In our look at the Health Dangers of a Plant-based Diet, we turn to the cruciferous vegetables. You might be surprised to learn that broccoli and Brussel sprouts have a dark side. I mean these are the vegetables that kill cancer, right? How can there possibly be health dangers of cruciferous plants?
Well, just like other plants, these vegetables place a high priority on survival. And this means protecting themselves with phytochemicals. The cruciferous vegetables use a particular chemical called glucosinolate to deter pests. Here we’ll look at glucosinolates and their role in the health dangers of cruciferous vegetables.
With summer fast approaching, Australians are getting down to business in the diet and fitness department.
But with so many health supplements and weight loss guides on the market, it can be challenging to decide on a nutrition plan that covers all bases.
And now it seems that even food which appears beneficial to your health can have adverse effects – particularly products that contain high levels of lectins.
Emma Taylor, the Sydney-based creator of Australia’s famed 123Diet, is an advocate of balanced eating and nutritional education.
Speaking to FEMAIL, Ms Taylor, 39, revealed the five standards, seemingly healthy foods that could be silently damaging your digestive health – all because of their significant lectin content.
In the plant foods world, everything is not created equal. The nutritional value of a pomegranate is far superior to that of celery. That’s just a fact. That doesn’t mean celery isn’t high—what else would we eat with our hot wings? It just means there’s a better use of your plant-based daily tallies. Here, nine fruits and vegetables that are fine (and better than nothing), but not at all the healthiest choices you could make.
Have you ever heard of the “dirty dozen”? That description generally relates to the 17 most toxic fruits and vegetables that most people consume regularly. These are considered toxic because of the sheer amounts of pesticides and herbicides that are slathered over them on conventional farms, but don’t think for a second that there are only 17 food items out there that are harmful to you, or that those not on the list are free and clean. Any fruit or vegetable not labelled as “organic” is contaminated with some chemical or another; those not listed here are just slightly less hazardous to your health.
What if a good part of your weight gain, brain fog, and digestive issues stem from vegetables you eat to be healthy?
In fact, a host of medical problems may have one cause. Issues with digestion, skin breakouts, rashes, redness, weak immune system, frequent headaches, brain fog, fatigue, weight gain and poor mood are some of the symptoms that could be connected to “leaky gut,” according to Dr. Steven Gundry, director of The International Heart and Lung Institute Center for Restorative Medicine.
From your passage through the birth canal to your first taste of breast milk, the first encounter with your pet dog or cat and the first handful of not-so-tasty dirt in the backyard, you are building your gut biome, that super-dense world of trillions of microbes that live in your gastrointestinal system (as well as in your mouth and on your skin).
And you want them in (and on) there!
They’re essential for everything from a healthy immune system and controlling your weight, moods and glucose levels to helping prevent acne.
When they’re out of whack because of an unhealthy diet, chronic stress, overuse of antibiotics, chronic inflammation or lack of physical activity, you’re at risk for some cancers, heart disease, depression, obesity and autoimmune conditions such as Crohn’s or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
The latest studies have begun to decipher the genetic components of those microbes and understand: (1) how they’re unique in individuals; and (2) how they’re similar among groups of folks. This info helps us deliver some essential action points for you so that you can maintain a well-balanced biome, stay healthy and fight off disease.
What are Lectins?
Lectins are carbohydrate-binding proteins which stick to cell membranes inside the digestive tract and bind into sugar.
Lectin is not digestible and may, therefore, disrupt metabolism and cause gastric discomfort.
Lectins are found in large amounts in foodstuffs such as quinoa, rice, barley, legumes, nightshade vegetables and dairy products.
Healthline reports that there has been relatively little research done on the consumption of lectins in humans, and as such, there is no evidence which can conclusively declare whether they are beneficial or detrimental to health.
A lectin that many people are familiar with is gluten, but other foods have lectins, as well, including whole wheat, pasta, grains, potatoes, rice, corn, peppers, tomatoes, beans, lentils and seeds, Gundry said. As whole wheat foods became more frequent, starting in the 1950s, obesity and diabetes increased.
These so-called health foods could be wreaking havoc on your insides, Gundry said.
Lectins break down your gut lining, leaving a hole in that protective layer and allowing in other substances. For example, endotoxins — bacteria that are little pieces of human waste — also create holes in your gut lining and can affect, weight, skin and mood.
All of these endotoxin attacks cause your brain to react as if you have a virus, sending healing cells to the aid of the afflicted parts of your body. That would be great if it didn’t wear out the cells in your brain from constant reactions. When brain cells start to die, headaches, brain fog, and loss of mental sharpness are the first signs of damage.
Vegetables And Fruits that pose a danger in your diet
Due to their high lectin content, excessive potato consumption could lead to digestive difficulties.
Despite being a good source of vitamins and minerals, potatoes are actually one of the most problematic lectin-containing foods.
According to Ms Taylor, it is essential to moderate the number of potatoes in your diet to maintain a healthy intake of lectins.
First, potato “eye” seeds are doused in pesticides to keep insects from eating the sprouts. Then, they’re sprayed with herbicides, so no other plants grow near them. They’re basically exposed to chemicals every week for their entire growing season, resulting in chemical accumulation to the core of every tuber.If you’re fond of eating these fruits and veggies, it’s far better for you to choose organic options, or try to grow your own organic/heirloom varieties in your garden, if possible.
It would seem that foods that have thick outer rinds can stand up to contamination better than those above, and the cleanest choices you can make include onions, avocado, pineapple, cabbage, melons, eggplant, squashes, sweet potatoes, and non-GMO corn.
Peanuts and Cashews
Although peanuts and cashews are high in both protein and antioxidants, they also contain a large number of lectins which can pass through the gut lining and into the bloodstream.
Having a high volume of lectins in your blood can lead to an increase in the growth of carcinogens, also known as cancer-causing cells.
Ms Taylor recommends replacing these nuts with hemp seeds and Brazil nuts, which are high in health-giving selenium as well as being an excellent source of fatty acids.
Because the body cannot produce fatty acids by itself, absorbing them from seeds and Brazil nuts is essential for long-term health.
Despite being rich in fibre and vitamin C, this popular nightshade vegetable can actually have harmful effects on your health.
Thanks to their significant seed count, tomatoes contain a large number of lectins which can trigger digestive issues if protein binds to the stomach wall.
Ms Taylor suggests replacing some of your tomato intake with mineral-rich alternatives such as leafy greens.
Like most other grains, corn has a high lectin count.
It’s essential to note foods like cornstarch, breakfast cereals, and syrups all contain corn, which can prompt inflammation around the joints and lead to poor gut health.
Ms Taylor suggests replacing corn with moderate amounts of quinoa and buckwheat for a healthier alternative.
If you gleefully scoop up an extra serving of corn at each meal, put down the spoon. Yes, corn is a vegetable, but it’s a better source of sugar than actual vitamins. Corn is high in simple sugar carbohydrates and has virtually no indigestible fibre (the kind that keeps you regular and lowers blood cholesterol). Instead, the carbs and fibre in corn are the highly digestible kind that converts to sugar and spikes blood sugar levels very quickly.
Plus, corn is quite a calorie-dense compared to some other vegetables. One cup has 180 calories. Compare that to the same amount of broccoli, which has just over 30 calories. Corn is also not a whole grain, according to the Whole Grains Council. Only dried corn kernels like popcorn, which have intact elements of the entire grain, get this subtle distinction.
If you’ve been on a diet in your life, someone has told you at some point, “You know, you burn more calories chewing celery than you get when you eat it.” But frankly, unless you have some seriously powerful jaws, it’s just not true. A celery stick has ten calories—and not much else. Yes, it has some Vitamin C and K and antioxidants, but on the scale of healthfulness, this one doesn’t rank very high. Skip it, and reach for carrots if you’re craving something crunchy.
An average of 64 difficult-to-wash-away chemicals can be found on any given bunch of celery, and considering that celery is basically a water-uptake plant that draws liquids (and toxins) from the soil, do you really want to think about what might be running through your veins after you’ve eaten a stalk or two?
Most legumes (beans and lentils) contain a chemical called phytohaemagglutinin, though it’s most concentrated in red and white kidney beans, followed by fava beans. Lima beans also contain a toxin known as linamarin, which can only be neutralized if the beans are cooked thoroughly for about 15 minutes. The same goes for the kidney and other beans mentioned above: they MUST be boiled for at least 10 minutes before any other cooking procedure, including slow-cooking.
Failure to rid these legumes of their toxins can result in severe gastrointestinal distress, and can even be fatal at higher doses. Never let pets eat raw beans, as they can be fatal nearly instantly, especially to pet birds. (Canned beans are fine.)
The problem with eggplant isn’t the fruit’s nutritional content—yes, it’s a fruit; don’t argue.
The dark purple skin is rich in antioxidants, and it has a decent amount of fibre (about 3g per cup). But the health hazard is what’s done to eggplants. Indeed, eggplants are practically sponges. They soak up the fat, calories, and sodium of the cooking process, so popular methods like eggplant lasagna turn eggplant from a moderately healthy plant into a calorie-dense nutritional bomb.
The mushies that you find at the supermarket will be harmless to anyone except those with an allergy to fungi, but some people are fond of foraging for wild mushrooms in forests and such. Most mushroom-related deaths occur when people eat the death cap (Amanita phalloides) or destroying angel (Amanita bisporigera) mushrooms by accident. If you’re not an absolute expert when it comes to wild mushroom identification, err on the side of caution and don’t put anything in your mouth.
Most people will never have an adverse reaction to the theobromine found in chocolate, thank goodness for us choco-fiends, but those with compromised immune systems may find themselves getting quite ill after eating it. That said, chocolate can be fatal to dogs and cats, so don’t share your favourite candy bar with any of your furred friends.
Radishes are a must-have topping for tacos (with cilantro and a squeeze of fresh lime, please). They’re crispy, sharp, and slightly astringent, and they’re quite beautiful, too. But, besides a good bit of vitamin C, radishes don’t bring much to the table. Plus, some people will experience tummy troubles, including excess gas, after eating radishes.
Iceberg lettuce is better than no lettuce if it’s getting you to eat more plant-rich salads, but if you can swap your leaves out, do. Iceberg is virtually empty. It has almost no nutritional value, less than one gram of fibre per cup, and only ten calories. Instead, opt for a leafy green that can serve up a bit more nutritional value per leaf. Kale, for example, contains a good dose of vitamin A and C, and it has bone-building calcium. Baby kale is often more delicate and less fibrous, which makes it ideal for salads.
Fruit juice (the 100 percent fruit juice kind) may seem like a healthy alternative to, say, soda or artificial juices, but it’s really just a cupful of sugar. Fruit juice is stripped of the fruits’ fibre and many of the healthful vitamins and minerals. What’s left is the sugary juice which, while delicious, is just a vehicle for a high-sugar sip. It’s smarter, healthier, and more filling to eat the fruit itself.