The War on Lectins: Of GMOs & Inflammatory Disease

Lectins are just one “anti-nutrient” found in plants that may contribute to disease.

Think of our gut as a field, we must be weary of what we plant. "Opulence d’été" by Jakobus van Looy (1990).

Plants are living things, we often forget that. Like all living things, they have the ability to sense their environment and make changes that allow them to survive “better.”

If not, they perish.

One of the adaptations to the environment based on different seasons includes plant based proteins offering essential defense against the numerous viruses and pests. These proteins denoted as lectins, can be secreted by plants to paralyze their foes, for example. Lectins represent proteins with the ability to defend plants from munchers including caterpillars, humans, and other predators. Found in fruits, leaves, and tubers—eating plants out of season or non-local can affect how we respond to fruits and vegetables.

The war on plant protein has been called by Dr. Steven Gundry outlined in his book, “The Plant Paradox.” He decries not all plants are born equal and thus we avoid eating them. Genetically modified organisms (GMO) are introduced with lectin vectors to better prevent them from dying from diseases, drought, and pests. These lectins are increased in their concentration as they ship to grocers and result in gut inflammation stated by Gundry, surgeon, and author of over 300 peer-reviewed articles.

The previous scientist, Dr. Arpad Pusztai lost his job for his public concern about lectins and health who discussed the issues of lectins was fired for his hypothesis at the start of the new millennium. However, the issue is quickly gaining steam from new research and the increased interest in GMOs to solve world hunger.

In fact, glutens are a type of lectin and the primary cause for celiac disease. The umbrella term of lectin would encompass a wide array of plant defense proteins. Humans have been accessing increased amounts of vegetables since the inception of fire by cooking and breaking down plant lectin defenses; hence, speeding up our evolution.

Given the length of our ancestors, certain diets have suggested we eat foods similar to our ancestors. However, we fail to account for the types of human organization occurring within the Western world that has fed us foods that are toxic based on the tendency to over nourish our bodies with lectins and industrial poisons. In fact, meat contains all these plant lectins from the sheer amount of grains and beans they eat in the industrial complex of producing meat.

How can we avoid lectins? Simple: don’t eat them. However, saying something like this means more of an awareness of the foods that we ingest. For example, the industrial-meat complex of consumers has reached a limit where animals are fed a diet that loads them with lectins which they eat in large amounts so when we eat them then we are poisoned further. Basic ecological education would determine that for every predator, they have approximately 10x the poison than the prey, as per mercury poisoning paradigms based on the food chain or bio-accumulation.

Gundry directly relates to the microbiota, our gut's microorganism community, contributing to our body as a majority of the cells and genes contributing to our healthy life, we gain these from our mother at birth. After eating and using different materials we kill or replace our microbiota with one of the community. For example, removing gluten from our diets changes our microbiota composition or eating high sugar, low fibre removes important “commensal” bacteria. We must be wary of our choices, and go for complex carbohydrates that help our commensal bacteria convert these sugars into short-chain fats that can be used as efficient fuel.

Gundry outlines, newly cultivated vegetables from artificial selection of favorable crops such as corn, tomatoes, grains, and beans are killing us slowly like a leaky faucet of inflammation running through the gut to the whole body.

Furthermore, eating foods that have digested lectins from fermentation or heat inactivation, such as sourdough bread or pressure-cooking can further the lowering of lectins.

The war may end as simply as us making the right decisions that limit lectins either through agricultural practices or through conscious decisions.

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The War on Lectins: Of GMOs & Inflammatory Disease