5 Natural Lectin Blockers For Gut Health 2021

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Medically reviewed by Kathy Shattler, MS, RDN

lectin blocker

Ever since we’ve started learning more about nutrition and paying attention to the foods we eat, we have become aware of what can cause us harm. Lectins fall under that group, and natural lectin blocker foods are becoming increasingly popular in the dieting world. 

Eating foods high in lectins has been connected to chronic inflammation[1], obesity, and even autoimmune diseases. That’s why avoiding these foods and replacing them with those who omit them, such as recipes from Dr. Gundry and his Plant Paradox has become so sought after. 

What are Lectins Anyway?

Lectins are proteins found in all plants and some animal products, and they bind to carbohydrates. Also called anti-nutrients[2], lectins exist to protect the plant from disease and pests in nature, but they are known to cause issues in our digestive system[3]. Their binding properties can cause nutrient deficiencies and malabsorption, troubles with digesting food, and even severe intestinal damage, leading to the development of autoimmune diseases. 

5 Best Natural Lectin Blockers

Since large consumption of foods containing high levels of lectins regularly can cause more harm than good, learning about the best natural lectin blocker foods is of the utmost importance. These five are some of the best you can find and easily implement into your diet.

Cranberries

These delicious little red berries contain D-mannose[4], a potent compound that’s known for its benefits in supporting acute urinary tract infections in women. It also binds to lectins[5] and helps the body absorb them more efficiently[6]

Cranberries are also powerful antioxidants[7] that aid in overall health and wellness by helping you fight off disease, flush out toxins, and protect against cancer.

In addition to cranberries, you can find lectin blockers in many other fruits, but especially oranges, peaches, and blueberries. 

A great way to add cranberries to your diet is to make delicious smoothies and smoothie bowls, juices, mocktails, sauces, homemade jams, and desserts. 

Crustaceans

Known for their exquisite flavor, crustaceans are more than just a seafood delicacy. Their skin and shells contain a very powerful compound called glucosamine[8]. Its role in cartilage and joint health is incredibly important, and it’s used to treat an inflammatory condition caused by osteoarthritis, the breakdown and eventual loss of cartilage. 

When it comes to lectins, it’s mostly known to bind to those found in wheat and helps prevent inflammation of the joints. Another study showed its efficacy when binding to lectins in potatoes[9] in children with autism.  

Crustaceans are also high in protein, rich in omega-3 fatty acids, and filled with numerous minerals like zinc, copper, iron, and magnesium. Their effects on the human body have been linked to improving heart and brain health[10], as well as lowering bad cholesterol and significantly decreasing inflammation. 

Okra

Green little powerhouse okra is rich in raw polysaccharides[11], which binds to lectin[12] and prevents it from causing inflammation in the body. This natural lectin blocker is also incredibly rich in vitamins A and C, as well as a myriad of antioxidants, helping the body fight free radicals and get rid of toxins. 

Native to West African countries, it’s believed that okra was one of the foods that first reached the New World during the days of slave trafficking. Nowadays, it’s an important food worldwide that can be found as an ingredient in many different cuisines. In the US, you can mostly find it in Southern cooking, with plenty of easy recipes to wake up your tastebuds. 

Okra is very easy to handle as it can be cooked in many ways, so explore them all and find the one that can quickly become one of your staples. 

Kiwi 

Another green powerhouse, kiwi, is a superfruit that contains high levels of antioxidants as well as vitamin C. It supports heart health as well as the proper function of the digestive and immune systems[13]

It’s also known to increase the body’s production of mucin[14], which helps support the digestive tract by forming a sort of slippery, protective barrier inside its walls. Mucin[15] contains sialic acid[16] which binds to lectins and therefore prevents them from causing harm to the digestive tract. 

Usually eaten raw or as a part of fruit salads, kiwi can also be mixed up in smoothies, smoothie bowls, chia puddings, salsas, salad dressings, as well as desserts. Just remember to peel it as its skin contains raphides, oxalate crystals which can cause irritation in the mouth[17]

Bladderwrack Seaweed

Known for its very slippery texture, bladderwrack seaweed is a natural lectin blocker, and it helps prevent lectin from causing any harm to the body. Even though it’s not one of your usual foods and might not even be easy to find, this seaweed brings on a plethora of other health benefits to the table. 

From high levels of iodine and beta-carotene to loads of dietary fiber and weight-loss-inducing L-fucose, bladderwrack is a brown alga full of beneficial micronutrients[18]

Bladderwrack can be eaten raw or made into a tea using 1 teaspoon per cup of hot water. Let it sit for 10 minutes before consuming. 

Important to note: Bladderwrack, just like the majority of other edible seaweed, contains high levels of iodine. Those who have thyroid issues, and pregnant and breastfeeding women need to consult with their healthcare provider before adding bladderwrack into their diet. 

Foods That Are High in Lectin

As much as it’s important to mention foods that contain natural lectin blockers, it’s also worth noting those which are high in lectin. These include:

  • Wheat 
  • Red kidney beans
  • Peanuts
  • Cashews
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Soybeans
  • Tomatoes
  • Potatoes
  • Lentils
  • Eggplants
  • Dairy products

The most harmful lectin, phytohaemagglutinin[19], can be found in red kidney beans. Considered pretty toxic, it can cause red kidney bean poisoning. 

Another lectin that is considered dangerous is wheat germ agglutinin[20] (WGA) because of its ability to mimic insulin and therefore create issues with insulin sensitivity and resistance. 

How To Reduce Lectins In Your Diet?

In addition to minimizing the foods that are high in lectins and adding those who naturally block them, you can furthermore reduce lectins in your diet by doing the following:

  • Soaking beans, legumes, and grains[21] overnight before cooking them
  • Peeling the skin and taking out the seeds[22]
  • Fermenting[23] your favorite lectin-containing vegetables as the good bacteria break them down
  • Using a pressure cooker[24] as this type of cooking is known to significantly reduce the lectins in your food
  • Although not the healthiest option, you can also try replacing foods high in lectin with refined versions as they contain fewer lectins (such as cereal, white bread, white pasta, ketchup, refried beans)

Lectin Blocker Supplement

Another great way to help reduce lectins in your diet is by using lectin blocker supplements such as Dr. Gundry’s Lectin Shield is a blend of 9 specific, high-potent compounds which help your body break down and eliminate lectins. All of them bind to specific lectins, but when working together, they are a real powerhouse. These nine include:

  • N Acetyl D-Glucosamine – binds to harmful lectins from wheat
  • D-Mannose – mostly binds to lectins found in legumes
  • Mucin – forms a slippery protective barrier inside the digestive tract
  • Sodium Alginate – controls levels of cholesterol and hypertension 
  • Vegetable Peptase – enzyme that aids digestion and helps break down lectins more efficiently as well as other proteins
  • Methylsulfonylmethane – reduces joint discomfort, especially when combined with N Acetyl D-Glucosamine
  • Larch Arabinogalactans – increase butyrate[25] production in gut bacteria (improves digestive health, supports brain health, and protects against disease)
  • Bladderwrack
  • Okra 

Tips to Stick to a Lectin-Free Diet

It’s hard to imagine you’ll always be able to avoid foods containing high levels of lectins, especially when eating out in restaurants. Still, here are some tips to help you minimize our exposure to them:

  • Explore lectin-free recipes[26] and find a few favorites that you can use as staples to always have prepped on-hand when you don’t have the time to cook. 
  • Get a pressure cooker and try using it as much as you can as it helps break down lectins.
  • Sprinkle fermented foods into your meals and experiment with different kinds. 
  • Stick to pasture-raised meats as they contain fewer lectins. 
  • Involve your friends and family in food making and educate them on the importance of reducing lectins in your diet. Even if it doesn’t present a health issue for them, sticking to moderate consumption of foods containing lectins can only benefit them down the line. 
  • Don’t freak out when you can’t control the outcome. Sometimes you won’t be able to choose a lectin-free food, and that’s ok. You can get right back on track immediately after. 
  • Talk to your doctor about your strategy and how you plan to implement a lectin-free diet. Furthermore, you can get tested for vitamins and minerals and see if you lack in any so you can properly supplement.

Other Foods to Add to Your Lectin-Free Diet

In addition to lectin-blocking foods and avoiding those with high levels of lectin, dr. Gundry suggests taking the following foods[27] to improve your health and help lower inflammation[28]:

  • Avocados[29] – rich in dietary fiber and healthy fats
  • Walnuts, Macadamia Nuts, Or Pistachios – full of healthy fats that support heart health
  • Dark Chocolate[30] (at least 72% cacao) – rich in antioxidants, it protects against free radicals and their damage
  • Broccoli and other cruciferous – full of antioxidants
  • Artichokes – rich in dietary fiber and particularly high in folate and vitamins C and K
  • Cassava flour – an excellent, mineral-rich alternative to wheat flour for all pastry and baking recipes

Gluten – The Look-alike Lectin

Even though it’s not lectin, gluten is also a protein found in some plants such as wheat, barley, rye, and spelt. It somewhat acts as lectins[31] and is known to create severe damage in the intestinal wall. In those who have gluten sensitivity or intolerance, gluten can be dangerously toxic and create chronic inflammation and irreversible damage. 

As the public became more aware of how gluten can be damaging, the gluten-free trend emerged. Thousands of products hit the shelves, promising to deliver the same taste, just without the infamous protein in the recipe. 

This is what many are hoping will happen with lectin as the world gets educated on its potentially harmful effects. 

Final Thought

Lectins are naturally existing proteins that bind to carbohydrates, and unfortunately, they can cause a lot of damage to the human body. Luckily, there are foods and supplements which contain specific compounds that can block them and prevent them from wreaking havoc. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What are lectins?

Lectins are naturally occurring proteins found in all plants and some animal products which bind to carbohydrates.

Which foods contain the highest amount of lectins?

Lectins are present in all plants and some animal products, but mostly wheat, red kidney beans, peanuts, cashews, pumpkin seeds, soybeans, tomatoes, potatoes, lentils, eggplants, and some dairy products.

Why are lectins harmful?

Lectins are harmful to their binding properties as they are known to cause disruptions in human digestion, as well as cause severe damage to the intestines, potentially leading to chronic inflammation and a development of autoimmune diseases.

Which foods are natural lectin blockers?

Some of the most powerful natural lectin blockers include cranberries, okra, crustaceans, kiwi, and bladderwrack seaweed.

Should you take a lectin blocker supplement?

If you’re having issues with lectins in your diet, try eliminating foods that are high in them such as wheat, potatoes, tomatoes, peanuts, and red beans. Instead, try adding natural lectin blockers such as cranberries, okra, crustaceans, kiwi, and bladderwrack seaweed. In addition to altering your diet, you can add a supplement such as dr. Gundry’s Lectin Shield contains 9 powerful lectin-blocking ingredients.

How to furthermore reduce lectins in lectin-containing foods?

The best way to reduce the lectin levels in your favorite lectin-containing foods is by fermenting, using a pressure cooker, soaking beans, legumes, and grains overnight before cooking them, as well as peeling the skin and taking out the seeds from those vegetables containing them.

Are gluten-free foods also lectin-free foods?

Although both proteins by structure and with many similarities, gluten and lectins aren’t the same. Therefore, many gluten-free foods can still be high in lectins.


+ 31 sources

Health Canal avoids using tertiary references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic researches from medical associations and institutions. To ensure the accuracy of articles in Health Canal, you can read more about the editorial process here

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Medically reviewed by:

Karla is a published author, speaker, certified nutritionist, and yoga teacher, and she's passionate when writing about nutrition, health, fitness, and overall wellness topics. Her work has been featured on popular sites like Healthline, Psychology.com, Well and Good, Women's Health, Mindbodygreen, Medium, Yoga Journal, Lifesavvy, and Bodybuilding.com. In addition to writing about these topics, she also teaches yoga classes, offers nutrition coaching, organizes wellness seminars and workshops, creates content for various brands & provides copywriting services to companies.

Medically reviewed by:

PubMed Central

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U.S National Library of Medicine
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