Tummy Thieves: How Lectins and Phytates Are Robbing You of Nutrient Goodies

August 17, 2011 2:27 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Alright, let’s move right past the cute name and get right into it.

In the past few posts, we’ve talked about your awesome insides and how super-important our intestines are in terms of digestion and absorption.



Just to keeps things nice and simple, and to bring you up to speed, gut irritation causes inflammation in the micro villi lining of the small intestine, keeping all the important nutrients, vitamins, and minerals from properly entering your system and helping to build YOU.

As if it wasn’t enough that these so-called “essential” carbohydrates were basically blocking the gates in your gut, anti-nutrients such as lectin and phytates are robbing you of the rest of the minerals and nutrients that are already in very short supply.

Hold yer horses, partner! Before you freak out, let me clarify that meat sources do contain some of these elements, though not in as vast a concentration as those in carbohydrate sources.

Harmless as plants, like those from which grains are derived, might be, they have their own mechanisms by which they need to ensure their survival and reproduction. Unlike animals, plants are more passive with their adaptations.

Over generations, humans have adapted ways to deal with these foods to make them palatable. One of the simplest of these methods is soaking. Fermenting and sprouting can also help to diminish the anti-nutrient load, though perpetual exposure over a lifespan eventually breaks down the human machine.

Sticky-Icky Lectins

Lectins are an extraordinarily sticky protein that particularly like carbohydrates (sugars).

Once it enters into the small intestine, it has the tendency to stick to the intestinal epithelial cells, or as we’ve come to lovingly know them, the micro villi lining.

It’s here that the stage is set for yet another wonderful phenomenon known as leaky gut.

When the intestinal lining is compromised, the body begins attempting to repair the damage, and shunts any and all remaining vital nutrients such as minerals, proteins, and vitamins to the area of damage. This is further complicated by the fact that the body is also attempting to mount an immune response to address the already gluten-compromised brush villi.

To make matters worse, lectins and a number of other anti-nutrients eventually compromise the intestinal lining, altogether. When the walls of the gut are compromised, full-blown leaky gut is in effect, allowing lectin, bits of food, and other toxins to enter into the bloodstream.

Amongst other ill-effects, certain forms of lectin have a strong resemblance to insulin, and can lock into cellular insulin-receptor sites. Because lectins have a strong binding ability, they tend to leave the cell’s glucose-transport system wide open, causing the body’s cells to become over-saturated with glucose (sugar), and preventing insulin from performing this action.

In this “boy cried wolf” condition, insulin is produced by the pancreas in response to glucose from food, to help transport this fuel into the cells but never accomplishes its task. Hyperinsulinemia and sets in, and progresses to Type 2 Diabetes.

Fun stuff, eh! What else would you expect from something that’s considered a “natural insecticide!!!”

I can certainly elaborate on the suck-factor of lectins, though we can’t give this stuff all the credit and fun! We can’t forget about phytates!

Phytates: The Prince of Thieves

Ah, grains. So natural, so healthy.

… Um, I don’t think so.

All this stuff must be pretty exhausting by now. To think that our once great and beloved grains have been lying to us all this time!

Relax. I’ll keep the phytates-story brief.

In terms of robbing you of nutrient awesomeness, phytates pretty much take the cake. I’m pretty sure they would, if they could!

Phytic acid is absolutely indigestible for us guys and gals. Though we’ve certainly come up with ways to minimize the stuff in food, it’s hard to avoid the compounding effect it has in damaging the gut, and overall health.

Having immense binding ability, much like lectins to carbohydrates, phytates are particularly clingy when it comes to calcium, iron, magnesium, and zinc. And to think, grains are sold as a great source of minerals and vitamins!

Everything’s a Lie… What Do I Believe In?!?!

Okay, alright. It’s not all fire-and-brimstone-absolute-hopelessness bad. I promise.



Simply removing grains and legumes from your diet will easily stop these nasty little episodes from happening, and get you back on track better gut and overall awesomeness.

Much of this stuff will seem overwhelming at first, since you’ll probably fumble your way through the grocery store wondering what to fill the other half of your empty shopping cart with. I’m pretty sure you’re smart enough to find your way around, and make it work.

Though, in spite of my faith in you, I’d recommend you check out some of the stuff linked here. Of course, you’re more than welcome to comment and ask questions if you need to feed your curiosity.


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This post was written by Marc

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