Lectins are abundant and diverse proteins found in foods that have agglutinating properties that affect our blood.
(Dr Peter J D’Adamo)
A chemical reaction occurs between our blood and the foods that we eat. This reaction is part of our genetic inheritance and is due to these lectins.
Lectins are blood type specific and the lectins in a food will affect one blood type whilst not affecting another.
Many food lectins have characteristics that are close enough to a certain blood type antigen to make it an enemy to another blood type antigen.
For example, milk has B like qualities, if a person with type A blood drinks milk, the digestive system will immediately start the agglutination process in order to reject it.
Here is an example of how a lectin agglutinates in the body.
Let’s say a type A person drinks a glass of milk. The milk is digested in the stomach through the process of acid hydrolysis. However, the lectin protein is resistant to acid hydrolysis. It doesn’t get digested, but stays intact. It may interact directly with the lining of the stomach or intestinal tract, or it may get absorbed into the blood stream along with the digested milk nutrients.
Different lectins target different organs and body systems.
Once the intact lectin protein settles somewhere in your body, it is seen as an enemy and literally has a magnetic effect on the cells in that region.
It clumps together with other cells which are all targeted for destruction, as if they too were foreign invaders.
This clumping can cause irritable bowel syndrome in the intestines, cirrhosis of the liver, or block the flow of blood through the kidneys to name just a few of the effects.
Lectins are not altered by digestive enzymes, and may alter gut permeability.
Lectins circulate throughout the bloodstream where they can bind to any tissue in the body – thyroid, pancreas, collagen in joints, etc.
This binding can disrupt the function of that tissue and cause white blood cells to attack the lectin-bound tissue, destroying it. This is an autoimmune response.
One of the reasons grains may be such a problem to eat is because they contain lectins – in addition to gluten. Although gluten in wheat, rye and barley has gotten the headlines, lectins are a bigger problem, according to Sayer Ji, author of “The Dark Side of Wheat”.
Wheat found in bread today (triticum aestivum) is a far cry from the bread of Roman times – The Staff of Life! It has been genetically tweaked – not genetically modified, but aggressively crossbred and hybridized. And with all that hybridization, the gluten content of some varieties has increased by as much as 50 percent.
Wheat also contains a lectin known as wheat germ agglutinin (WGA). Lectins are sugar-binding proteins. In plants, lectins serve as a natural defence system to fight off mould and parasites. When plants sense an invader, lectins counterattack by binding to the foreign sugar molecules to stop the unwanted cells in their tracks. That is good news for the plants.
But when lectins get into your body, they are still programmed to attack sugar molecules. That is bad news for your digestive system, which is lined with sugar-containing cells that help you break down food. Lectins are drawn right to that lining, and your immune system retaliates.
More research is needed into the harmful if effects of lectins.
Dr D’Adamo (Author of “Eat Right For Your Blood Type”) has put 35 years of research into blood type and lectins.
Lectins (specialized proteins found in food) were first described in 1888 by Peter Hermann Stillmark working with castor bean extracts. He found that many members of the lectinic protein family agglutinate (clump together) red blood cells.
Further research was done by Paul Ehrlich a German physician and scientist who worked in the fields of haematology, immunology, and chemotherapy.
Ehrlich, considered to be the father of immunology, has shown that feeding small amounts of lectin containing seeds to rabbits caused partial immunity to the toxicity demonstrating lectins are also antigenic (able to induce antigen antibody reactions).
Lectins purified are used to determine one’s blood type (ABO).
Lectins from the castor bean (Ricin) are highly toxic and can kill if ingested in even small amounts. An infinitesimally small amount of Ricin can swiftly convert the body’s red blood cells into large clots which block the arteries resulting in death.
High levels of lectins may be found in grains and wheat, cereals, pulses, legumes, nuts, beans dairy and plants in the nightshade family (tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant).
Nuts for example a high in lectins hence the high number of allergic reactions to nuts.
Many other foods contain lectins but are less well studied and the amounts of lectins present are not thought to be as high or as potentially toxic.