Posts Tagged ‘Autism & Aspergers’

What are Lectins?

Monday, May 15th, 2017

What are Lectins?

Do you suffer from symptoms after eating? Such as digestive symptoms, foggy brain, sinus congestion or aches and pains. Do you notice it after gluten containing foods or just can’t track what’s causing it? Chances are you’re body is reacting to components in plants called lectins.

What are lectins? So happy you asked!

Lectins are the plants natural compounds to ward off pests, fungal and bacterial attack. That is, the plants natural immune system. When plants are under attack they raise their lectin numbers to fend off the attacking pests. This is the system by which pesticides work. However, pests are gaining tolerance resulting in needing an increase of pesticide to be applied to the plant and thus a further increase of the plants lectins.

Modern wheat strains vs old style grains

Our modern wheat strains have been modified to produce more lectins to be highly pest resistant. This very clever genetically engineering won Norman Borlaug a Nobel peace prize in 1970 and changed the industry inexplicably. However, years later we are discovering the health consequences of our daily foods containing such an immense amount of lectins.

Let me explain:

The modern wheat (Triticum aestivum) is a genetically engineered species containing three distinct sets of chromosomes. These chromosomes can produce over 23,000 unique proteins. Thus this modern species contains high protein and gluten levels plus wheat germ agglutinin (WGA). WGA is a lectin which provides wheat with its resistance to insect pests, yeasts and bacteria.  Interestingly WGA binds to N-acetyl D glucosamine in the chitin of the insects, disrupting their cell structures and killing them.

Why are lectins so bad?

It is this WGA (lectins)  which can also directly damage tissues of the human body wherever N-acetyl glucosamine is present, even if the individual doesn’t have any genetic predispositions or susceptibilities to immune mediated mechanisms. For example, the auto-immune conditions or inflammatory reactions. However, the presence of lectins can and do exacerbate inflammation for auto-immune conditions such as Coeliac’s Disease, making symptoms worse. This can explain why chronic inflammatory and degenerative conditions are gaining prevalence in wheat-consuming populations.  It destroys the villi in your intestines, leading to malabsorption, nutrient deficiencies and infections!

Tissues within the human body that contain N-acetyl D glucosamine are:

  • All mucosal membranes throughout the digestive system, respiratory system, etc.
  • Connective tissues in joints
  • Brain cells and organs
  • Skin
  • Arterial bifurcations, including around the heart.

It is proposed that it is the increased lectin content that are causing major health problems for people rather than gluten. For example, many Australians experience health problems after eating products made from Australian grown wheat. Where as if they travel to other countries and consume wheat based products from there they do not, i.e. France or Italy. Such countries grew different strains of wheat which were largely unmodified like our Australian grains. Hence, the end product (croissants, baguettes, pasta, pizza bases) had less lectin resulting in fewer reactions after eating. Of course this has now changed as the high yield strains are now more global.

Is it just grains which we get lectins from?

Furthermore, when livestock are fed grains high in WGA lectins this then passes through their system to the products we consume. For example, dairy milk. Therefore, if you’re experiencing symptoms after consuming dairy it may not be lactose or actual dairy protein but the lectins passed through the dairy cow to their milk. Likewise with meats, hence the advantage of consuming grass fed meats only.

There have been some notable improvements when individuals have ceased dairy and gluten products, possibly due to the decrease of consumed lectins. Some of these conditions include:

  • (Gut mucosa) – Irritable bowel syndrome:  bloating, burping, wind, flatulence, diarrhoea, constipation
  • (Joints) – arthritis, fibromyalgia
  • (Hippocampal cells) – mental and behavioural conditions
  • (Lung mucosa) – asthma
  • (Beta pancreatic cells) – diabetes
  • (Coronary artery cells) – Cardiovascular disease
  • (Skin) – psoriasis and eczema
  • Autism & Aspergers, non-verbal children and adults

How can lectin intake be reduced in diet?

As it is impossible to maintain a healthy diet and avoid lectins if you are experiencing symptoms pertaining to lectins the key is reduce intake and increase tolerance.

Firstly, even organic and spray free fresh fruit and vegetables contain lectins, but if they’re not engineered they should contain less. Grass-fed meats and dairy is the best way forward for proteins to reduce lectin intake.

How can tolerance to lectins be improved?

There is no definitive answer to improving the individual’s lectin tolerance, however there is some key things you can do. Have good healthy nutrient intake particularly zinc. The herb ginger is particularly high in zinc and is very good at reducing inflammation and calming and supporting function all along the digestive track. Having said that, if there is any history of stomach ulcers please consult your local herbalist or naturopath for advice.

And then there’s Kinesiology 🙂

How can Kinesiology help improve tolerance to lectins?

Kinesiology is a way to ask your body what is stressing it by what we call indicator muscles. It is largely based on Traditional Chinese Medicine meridian system and acupuncture points which are like reference points. Via assessing where the stress is the body can also indicate how to relieve the stress, thus reducing the symptoms one is experiencing. Therefore kinesiology balancing is a remarkable way to reduce symptoms.

What about Acupuncture and Chi Nei Tsang Abdominal Massage?

Also great ways to increase the energy to the gut, reduce stress and increase energy.  Chi Nei Tsang Abdominal Massage is nearly an hour on your gut – it helps to break down the scar tissue that has built up around the abdomen due to years of food-abuse that’s destroyed the villi –  let the healing begin!!!

Call us on 3348 6098 to book an apt with our Naturopaths…

Madonna Guy ND
New Leaf Natural Therapies
07 3348 6098
healthteam@newleafnaturaltherapies.com.au

You Tube:  New Leaf Health Team channel 🙂

 

Be Sociable, Share!