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Executive Summary

Are lectins harmful? The short answer is it depends.  It depends on the type of lectin, the individual, and the dosage.

People with  inflammation issues, autoimmune disease or unexplainable health issues should experiment avoiding lectins from ALL grains, beans/legumes, nuts and potatoes/tubers (all kinds) for a period of 4 weeks.  If you stay away from most lectins or cut out grains and eat legumes or nuts, this won’t cut it.  Seeds may also be problematic for some, but it’s less common.

A study was done on 800 people with autoimmune conditions who ate a diet that consisted of avoidance of: grains, sprouted grains, pseudo-grains, beans and legumes, soy, peanuts, cashews, nightshades, melons and squashes, and non-Southern European cow milk products (Casein A1), and grain and/or bean fed animals.

Most of these people had elevated TNF-alpha.  The result after 6 months was a normalization of TNF-alpha in all patients who complied with the diet.

The study concluded that elevated Adiponectin is a marker for lectin and gluten sensitivity, while TNF-alpha can be used as a marker for gluten/lectin exposure in sensitive individuals. (R)

Anyone with gas or GI problems should realize that lectins are likely the most significant cause (stress is also significant).

For healthy individuals with no inflammatory issues, I would recommend soaking and sprouting grains, legumes and nuts whenever possible.  Whole grains have more lectins than refined grains.  Seeds are better sprouted but less important.

People with anxiety-based disorders and/or gut problems should seriously consider a diet that limits lectins because lectins bind to serotonin receptors and transporters. (R, R2) disrupting their function.

Lectins were the root cause of a good portion of my health issues.  People with obscure health issues try to fix them with a whole bunch of insignificant changes.  Lectins are the most significant cause of autoimmune disease in my opinion.

What Are Lectins?


Lectins are proteins that bind to carbohydrates and are present in all forms of life, including plants, humans, bacteria, and viruses.

Lectins are especially concentrated in seeds and tubers (potatoes).  Grains, legumes, and nuts are types of seeds, so they are lectin-rich.

The Benefits of Some Lectins


Lectins have a bad rap, but they’re not all created equal. Some lectins are beneficial.

In plants, lectins appear to be part of the natural defense mechanisms of plants and important for seed survival.

Lectins have many essential roles in the body.  For one, they activate the complement immune system (part of innate immune system), which helps fight pathogens [R]. For example, the lectin pathway helps us fight off pneumonia [R].

Lectins are often anti-microbial [R, R2, R3].  For instance, a lectin from bananas inhibits HIV-1 in test tubes [R].

Some herbs work their magic via lectins.  Bitter melon and garlic (R) are examples of herbs which have lectins that can be beneficial.

Some herbs are from the bean family and are therefore likely to have concentrated levels of lectins.  These include some in my toolkits such as astragalus, licorice, carob, and kudzu.

Lectins are generally immunostimulants and the herbs with lectins also generally stimulate the immune system.  A lectin from bitter melon does just that [R].

Various plant-based lectins from grains and legumes are being explored for treating cancer [R].  The referenced study mentions multiple mechanisms by which lectins block cancer, which is out of the scope of this post.   Lectins sometimes inhibit cancer cells directly, as is the case of an edible yam inhibiting breast cancer [R].

I bet many plant lectins are anti-cancer. This is why I recommend plant-based diets with adequate animal products for people predisposed to cancer and who don’t have gut or autoimmune problems – or other problems characteristic of lectin-sensitive individuals.  Plants also have phytate and phytochemicals, which are also anti-cancer.

My opinion is that lectin sensitivity outweighs potential cancer prevention because lectin sensitive individuals will have chronic inflammation, which can lead to cancer and every other chronic disease in the long run.

Lectins and CCK

Common legume lectins (PHA) causes weight loss in animals (RR2).  This is usually not a good thing in animal research.  While people may view this as a great thing, you have to understand that TNF or inflammation also causes weight loss.  Many people with lectin sensitivity are thin perhaps because of this -these people simply eat less (some lectins can also cause weight gain in some like Wheat Germ Agglutinin (WGA), which causes leptin resistance).

The possible mechanism by which it causes weight loss is by secretion of a hormone called Cholecystokinin (CCK) and inhibiting alpha-amylase, among other mechanisms (R).  CCK is also released by fat and certain amino acids (R). CCK can also influence appetite and wakefulness by activating (and inhibiting) orexin (R).

CCK causes the release of digestive enzymes and bile.  CCK  increases bloating but it usually in turn decreases hunger and the rate by which the stomach empties food (R).  CCK also decreases stomach acid secretion, which slows digestion. The effects of CCK vary between individuals. For example, in rats, CCK  reduces hunger in young males, but is slightly less effective in older subjects, and even slightly less effective in females. The hunger-suppressive effects of CCK also are reduced in obese rats (R).

CCK causes anxiety, depression and increases cortisol/stress response (RR2R3).  CCK synergistically interacts with 5-ht3 receptors in suppressing appetite (R).

CCK also has stimulatory effects on the vagus nerve, effects that can be inhibited by capsaicin (R). The stimulatory effects of CCK oppose those of ghrelin, which has been shown to inhibit the vagus nerve (R).

The vagus nerve is responsible for  heart rate, peristalsis (wave-like intestinal movement) and sweating.  Activation of the vagus nerve typically leads to a reduction in heart rate and blood pressure. This can occur as a result of gut problems from  infections.  IBS is thought to cause activation of the vagus nerve, potentially causing fainting, vision disturbances and dizziness.   People with brain fog often repot visual symptoms and this may be a potential source for that.

Bottom Line: While legumes can potentially help you lose weight, they increase bloating.

Lectins And Digestion


Legumes lectins can also interfere with digestion and absorption and cause intestinal lesions (R).

The Harms of Lectins

While some lectins are beneficial, other lectins like ricin will kill instantly with just one molecule.  So lectins fall along a spectrum of beneficial to deadly, with many being toxic and inflammatory to various degrees.

In 1988 a hospital launched a “healthy eating day” in its staff canteen at lunchtime. One dish contained red kidney beans, and 31 portions were served. At 3pm one of the customers, a surgical registrar, vomited in theatre. Over the next four hours 10 more customers suffered profuse vomiting, some with diarrhoea. All had recovered by next day. No pathogens were isolated from the food, but the beans contained an abnormally high concentration of the lectin phytohaemagglutinin.

One of the most harmful lectins is wheat germ agglutinin, found in wheat.

Wheat lectin is Nature’s ingenious solution for protecting the wheat plant from the entire gamut of its natural enemies. Fungi have cell walls composed of a polymer of N-Acetylglucosamine. The cellular walls of bacteria are made from a layered structure called the peptidoglycan, a biopolymer of N-Acetyl-glucosamine. N-Acetylglucosamine is the basic unit of the biopolymer chitin, which forms the outer coverings of insects and crustaceans (shrimp, crab, etc.). All animals, including worms, fish, birds and humans, use N-Acetyglucosamine as a foundational substance for building the various tissues in their bodies, including the bones. The production of cartilage, tendons, and joints depend on the structural integrity of N-Acetylglucosamine. The mucous known as the glycocalyx, or literally, “sugar coat” is secreted in humans by the epithelial cells which line all the mucous membranes, from nasal cavities to the top to the bottom of the alimentary tube, as well as the protective and slippery lining of our blood vessels. The glycocalyx is composed largely of N-Acetylglucosamine and N-Acetylneuraminic acid (also known as sialic acid), with carbohydrate end of N-Acetylneuraminic acid of this protective glycoprotein forming the terminal sugar that is exposed to the contents of both the gut and the arterial lumen (opening). WGA’s unique binding specificity to these exact two glycoproteins is not accidental. Nature has designed WGA perfectly to attach to, disrupt, and gain entry through these mucosal surfaces.

Soy bean agglutinin or SBA also has a bad rep and binds to the gut.

I believe that most people who are gluten sensitive are rather sensitive to WGA, a lectin in wheat.

Studies have shown that WGA actually inhibits cells from accumulating the vitamin D receptor.

An interesting action of WGA in the body is its relationship with insulin receptor sites.  WGA bonds directly with the insulin receptor sites.  A study published in 1973 states that “wheat germ agglutinin is as effective as insulin in enhancing the rate of glucose transport and inhibiting epinephrine-stimulated lipolysis in isolated adipocytes”.  The study states specifically that it increases glucose transport into fat and liver cells while blocking the ability of stored fat to be released.  This can make losing weight impossible and the fact that more glucose is getting brought to the liver; it can increase the amounts of triglycerides in our blood.

WGA is a lectin protein that protects wheat from pests.  Just like gluten, WGA increases intestinal permeability and damages the gut lining.  This leads to our immune system initiating an immune response and can lead to various auto-immune ailments.  WGA has also been shown to increase size of the gut through a process of endocytosis.  This is when the cells literally engulf the lectin protein.  It was also shown to interfere with metabolism.  Once the WGA enters the bloodstream, it is deposited in various cells and the blood wall.  WGA also causes an increase in size of the pancreas and a decrease in size of the thymus (R).

This study states that WGA acts upon gut cells and accumulates within the cells (R)

WGA and ConA (a lectin in leguthemes) was found to bind to animal vasotocin neurons (R), which is very similar to human vasporessin and oxytocin.  Vasopressin is found in the hypothalamus and prevents frequent urination, but also has cognitive effects, among others.  I found that the more lectins I ate, especially wheat, the more I had to pee.  I’ve seen others with this issue and perhaps this is the mechanism.

The part of the hypothalamus that secretes GnRH is also a target of lectins (R).  This is supported by fact that the neurons that release this hormone in the medial basal have sialic acid (R). GnRH is responsible for sexual behaviors and testosterone production.

The medial basal neurons in the hypothalamus also involve sleep regulation (R) and could explain why some people with lectin sensitivity have sleep issues.   The medial basal hypothalamus isn’t protected by the blood brain barrier (R).  Lectins that pass the gut barrier such as WGA can reach these areas.

Note that everyone is affected by lectins, but not everyone is harmed by them.  I will discuss why this is the case in future posts.

While not everyone with inflammation is equally sensitive to the same lectins, there are similarities and common denominators with regard to the troublesome lectins.  Wheat germ agglutinin gives a lot of people trouble, which is why people with autoimmune conditions are against wheat.

Wheat gliadin, which causes coeliac disease, contains a lectin-like substance that binds to human intestinal mucosa [R]. This lectin is particularly resistant to being broken down by various means.  Various other lectins bind to the gut mucosa, because the gut is rich in the carbohydrates that lectins bind to.

The gut has a huge concentration of glycoproteins in general and is likewise a target of many lectins.

Some food lectins like peanuts get past the gut wall and deposit themselves in distant organs.[R]

Common bean lectins such as Concanavalin A and Phytohemagglutinin can activate the immune system [R].

The lectins that enter the blood stream like WGA are especially good at activating the immune system.

Most lectins survive digestion by the gastrointestinal tract. Lectins  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 (R).

Systemically, they can disrupt lipid, carbohydrate and protein metabolism, promote enlargement and/or atrophy of key internal organs and tissues and alter the hormonal and immunological status (R).

Lectins can cause leptin resistance (R), explaining why some people lose weight on low lectin diets.  Leptin is the satiating hormone.  When leptin levels are high, but we still aren’t satiated, that’s leptin resistance.

Serotonin transporters are “glycoproteins”, which means they are a target of some lectins.  Lectins from wheat, grains, legumes, and nuts can bind to these transporters [R], disrupting their function.

Not only are the transporters affected, but more importantly the receptors are made of glycoproteins (sialic acid), which means they are sitting ducks of common plant-based lectins from grains, legumes, and nuts [R].

The gut produces up to 90% of the serotonin used in our body and it’s the gut that directly interacts with lectins.

As you can imagine, this can result in serotonin deficiencies.

There doesn’t appear to be a difference in sensitivity to lectins in Th1 and Th2 dominance, though whatever dominance you are, it seems like lectins make the situation worse.

Symptoms of Lectin Sensitivity

If you have autoimmune issues or other inflammatory conditions then you are probably getting inflammation from food.  Here’s a list of symptoms that are common in people with lectin sensitivity.  This list is not comprehensive.

I reckon that up to 40% of the population has some level of lectin sensitivity, but maybe only 25% have it to a level that causes significant discomfort.  This 25% of the population I recommend keep to this diet.  The other percentage can do the resistant starch diet.

Lectin sensitivity is on a spectrum, where people are sensitive to varying degrees.

The more symptoms you have the higher the likelihood of lectin sensitivity.

When I eat lectins, the following symptoms arise, which are common in others as well:

  • Immune imbalances (see if you’re Th1 dominant or Th2 dominant) or any autoimmune condition.
  • Bloating
  • Gut problems: Gas/Abdominal discomfort/Irritated GI tract
  • Fatigue, especially post-meal fatigue
  • Brain fog
  • Excessive anxiety, perfectionism, procrastination, paranoia, OCD and in the inability to let go.  These are indicative of low serotonin.
  • Skin problems (not acne) – indicative of an immune imbalance.  Histamine response/vasodilation in skin.  Skin problems can include various fungus, eczema, psoriasis, etc..
  • Not handling glucose or carbs well (getting hypoglycemic often)
  • Joint discomfort – I get pains in random places such as knee and finger.
  • Pain in random places like back aches, etc…. (that aren’t a result of a serious injury, obviously)
  • Weight problems: Inability to put on weight or stubborn weight loss
  • Water retention, puffiness around the eyes, extremities
  • Some types of headaches/migraines
  • Sleep and circadian issues
  • My motivation down,
  • My libido goes down,
  • I have cold extremities,
  • Pregnenolone goes down,
  • Serotonin goes down,
  • I become hypersensitive to physical stimuli,
  • I become less emotionally stable,
  • My cravings for food go up,
  • Low T3

Why Are Some People More Sensitive To Lectins Than Others?

This is an area of continuing research.

Lectin sensitivity generally comes from an overactive nervous system.  CRH has a big role in this.

My proposed mechanisms for lectin sensitivity are:

  • CRH -which causes increased permeability, slower gut flow, less cannabinoidactivation in the gut, local inflammation and SIBO. CRH increases Th1 dominance, Nf-kB, IL-1b (by 8.5X), IL-6 (7.3X), TNF (13X), MHC-II (HLA-DR) and ICAM-1 expression.  CRH also increases TLR-4.
  • Less blood flow to the gut from an overactive nervous system
  • Cytokines or Immune activation from infection, biotoxin, etc…will increase likelihood of response to lectins
  • CCK, which is increased by lectins
  • Toll-Like Receptor activation from genetics, CRH, toxins or infections,
  • Lower Tregs or Treg function and less IL-10
  • Less Cannabinoid receptor activation
  • Less gut sialic acid
  • Lower HCL secretion, caused by stress, other factors

People have different levels in how much their gut is “sialylated” or the degree to which they have sialic acid in their gut.  I’ve done quite a few experiments with coconut oil. I noticed that consuming a lot of coconut oil made me less sensitive to foods, even though it gave me other kinds of systemic inflammation that didn’t come from food.  I found a study that showed sialic acid content increased in the gut (specifically the brush border membranes) in response to coconut oil feeding [R].  By having my sialic acid levels in my gut increased, this may have blunted the impact of lectins.

Blood type A has N-acetyl galactosamine in its cell.  It would be interesting to see if people with this blood type, such as myself, are more sensitive to lectins.

How Does Paleo Fit Into This?

I am not a big fan of the paleo movement (or any other movement for that matter) because I think it’s rigid and most absolute.  I also don’t believe in the ideology behind it.

When I hear paleo bloggers talk about everyone not being able to handle grains, I think that’s silly.  Many people eat grains without any health issues.  This is an observable fact.

This rigid dogma in combination with viewing carbs as evil and fat as the healthiest ingredient possible alienated me from this movement.  I think the movement has been hijacked by “marketeers.” (marketeers= marketers who profiteer).

Also, paleo can be confusing.  I had problems with eggs, nuts and some fish, which are considered “paleo.”

I prefer to think of things in less absolutist terms.  Rather than categorize things as good or bad, I like to understand how they are harmful and why people don’t  get harmed in the same way.

However, with all of the paleo’s inadequacies, the diets by most paleo advocates are lower in lectins, which is why this diet is particularly beneficial in people with autoimmune issues.

If you look at the paleo bloggers, you’ll notice a common theme of people who have autoimmune issues and do better with limiting lectins in their diet (whether they are aware of this or not).

No matter how each individual blogger spins it, the potential benefits arise almost solely, in my opinion, from a reduction in harmful lectins.

Clinical Trial on Lectin Avoidance and Autoimmune Disease

I’d like to mention a study I previously mentioned in my Th1/Th2 post that highlights the role of lectins in autoimmune disease.

This study was done on 800 people with autoimmune conditions who ate a diet that consisted of avoidance of grains, sprouted grains, pseudo-grains, beans and legumes, soy, peanuts, cashews, nightshades, melons and squashes, and non-Southern European cow milk products (Casein A1), and grain and/or bean fed animals.

Most of these people had elevated TNF-alpha.  The result after 6 months was a normalization of TNF-alpha in all patients who complied with the diet.

The study concluded that elevated Adiponectin is a marker for lectin and gluten sensitivity, while TNF-alpha can be used as a marker for gluten/lectin exposure in sensitive individuals. (R)

These results are astounding and confirmed my suspicions: people with autoimmune issues should stay away from lectins.

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  • prioris

    Saturated fats are generally healthy.

    Where saturated fats may harm is when one develops a fatty or steatosis liver but that can be cured within 3 weeks with Therapeutic grade (they sell it on amazon) Siliphos, PPC (polyenthylphosphatidylcholine, i use life extension brand hematopro), Krill oil (omega 3) and abstaining from saturated fats until problem resolved. I cure my hepatic steatosis in 3 weeks. The symptom is when one feels pessure in middle of chest right where liver is. for many years i thought it was colon.

    The liver needs choline to keep liver clean. I use hematopro if I eat heavy saturated fat meal.

    I think Diabetes Type 2 is caused when the body unable to process saturated fat so one needs to fix fat metabolism if that breaks.

  • prioris

    This is called wired and tired. You may have glutamate problems like 20% of the population does. Your NMDA receptors are being set off by glutamate. The antidotes to try are

    Taurine (this blocks NMDA receptors)
    Magtein (this helps block them also)
    Green Tea
    Lithium Orotate (this is what cured me)

    I found I had a lithium deficiency. Took 120 mg/day for a month or so. For maintenance I just take 120 mg per month. Cheaper to buy 120 mg since you can break tablets into pieces. I should add that 120 mg contains only 4.6 mg of elemental lithium so every safe. Goto lithium doctor website for info about lithium orotate.

  • David

    Hi Joe,

    Since lectin binds to carbohydrates, can we assume dietary sugar reduces the negative effects of lectin by binding to them in the stomach? similar to the MSM and glucosamine supplements behave?

  • Mike Chandler

    I read that since Lectins are ubiquitous, the most viable strategy is minimize rather than eliminate lectins. I note that Flax seeds are high Omega-3 so is this a reasonable trade-off for the lecithin content or should flax seeds be avoid at all costs?

  • Carolyn

    Amazeballs! Thank you- best summary on the web – I have a new health guru 🙂

  • Jen

    Is it possible to be sensitive to lectins even if you don’t have gut issues? I am type A as well and have battled the excessive anxiety, perfectionism, procrastination, OCD, inability to let go, chronically fatigued, problems with attention, cold hands and feet, bad circulation, dizziness, plus hyperhidrosis of my hands and feet for as long as I remember. I also totally understand what you mean by complete mental meltdown as far as how overwhelming the anxiety can be. Although I am thin, autoimmune thyroid problems do run in my family. Do you think lectins could be the issue for me? I So want to find an answer to this. If this is my issue, I’m hoping lectin avoidance as well as lectin-binding supplements will be as life-changing for me as they have been for you. Thank you so much for all your time in doing this research and in sharing it with others 🙂

    1. Joseph M. Cohen

      Yes, you don’t need gut issues.

    2. John Macgregor

      Jen, did you ever try the diet; & if so what were the results?

  • Grace

    I am so grateful to have discovered your self experiments and research – and will be absorbing for some time to come

    It seems like some of the in-depth lectin research aspects shared at may be of interest to you in terms of how different lectin groups negatively/beneficially impact individual genotypes and O-A-B-AB blood types.

    With deep respect for the work you are doing. And sharing!
    Thank you.

  • Erin Machell

    Informal poll? I’ve known about my sensitivity to lectin foods for a few years now, but only just learned today that my blood type is A.

    I’m curious about your thoughts on this, given the extensiveness of your research: why do you think inflammatory chronic diseases are increasing so much in western societies?

    People have been eating loads of lectins since the dawn of agriculture, at least. We should be adapted to them. Massive systemic inflammation from commonly-eaten whole foods should be rare, and the evidence suggests that it WAS rare until the modern era. And now it is rampant, with autoimmune and other inflammatory diseases becoming more and more common.

    My own best guess is that a primary factor is the stew of chemicals we live in – pesticides, flame retardants, additives to everything, various other sources of heavy metals and weird chemicals–most of it stuff our biology has never encountered before, the rest of it stuff we were never designed to process in such large amounts. And that it all gums up the works in some way that leaves our gut vulnerable to lectins. BUT, that is really just, ahem, a gut feeling–a logical induction with some circumstantial support here and there. Other possibilities that occur to me are food science changing the food supply, antibiotic use–>altered microflora, and a few others here and there. But I’m curious if you have thoughts on this topic. It’s something I spend a lot of time thinking about.

    1. Joseph M. Cohen

      “My own best guess is that a primary factor is the stew of chemicals we live in – pesticides, flame retardants, additives to everything, various other sources of heavy metals and weird chemicals”

      Not the main factor. Book will explain.

    2. Bpurple

      I understand your logic Erin, that the increase in other modern ‘chemicals/toxins’ increases burden on the body thus making us in this modern age more sensitive to lectins than previous generations.
      Yet, i am an exception. My experience proves that just dietary lectins and other ‘anti-nutrients’ can bring down a persons health to the point of near death.
      I moved from the city, busy work schedule, what i thought was a clean ‘wholefood’ vegetarian diet, i consumed very little alcohol and junk food even back then. I used lotions minimalls, make-up minimally as my whole life i’ve been sensitive to ‘chemicals’, but i still used some.
      I moved to the wild countryside, no stressful full-time job, spend my days outside, ‘off-grid lifestyle, fresh mountain spring water (unbeknownst to me loaded with iron), absolutely NO skin products and chemicals, yet the country i moved to offered little choice in foods – so my main food groups were grains, legumes, vegetables, and root vegetables, nightshades and dairy.

      A very simple diet but LOADED with lectins. My health in this ‘healthier superior environment of nature’ dive-bombed.
      I lost a lot of weight for a tall woman, BP went very low, hormone function ceased, sweating constantly, peeing constantly, pains all over my body, i would go into hypovolemic shock, adrenal crisis, and hypoclycemic episodes which brought me to my knees with shaking. My skin started pigmenting, i had en-ending fatigue. Symptoms from head to foot , literally. I couldn’t walk well as i had plantar warts from a strain of herpes virus i’ve had since birth so it was like walking on pins sticking into my feet, it altered my gait, and threw out my hip alignment.
      My mood health plummeted to constant crippling anxiety, woven between deep suicidal depression, with tinges of OCD perfectionistic behaviour and a racing mind with deep undertones of hulk-like rage. I couldn’t go anywhere, barely do anything and all my body could do was sleep, up to 16 hrs a day. I eventually was bed-bound for a year.
      Please bare in mind my history of health awareness to have a ‘clean’ diet and having done many detoxes and cleanses over the years – but i NEVER cut out grains. I never thought they were a problem. In fact i CRAVED rice and potatoes.

      Diagnostic tests showed low cortisol throughout 24hrs, (hence why i slept all the time and had crippling fatigue), low progesterone and estrogen, very high testosterone, deficient vitamin D, Low T3, T4 and TSH (low pituitary function), and levels of DHEAs of a 70yr old (im mid 30’s).

      No doctor would help and offered antidepressants – sound familiar? (eyeroll)…

      I was in a really really bad place and only through support of my loved one did i get through it – i wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him. Truly – i spent 3 years everyday trying NOT to kill myself and tell myself i would find the answers myself to heal from this hell.
      My body functions completely were so unbalanced and dysfunctional. I could barely think straight let alone do anything.

      Only when i gave up gluten intially did i improve. The anxiety lessened. To have less than none was still a winner for me – anxiety has plagued me my whole damned life!! I also had more physical energy. My stress response improved. I wasn’t shaking with anxiety every morning upon waking.
      Since relieving myself of more lectin and anti-nutrient burden i am slowly recovering. I am putting on weight!! I can live a day rather than drag myself through it. I don’t wish to die anymore, and THAT is precious.

      I found the f**king needle in a very large haystack, it took 20 yrs but i am here to declare that it’s not just modern chemicals that is the trigger to autoimmune lectin sensitivity, just lectins themselves in some, will never adapt to be a ‘safe’ food.

      Sorry for the long post but i know many will appreciate knowing i went to hell and back, all because of damn grains, which i ironically, always craved.

      So my next big question is: Why do we crave foods our bodies are allergic to?!

  • gk

    Hi. Thank you for all of your efforts. I have tried to implement some of your recommendations mostly by using resistanct starches that are safe in my experience, the non-grain carbs, green bananas, raw sweet potatoes but I still almost immediately get inflammation as a result. When I try grains or legumes, it is even worse. I am moved by what you say about fat in the diet and I love your non-dogmatic approach. But everytime I try to increase carbs/reduce fat (the only really safe carbs I have found are all veggies including the nightshades but not potatoes, and fruit in reasonable amounts) I pay the price in inflamamtion – flare ups of pain from my plantar fascitis, digestion issues, bowel issues, etc. It is also true however that some things get better increasing carbs – much more energy, better circulation, better stamina, less constipation.

    I wonder if you are familiar with Dr. Gabriel Cousens and if so what is your opinion of him. I have been influenced a lot by his work. Here is one of his more important presentations. You’ll note towards the latter half of the video that his patients show lower LDLs and much lower triglycerides than those on the extreme low fat regimens of Ornish or Essellstyn. Equally impressive is the remission of type 1 Diabetes in some of his patients. This has been “impossible” in medicine up to this point.


    1. PC

      Hi gk, I’m no expert but I’ve heard that foods causing an insulin response (carbs) can cause inflammation in some people. I generally find that myself too.

      Out of all the ones I have tried the least problematic seemed to be lotus root. It’s lower carb, higher fibre. Have you tried it?

      1. gk

        Hi PC,

        Thanks for the tip. I will try to get some soon. I’ve had them before in Asian dishes though I don’t recall any responses, negative or positive.

        Yes, I’m also a fan of Paleo Mom, one of the few paleo bloggers I find credible and legitimate.

    2. Joe

      You aren’t following my recommendations.

      All whole food starches/carb sources have lectins that will harm people with autoimmune issues, except some fruit. See the lectin avoidance diet.

      Raw sweet potatoes is a big no-no for everyone. I never recommended that.

      See the carb sources I recommend in the lectin avoidance post.

      For people with autoimmune issues I only recommend hi-maize for RS.

      1. gk

        Thanks for your feedback. I appreciate the attention. Actually, the raw sweet potatoes – in moderation – give me less problems than cooked ones, or cooked grains, legumes, or white potatoes. I am fine with most raw vegetables, including nightshades but not white potato, fruits (again in moderation), nuts, and very small amounts of animal protein. Almost everything else, I have issues with. I do in fact have major auto-immune issues as well, as you correctly suspect.

        I’m checking through your lectins post again. Thanks again for your time.

  • PC

    Interesting. I had just come to the conclusion that seeds/nuts/grain type foods were an issue for me and I do better with simpler foods like vegetables and meats. The Paleo Mom’s Autoimmune Protocol is the best treatment IMO.

    By the way, have you looked into histamine intolerance as a potential problem?

    1. Joe

      Only an issue for Th2 dominant folks. I have no issue with it as I am Th1 dominant.

      1. Judd Crane

        Do you know of any sicence based compilation of histamine containing and releasing Foods?

  • dayana campos

    Tim Ferriss said that Seth Roberts can died because it appears he was consuming ten times the suggested higher tolerance dose for flaxseed oil and other types of oils.

    1. Joe

      Ferriss is talking out of his ass.

      I saw the dosage he was taking. He probably wouldn’t have died from flaxseed oil if he was taking 5 times the dosage. See the linked blog post about the coroners report.

      “Cause A: Occlusive coronary artery disease” and “Other significant conditions: cardiomegaly.”

      1. MachineGhost

        Robert’s daily flaxseed dose (4T?) doesn’t seem all that extreme to me, but any amount of pro-oxidant Omega-6 and Omega-3 he was ingesting only goes to show that the saturated fat in butter is not able to offset their negative effects and provide cardiovascular protection. From what little I read, Roberts seemed to be an OCD-type, so his singular mono-focus on estrogenic, flaxseed in lieu of fatty fish/fish oil was one huge mistake. Humans are not birds. But absence of one does not imply causation of the other. That goes both ways in this case.

    2. Joe

      Saturated fat isn’t so bad in and of itself, but other fats are better for the heart, so the more SF you consume the less of other fats you consume.

      “Based on consistent evidence from human studies, replacing SFA with polyunsaturated fat modestly lowers coronary heart disease risk, with ~10% risk reduction for a 5% energy substitution; whereas replacing SFA with carbohydrate has no benefit and replacing SFA with monounsaturated fat has uncertain effects. Evidence for the effects of SFA consumption on vascular function, insulin resistance, diabetes, and stroke is mixed, with many studies showing no clear effects, highlighting a need for further investigation of these endpoints. ”

      1. MachineGhost

        I dislike meta-analysis studies like this, because the reviewers are simply too corrupt, naive and/or too young to understand the complex confoundations behind decades of previous studies. That being said, there’s been very few true SFA studies aimed at proving the prevailing “public health” dogma. Anyway, you left out the most important part from the abstract:

        “Public health emphasis on reducing SFA consumption without considering the replacement nutrient or, more importantly, the many other food-based risk factors for cardiometabolic disease is unlikely to produce substantial intended benefits.”

        Well, doh!

  • Jiri
    1. Joe

      You misunderstood the article or rather it’s not clear

    2. Joe

      There’s 2 kinds of sialic acids, one found in mammals and one found in humans. The article is talking about the one found in mammals.

  • Avnerik

    But even your “anti-inflammation diet” has some lectins in it – what are you eating in your lectin-free-diet? what foods do you have available for it?

    1. Joe

      I never said my diet is lectin free. It’s lectin reduced. The most harmful ones are taken out.

  • Natasha G.

    Also – are you going to add Sialic acid to your 1.5 g of NAG recommendation in the Brain fog supplements page?

    1. Joe


  • Natasha G.

    Would you recommend a person with anxiety issues and sensitivity to lectins to avoid butternut squash?

    1. PC

      Cutting out butternut squash certainly helped me personally. I could never figure out why I felt so lousy/fatigued after eating what I thought was such a “healthy” food.

    2. Joe


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