One of the advantages of follwing a Paleo WOE is the avoidance of specialized proteins call Lectins.
"Think of a lectin as a protein containing a key that fits a certain type of lock. This lock is a specific type of carbohydrate. All life forms, plant and animal, insect and fungus have cell membranes that contain carbohydrates that sit within and project from the membrane. If a lectin with the right key comes in contact with one of these 'locks' on the gut wall or artery or gland or organ it 'opens the lock', that is disrupts the membrane and damages the cell and may initiate a cascade of immune and autoimmune events leading to cell death....."
Why is this important to consider? It can lead to a host of illnesses including a variety of autoimmune responses. Best way to limit exposure is through diet.
"High levels of lectins (specialized proteins) may be found in grains (also known as cereals or pulses), legumes (that is 'beans' including peanuts), dairy and plants in the nightshade family. Many other foods contain lectins but are less well studied and the amounts of lectins present are not thought to be as high or as potentially toxic."
Prior to discovering Paleo my diet contained grains, dairy and nightshade veggies;specifically tomatoes,potatoes and peppers. I(generally) avoided legumes(cause they put me in intestional distress) but ate lots of peanut butter.....not a nut but a legume. Who knew?
Did I have Leaky Gut Syndrome?
"Leaky Gut Syndrome (LGS) is the name given to a condition in which the ability of the intestinal wall to keep out large and undesirable molecules is reduced. Hence the name, as substances that are normally kept outside the body and within the intestines, are "leaking" across the intestinal wall and into the body as a whole. This happens when the spaces between the cells of the intestinal wall become enlarged for various reasons.......As you can imagine, all of this can lead to any number of seemingly unrelated symptoms affecting every organ system in the body. Leaky Gut Syndrome has also been linked with having a causative role in a large number of distinct illnesses. Many of these are auto-immune diseases, which means the immune system attacks the body's own cells. Leaky gut syndrome plays a role in these types of illness because it increases immune reactions to food particles and then cross reactivity may occur meaning that the immune system attacks body tissues that are chemically similar to the foods to which it has become sensitized...."
Potatoes, a Western staple are particularily nasty and as a nightshade vegetable contain both lectins and saponins.......
"....saponins disrupt cell membranes which may lead to a leaky gut. Saponins first bind cholesterol molecules in intestinal cell membranes due to the affinity of a saponin component (the aglycone moiety) for the membrane sterol (cholesterol)9. In the series of steps that follows, you can see how saponins cause portions of the cell membrane to buckle and eventually break free, forming a pore or a hole in the membrane....A final note on potatoes – to add insult to injury, this commonly consumed food is a major source of dietary lectins....preliminary tissue studies indicate that potato lectin resists degradation by gut enzymes, bypasses the cell wall barriers and can then bind various tissues. Potato lectins have been found to irritate the immune system and produce symptoms of food hypersensitivity in allergenic and non-allergenic patients"
In terms of my experience I have noticed a tremendous improvement since I have ceased eating grains, legumes, dairy and nightshade vegetables. My chronic muscle and joint pain have ceased to be an issue, especially in my elbows. I always attributed it to "hockey elbow" but now think most(if not all) of my pain was diet related.
I suffered from a scalp condition and adult acne that also cleared up after I began following paleo nutrition. My irritated scalp was most annoying and the best medical science could do was suspect some kind of pre- psoriasis condition and prescribe steroids. The condition has essentially cleared up wiith only infrequent flareups. That makes me wonder if there is a relationship between my food "cheats" and subsequent scalp inflamations?
Since lectins are found in most foods I have taken the precaution of eating unpasturized sauerkraut, an ideal source of probiotics that are instrumental in gut health.
Heres another excellent source........
We are what we eat. Eat smart!