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.

Brain Power

Focus Attention

Increasingly, both children and adults suffer from a mental restlessness that inhibits concentration and learning. Known as Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), this problem can cause difficulty with decision making, task completion, forgetfulness, being easily distracted, lack of concentration, hyperactivity and impatience.

Focus Attention was formulated to help balance and calm mental function in order to improve concentration and focus. The herbs and nutrients in this blend help over-stimulated and undernourished brains function more effectively. It enhances the production of calming neurotransmitters in the brain that reduce excessive activity. The blend may also have a calming effect on some seizures.

Here is what each of the ingredients in this formula do.

Slippery Elm Bark (Ulmus fulva) is a mucilaginous herb that is cleansing and soothing to the digestive system. Most of the time children and adults with ADHD have a lot of irritation in their gastrointestinal tract and often have a problem with leaky gut syndrome. Slippery elm soothes this irritation and promotes better health of the gastrointestinal tract.

l-Glutamine is one of the most abundant of the amino acids. It is a nonessential amino acid but becomes very essential when the body is in a stressed state. It helps boost the production of GABA, a neurotransmitter that calms the brain and reduces restlessness. Low levels of GABA promote excitatory neurotransmitters and may be a factor in both ADHD and seizures. L-glutamine is also an important amino acid for repairing leaky gut syndrome.

DMAE (Dimethylaminoethanol) has been shown to play a role in the accelerated synthesis of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter in the brain responsible for memory and learning. It has also been shown to be effective for children and adults with hyperactivity, shortened attention span, speech problems and learning disabilities. People taking DMAE supplements have reported less fatigue and better sleep at night. Double blind studies have also shown positive behavioral changes with the use of DMAE. Supplementation with DMAE may result in better memory retention, elevated mood, increased intelligence and expanded learning capacity.

Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) has a long history as a calming and soothing remedy for stress and tension. It is a mild sedative that helps relieve tension and promote sleep. It also supports the immune system with its anti-inflammatory action. Recent research has shown that lemon balm has powerful memory-boosting action and may prove effective against serious memory disorders like Alzheimer’s.

Other studies show that the plant modulates mood and cognitive performance in young, healthy volunteers. The leaves contain citrus flavonoids and vitamin C that reduce free radical and age-related damage to the brain. They affect vascular permeability, which improves the uptake of nutrients and oxygen to the brain. These flavonoids work with hormones and other biochemicals in the brain that regulate memory processes. It is now known that the herb affects acetylcholine receptor activity in the central nervous system.

Grape Seed Extract (Vitis vinifera) is one of the most powerful antioxidants on the planet. It neutralizes brain-damaging free radicals caused by toxins and stress.

Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) was discovered to contain flavonoids that enhance brain health in European studies. There are over 400 published studies to support all of the multifaceted benefits of this herbal remedy. It increases blood flow to the brain, inhibits platelet aggregation and delivers improvement of memory. It helps to normalize acetylcholine receptors in the hippocampus and increases the activity of neurotransmitters. It is widely used as an antidepressant and helps keep emotions and social interactions stable.

Ginkgo has the ability to speed the rate of data transmission at the nerve cell level. It actually protects the nerve cells from damage during periods of oxygen deficiency. It is the terpene lactones that account for Ginkgo’s ability to improve memory and mental capacity. This improves the quality of neuron processing and minimizes free radical damage to brain cells. It increases short-term memory and aids in more rapid recall in adults and schoolchildren.