Lectin, gluten, stomach, fasting, toxins, wheat, and foods

By Dr Mercola

From an evolutionary standpoint, any creature, including plants, has a built-in imperative to grow, thrive and propagate. Plants, being rooted into the ground, cannot outrun a predatory insect. Instead, plants use chemistry for self-defense. One of the plant kingdom’s self-defense systems is lectins — not to be confused with lecithin or leptin.

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Lectins are plant proteins, sometimes called sticky proteins or glyca-binding proteins, because they seek out and bind to certain sugar molecules on the surface of cells. There are many types of lectins, and the main difference between them is the type of sugar each prefers and binds to.

Some — including wheat germ agglutinin (WGA), found in wheat and other grass-family seeds — bind to specific receptor sites on your intestinal mucosal cells and interfere with the absorption of nutrients across your intestinal wall. As such, they act as “antinutrients,” and can have a detrimental effect on your gut microbiome by shifting the balance of your bacterial flora — a common precursor to leaky gut.

“I like to think of it as they hack into our communication system, or any predator’s communication system,” Gundry says. “For instance, in insects, they attack a sugar called sialic acid which, among other things, sits between the endings of nerves. One nerve talks to the other nerve by acetylcholine jumping through that space.

Sialic acid allows that to happen. Lectins bind to sialic acid and so interrupt nerve transmission. If you think about it, paralyzing an insect is a great defense system because if the insect can’t move, bingo, you’ve solved the problem. One of the things I’ve learned through the years through my patients is we’re just a giant insect to a plant.

What may happen to an insect fairly instantaneously by eating some plant lectins may take years in us, who are giant insects, to manifest. It may manifest as neuropathy, it may manifest as brain fog, arthritis or heart disease. But the longer I do this, the more I’m convinced that almost every disease process … can be traced back to … plant lectins.

That’s a long-winded explanation for how plants don’t like us. They absolutely don’t want to be eaten. They’ve had 400 million years to work out defense systems — a really long time.”

The Role of Your Microbiome

One of the things that struck me about Gundry’s approach is that it targets the mitochondria and the microbiome, both of which are vital for optimal health. Few physicians, even those in the integrative medicine field, fully understand the importance of mitochondrial function, but Gundry certainly does. And, while the human genome has received a majority of the scientific attention, the bacterial microbiome genome is actually far more important. As noted by Gundry:

“Our microbiome is, I think, our early warning system, because about 99 percent of all the genes that make up [the human body] are actually nonhuman, they’re bacterial, viral and fungal … [from which] we’ve uploaded most of the information about interacting with our environment … because the microbiome is capable of almost instantaneous changing and information processing that we actually don’t have the ability to do.

We’re beginning to realize … that the microbiome is not only how we interact with plant materials … like lectins, but probably more importantly, our microbiome teaches our immune system whether a particular plant compound is a friend or foe [based on] how long we’ve known that plant compound.

There are lectins in everything. But the longer we’ve interacted with lectins and the longer our microbiome has interacted with them, the more our microbiome kind of tells our immune system, ‘Hey, guys, it’s cool. We’ve known these guys for 40 million years. Chill out. They’re a pain, but we can handle them.’

From an evolutionary perspective, if you look at modern foods — say the grains and the beans, which we started interacting with 10,000 years ago, which is a blink of time — our microbiome [regards them as] foreign substances … [T]here’s no lectin speed dating in evolution.”

The Importance of Mitochondrial Function

With regard to mitochondria, “mitochondrial flexibility is one of the unique things that make us human,” Gundry says, comparing the human race to a “fat-storing ape.” Whether you ascribe to the evolutionary theory or not, humans and apes have many genetic similarities, but the ability to store fat is a unique human feature. No other great apes can do that.

Chimps, gorillas and orangutans carry 3 percent body fat. Few humans could ever achieve that low of a body fat percentage unless we were near death from starvation.

“The reason we’re designed to [store fat is to] be able to access fat for fuel,” Gundry says. “The reason why [humans] have been able to take over all parts of the world … [is] because we can cycle back and forth, having our mitochondria use fat for fuel or glucose for fuel. We’re designed to shift very quickly … even within 24 hours.

[Most people] no longer have that metabolic flexibility [because] we’ve been constantly bombarding our mitochondria with an overload of glucose as a fuel, and that really underlies, I think, most disease processes.”

How Intermittent Fasting Boosts Mitochondrial Flexibility

One of the strategies Gundry recommends and uses to improve his own metabolic flexibility is intermittent fasting. For nearly a decade now, he’s been fasting for 22 hours a day, five days a week, from January through June 1, which means he eats all his calories for the day during a two-hour window. On the weekends, he eats lunch and dinner.

“I don’t eat breakfast. I don’t eat lunch. I eat my calories between 6 and 8 o’clock at night. I do that because my wife and I are at home at that time. If I was really smart, I would [eat] earlier in the day, but, you know, you’ve got to be practical in one way or another …

In summer, I’ll have a smoothie with some MCT oil in it, half an avocado, some romaine lettuce, spinach, half a lemon and a little bit of vanilla or stevia. Then I won’t eat lunch. At dinner, same sort of thing, I try to pack all of my calories in between 6 and 8 o’clock at night … 

[June 1], I finished my winter fast, if you will. Now, why do I do that? [Historically], food was a rare thing to find [during the winter]. Again, our metabolic advantage is we’re really good at starvation. It’s what allowed us to survive.

We know that during food scarcity, not only do our mitochondria rev up, but more importantly, our entire immune system and genetic monitoring basically says, ‘Look, times are tough. We don’t know when the next good food supply is going to come. We’ve got to make it through to that next period. We’re going to look at every cell in our body. We’re going to look at whether they’re pulling their own weight.

Are they odd? Are they not very fuel-efficient? We’re going to jettison that. We’re going to create apoptosis until these cells commit suicide.’ It’s kind of like if we were in a hot air balloon and we’re heading for the mountain and we’re going to crash, we’ve got to start throwing things overboard to get more lift.

I think that’s a fundamental principle that you’ve known for a number of years and that I’ve certainly preached for a number of years. The more we understand that that’s how successful aging occurs and study successful agers, one of the things that’s fascinating, particularly in an animal model, is that this intermittent fasting, this challenging [your mitochondria], is the way to do it.”

Although I used to do 14- to 16-hour intermittent fasts, because I felt that it was wise to increase glycogen stores prior to strength training, I have come to realize that’s not true. In fact, it’s counterproductive, as carbs after strength training can increase insulin and diminish IGF-1 response and blunt the anabolic stimulus. So now I am fasting for 18 to 20 hours a day and do all my strength training in a fasted state.

That may sound challenging, but I can confidently assure you, from personal experience, that once you are fat adapted there are no cravings. Additionally, I recently interviewed Dr. Dale Bredesen, who wrote the book “The End of Alzheimer’s: The First Program to Prevent and Reverse Cogntive Decline,” in which he discusses how ApoE4 is a genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s but ONLY if you don’t intermittent fast. If you do, it will likely actually decrease your risk for the disease as its biological function is to allow us to go for longer periods of time without food.

The Importance of Ketogenic Cycling

Gundry also understands the importance of cycling in and out of nutritional ketosis. While your body is still burning sugar as its primary fuel, you’ll want to be quite strict about not going over your net carb allotment. But once your body has regained the metabolic flexibility to burn fat, it’s really important to cycle in and out or on and off.

I suggest doubling, tripling or even quadrupling your net carbs two days a week, because the metabolic “magic” actually happens during the refeeding phase. As noted by Gundry:

“You have to look at it evolutionarily. It really was feast or famine. When we hit large amounts of food, whether it was a fruit tree or whether it was honey or a wildebeest or a mastodon, there was no food storage system. People tend to forget that nobody walked out of their cave and said, ‘What’s for breakfast?’ There was no refrigerator to have organic berries in every day.

When we chanced upon fuel, then our beautiful design [allowed us to] eat large quantities of [food] and store it as fat. Because, very shortly, whether it was a period of drought, whether it was a period of winter, we were going to regress. I’d like people to think of circadian rhythms. Obviously, we have a 24-hour clock. We have a moon clock. We have seasonal clocks.

What I like people to think of is that we have a period of every year where [we’re in] a growth cycle … That’s the time of growth and it’s a time to reproduce. Then there’s a time of involution, whether it’s a tree dropping its leaves, whether it’s an animal hibernating.

That’s the time where we kind of take stock of everything. That yin and yang, that flow that would happen every year on seasonal basis has completely been lost. We have to have periods where we consume excess calories, then we have to have periods where the exact opposite happens.

Years ago, after my first book came out, I was invited to Phoenix, Arizona, by a blogger named John Kiefer. Kiefer said you should burn fat for fuel most of the time. But every week, you should have what’s called “carb nite loading.” He chanced upon this by accident, but he made a career out of it. I picked his brain and he picked my brain. I think he’s absolutely right.”

Lectins Are Strongly Associated With Autoimmune Diseases of All Kinds

Since we just talked about carb-loading at least once or twice a week (once you’ve regained the ability to burn fat for fuel), it’s worth stressing that these ought to be healthy carbohydrates, and ideally lectin-free. While intermittent fasting and eating a ketogenic (high-fat, low-carb, moderate protein) diet will dramatically reduce your risk of chronic disease, lectins may still cause trouble. One of the primary issues is autoimmune diseases.

“One of the things I talk about in the book that really made me hyper-focused on lectins was a friend of mine who was a very early adopter of my first program. I call him Tony in the book. Tony had really bad vitiligo. That’s … where the [skin] pigmentation is lost. Vitiligo is an autoimmune disease.

What happens is we attack the pigment-forming cells in our skin called melanocytes. Melanocytes are actually modified neural cells. They migrate from the neural crest to our skin in embryonic development. When Tony started my program, a few months later, he came up to visit me. He said, ‘You’re not going to believe this. My vitiligo is gone.’ I’m looking at him and I’m going, ‘Wow. That’s impressive.’

He said, ‘How did that happen?’ I could have said, ‘Well, this is a very anti-inflammatory diet. It’s high in antioxidants.’ But because I’m a researcher, I said, ‘No. That’s too simple.’ I said, ‘Melanocytes. Neural Cells. What’s the target of lectins in insects? Neural cells! Could it be that lectins are why [his body is] attacking his neural cells? What I’ve done is I’ve removed lectins from his diet.’

I lost track of him for a number of years. I was on a health panel in New York City two years ago. I saw him and he’s covered with vitiligo again. I said, ‘What happened?’ He says, ‘You know. I fell off [the diet]. I really need to get back on.’ I said, ‘This is a great experiment. Come on. Here’s the list. Go for it.’

We were just on a panel at Harvard two months ago. He’s chairing the panel. He says, ‘I’ve got to show you — everybody — the vitiligo’s gone because I took lectins back out of my diet. It sounds silly but here’s the proof.'”

Molecular Mimicry

One way by which lectins cause harm is through molecular mimicry. They resemble proteins in the thyroid gland, in your joint spaces and in nerves. They mimic myelin sheath proteins.

The reason why lectins will in one person cause vitiligo or psoriasis, and in another attack the thyroid or cause rheumatoid arthritis, is still unknown. What is known is that one of the underlying factors in all of these disease processes is the penetration of the gut wall by lectins and their co-travelers, lipopolysaccharides (LPSs), also known as endotoxins, which tend to elicit very strong immune responses.

“One of the things I found in all my autoimmune patients is they had profoundly low levels of vitamin D … Interestingly, when you finally seal the gut … all of a sudden, their vitamin D levels went sky high and I could back down on the dosage.

Vitamin D is essential to tell the stem cells at the bottom of the crypts in the villi to grow and divide. Without vitamin D stimulating them, they just sit there and don’t repair the gut. I think plants are so intelligent, it’s shocking. I think one of the plant strategies is that if you have low vitamin D, because you can’t absorb it, then you can’t repair your gut. You’re a horrible predator. You won’t reproduce. You won’t walk.

Vitamin D is really one of the keys to autoimmune disease. Lectins are the other key. I’ve been blessed by knowing thousands of autoimmune patients who I call “canaries,” because they react almost instantaneously to lectins. It’s interesting. Everybody has their own certain lectin or lectins that they really react to.

This morning I had a woman who has rheumatoid arthritis. Her rheumatoid markers or anti-CCP3 markers have gone up. Her IL-17 had gone up. I said, ‘All right. What are you doing? What’s going on?’ She said, ‘No, no. I’m perfect. I know your list backwards and forwards.’ I said, ‘No. There’s something.'”

A Sample Case History of Crohn’s Disease

As it turns out, she’s been eating raw (unpeeled) almonds, and almond peels contain lectins. Another patient’s markers went up after going on a cashew binge, forgetting that cashews are an American bean and hence high in lectins. The answer for autoimmune patients, Gundry says, is to remove lectins from the diet and add vitamin D, which together will help “heal and seal” the gut, thereby preventing the autoimmune response.

“I mention a young woman who has Crohn’s disease in the book. Her well-meaning doctor at the Mayo Clinic told her that food had nothing to do with Crohn’s disease. She had been cured of Crohn’s disease with my program. He told her it was the placebo effect. We still laugh at that one. She ate a couple of Christmas cookies after she got off the phone with him.

Of course, it was like throwing a bomb in her stomach. She had horrible cramps and diarrhea. We skyped and she said, ‘Why don’t doctors see this?’ Like I talk about in the book, we can’t see unless our eyes are open …

I was lucky enough that when I met the guy who changed my life, Big Ed, who cleaned out his arteries with diet and supplements, [I had] my eyes open. I said, ‘This is not chance. How did [he] do this?’ Luckily, because of my evolutionary background, I was able to piece it together.”

Which Foods Have the Most Problematic Lectins?

Lectins are found in many of our most cherished foods, such as: 2,3

Potatoes Eggplants Tomatoes Peppers Goji berries Lima beans
Cashews Peanuts Sunflower seeds Chia seeds Pumpkin seeds Kidney beans
Squash Corn Quinoa Soybeans Wheat Lentils

Another common lectin is the A1 casein protein, found in most of today’s dairy cows. I’ve talked a lot about the benefits of raw milk on my site. The devil’s in the details however, and aside from being high in sugar, even raw dairy may cause problems if it has A1 casein.

“Casein A2 is the normal protein in milk, besides whey. It’s present in sheep, goats and water buffalos. But, most of the cows in the world are now casein A1 producers. They make a lectin-like protein called casein A1, which is metabolized in our gut to make beta-casomorphin, which is a very interesting thing. They can attach to the beta cell of the pancreas and incite an autoimmune attack on the pancreas.

I and others are pretty convinced that [many cases] of Type 1 juvenile diabetics is because of the casein A1 in milk. I’ve been convinced through the years that not only is it the problem, but people who think they’re lactose intolerant or that milk gives them mucus, it’s the casein A1 … Raw milk is great, as long as it came from the right cow … [Some] Jerseys are A1 and [some are] A2. Holsteins are A1.”

More and more people are now starting to recognize this, and there are even grassroots movements pushing for A2 milk in California and Ohio. Jeni’s Ice Cream gets all her milk from Snowville Creamery, which is an A2 farm. “I’ve actually talked to those people. They get it,” Gundry says. There have even been attempts to introduce A2 milk on a larger scale, but each attempt has been crushed by the American Dairy Council, for obvious reasons.

Wheat — Going Beyond Gluten

Wheat germ agglutinin (WGA) is another problematic lectin, found in wheat. Compared to WGA, gluten is a minor problem. According to Gundry, WGA is one of the most efficient ways to induce heart disease in experimental animals. WGA binds to insulin receptor sites. Normally, a normal hormone will dock on a receptor site, give its information and then release. Pseudo hormones like WGA, on the other hand, dock on the receptor permanently. Gundry explains:

“If they hit the insulin receptor on a fat cell, they turn on lipoprotein lipase and pump sugar into the fat cell, turning it into fat constantly. In muscle cells, the exact opposite happens.

They’ll attach to the insulin receptor in the muscle cell [and] block insulin from delivering sugar into the cell. I see so many long-distance runners who are carboholics, who look like concentration camp survivors because they’re really cachectic and sarcopenic because they block the insulin receptors in their muscles …

The lectins, like WGA and galactans in beans are miraculous ways of making us store fat … [T]he only way we’ve ever been able to fatten an animal for slaughter is to give them grains, beans and some antibiotics. If that’s how we fatten animals, that’s how we fatten us. It works really well.”

Not All Bread Is the Same

If you’ve ever traveled to Europe, you may have indulged in some bread and noticed you didn’t experience the same type of problems you have when eating bread in the U.S. The reason for this is because the lectins are removed when you use traditional methods of raising bread, which is still popular in Europe.

“Europe [has] always used traditional methods raising bread. They use yeast or sourdough. Yeast and bacteria are actually pretty good at breaking down the gluten molecule and other lectins,” Gundry explains.

Europe also does not permit the use of glyphosate to desiccate wheat, which has become common practice in the U.S. Glyphosate is also used on many conventional grains, including beans and flax, so it’s in the animal meats we eat, it’s in our baked goods, and even in wine produced in the U.S. According to Gundry, glyphosate potentiates gluten to people who are not even gluten-sensitive, and interferes with your liver’s ability to manufacture the active form of vitamin D.

Glyphosate also chelates important minerals, disrupts the shikimate pathway, decimates your microbiome and increases leaky gut, which allows more of the LPSs into your bloodstream. Since it works synergistically with the lectins, it really delivers a double-whammy.

“[Glyphosate] hits cytochrome P450. It’s one of the reasons the Europeans are so far [ahead] on health,” Gundry says. “It’s one of the reasons why so many of my patients can go to Europe, eat their traditional diet and think they’re cured and now they can start eating bread. They come back and eat a piece of bread and, bam — the whole thing starts all over again.”

On Vegetarianism and Other Diets

As mentioned, Gundry was a professor at Loma Linda University, a Seventh Day Adventist facility. Seventh Day Adventists are typically vegetarians, and while not an Adventist, Gundry did eat a vegetarian diet for about 15 years during his time there.

“I’ve never been sicker in my life. I used to weigh 228 pounds despite running 30 miles a week and running half marathons on the weekend and going to the gym one hour every day, wondering why I had high blood pressure, prediabetes and heart disease … Quite frankly, we have a fabulous orthopedic department at Loma Linda, because grains are pretty doggone mischievous for that.

Through the years, I’ve been good friends with the head of the Adventist Health Studies, a cardiologist. One of the things I’ve learned from following the Adventists and following Gary Fraser is that … certain animal proteins do contribute to aging. In the Adventist health study, the vegan Adventists have the longest life span. Behind them are the lacto-ovo vegetarians, then behind them are the pescetarians. Then finally, there are the real cheaters who eat chicken …

It is interesting that the longest living of the Adventists, who are very long-living, are the vegans. I take care of a lot of vegans because of my association with Loma Linda. As a general rule, the vegans are some of the unhealthiest people I have met. The reason is they’re grain- and bean-itarians. They are not vegetable eaters.

I have nothing against a high vegetable diet … The other thing we see in the vegans is they somehow think they will convert short-chain omega-3 fats into EPA, the long-chain omega-3 fats. They absolutely and positively do not.

Our brain is about 70 percent fat; 50 percent of that fat is DHA. There are beautiful longitudinal studies showing people with the highest omega-3 index have the largest brains as they age, and the largest areas of memory in the hippocampus. People with the lowest levels of omega-3 index have the most shrunken brains and the smallest areas of memory. Vegans have no excuse anymore. There’s algae-based DHA.”

Fruit and Berries — Seasonal Treats

Gundry’s first rule is that what you stop eating is more important than what you start eating. “It’s absolutely true,” he says. “If you take away certain foods, you’ll be amazed [to find] that it’s certain foods that are the troublemakers.” His second rule is, take care of your gut microbiome. Rule No. 3 is “fruit might be as good as candy.” While he doesn’t expound on the importance of burning fat for fuel in his book, that’s really part of the equation. Once you’re able to burn fat, fruit can be a healthy carbohydrate to add once or twice a week.

“Exactly. I think part of the problem is the vast majority of Americans are insulin-resistant. One of the things that people should realize is that the modern fruit has been bred for sugar content … One of the things I ask people to do initially is give fruit the boot.

Fructose is a major toxin. We take fructose directly to our liver and detoxify it into triglycerides and uric acid. It always amazes me the number of people with gout who consume more concentrated fruit, like wine or beer. Beer is one of the underlying reasons that they have gout.

The other thing people should realize is that fructose is a direct renal toxin. The more fructose I can get out of people, the better. Having said that, once you get to a point where you have metabolic flexibility, I think things like berries are probably one of the best ways to carbohydrate load on the day you decided to do that … Sweet potatoes are great as well, [and] I’m a big fan of taro root.

Years ago [in June] … my wife and I were at a Santa Barbara farmers market. I was taking these gorgeous organic peaches and putting them into my bag. She says, ‘Hey, wait a minute. Aren’t you the guy who says give fruit the boot?’ I said, ‘Yeah, yeah. But it’s June and it’s time to eat fruit.’ She says, ‘OK, smart guy. Let’s do this. This summer, we’re going to give up fruit to see what happens’ …

So, we gave up fruit for one summer. We didn’t change anything else in our diet. My wife lost 6 pounds and I lost 8 pounds. It brought home to me that, again, our ancestors and the reason we have two-thirds of our tongue devoted to sweet taste is we are great fruit predators. Fruit was only available once a year. We utilized that fruit to gain weight for the winter … [Now] we can have it 365 days a year, but that’s not normal. So, always keep that in mind.”

Connie: Eat gluten free, avoiding refined and processed foods.

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Living with coeliac disease , avoiding Gluten

Living with coeliac disease

Jula (25) did her vocational training as biology lab assistant at EUROIMMUN and has been working at the company since.

Only three years ago, she was diagnosed with coeliac disease, a chronic disease of the small intestine which is caused by gluten intolerance. Up to that point, she had to live with stomach aches and cramps after every meal.


When I was ten, my GP diagnosed me with wheat intolerance. I tried to switch my diet to other grains, such as rye and spelt, but it didn’t help. So I continued eating as before and just tried to live with the stomach cramps. It was only when I was 22 and working with EUROIMMUN that I first heard of gluten intolerance and coeliac disease.

EUROIMMUN has developed several tests for the diagnosis of coeliac disease, amongst them immunofluorescence tests (IFT) and ELISAs for the detection of the coeliac disease-specific antibodies in blood. These comprise autoantibodies against endomysium, and the respective target antigen tissue transglutaminase, (tTG, a body-own enzyme), and antibodies against gluten components (so-called deamidated gliadin fragments). Now, there is also a line blot for the determination of antibodies against tTG and gliadin.

What did you do when you were diagnosed with the disease?

Since there can be various consequential complaints if you continue consuming gluten despite the disease, I had my blood analysed by IFT at the Clinical Immunological Reference Laboratory. I really had a very high titer for autoantibodies against endomysium. I had a look myself at the result in the microscope and the fluorescence was actually extremely strong.

Apart from the autoimmune cause, coeliac disease has also a genetic component (HLA-DQ2/DQ8). Are there other people in your family who suffer from coeliac disease?

Apparently, my cousin has it, and I think also my grandfather did, even though he was never really diagnosed with coeliac disease. He died from pancreatic cancer.

How did you have to adapt your lifestyle after the diagnosis?

Of course I had to change my diet completely. I can no longer eat foods containing gluten. These include all the typical grains, such as wheat, rye, spelt, barley and oats. But corn, rice, soy and potatoes are ok.

Grocery shopping takes much longer now since I have to read through the ingredients thoroughly. I like to try new products, and sometimes they change the composition of ingredients, so I always need to be careful what I buy.

Also my family and friends need to adapt to it. For example when we cook, we cannot use the same utensils for the normal food and for my gluten-free good.

Does the disease keep you from spending your free time as you like?

It doesn’t directly, but of course you are not as spontaneous any more. It is difficult to go out for meals, especially in Germany. Here, restaurants are not very well prepared for guests with coeliac disease. In other countries this is different. In New Zealand and Australia it wasn’t a problem whatsoever, they even have gluten-free pizza on the menu! It also worked perfectly fine in Spain.

What food do you miss most?

Well I particularly miss the unhealthy things: pizza, beer and sweets, chocolate wafers or the like. And rolls! I think I only stepped once into a bakery in the last three years- it is just so tough! Everything smells so nice and you’re not allowed to eat it!

What happens if you consume gluten?

Before, I had severe stomach cramps after every meal. I was very slim and pale, and often tired. This has really improved over the last three years. I have gained some weight and feel fitter. I don’t know what would happen if I tried to have gluten now, and I’d rather not find out! Usually, symptoms grow more severe the longer you go without gluten since you become more and more intolerant to it.

You are certainly in demand as a blood donor at EUROIMMUN. Here we always need blood donors to obtain samples for the development and validation of new tests. Have you ever donated blood for this cause?

I am not donating any longer because I don’t consume gluten anymore and therefore the antibodies have disappeared. At the beginning, however, I donated many samples. My samples were used for our demo-slides. These are slides which are used in the immunofluorescence test and shown to the customers for demo purposes when they practice interpreting fluorescence patterns at the microscope. One of the slides was incubated with my serum.

Thank you so much for the interview, Jula!

Whole foods prevent inflammation

Prostaglandins are the main hormones in the body that can increase or decrease inflammation. The body makes them from fatty acids. The type of prostaglandin created by your body (pro or anti-inflammatory) depends on the type of fatty acids in your body provided through your diet.

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Prostaglandins are hormones that our body uses to manage the inflammatory processes in the body. Your body produces them from the fats you ingest. Not all prostaglandins are bad, however. Your body produces two different kinds: ones that promote inflammation and ones that inhibit it. If you have arthritis or other conditions negatively impacted by chronic or excessive inflammation, you probably have heard a lot about anti-inflammatory diets and that the foods you eat could affect prostaglandin production.

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Diet to reduce pain, cyst, and other conditions such as sciatica, endometriosis, pain-related disorders
• anti-inflammatory (less pain) function
• promotes less estrogen (endometriosis and sciatica pain grows with estrogen)
• builds up the immune system

However, knowing what not to eat can make a significant difference in the way an endometriosis sufferer feels. In fact, endometriosis diet is about eliminating foods that increase negative prostaglandins, prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) and prostaglandin F2a (PGF2a). Negative prostaglandins stimulate estrogen, which is the main hormone that wreaks havoc in an endometriosis sufferer.

What you need to include to reduce inflammation
• Your diet needs to contain fiber rich foods, lots of fruits and vegetables that will prevent constipation.
• Oily fish such as salmon, sardines, herrings and mackerel, and halibut rich in omega 3 fatty acids.
• Moderate amounts of grass fed beef. Fresh pineapple, berries of all sorts are anti-inflammatory aid healing and also enhance the immune system.
• 2 – 3 cups of green tea per day with its fabulous anti-oxidant properties
• Turmeric, garlic, ginger
• The B vitamins are highly important and can be found in green peas, spinach, navy beans, nuts, pinto beans, bananas, sweet potatoes, whole grain fortified cereals and breads and unpolished rice and legumes. Use supplements of B1 and B12 especially or a B complex (including all 8 B vitamins) vitamin if you are not including enough of them in your diet. B12 is needed by the body in small quantities but it is essential. It is not found in plant sources (except for seaweed) so if you do not eat any animal products at all you will need to make sure you take a good B12 supplement.
• Foods rich in Vitamins A, such as dairy products – milk, cheese and yogurt, carrots, dark green leafy vegetables, orange-coloured fruits, e.g. mangoes and apricots, fortified margarine, eggs, mackerel and other oily fish. The beta carotene that helps the formation of vitamin A in the body can be found in general orange or yellow fruits and vegetables but some green vegetable s where the tell tale orange pigment is hidden by the presence of chlorophyll. These are broccoli, apricots, carrots and sweet potatoes.
• Vitamin C is found in fruits – especially citrus, regular and sweet potatoes, cabbage, spinach broccoli, tomatoes, and green and yellow vegetables.
• Vitamin K sources such as broccoli and spinach, alfalfa, vegetable oils and cereals.
• Drink plenty of water. Your body needs adequate water to function at an optimum level. Adults need between 1.5 – 3 litres a day.

Increase Good Fats
Along with removing the source of inflammatory prostaglandins from your diet, you may also use products to reduce their production, such as fish oils (EPA/DHA in capsules or liquid) and the herb turmeric, throughout your cycle. Turmeric is best taken on an empty stomach to maximize its natural anti-inflammatory effect.

Increase Fiber
Ensuring proper fiber intake may also help bowel function. High fiber foods include whole grains like oatmeal and rye, lentils, chickpeas, vegetables and fruit. You may also want to consider a fiber supplement. Fiber intake, as well as the use of antibiotics, affects bacterial balance in the digestive tract. If you have taken antibiotics in the past or consumed an abundance foods containing sugar, you may benefit from supplements containing probiotics such as acidophilus and bifidus. Probiotics are the healthy type of bacteria living in our digestive tract. They are essential for the production of certain vitamins and healthy immunity. If you experience digestive upset along with your menstrual pain, or on its own, probiotic supplements taken daily on an empty stomach may bring you some relief.

What you need to avoid• Inflammatory foods, animal products: Cut out all animal products in the first two weeks except fatty fish.
Food items that will result in prostaglandins that are more prone to increase inflammation are a high use of Safflower oil, Sunflower oil, corn oil, Sesame oil, margarine, vegetable shortening and partially hydrogenated oils this includes products made with these items – check your labels!
• Stress and stressor foods: As one of the causes of sciatica can be stress, the result of which the hormone levels become elevated and released through nerve endings so you need to avoid ‘stressor’ foods such as caffeine (again check the labels caffeine crops up in a lot of products), processed foods, carbonated drinks, refined sugar and chocolate. Alcohol and smoking cigarettes also produces a stress reaction in the body.

Diet Tips
1. Eliminate processed and prepared foods that contain trans fats. Trans fats are vegetable oils that have been chemically altered to increase shelf-life and freshness of food. You can find them in fried foods, fast foods, shortening, margarine and any packaged product that names partially hydrogenated oil as an ingredient. Trans fats also naturally occur in milk fat, beef and other animal foods explains the American Heart Association. This might be due to digestive processes of the animals; if you eat these foods you cannot completely avoid this type of fat.
2. Cut back on vegetable oils high in polyunsaturated fat recommends integrative medicine expert Dr. Andrew Weil. Your body uses these fats to create pro-inflammatory prostaglandins. Problematic oils include but are not limited to corn, safflower and sunflower oil. Most commercially produced snack foods contain these oils.
3. Increase your intake of healthy fats that increase the production of anti-inflammatory prostaglandins and reduce the formation of pro-inflammatory ones. Beneficial foods include those rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like fatty fish salmon, tuna and mackerel. Eat walnuts, flaxseed, whole soy foods and hempseed. You can also find many products fortified with these beneficial fatty acids that normally do not contain them such as eggs. Cook with olive and canola oil.

About Sciatica
Sciatica can occur suddenly and be totally and painfully debilitating and a new experience to you or maybe it’s a reoccurring issue that you have lived with for years, suffered the pain and discomfort, put up with the disruption it causes to your life, popped varying amounts of anti-inflammatory over the counter medications and wait for it to ease up? Nutrition is a powerful tool you have on your side.
The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body. It begins at the lower back and travels down the buttock and the length of the leg. Problems in the lower back can cause compression or irritation of this nerve and cause sciatica. This type of sciatica is an inflammation problem. Another cause can be piriformis syndrome which is a muscular problem with the piriformis muscle tightening and placing pressure on the sciatic nerve.

Sciatica Types
Inflammation sciatica
Put an ice pack on your lower back/bottom for about 10 minutes before bed. If this helps ease the pain your problem is quite likely to be one of inflammation.

Piriformis syndrome
Put a heat pad on your bottom for 20 minutes before you go to bed. If the pain is better/reduced significantly in the morning it is likely you have a muscular problem. Check for exercises you can do to stretch out the piriformis muscle to help ease this problem also including magnesium rich foods into your diet will help such as dairy products, fish, meat, seafood, apples, apricots, brown rice, and lima beans. Also make sure you have enough B-12 in your diet.

Causes of inflammation causing sciatica can range from a bulging or herniated disc (putting pressure on the spinal nerves), constipation (a surprisingly high number of sciatica sufferers manage to alleviate their pain by altering their diets to avoid constipation that they didn’t realise they had), nutrient deficiencies, infections, diabetes, thyroid disease, metabolism imbalances, gout, alcohol, direct injury/trauma and also stress.

Other tips
Don’t slump! Take steps to improve your posture and strengthen your core muscles to prevent recurrences of your sciatica. If your sciatica is not food related be sure to see a doctor to investigate the other possible causes.

Foods to avoid in Endometriosis and Sciatica
1. Red Meat
Meat promotes negative prostaglandin PGF2a production. Red meat may contain growth hormones that include estrogen. If meat is your main source of protein, you can obtain the protein you need through other protein-rich foods such as chemical-free fish, organic or free-range chicken, beans, walnuts, cashews, chestnuts, sunflower seeds, flaxseed and sesame seeds.

2. Saturated fats and oils
Foods that are high in fatty acids stimulate the production of negative prostaglandin PGE2 and PGF2a. Fatty acids are found in saturated fats, oils (coconut oil, palm oil, etc.), butter, margarine, lard, organ meats, and fried foods.
Fried food, margarine and hydrogenated fats stimulate negative prostaglandins; they should be avoided.

3. Sugar
Sugar, in all forms (refined, artificial or natural) produces a more acidic environment within the body that can encourage the inflammatory pain of endometriosis. Therefore, limit the consumption of any food with high content of sugar, such as chocolate, sweeteners, drinks, sweets and honey to the minimum.

4. Wheat
Wheat contains phytic acid that can aggravate endometriosis symptoms. Wheat contains gluten and studies have found that many endometriosis sufferers appear to have gluten sensitivity which can cause an increase in painful symptoms. Studies have also shown that 80% of women who took gluten free diet have reduced painful periods. Therefore, products containing wheat and gluten such as breads, cakes, pasta, and so on should be avoided or limited.

5. Soy products and Soy Protein Products
Like wheat, soy contains phytic acid; however the levels of phytic acid in soy are considerably higher than wheat. High levels of phytic acid in soy are known to irritate the digestive system and reduce assimilation of calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and zinc. Soy products also contain high levels of phytoestrogens, toxin which seems to be particularly detrimental for women with endometriosis. Soy phytoestrogens disrupt endocrine function and have the potential to cause infertility and promote breast cancer in adult women. Soy is found in many food products including granola, pasta, imitation meat, soy milk, soy yogurt, soy based cheese, etc.
Exceptions are fermented soy products–tofu, tempeh, and miso. The processing method used by traditional Asian to make this fermented soy products get rid of most of the toxins and make the beneficial phytochemicals more available in the body. Tofu and tempeh are a nearly complete protein and as such are an excellent alternative to meat in a balanced meal. Miso stirred into hot water with a strip of kombu or nori seaweeds is a rich source of minerals.

6. Caffeine
High consumption of caffeine has been found to increase estrogen levels, which can trigger endometriosis flare ups. Hence, caffeine-rich foods to avoid with endometriosis include coffee, tea and soft drinks. Coffee is a known phytoestrogen. Since it is a phytoestrogen, decaffeinated coffee may still be able to act as an estrogen. Consuming more than two cups of coffee a day may cause estrogen levels to raise.

7. Alcohol
Optimum liver function is essential for clearing out excess estrogen which in return helps to control endometriosis. Overconsumption of alcohol is best known for causing the liver damage where the liver will swell with acute intoxication, sometimes painfully, and will show fatty infiltration and enlargement. Alcohol ingestion also interferes with vitamin B12 absorption. Eliminating alcohol from the body stresses the liver and this hinders it from expelling other toxic such as excessive estrogen from the body.

8. Dairy products
Dairy products should be avoided as they stimulate the production of negative prostaglandin PGE2 and PGF2a, which can worsen the endometriosis symptoms. The primary dairy foods that you should avoid with endometriosis include milk and cheese. To fulfil calcium requirement for the body, other good sources of calcium are sesame seeds, almonds, salmon, sardines, seaweed, figs, and calcium fortified foods such as orange juice and oat milk.
Note: When substituting dairy products such as pasteurized milk with soy milk, don’t forget that soy can also aggravate the endometriosis symptoms.

9. Refined carbohydrates
Refined carbohydrates also encourage the inflammatory pain of endometriosis. Examples are white bread, cakes, noodles, pasta, flour, pastry, etc. Most of their natural nutrients have been removed. Refined carbohydrates deplete the body’s nutritional stores as they are needed in order for the body to absorb the nutrients in the refined carbohydrates. This can also lead to increased endometriosis symptoms. A better substitute is unrefined carbohydrates such as gluten-free wholegrain breads, pasta, brown rice, potato, kumera (sweet potato) etc.
Note: When substituting refined carbohydrates, remember to look for gluten-free (wheat-free) products, as wheat can aggravate endometriosis symptoms.

10. Additives and preservatives
Processed, frozen and pre-packaged foods should be avoided when following an endometriosis diet as they are full of additives, preservatives chemicals, and many other ingredients that promote ill-health and negative prostaglandin PGE2 and PGF2. These additives and preservatives aggravate inflammation and worsen the menstrual pain.
• yeast in the backery product
• yeast in Chinese steamed bun

Some women have reported to achieving great health improvements by following a diet to address Candida yeast infection. I happened to be one of them. Donna Gates, in her book, “The Body Ecology Diet: Recovering Your Health and Rebuilding Your Immunity” has shown strong connection between endometriosis and candida yeast overgrowth. I did the questionnaires in this book, and found out a lot of similarities between my endometriosis symptoms and the symptoms of candida overgrowth in one’s body. A study by the Woman’s Hospital of Texas examined 50 women with endometriosis and found that 40 women showed bacterial overgrowth. After eight weeks of candida diet, significant reduction in symptoms was achieved. Yeast foods to be avoided are breads, Chinese Steamed bun , bagels, pretzels, muffins and sugars.
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