Saturday, September 4, 2010

Dr. Mercola on Lectins

Dr. Mercola on Lectins

Gluten intolerance is only one problem linked to eating wheat, and may not even be the most serious one. That honor may actually go towheat lectin.

Lectin is a defense mechanism for the wheat plant, designed to ward of its natural enemies such as fungi and insects. Unfortunately, this protein is also very resistant to breakdown by living systems, and it easily accumulates in tissues where it interferes with normal biological processes and acts as an anti-nutrient.

All seeds of the grass family (rice, wheat, spelt, rye, etc.) have high levels of lectin.

Typically, sprouting, fermenting or digestion can help to negate some of the harmful effects of such anti-nutrients (as in the case of fermenting soy, which removes many of its anti-nutrient properties). However, lectins are resistant to these types of processes.

For this reason, lectins exist even in “healthy” sprouted breads and may be in their highest concentrations in whole-wheat varieties.

One form of lectin, wheat germ agglutinin (WGA), is capable of passing through cell membranes of your intestines, gaining entry into your body where it is:

  • Pro-inflammatory
  • Immunotoxic
  • Neurotoxic
  • Cyctotoxic (may induce programmed cell death)

How Can You Know for Sure if Grains are Right or Wrong for You?

If you have signs of celiac disease or gluten intolerance, a blood test can confirm the diagnosis -- if it comes back positive it is imperative that you do not eat gluten in order to avoid further damage to your health.

In addition to nausea, diarrhea, constipation and abdominal pain, celiac disease may manifest clinically with an array of non-gastrointestinal symptoms, such as fatigue, osteoporosis, anemia, infertility, depression, organ disorders and more, so be sure to get the blood test if you suspect gluten may be a contributing factor.

Other people who could benefit from avoiding grains right off the bat are those with health problems including:

  • Overweight
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Cancer

This is because grains rapidly break down to sugar in your body, which causes rises in insulin that exacerbate and even trigger health problems such as these.