Doctors, nutritionists, and health professionals are taking a serious look at lectins lately. This sneaky little protein anti-nutrient creates health issues for some people, especially when over-consumption takes place, and when lectin levels in foods eaten are too high. These health problems can include chronic illnesses such as chronic pain and digestive problems.
Reducing your consumption of lectins could come with many health benefits. Grains and beans should be an accent to a meal, not a staple of your diet. Nightshade vegetables should be used only as small side dishes. This will help reduce your consumption of lectins and combined with proper cooking methods, you can heavily reduce the levels of lectins in your meals.
These lectin-reducing techniques may help reduce various health problems. Whether you are overly stressed, eating a poor diet, or have chronic conditions, reducing lectins is a step in the right direction. Dr. Tim Jackson, DPT, states: “One can become lectin sensitive due to excess stress, excess stress plus infections, and/or certain genetic glitches.”
Fortunately, cooking tends to destroy most, if not all, of the lectins found in foods. Undercooking seems to be the biggest problem when it comes to lectin levels in foods. As long as your beans and grains are thoroughly cooked, you should not have as many issues. Below are 5 ways to reduce lectin levels in your food.
Reducing Lectin Levels In Foods
Germination or sprouting reduces the lectin content, although the amount varies with the type of grain or legume and the period of time after the seed splits. Sprouting also can increase the nutritional content, making vitamins and minerals more bioavailable. You will find more sprouted wheat bread and rolls becoming available.
Until about a hundred years ago, fermentation was a primary preservation method for most food. People ate a tremendous amount of fermented food every day. Probiotics weren’t known, but people were getting them. The beneficial bacteria within the fermented food digest the lectins and other anti-nutrients. Fermentation is especially useful for soy products, as the bacteria destroy the goitrogens and phytoestrogen mimicers. Over the past 20 years, hundreds of studies show a link between unfermented soy and cancer, adrenal fatigue, and hormone suppression.
In cultures where beans play a prominent role in meals, soaking is a favored way of destroying many of the anti-nutrients and lectin levels in foods. Soaking leeches out many of the lectins and breaks down some of the sugars and fibers. Soaking is also a part of the sprouting process. Traditionally, beans were soaked overnight. The longer you soak your beans, the more lectin activity is destroyed. Try soaking your beans and grains for 18-24 hours. Some studies show it can reduce the lectins by up to 50 percent . Just be sure to rinse and to throw out the water before cooking the beans or grains.
4. No-Nonsense Cooking
All beans and nightshade vegetables should be thoroughly cooked to release the maximum amount of nutrients and destroy the lectins; this isn’t just heating them until they’re hot. To properly destroy the lectins, beans, potatoes, and nightshade vegetables you should cook until the flesh is falling apart and easily mashed with the back of a spoon.
Some health experts and functional medicine practitioners recommend altogether eliminating grains, legumes, and nightshade vegetables from your diet. This is not a favorable option for many people, especially people eating plant-based diets. Potatoes, tomatoes, whole grain bread, and beans are staples of many people’s diets. But they arguably bring more harm than good.
Eliminating grains work for many people to help them lose weight, have more energy, reduce digestive problems, and feel better. Wheat is a special problem — one that isn’t easily solved.
If you try any of these methods to reduce lectin levels in foods and feel better as a result, you should continue to avoid these foods. Many people find chronic and debilitating problems getting better by simply cutting out these foods.
Christina Major is a Holistic Nutritionist, Traditional Naturopath, and Herbalist. She dedicates her life to helping people be healthy and learn about great ways to eat well, have fun exercising, and take charge of their lives. Additionally, Christina helps other health professionals write articles and web copy that helps them find and work with people to become healthy.
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