When I went Gluten-free due to health issues over 25yrs ago, virtually food that replaced a gluten form had to be made from scratch with the result being usually quite a dry, crumbly mess. I remember the rice bread was like a solid block of concrete and was best toasted to reconstitute any sort of texture of toast because it really wasn’t very nice in its natural form.

These days, though, the aisles in supermarkets are lined with GF options, with restaurants and fast food outlets often catering for GF, some of course better than others.

While that is awesome that we have these alternatives readily available we still need to consider what ingredients are being used and as they are still heavily processed, I’d recommend that they are treated as a special occasion food.  

To begin to understand what Gluten is, I need to first explain what a lectin is.  If you have not heard of lectins, they are proteins that are found in grains and their job is to bind carbohydrates. 

These essentially are toxic, however, with modern agriculture, we grow and harvest crops of grains and turned their lectins into foods that are highly consumable and eaten many times in a day.  If you are not eating an animal or dairy protein, root, or leafy vegetable, you are most likely eating a lectin!

They are hard to digest and interact with your gut lining that is only one cell thick, causing damage not only directly to these cells but also influence the pulling apart of a healthy gut lining, and this is referred to as leaky gut.

Once these lectins go beyond that one cell wall lining, they cause havoc with our immune system, and can potentially flare autoimmunity.

A Lectin can be further classified into Grains, Legumes, and pseudo-grains. 

Table 1

To make it more confusing, Lectins are then further divided into prolamins or agglutinins.

Prolamins can also be called Glutenoids.  When you take a grain apart, there is the smaller portion, the germ, and the endosperm which is the larger, starchy, and protein part of the grain.  This is the food source for the germination and growing of a new seed. 

In the endosperm of the grain (the larger portion), the proteins are called prolamins, mainly because they are made up of proline amino acids.

Common prolamins include gliadin (wheat), hordein (barley), secalin (rye), avenin (oats), zein (corn), kafirin (sorghum), and orzenin (rice).

Our digestive system is not good at breaking down prolamins as they contain an inhibitor to protease, which is our enzyme that breaks down proteins, so they simply don’t want to be eaten!

They want to pass safely through your gut to make a new plant in some hearty fertiliser that you generously surrounding it when passing out the undigested grain.

While the main culprits are Gliadin in Wheat, Hordein in Barley and Secalin in Rye (especially for Coeliac), Avenin in Oats also may be an issue for the individual Coeliac, the behaviour of the other prolamins are very similar, so it is good to have an awareness about them and your consumption of them.

What about fruit seeds? Yes, they also have prolamins but because the seeds of fruit such as berries, banana, kiwi, cucumber, and zucchini (yes, they are fruit!) are small enough to ingest without chewing, they happily travel through your intestine in pursuit of finding fertilised ground in which to grow.

But if the seed is big enough to bite, you might consider removing it before consuming i.e. cucumber and zucchini seeds. 

Legumes also have prolamins and the main issue here is with the bean or seed, less so with the sprout. The legumes considered safe are rooibos tea, carob powder, and those that are normally eaten raw, being peas, green beans, snow peas, sugar snap peas, and runner beans.

As its name implies, agglutinin is a type of lectin and can cause red blood cells to clump together and become sticky. This is part of a seed’s external defense mechanism from fungi and insects.

It’s really interesting that these plants have the mechanisms so they don’t get eaten.  Genetically modified foods have added agglutinins to assist the crops to be more robust against insects, however, this makes them indigestible.

The most well-known agglutinin is wheat germ agglutinin (WGA). The germ is the part of the grain that houses all the nutrients needed to grow a new plant. It is usually removed during milling, with the WGA percentage used as a biomarker for how much a wheat product is whole grain.

WGA is difficult to break down in the gut and, as it travels through, it irritates the gut lining, setting off the leaky gut and aggravating the immune system.

Because agglutinins are stable at high temperatures, they need to be cooked for long periods of time and at high temperatures. Kidney beans, cannellini beans, common beans, and broad beans (fava beans) all need to be soaked and cooked really well. Peanuts and soybeans are also on the list of agglutinins.

Some sources say that agglutinin may not be deactivated by cooking which is why it is best avoided where there are autoimmunity and gut issues

Interestingly tomatoes are lectin-rich and therefore also stimulate the immune system via increasing leaky gut due to agglutinin.

If you cannot live without beans, soak these and other legumes in filtered water overnight for a minimum of 8 hours. Drain and rinse. Cook in fresh, filtered water at high heat: 100o C for at least 10 minutes or 95o C for 60 minutes. Slow cooking is not a good option due to the reduced temperatures of slow cooking. 

If you sprout your beans, it can reduce lectins by 59%. If fermenting, as in the case of tempeh, lectins can be reduced by up to 95%.

Lectins can be reduced in wheat products, such as pasta, by cooking and processing however it is best not to consume these at all.

I know all of this information can be overwhelming and confusing.  The good thing is, that there are simple solutions available and you don’t have to stress about how to remove gluten from your current eating habits, because I have that all covered with my gut restoration and whole food nutrition methods, that are adapted for weight loss, hormone balancing or thyroid support.

If you’d like to know more about this or other topics, you are welcome to join my free membership on face book. Thyroid, Metabolic, Hormone Harmony Hub. 

I’d love to see you there

Inspiring Wellness




Lambert J, Vojdani A (2017) Correlation of Tissue Antibodies and Food Immune Reactivity in Randomly Selected Patient Specimens. J Clin. Cell Immunol 8: 521. doi: 10.4172/2155-9899.1000521

Vojdani A, O’Brayn T, Kellermann GH. The Immunology of Gluten Senstivity Beyond the Intestinal Tract: Immunosciences Lab. Received October 16, 2007 – Accepted January 18, 2008 European Journal of Inflammation. Vol. 6, no. 2, 49-57 (2008) 

Killilea DW, McQueen R, Abegania JR. Wheat germ agglutinin is a biomarker of whole grain content in wheat flour and pasta. J Food Sci. 2020;85(3):808-815. doi:10.1111/1750-3841.15040

Vojdani A, Afar D, Vojdani E. Reaction of Lectin-Specific Antibody with Human Tissue: Possible Contributions to Autoimmunity. J Immunol Res. 2020;2020:1438957. Published 2020 Feb 11. doi:10.1155/2020/1438957

PreviMedica Group L.L.C., 2018 https://cellsciencesystems.com/pdfs/Lectins.pdf

Ballantyne, S 2013, The Paleo Approach, Victory Belt Publishing Inc, USA

Grain Diagram


Table 1


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