Lectins and oxalates – plant poisons
In my mid 55’s my body suddenly ballooned to 18 stone weight, and after a couple of years, I knew I had to do something. My oldest boy suggested I give up on my sweet tooth. I was aware that sugar was bad – with my thinking – but with my body, I was addicted and didn’t know it.
I took my son’s advice and cut down on all sweet foods, focussing instead on salads a bit of fish, and some chicken, and sure enough, some weight came off. However, I started to get nose bleeds and fungal infections in my groin and toes.
The strange thing was that for the next few years, every time I went to Spain to visit my family, my fungal and nosebleed symptoms got worse. I assumed it was my stressful relationship with my mother. It took some time for me to figure out, it was the red peppers I was eating with abandon.
Eventually, I decided to go on an exclusion diet where I only ate chicken and broccoli, after a while I would include other foods, and slowly it dawned on me that I was pretty much allergic to all vegetables, dairy, and even our very own organic chicken and eggs.
This is when in desperation I tried eating only beef and fat.
So what is there in vegetables and seeds that my immune system was reacting to so strongly?
It turns out that seeds don’t like to be eaten, and they have been around way before man set foot, that plants are veritable chemical factories, and since they can’t move they manufacture poisons for self-protection.
Lectins are a circular protein created on the outer layer of skin as well as the immediate envelope of seeds, and are very similar in structure to carbohydrates.
Castor beans are the most famous variety for they create ricin, were you to eat five raw beans it would liquefy your blood. Were you to eat 5 red kidney beans, you would suffer gastrointestinal symptoms.
In fairness, high heat cooking will break most of the protein lectin bonds, making the seed relatively safe for most people, as long as the cooking water is replaced, but not all.
Leaky Gut Syndrome – how and why
Nightshade family lectins are the worst culprits in our diets – red/green peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, and aubergine.
The problem arises when there is a leaky gut syndrome, in such a situation cells in the small intestine are damaged, don’t repair and create gaps whereby the lectins get into the bloodstream.
The following video by Dr Paul Mason is the best-researched explanation for the process leading to a leaky gut syndrome I have come across to date.
Leaky Gut has a number of possible sources: heavy metal poisoning, deficiency in various nutrients due to diet, and irritation damage from lectins such as Gluten.
One other potential source is ileocecal valve dysfunction – this is a common cause, where the ring muscle valve becomes stuck open and there is a backwash of bacteria from the large intestine settling into the small intestinal wall.
Once there is damage to the cell walls, it can take quite a while to repair, especially if one continues to eat lectins.
This is where eating beef, liver and bone broth exclusively will speed up the healing in the intestines.
Although I would recommend seeing someone like an Applied Kinesiologist who can diagnose if there is intestinal damage, whether caused by ingesting heavy, metals, ileocecal valve disorder and or lectins such as gluten.
An AK practitioner will also be able to advise on what foods your body can / cannot tolerate and what nutrients are missing from your diet to aid in recovery.
Oxalates are another poison created by a great many plants to protect themselves. Oxalic acid is an organic acid, it is also created in the liver as waste, but in minuscule amounts.
Ingested oxalates come in two varieties soluble – dissolve completely in the blood and insoluble sharp like little crystals that can build up in the tissues as in gout, rheumatoid arthritis, or in vaginal tissues.
In fact, they could be deposited in any or many organs and tissues and you will never know until many, many years later, when it is too late, for the tiny oxalate crystals are sharp and very abrasive – like sandpaper.
Soluble Oxalates will go into the bloodstream, pick up calcium and any other nutrient on the way, and be expelled with the urine.
Insoluble Oxalates if they don’t get absorbed into the bloodstream via a leaky gut will be excreted in the faeces, taking with them most of the nutrients from the plants you ate.
Insoluble Oxalates that have found their way into the bloodstream can and will bind with calcium (they have a special affinity with each other) and give kidney stones.
Have you ever suffered from ‘sleep in your eyes when you wake up in the morning? Those hard crusts are oxalate crystals.
Western medicine ‘experts’ claim that the nutrient goodness of leafy vegetables, nuts and some roots compensate for the anti-nutrients in all those same items that stop one from absorbing those very same nutrients….In my opinion, the jury is out on that, especially if you have a compromised immune system.
There is a fad at present of having smoothies as a cleansing superfood. The ingredients of these are high in oxalates. You may feel great now ……… You may think that plants are your friends, but they don’t want to be eaten either, and those little sharp crystals have been put there by the plants for a purpose.
These are the highest oxalate plants list on Wikipedia .org where you can find a more comprehensive list
Please note, If you decide to get rid of oxalates from your diet it is not recommended to go cold turkey, rather reduce your consumption slowly, so that you do not overload your body in expelling the oxalates already stored in your body. For those at risk, it is recommended to end up eating 50 mg at the most.
Here is a much more comprehensive list by Helen O’Connor. MS, RD where you can clearly see medium and low content items .pdf oxalate content 2003
I include the list because of its thoroughness with regard to different items, however, it seems to me that the milligrams and grams are a bit confusing.
A good rule of thumb is to ingest less than your liver can process/ excrete in a day, which is roughly 150 milligrams a day.
Next: Carnivore diet