digestion-resistant hull and enzyme-resistant lectins covering the seed. Then after passing through the gut resist bacteria, fungi, insects, and worms surviving the heat generated during fermentation and the cold of winter or the heat of summer until it is time to germinate. Each requiring a different protective lectin.

Some seeds are activated by digestive enzymes, i.e. cedar tree berries, just as fire activates certain pine seeds. Lectin pine coneThese  pine trees, including Monterey Pine and Pond Pine,  are only able to reproduce if a fire destroys them. Their pine cones, which contain the seeds, are so tightly held in the cone. That the seed cannot be released to germinate unless a fire burns away the outer part of the cone. These are called “fire climax pines”. Seeds cannot germinate to form new trees until the parent trees have been destroyed in a forest fire, assuring that the new trees will not have to struggle in darkness among adult trees, but will only be among trees of the same age. When there is a fire, the number of seeds released is great enough to assure survival of enough new trees to reforest the area. Fire climax pines are able to maintain their presence against the incursion of other species of trees because fire destroys all of the adult trees, but only the pines are naturally replanted.

Wild bird are active consumers of all berries, fruits and nuts. Seeds falling directly under the plant or tree would have to compete with the parent tree for sunlight, water, and nutrition.

Seeds that fall to the ground, may find themselves lying under a pile – no pun intended – of their mother plants or other foliage as they wait for next spring to germinate. This leads to the growth of spoilage microbes, generating heat. Hot spots developing under the pile can be extremely hot (130-150oF). The more certain elements in the foliage a plant has at the end of the growing season, i.e. Legumes, beans, lentils, etc. The more likely this is to occur. The seeds must be able to survive heat for long periods of time. This makes them resistant to heat from cooking.

Growing up on the farm, I have seen fermenting forage spontaneously combust. In order to protect themselves from this danger, seeds have naturally developed a high tolerance to heat.  Making them resistant to the quick cooking methods used today providing high levels of hard lectins to those thinking they are eating a healthy diet.

Lectins fire

Raw and relatively unprocessed foods are becoming more fashionable among health-conscious individuals in the Western world. Given the abundance of food in prosperous countries, such persons are therefore most likely exposed to greater doses of dietary lectins than at any time in human evolution. Ingesting lectins can cause flatulence. Consuming legumes and grains in their raw form can even result in nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. Lectins consumed raw or unprocessed are at their most toxic potential.

Is it a Lectin


Grains, beans, nuts and seeds are all seeds. Rich in complex carbohydrates and fiber, they form the base of most healthy food pyramids. Grinding them whole is purported to make them healthier. When ground with the hulls removed makes them a dangerous refined flour to be avoided.

      • Grains, beans, nuts and seeds are all seeds.
      • Grains are the seeds of grasses, e.g. Wheat, corn, oats, and rice.
      • Grains are small, hard, dry seeds (with or without attached hulls or fruit layers).
      • Beans are the seeds of legumes, e.g. Peas, lentils, soybeans, and chickpeas.
      • Nuts are the seeds of trees, e.g. Walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, cashews.
      • Seeds are the seeds of plants, e.g. Sesame seeds, poppy seeds and sunflower seeds.
Lectin brown rice

Translation: Brown rice in high in fiber that prevents absorption of nutrients while resisting digestion and promoting damage from lectins. It is not what you eat but what you absorb that counts.

Lectins when consumed at low levels are slightly irritating, but when eaten in moderate quantities become more damaging.


3 thoughts on “Autoimmune Diet Lectin Avoidance Guidelines

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