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What is a Letcin?
Lectin is a protein that we all have on our skin, inside us, or both. Some people call it an “immune system” because its job is to protect the body against foreign invaders such as bacteria and viruses. It does this with proteins called antibodies which attach themselves to invading particles so they can be removed easily through the kidneys (a process called phagocytosis). When any food comes into contact with our digestive tract cells, those cells release their own lectins. They then seek out any potential invaders to attack them. These lectins find these invaders and bind to them. This causes problems if there’s more than one type of lectin present at once. One could say that lectins are like your immune system but instead of attacking bacteria and viruses, they attack different types of nutrients found in foods. There are many names for lectins including – plant agglutinins, hemagglutinins, mycotoxins, toxins, saponins, viscoelastic substances, enzymes, etc., but most people just use the term “lectins.” LECTIN is actually short for lecithin-carbohydrate binding protein. The name may sound fancy, but really it means that lectins stick to carbohydrates.
So what happens when lectins get stuck to something?
Well, anything that contains carbs gets affected. That includes sugar, starch, and even some vegetables. If enough lectin attaches itself to the cell walls, eventually the cell will die off. So how does this happen? Because lectins are toxic to humans, eating lectinized raw fruits and veggies can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal cramping. Eating cooked lectinized items can also lead to similar symptoms, but not nearly as severe since the lectins have been neutralized during cooking. To avoid adverse reactions after consuming fresh produce containing lectins, cook the product thoroughly until no trace of it remains.
Since lectins can’t be killed by heat alone, heating must destroy the toxin completely. In order to properly prepare a fruit or vegetable to eat without worry, here is a list of ways to remove Lectins
How to remove lectins from Tomateoes?
Cooking usually removes about 80% of the lectins in food. Boil the tomatoes for around 20 minutes, then drain off the water and refrigerate. Even though cooking doesn’t totally eliminate lectins, it makes them much less harmful. Most lectins go away when heated sufficiently above approximately 150 degrees Fahrenheit. You’ll know that you’ve reached sufficient temperatures when the juice begins to bubble and steam. Heating should take 30 minutes or longer depending on the item being heated. Any higher temperature would simply burn the surface. Baking eliminates up to 95% of lectins while steaming only reduces the amount slightly. Microwaving has little effect on reducing the amount of lectins. Once again, don’t overcook the food. If you want to prevent getting sick, make sure to always wash your hands before handling any kind of hot food or drink.
Dried products contain very little lectins compared to freshly cut ones. However, dried ingredients still retain moisture and therefore heat better than uncooked foods. Therefore, drying is another way to reduce the toxicity of certain foods. Simply put, dehydration converts water into alcohol and acids. Alcohols aren’t volatile compounds and thus won’t contribute to the formation of acetic acid. Dehydration also changes sugars into glucose and fructose. Glucose and fructose are two simple sugars that are naturally occurring in plants. Fructose is often used as a sweetening agent however, it is highly concentrated and extremely high glycemic index. High levels of glucose and fructose can trigger diabetes. By converting sugars into glucose and fructose, dehydrating decreases the danger of developing health conditions due to excessive consumption of refined sweets.
Freezing keeps foods safe for long periods of time. Not only does freezing stop the growth of microorganisms, it stops the activity of polyphenol oxidase as well. Polyphenol oxidase is an enzyme responsible for producing free radicals in foods. As mentioned earlier, free radicals damage healthy tissues and accelerate aging. Freezing prevents the production of free radicals thereby slowing down the aging process. Although frozen foods lose nutritional value, they provide plenty of vitamins and minerals. Frozen foods stay firm and crisp for months and taste great!
Grinding creates tiny pieces of food that are easier to digest. Pulverization is similar except it grinds the food to smaller particle sizes. Both grinding processes break down complex molecules into simpler forms. After pulverization, the resulting powder is easy to mix and incorporate into recipes. Unfortunately, both procedures require expensive equipment, energy and labor. A good alternative is freeze-dying. Freeze-dying involves exposing leafy greens to low doses of radiation. The exposure kills bacteria and minimizes mold development. Leaves exposed to radiation become brittle and turn dark green in color. Before using leaves treated with radiation, rinse under cold running tap water to remove residual chemicals.