The Effects of Dietary Lectins (Pt. 1)

As reported by a study released back in 2000 by the Department of Health and Exercise Science of the Colorado State University, Loren Cordain, L. Toohey, M. J. Smith and M. S. Hickey discovered that the presence of dietary lectins in both grains and milk contribute heavily to inflammation of the joints (i.e. arthritis), and eventually, inflammation of the gut.

Directly quoted from the review:

“Despite the almost universal clinical observation that inflammation of the gut is frequently associated with inflammation of the joints and vice versa, the nature of this relationship remains elusive. In the present review, we provide evidence for how the interaction of dietary lectins with enterocytes and lymphocytes may facilitate the translocation of both dietary and gut-derived pathogenic antigens to peripheral tissues, which in turn causes persistent peripheral antigenic stimulation. In genetically susceptible individuals, this antigenic stimulation may ultimately result in the expression of overt rheumatoid arthritis (RA) via molecular mimicry, a process whereby foreign peptides, similar in structure to endogenous peptides, may cause antibodies or T- lymphocytes to cross-react with both foreign and endogenous peptides and thereby break immunological tolerance. By eliminating dietary elements, particularly lectins, which adversely influence both enterocyte and lymphocyte structure and function, it is proposed that the peripheral antigenic stimulus (both pathogenic and dietary) will be reduced and thereby result in a diminution of disease symptoms in certain patients with RA.”

That probably sounds like a bunch of mumbo jumbo to most of us. It did to me the first time I read it. And the second time. And the third, and the fourth… Luckily, I managed to figure it out enough to be able to put it in simple words that doesn’t require a degree to understand and decipher. So behold this woefully inadequate simple explanation of something that is light years beyond my brain’s ability to comprehend and process. Here goes!

Paleo Diet Arthritis Lectins Leptin Tree

On one plate, we have grains. On another plate, we have dairy. Then we have a third plate, in between the previous two, and let’s say that there’s, for some reason, a tree on this plate. Bear with me, the silliness will be relevant. Now, we leave these plates completely alone and the tree stretches its branches and really starts to grow. It’s enjoying the fact that there’s nothing happening to it to stunt its growth, to impede its progress.

Inside this tree, there are two things. There’s water, and there’s, well, wood. Someone decided to come along and stuff the grains and milk from the other plates into this tree, and you’re left staring at a sloshing, confusing mess. But since we can’t be looking on the inside all the time, you find yourself booted out the door and you’re left looking at the exterior of this tree for a few days. It seems to look like it handled the situation just fine. The branches creaked a little more than usual and they didn’t seem to be capable of stretching as they did before, but beyond that, it seemed a-okay!

Unfortunately, this is what people with arthritis think about eating grains and milk. See, inside our bodies, we have our autoimmune system, which is meant to purge and eliminate non-self proteins. Pay attention to the non-self part of that phrase as we move on. Now, when someone has rheumatoid arthritis, their bodies are incapable of discerning the difference between the non-self proteins and the self-proteins. It will seek to eliminate things inside of your body that should not be removed, and as you can probably figure, that involves a bad time ahead for anyone involved.

So what happened inside this tree? Why is it relevant to someone suffering from arthritis, why is it relevant to the study linked above?

The Paleo Recipe Book

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