6 Natural Lectin Blockers (and How to Get More of Them)
Stop Lectins Before They Stop You
Lectins are not your friends, and you want to block them from getting into your body. If you’re reading this you’re probably well aware that they can wreak havoc on your immune system and have been implicated in a variety of diseases–as well as weight gain. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could block them from entering your system, altogether?
First Line of Defense: Avoidance
The best way to avoid the harmful effects of lectins is to not consume them in the first place. But unless you plan to starve yourself, realistically it’s going to be hard to do so 100% of the time.
So where does that leave us? Do what you can to avoid them, and add things to your diet that block lectins as much as possible, in order to mitigate their harmful effects.
Nature’s Natural Lectin Blockers
There are plenty of naturally occurring lectin blocking compounds in common foods, which means you can integrate them into your diet with relative ease. The top six natural lectin-blocking foods that you should consume more of are: Okra, Crustaceans, Bladderwrack (seaweed), pigs feet, fruits high in D-Mannose, and Kiwifruit. They all come with unique lectin-lectin blocking properties. Read on to learn how they work their magic.
1. Okra: Polysaccharide Powerhouses
Okra is rich in raw polysaccharide (RPS), a potent compound that has been shown to bind to lectins, effectively blocking their ability to cause cause harm (1), With high concentrations of polyphenols and other antioxidants, okra has been shown to have powerful medicinal properties, including protecting against fatigue (2).
Where to get it: Okra is available fresh at most grocery stores. Get started by whipping up some of Dr. Gundry’s Lectin-Blocking Okra Chips.
2. Crustaceans: Get a Glut of Glucosamine
Crustacean skins and shells contain glucosamine, a compound that binds to lectins in wheat (3). Since wheat lectins are known to cause joint problems (4), this lectin blocker is also a common ingredient in supplements for joint health.
Where to get it: The shells of shrimp, crabs, lobster and crawfish contain lots of glucosamine. In fact, glucosamine supplements are often made from them. So next time you make seafood, don’t toss these goodies away. Instead, grind them up and add a little to your dishes. Shrimp shells can also be eaten as is–in fact, many cultures do just that.
3. Bladderwrack: Give Lectins the Slip
This simple seaweed has been shown to be a potent lectin blocker (5), and studies also suggest it has antifungal properties against Candida yeasts (6). The benefits of Bladderwrack go further: With high levels of mucilage, beta-carotene, iodine, potassium, zeaxanthin, and other organic compounds, this sea creature is potent! It’s been shown to help with digestive issues, weight loss, thyroid conditions, inflammation and more.
Where to get it: Bladderwrack grows on the northern Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the US as well as parts of Europe. So next time you’re at the beach, bend over and grab some Bladderwrack, and head to the kitchen. If you’re landlocked and can’t find it fresh, it’s widely available in supplement form.
4. Pigs Feet: Gross But Good For You
Glucosamine is also naturally occurring in cartilaginous offal (“Offal” is a slightly less unappetizing word for organ meets, animal entrails, etc.). So next time you make stew don’t forget to toss some pigs feet into the broth, or even serve them on their own. They’re great not just for blocking lectins, but for your gut in general.
Where to get it: Your local butcher shop.
5. Cranberries: Destroy Lectins with D-Mannose
Cranberries, oranges, peaches and blueberries contain D-Mannose, a powerful natural compound that binds to lectins, including those in legumes (7). Research suggests that D-Mannose can also protect against infections (8). This compound also has broad benefits that go beyond blocking lectins: it can help help maintain urinary tract and gastrointestinal health.
Where to get it: D-Mannose is easy to come by. It’s plentiful in many of the fruits you eat every day.
6. Kiwifruit: Boost Mucin, Block Lectins
Kiwifruit increases your body’s production of mucin, which helps to form a slippery protective barrier inside your digestive tract (9). The sialic acid in mucin binds to multiple sources of foods containing lectins, blocking them from permeating the wall of your gut. This includes lectins found in wheat (10).
Where to get it: mucin doesn’t occur naturally in foods, per se. Rather, it’s produced by your body, depending on what you eat. Slippery fruits, especially kiwis, have been shown in studies to increase mucin secretion (11).
Lectin Shield: Lectin Blocker In a Bottle
While it’s generally preferred to get nutrients from whole foods instead of supplements, sometimes that’s just not realistic. If you know you’re heading into a lectin-laden meal, or you want to be more aggressive and block lectins around the clock, you may want to consider taking a lectin blocker supplement. Dr. Gundry’s best-selling Lectin Shield is probably the best choice. It contains most of the ingredients listed in this article, and more.
1. Cederberg BM, Gray GR. N-Acetyl-D-glucosamine binding lectins. A model system for the study of binding specificity. Anal Biochem. Oct 15, 1979; 99 (1): 221-30. DOI:10.1016/0003-2697(79)90067-8.
2. Freed DLJ. Do dietary lectins cause disease? BMJ. Apr 17, 1999; 318 (7190): 1023-4. DOI: 10.1136/bmj.318.7190.1023.
3. Houser J, Komarek J, Kostlanova N, et. al. A soluble fucose-specific lectin from Aspergillus fumigatus conidia–structure, specificity and possible role in fungal pathogenicity. PLoS One. Dec 10, 2013; 8 (12): e83077. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0083077.
4. Criado MT, Ferreiros CM. Selective interaction of a Fucus vesiculosus lectin-like mucopolysaccharide with several Candida species. Ann Microbiol (Paris). Mar-Apr 1983; 134A (2): 149-54. DOI: 10.1016/S0769-2609(83)80074-X.
5. Hankins CN, Kindinger JI, Shannon LM. Legume Lectins: I. Immunological Cross-Reactions between the Enzymic Lectin from Mung Beans and other Well Characterized Legume Lectins. Plant Physiol. Jul 1979; 64 (1): 104-7. DOI: 10.1104/pp.64.1.104.
6. Ofek I, Beachey EH. Mannose binding and epithelial cell adherence of Escherichia coli. Infect Immun. Oct 1978; 22 (1): 247-54. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC422142/. Accessed July 29, 2016.
7. Wu AM, Jiang YJ, Hwang PY, Shen FS. Characterization of the okra mucilage by interaction with Gal, GalNAc and GlcNAc specific lectins. Biochim Biophys Acta. Feb 23, 1995; 1243 (2): 157-60. DOI: 10.1016/0304-4165(94)00130-P.
8. Xia F, Zhong Y, Li M, et. al. Antioxidant and Anti-Fatigue Constituents of Okra. Nutrients. Oct 26, 2015; 7 (10): 8846-58. DOI: 10.3390/nu7105435.
9. McGuckin MA, Lindén SK, Sutton P, Florin TH. Mucin dynamics and enteric pathogens. Nat Rev Microbiol. Apr 2011; 9 (4): 265-78. DOI: 10.1038/nrmicro2538.
10. Lehmann F, Tiralongo E, Tiralongo J. Sialic acid-specific lectins: occurrence, specificity and function. Cell Mol Life Sci. Jun 2006; 63 (12): 1331-54. DOI: 10.1007/s00018-005-5589-y.
11. Yuan Kun Lee, Kay Yi Low, Kiwifruit (Actinidia deliciosa) changes intestinal microbial profile Microb Ecol Health Dis. 2012; 23: 10.3402/mehd.v23i0.18572.PMCID: PMC3747767