Although dietary lectins may not need introduction to some regular readers of this newsletter, let me clearly define them so everyone’s on the same page. The word “lectin” is derived from the Latin verb legere, meaning to “select,” and because of their high affinity to bind just about everything in biological systems, lectins indeed “select.”
Lectins were originally defined by their ability to agglutinate (clump) erythrocytes (red blood cells) in tissue cultures, but more recently have been described by their ability to reversibly bind specific monosaccharide (simple) or oligosaccharides (complex) sugars. Lectins are omnipresent proteins found in the plant kingdom and likely evolved as toxic defensive mechanisms to ward off predators. Most dietary lectins are benign and non-toxic to humans, however the primary exceptions are those lectins hapable of binding to gut tissue. Read more…
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