Our topic for 11/6/12 is the under-appreciated harmful effect from one of humanity’s most commonly encountered foods: legumes. The two basic concepts that are important for this week are 1) Plants have evolved lectins that have wide-ranging toxic effects on competitor organisms, herbivores and humans. These are particularly concentrated in beans, but can be found in grains and many other plants. 2) Beans can be toxic to humans because lectins are potent immune activators. In addition, they seem to cause adverse changes to the gut microbiota; they cause small intestinal bacterial overgrowth.
Lecture title: Lectins, the hidden toxins in our diet, Henry Lin MD, Chief of Gastroenterology at the VA.