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Lectins: The Anti-Nutrient

If you have any kind of immune sensitivity or autoimmune condition, achy joints, moodiness, gut disharmony, memory loss, or are diabetic, you will certainly want to learn about the lectins in your food.

What are lectins?

Lectins are sticky, glue-like proteins found in all foods, especially plant foods. These proteins bind to carbohydrates. In the plant kingdom, it seems that many lectins have an insecticidal and antifungal role, helping to protect the plant. (1)

The five food groups containing the most lectins are:

  • Grains: Especially those containing gluten, such as wheat. This includes oils made from grain, like corn oil, and also condiments made from grains.
  • Legumes: Beans, including soy and peanuts. Again, this includes oil, such as soy and peanut oil.
  • Dairy: If a dairy animal is fed grain rather than grass fed.
  • Nightshades: Common ones are tomato, potato, eggplant, and pepper.
  • GMO foods: Lectins are durable and toxic. They are often spliced into GMO food to enhance pest and fungal resistance.

What Lectins Mean to Your Digestion

In the gut, lectins look for carbohydrates to bind to. Many times, these carbohydrates are embedded in the cell membranes of intestinal cells, which means that lectins can attach to intestinal cells. This can lead to cell death and also the wearing down of the villi inside the small intestine. (2) Worn intestinal villi and injured cells lead to inflammation, increasing gut permeability.

Lectins are commonly found in grains, especially in wheat products that contain gluten. Lectins will attach to healthy intestinal cells to cause inflammation and gut permeability!

Intestinal permeability is at the root of many disorders in the body that involve an inflammatory response. The digestive tract connects what is outside to what is inside. When the gates are open and unregulated, all kinds of inflammatory signals are sent throughout the body, mostly affecting:

  • The immune system
  • The nervous system
  • The endocrine system

Lectins are particularly durable proteins. High-temperature food processing, digestive juices, and enzymes do not fully degrade lectins. The best ways to mitigate the toxic effects of lectins are traditional food preparation methods, which include soaking, sprouting, and fermenting grains and legumes.

  • You can ferment flour before cooking with it.
  • Sourdough bread and a traditional flatbread from India called dosa are both made from fermented flours.
  • Fermenting dairy, and even nightshades before using them in a meal, will also reduce the harmful effects of lectins in the body.
  • How to ferment your nightshades: Next time you want salsa, spend a little extra time making you own and fermenting it with the Body Ecology Veggie Starter Culture.

Unfortunately, the time-consuming step of soaking and sprouting is generally skipped in modern food processing. Fermentation is reserved only for popularly fermented foods, like yogurt, and even then the culture in sweetened, chemically-produced yogurt may be very weak and inactive.

Determining Which Lectins Your System May React To

In Dr. D’Adamo’s book Eat Right For Your Type, it confirms the importance of knowing which lectins your body may be sensitive to. Try an elimination diet:

  • Remove all five high-lectin food groups for a minimum of 2 weeks, ideally for at least 3 weeks.
  • After 3 weeks, introduce one food at a time from one food group.
  • Wait 72 hours before adding another food.
  • During the 72-hour waiting period, document any changes in mind, body, or spirit.
Common reactions to food show up in skin, joints, energy levels, temperament, sinuses, and digestive complaints. 

Whatever food you react to, keep out of your diet. Remove GMO foods from your diet, as these are intentionally created to harbor foreign, high-lectin insecticidal material. Remember to include plenty of fermented foods and probiotic beverages in your diet. Vitality SuperGreen is especially useful during an elimination diet. Use in between meals to encourage the healing of your intestinal mucosa.

Repairing the intestinal villi is essential when healing a permeable gut.

Body Ecology Vitality SuperGreen was specially formulated with a permeable gut in mind. That is why it contains GlutaImmune.

  • Glutamine has been found to repair and rebuild intestinal villi. (3)
  • GlutaImmune is the most bioavailable and stable form of glutamine available.
  • It delivers up to 10 times more glutamine into the bloodstream than L-glutamine, which is the single amino acid available on market shelves.
You can ferment many foods and enhance their nutritional profile.

Good bacteria in the gut help to:

  • Cool down inflammation.
  • Heal the intestinal lining.
  • Remove toxic material, including heavy metals.
  • Break down and transform food particles.
  • Enhance food delivery, making it more nutritious.

What to Remember Most About This Article:

  • If you have any kind of immune sensitivity or autoimmune condition, achy joints, moodiness, gut disharmony, memory loss, or are diabetic, you will certainly want to look at what foods you eat that are high in lectins.
  • Lectins are called an anti-nutrient because many times they glue themselves onto cells in our body, injuring or even killing these cells.
  • Many times, this occurs in the gut.
  • Listen to your own body. Do an elimination diet and keep track of what foods initiate an inflammatory response.

Product Recommendations:

  • Veggie Culture Starter

    Veggie Culture Starter

    Resist Infections, Enhance Digestion

    • Ideal for appetite and weight control
    • Ideal for pregnant women
    • Ideal for children with Autism and ADD
    • Can be enjoyed daily
    • Easy to make at home
  • Vitality SuperGreen

    Vitality SuperGreen

    Complete Superfood Nutrition

    Benefits for the common condition of leaky gut* - formulated with ingredients shown to maintain a healthy gut lining1,2,3

    What makes Vitality SuperGreen different from all the other green drinks on the market today? It’s the very alkalizing formula - the fermented algae blend, red marine blend, intestinal support blend and fermented green veggies —specially created by Donna Gates—that soothes and is very healing to the gut lining. A generous amount of nutrient-rich elements like L-glutamine, FOS from chicory inulin, GMO-free Sunflower Lecithin, and aloe vera extract (200:1) help establish and maintain a healthy inner ecosystem. We’ve spared no cost in blending together an extraordinary spectrum (or life force) of fermented algae and cereal grasses, fermented green veggies, enzymes, probiotics and food-based supplements providing you the highest quality fermented green drink on the market today.

    Nourish Your Inner Ecosystem with 2 scoops per day.

    Vitality SuperGreen:

    • Strengthens immunity so you feel more energetic and vibrant*
    • Offers an excellent source of complete nutrition - easily assimilated protein, enzymes, vitamins, minerals, lignans, essential fatty acids, nucleic acids, and beneficial microflora*
    • Soy Free • Dairy Free/Vegan
    • Provides healthy food for beneficial microflora - a potent, mineral-rich blend of fermented algae and red marine algae4
    • Fermented to magnify bioavailability*
    • Rich in antioxidants
    • Detoxifies the body to help maintain a healthy weight*
    • Unlike many superfoods on the market today, Vitality SuperGreen tastes great!


  1. Rhodes, Jonathan M. Genetically modified foods and the Pusztai affair. BMJ. 1999 May 8; 318(7193): 1284.
  2. Miyake K, Tanaka T, McNeil PL, 2007 Lectin-Based Food Poisoning: A New Mechanism of Protein Toxicity. PLoS ONE 2(8): e687. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0000687
  3. DeMarco, Vincent G., et al. Glutamine and Barrier Function in Cultured Caco-2 Epithelial Cell Monolayers. J. Nutr. July 1, 2003 vol. 133 no. 7 2176-2179.

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I'm most interested in:
  • leena

    I am confused... can eggs be eaten on this lectin elimination diet? Do the legumes include lentils?

    Does diary mean all cheese, yoghurt, milk, etc?


  • Ryan

    Is coconut cream and coconut flour ok to eat on this diet? It seems as if coconut oil and coconut milk are allowed on BED. Reason I ask is because coconut cream and oil are ok on GAPS and BED seems to differ in some ways.

  • Marshall Klein

    What is the purpose of the 2-3 week ellimination diet? Is it to identify which particular foods have lectins that affect you, or is it to determine what total percentage of your diet coming from foods containing lectins exceeds your body's tolerance for lectins? Could it be that eating several kinds of foods high in lectins at the same time might reach a level that you cannot tolerate, whereas having only one of any of those high lectin foods in your diet may cause you no problems?

  • Kathy

    How do you ferment and use the flours? can the soaking be done on gluten free pasta to remove the lectins and phytates? Do you soak tomatoes and potatoes overnight if you want to eat them fresh?

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Information and statements regarding dietary supplements/products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Information on this website is provided for informational purposes only and is a result of years of practice and experience by the author. This information is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. Do not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing medication or other treatment. Always speak with your physician or other healthcare professional before taking any medication or nutritional, herbal, or homeopathic supplement, or using any treatment for a health problem. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your healthcare provider promptly. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking professional advice because of something you have read on this website.

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