Wednesday, November 30, 2016

LECTINS AND RESISTANT STARCH

I will give it to you straight: the concepts of lectins and resistant starches in our diets are new to me. I ran across them and their effects on our health at Bulletproof Coffee. I think overall, Dave Asprey's dietary recommendations are worthy, the diet itself is impossible to follow for any length of time. The following are my explanations of the two terms and my own recommendations.

1. Lectins
Lectins are proteins that are found in most edible plants and even some animal-based foods. Plants produce them as natural insecticides and fungicides. In fact, they are such powerful "antibiotics" that agricultural scientists have found ways to increase lectin levels in some GMO foods by inserting certain genes. Which is another reason to question genetically engineered foods since lectins are not good for human health.

Lectins bind to certain cells in the body such as the lining of our intestines and joint cartilage, effectively destroying them and/or their ability to communicate with other cells. In joints, they cause inflammation and many people find pain relief on a low-lectin diet. Yes, there is such a thing.

Most grains are high in lectins. Whole grains are the worst offenders. Which is one reason I try to follow the "Wheat Belly Diet" since I really don't have a problem with gluten. Dr. William Davis doesn't address lectins in his book which is why you will find differences between the Wheat Belly and Bulletproof diets. I have been sorting through these (and Tim Ferriss' "4-Hour Body") and trying to devise my own tasty, nutritious, grain-free, low-lectin eating guidelines. And low-cost too, since I empathize with those on limited budgets.

2. Resistant Starchess
All plants contain starches, whether "simple" like sugars, "complex" as in low glycemic index food, or "resistant." It is difficult to find fruits and veggies that have naturally occurring resistant starches but they can be produced at home and there is even a flour called "Hi-Maize" which you can buy at Amazon.

There are several advantages to consuming resistant starches. As the name implies, they are resistant to breakdown in the upper gastrointestinal tract and essentially arrive in the small intestine intact where they act as probiotics. The good bacteria in our guts use these starches as a source of fuel and metabolic products of this action include beneficial acids such as butyric acid.

They are also good for diabetics and pre-diabetics since they don't elevate blood sugar levels. And they act as a natural fiber, so much so that some scientists consider resistant starches as another type of fiber, besides soluble and insoluble.

That's it for now. I will write about what to eat and what to avoid in another post.