Lectin-free diet

All Woman

Dear Donovan,

I am trying out the lectin-free diet. Is it safe? What are your suggestions? I am 150 pounds and 5 feet 4 inches. I am trying to achieve a svelte look.

There is a new buzzword in the diet community — lectins. Lectins are a type of protein found in many foods including legumes and grains. These proteins have been studied for many years and some have been found to be beneficial, while others are not.

Lectins help cells stick together. They may be helpful as antimicrobials and may even have anticancer properties. However, based on their stickiness, they may act as anti-nutrients which may hinder the absorption of certain vitamins. In addition, high intake of lectins may even damage the intestines. This could lead to allergic reactions or increased risk of developing autoimmune diseases.

It should be noted that the majority of these lectin studies have been done with isolated lectin proteins rather than actual foods containing lectin. Also, most of the studies have been animal-based and there is very limited research on how lectin affects people. That said, in recent times there has been an effort to link all lectins with obesity, irritable bowel syndrome and inflammation. This has caused the promotion of the lectin-free diet.

The diet proposes reducing or eliminating lectin intake. The foods which are normally not allowed include legumes such as peas, beans, grains, vegetables such as eggplants, peppers, tomatoes and some fruits.

Unless you have digestive issues or food sensitivities or a tendency for gastrointestinal distress, there is really no need to follow the lectin-free diet. This diet is restrictive and it eliminates many foods. Your good health is dependent on a wide range of food choices.

If you are not careful with this diet, it could cause you to be malnourished. In addition, the diet may turn out to be expensive in both the food costs as well as the proposed supplements. In addition, there might also be constipation due to the very low levels of fibre in the lectin-free diet.

Enough studies have not been done to show the safeness of this diet. I would suggest that you eat your peas and beans. If they give you gas or make you feel bloated, I would suggest that you soak them overnight and thoroughly cook them. Cooking your high lectin foods properly will definitely help to reduce the lectin content.

To maintain your weight and health I would suggest that you adopt a healthy lifestyle programme with exercise and a proper diet. This diet could have fruits, vegetables, vegetable juices, soups, salads, whole grain and yoghurt. At the same time you should reduce fried foods, processed carbohydrates, sodas and pastries.

We will answer your weight-related questions

Are you struggling to lose weight or just need some advice on living a healthier life? Tell us about your health issues and we'll have nutritionist and wellness coach Donovan Grant answer them for you. Grant has over 12 years' experience in the fitness industry and is the owner of DG's Nutrition and Wellness Centre, 39 Lady Musgrave Road. Call him at 876-286-1363. E-mail questions to clarkep@jamaicaobserver.com .




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