Lectins are a diverse group of proteins or glycoproteins that are found in many plants and some animals. They are capable of binding to specific carbohydrate molecules on the surface of cells and are involved in various biological processes.
In plants, lectins play a role in defense against predators, as they can bind to carbohydrates on the surface of microorganisms, insects, or other animals, disrupting their digestive systems or acting as toxins. Lectins are found in a wide range of plant foods, including legumes (such as beans, lentils, and peas), grains (like wheat and rice), and certain fruits and vegetables.
In terms of their potential effects on human health, lectins have gained attention due to their ability to interact with the cells lining the gut. Some proponents of certain diets, such as the lectin-free diet, argue that consuming foods high in lectins can lead to adverse health effects, including digestive issues, inflammation, and autoimmune conditions.