Lectins – Not The Evil They Are Purported To Be

Last week, my Friday Lunch and Learn on Face Book live dealt with the subject of lectins.  You may not have heard of lectins, but you may have heard of the book The Plant Paradox which tells us that any food containing lectins is harmful to our health.  Let’s look at what lectins are and why they are important.

Lectins are compounds in our food that are antimicrobial, help the immune system, and have anti-cancer potential.  Lectins are found in vegetables, grains, seeds, nuts, beans, traditional dairy products, grain fed/farm raised meats.    If you are like me, this is the preponderance of your diet.

So, if you have read this book, you might be concerned about your diet.   You may be asking yourself what is there left to eat.   I will tell you that there is NO scientific evidence to support the assertions in the book that lectins are bad for you, according to the experts at the Henry Ford Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention.

ScienceDirect.com gives us current data about the health effects of dietary lectins.  These lectins, as consumed by humans, in cooked, baked, or extruded foods do not support the negative health effects.   In contrast, lectins have been shown to be associated with significantly reduced Type 2 Diabetes, Cardiovascular Disease, and some types of cancer. Lectins play a role in immune function, cell growth, cell death and body fat regulation.   Preparation and cooking of whole foods decrease lectins and free up the good nutrients  www.precisionnutrition.com

The science is clear on the benefit of whole foods, all containing lectins.  There have been over 185 observational studies containing data that relate to 135 million-person years, and 58 clinical trials involving 4,635 adult participants.  For every 8 grams increase of dietary fiber eaten per day, total deaths and incidences of coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and colorectal cancer decreased by 5%–27%.   

So what are whole food foods:  Barley, brown rice, buckwheat, bulgur, millet, oatmeal, whole wheat breads and crackers, and popcorn. What foods contain lectins? Vegetables, seeds,  grains, nuts, beans, traditional dairy and grain fed/farm raised meats   Unless your immune system or your digestive system are compromised with Crohn’s and or IBS, lectins should not bother you.  If you suffer from Rheumatoid Arthritis then it is best to avoid nightshade vegetables.  For the rest of us, a diet full of whole foods and foods containing lectins may just be what the doctor ordered to regain our health.   Many people avoid grains because they are concerned about gluten.   I am concerned about gluten too, but if you source them as ‘organic and part of the Non-GMO project’, you will avoid the glyphosate, which in my opinion is the source of gluten sensitivity.   A study showed that people on Gluten Free Diets (GFD) had elevated levels of mercury, lead, and cadmium.  These levels were higher than those people who did not avoid gluten.  The increased burden of toxic heavy metals was found in those with and without celiac disease following a GFD.  In my opinion, the fiber in whole grain foods absorb the toxic metals and flush (pun intended) them out of the body. https://medium.com/@Kahn642/6-important-reasons-to-pack-your-plate-with-whole-grains-and-dietary-fiber-but-listen-to-rich-ba46e442ce58

I invite you to do your own research.  Plan a diet that decreases your risk of Non Communicable Diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes, Cardiovascular Disease, and various types of cancer.



Until next time,

Dr. Polly


  • JON D JENSEN says:

    I agree, demonizing foods is just another way to sell products, like Dr. Gundry’s line of products. As far as I know Dr. D’Adamo never pushed products and only suggested diets according to blood type for lectins sake. A healthy diet is just that, a healthy diet.

  • Pete says:

    This information is very useful. I appreciate the thought of providing us these list. This article will be of good use to us.