Lectins Are Proinflammatory and Associated With Rheumatoid Arthritis


Lectins are Proinflammatory

Did you know that lectins are proinflammatory and are associated with rheumatoid arthritis?  Those of us who have Rheumatoid Arthritis should probably consider reducing our exposure to lectins. This post is a sequel to a previous post about lectins. A new book has been published about the dangers of lectins so I am revisiting the “skinny” on lectins. This post provides you with many options for reducing lectins in your diet. It is not meant to recommend any specific option. You should always consult your physician before changing your diet.

Dr Stephen Gundry, MD Author of the NY Times Best Selling Book, The Plant Paradox

Dr. Gundry is a Cardiologist, medical device inventor, researcher and creator of nutritional treatments he has used to treat his patients.  Sr, Gundry is a very successful and respected Cardiac Surgeon who left his practice in 2002 to open his Center for Restorative Medicine.  He has “spent the last 14 years studying the human microbiome – and developing the principles of Holobiotics that have since changed the lives of countless men and women”( 4). In his best selling book,The Plant Paradox he describes his theory that plant lectins are proinflammatory and the cause of many chronic diseases. He believes that lectins may be the cause of many diseases, including autoimmune diseases. He provides information on how lifestyle changes can provide our guts with the good bacteria our bodies need to thrive. He has also developed supplements that he sells on his site that help support a healthy body. Dr. Gundry has many enthusiastic supporters who claim to have been cured of disease after following his program.

I have not read Dr. Gundry’s latest book, but I have read reviews of it from people who are on his program. His program does seem to help people with arthritis but his theories are also criticized by many experts. (5)

It  is also true that most functional medicine physicians have, for several years, been prescribing an elimination diet that limits gluten, grains, legumes, night shade vegetables and dairy for their patients who have autoimmune diseases.  They also believe that lectins are proinflammatory foods  for anyone with an autoimmune disease. Functional medicine physicians do, however, allow people to slowly re-introduce those foods one at a time after their gut has healed. The foods that make them sick when re-introduced are permanently removed from their diets.

The dangers of lectins have been known for years, but some lectins are not bad for you. Many lectin-rich foods have strong health benefits. There are also many ways to reduce the bad effects of lectins. It certainly is not a good idea to eliminate all plant foods from your diet.

DisclosureThe link below is an affiliate link. This means that if you click on it and make a purchase, it will not cost you more, but I will make a small commission.

If you are interested, Dr. Gundry’s book it can be purchased on Amazon Here

Lectins Are Proinflammatory and Have been Linked to Rheumatoid Arthritis

Lectins are carbohydrate-binding proteins present in most plants. They are natural proteins present in many plants that evolved as a way to guard plants from their animal predators. Some lectins can bind to receptor cells on your intestinal walls and contribute to leaky gut. Leaky guy interferes  with your absorption of nutrients your body needs. Lectins act as anti-nutrients by interfering with the balance of your good bacteria flora.

Lectins may be one cause of diet-associated rheumatoid arthritis . The human molecule IgG contains carbohydrate side chains which terminate with galactose. In rheumatoid arthritis, the the galactose is missing, creating deficient molecules. These deficient molecules are present in the RA immune complexes that cause RA symptoms. One of the most common trigger foods in RA is wheat. Wheat lectins can exacerbate RA. (1)

Personal note: I have just begun seeing a functional medicine physician. She has run a whole battery of tests. My Wheat/Gliadin (Anti-gliadin IgA) test was very high.

Those of us with RA probably need to limit our intake of lectins. Most of us are already on a gluten-free diet, but other lectins may very well exacerbate our RA.

How Can We Reduce Our Exposure to Lectins

The foods that contain the most lectins are: corn, corn-fed meats, Casein A1 milk, Peanuts cashews, and unfermented soybean products. Dr Mercola recommends avoiding these foods. (3) Some less lectin rich foods can be safe for most people to eat if they are prepared properly.

If you have an autoimmune disease, it is best to go on an elimination diet, eliminating gluten, grains, legumes, night shade vegetables and dairy; then reintroduce lectin-rich foods one at a time so you know which foods are safe for you to eat.

Since lectins are proinflammatory, try the following preparation suggestions to reduce the lectins in plant foods:

  • Peel and deseed tomatoes  and other fruits and vegetables: the skin,  hull and seeds contain most of the lectins. Many recipes now recommend deseeding tomatoes.
  • Cook beans properly: beans should be soaked in water for at lease 12 hours, changing the water frequently and adding some lemon juice or baking soda to the water. Drain the beans and discard the water. Cook the beans in boiling water at a very high temperature for a minimum of 15 minutes.
  • Never eat uncooked wheat or raw beans (raw red kidney beans and Castor beans are considered very toxic). The lectins in Castor beans are considered poisonous to humans.
  • Buy a pressure cooker: Cooking beans and other lectin-rich foods in a pressure cooker is the best way to make lectin-rich foods safe to eat and takes less time than cooking them on top of the stove.

Disclosure: The link below is an affiliate link. This means that if you click on it and make a purchase, it will not cost you more, but I will make a small commission.

  • Amazon sells the pressure cooker InstaPot. and it gets good reviews. You can purchase it here
  • Sprouting seeds and fermenting foods also reduces lectins.
  • Dr Gundry suggests that white rice is safer than brown rice.

The bottom line is that lectins can be harmful to your health, especially if you have an autoimmune disease. It is prudent to reduce your exposure to lectins as much as possible if you have RA. You can either go on a elimination diet or be tested for food sensitivities so you know which foods are safe for you to eat. A functional medicine physician can guide you through this process. I urge you to discuss this with your physician before changing your diet.

To Your Good Health and Happiness,



  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1115436/
  2. http://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods-high-in-lectins#section1
  3. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2017/08/14/reduce-lectins-in-your-diet.aspx
  4. https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2017/04/the-next-gluten/523686/



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