Fascinating overview of the link between gluten, grains and lectin sensitivity with leaky gut and auto-immunity here for you today. This article from GreenMedInfo is an excellent review of the research and ideas I based the Barrier Diet on – amongst other stuff of course – but it shows nicely why you should really remove grains and lectins like legumes if you want to heal your leaky gut and other barriers effectively.
A few really important bits I’ve pulled out for you below, but do read the full piece if you can
Everyone may get inflammation and leaky gut from eating gluten
A 2007 article in the journal GUT suggests exactly this. The authors assemble the evidence to suggest that a common (perhaps universal) inflammatory response to gluten leads to increased intestinal permeability (so called “leaky gut”) which then allows a person with susceptible genes to develop the antibody and autoimmune response we call celiac disease. In essence, they argue that everyone may experience inflammation upon the ingestion of gluten, and this inflammation may lead to a plethora of severe health problems, yet not everyone will develop celiac disease.
‘Grain’ is a ill-defined term and much broader than we think
Grain, after all, is a broad term that refers to food seeds and includes grasses and legumes among other things. Wheat, rye, barley, oats, sorghum, millet, maize, corn, soybean, rice, peanut, and most beans fall under the category of “grains.”
Gluten related disorders may result from a gluten-lectin combination problem
Grains contain molecules called lectins. For instance, wheat contains wheat germ agglutinin (WGA) and it has been proposed that celiac disease and gluten sensitivity results from a gluten-lectin combination effect. Indeed, many celiac patients also test positive for antibodies against WGA.
While lectins are prevalent in nearly all plants and animals, grains contain very high concentrations of lectins.
Lectins increase leaky gut, inflammation and auto-immunity
A number of effects may be produced, including intestinal cell dysfunction and inflammation both of which subsequently lead to increased intestinal permeability (leaky gut). Increased intestinal permeability, then, allows proteins (including lectins) that are not typically absorbed into the body to enter the intestinal veins and lymph vessels and circulate to vital organs. This is part of the mechanism which is thought to contribute to various autoimmune conditions, but other outcomes are also possible.
More reasons to be careful with lectins…
Locally, they can affect the turnover and loss of gut epithelial cells, damage the luminal membranes of the epithelium, interfere with nutrient digestion and absorption, stimulate shifts in the bacterial flora and modulate the immune state of the digestive tract. Systemically, they can disrupt lipid, carbohydrate and protein metabolism, promote enlargement and/or atrophy of key internal organs[like the pancreas and thymus] , and alter the hormonal and immunological status. At high intakes, lectins can seriously threaten the growth and health of consuming animals.
The piece then goes onto give some quite scary info about sprouted grains and why they may be even worse for us.
As I said, a fascinating read. Some of you do question why I have removed legumes and some especially barrier-harming lectins, hopefully this will give you an answer.
Ironically, as I started reading this I was chomping into a chocolate muffin. Chocolate. A bean. A legume. Therefore a lectin. Oops 😉
- Lectins worse than gluten (sott.net)