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?

They 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 have an insecticidal and anti-fungal 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 they 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. They 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 their toxic effects 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.
  • They 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.

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  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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