Lectin Avoidance Diets: Don’t Fall For the Latest Fad Diet Advice

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Fad diet advice comes and goes. Liquid diets, juice fasts and food-combining diets. More recently it was eliminating gluten. Now we’re hearing about how we should be avoiding lectins. Is there any fact in this newest diet fad?

Lectins are proteins that are found in plant foods: beans, lentils, peas, peanuts, whole grains, some seeds and certain vegetables and fruits. Lectins are involved in immune functioning, cell growth and other beneficial processes in the body.

Lectins are not digested in the body and directly enter the bloodstream. The concern about lectins not being digested is that some individuals can produce antibodies to them, stimulating an immune response. This is true for those who may have gut conditions including Crohn’s disease or Ulcerative Colitis. But for those with a normal gut there is no cause for concern.

There are some lectins that are toxic to the body like those found in raw kidney beans, but who eats raw kidney beans? Cooked properly, beans have low lectin levels and are safe to eat.

So is there any reason that we should eliminate lectins from our diets? In short: no.

While some people truly need an avoidance diet for specific conditions, yet any diet that eliminates so many nutrient-rich foods should be fully and expertly explored before following. Beans, lentils, peas, peanuts, seeds and whole grains vegetables and fruits are powerhouses for a wide variety of nutrients and avoiding them could create nutrient deficiencies.

Although avoidance diets may be essential for some people with specific conditions, they may not be the best for the general public. If you are seriously considering an avoidance diet, it’s always best to consult with a Registered Dietitian to avoid any nutrient deficiencies, which could cause other problems.

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