November 30, 2015
Celiac disease and gluten intolerance has now become a well known medical condition but there is more to this wheat and gluten issue. In fact more and more people are unaware of its toxic effects. Wheat lectin (technical name: Wheat Germ Agglutinin (WGA)) is found in all wheat products including sprouted wheat bread and wheat grass and has been described as the ‘invisible thorn’. Wheat lectin causes inflammation and disrupts the endocrine system but also may have other effects such as:
Wheat and gluten allergies, intolerances and celiac disease require a positive finding in blood, intestinal biopsy and genetic test, but wheat lectin operates beneath this level of surveillance on a sub-clinical level, it does not require immune-mediation to exert its adverse effects. Therefore, wheat lectin sensitivity is difficult to diagnose but it does interfere with the healing process. Wheat lectin (WGA) binds to and interacts with n-acetyl-glucosamine which is a basic component found in all neural, connective and epithelial tissue.
Plants like wheat produce lectin to protect itself from its natural enemies. Within humans we have a mucous known as glycocalyx or a sugar coat’ that lines the mucous membranes, from nasal cavities, from the top to the bottom of the alimentary tube, as well as the protective lining of our blood vessels.The glycocalyx is composed of a protective glycoprotein of which WGA binds to so that it disrupts and gains entry through these mucosal surfaces. Plants must rely on this innate immunity unlike animals that are antibody driven. It is for this reason that seeds of the grass family e.g. rice, wheat, spelt, rye, have exceptionally high levels of defensive glycoproteins known as lectins.
Wheat is not the only food to eliminate from the diet that has lectins; potato, tomato, barley, rye and rice have a lectin called ‘chitin-binding lectin’ that has similar properties to wheat lectin. Chitins’ are long polymers of n-acetyl-glucosamine, the primary binding target of wheat lectin therefore these two lectins function identically.
Interestingly the two most common gluten free products used are rice and potato, this could explain why a grain free diet often produces better results than simply the wheat or gluten-grain restricted diet and why eliminating rice is necessary to retain full recovery of many conditions.
Many tissues in your body are comprised of n-acetyl-glucosamine (a chitin-like substance) consumption of these foods could have adverse effects, it explains why degenerative joint disease is on the increase when most people consume at least 2-3 of these products per day. The dietary supplement glucosamine sells a quarter billions dollars worth of product annually in the US. The main form on the market is N-Acetylglucosamine from which chitin exoskeletons of crustaceans, like shrimp and crab are taken. Glucosamine is used for reducing pain and inflammation, when you consume glucosamine supplements the chitin-binding lectins in our foods bind to the glucosamine supplements instead of your tissues, sparing you from the impact. Therefore by removing the chitin-binding lectin containing foods from your diet you could prevent the use of these products and spare yourself from degeneration. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) aid in reducing inflammation but are over prescribed for gut issues, they do have side effects and eliminating these grains could prevent you from needing this steroid.
These lectins are a contributing factor to the health issues in Western societies as they are over consumed. I suggest eliminating these products for a week and see how you feel, I’m sure you’ll notice a difference.
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