Dr. Al Danenberg ● Nutritional Periodontist
July 18, 2021
As a young kid, I loved to read Superman published by DC Comics. The character was created way back in 1938. And I loved watching the original TV series, The Adventures of Superman. The shows aired from 1952-1958. And then there were all those reruns.
Superman was the strongest man on earth. Nothing could harm him – except Kryptonite. Kryptonite was a greenish material from Superman’s home planet of Krypton. Kryptonite emitted substances, which Superman’s body could not tolerate.
Kryptonite’s properties would weaken Superman and destroy his powers. First, it caused pain and nausea. But with prolonged exposure, it would kill him.
Does all this sound familiar? Substances like Kryptonite are hidden in some of our food!
Humans are designed to be strong and healthy. We get our nourishment from clean air, pure water, and nutrient-dense foods. But our genetic code does not have the ability to destroy certain elements that could weaken us at first but kill us over prolonged exposure.
Among these elements are anti-nutrients. They are our Kryptonite.
Anti-nutrients are found in plants and are the plants’ defense mechanisms to prevent their species from being eaten and becoming extinct. They also ensure that their babies (i.e., seeds) continue to propagate the species. These toxic chemicals discourage animals from eating the plant and therefore assures the plant’s survival.
Lectins, phytates, oxalates, and gluten are some of the major antinutrients. By causing gut discomfort, widespread inflammation, and nutrient malabsorption, they can wreak havoc in our body if we eat large amounts of them continuously.
Obviously, if we don’t eat them, they can’t bother us. Eaten occasionally in small amounts, they may not be too harmful. Specific food preparation techniques may render some of them less harmful. But their toxic effects are cumulative. Our body can be damaged if we eat them frequently over long periods of time.
Lectins are proteins that attach to carbohydrates in the gut, bloodstream, or any tissues in the body. They form clumps of cells that can cause immune and gut reactions – specifically chronic systemic inflammation.
For example, lectins will bind to glucosamine, which is a carbohydrate that covers your joints. The result could be inflammation and pain around the joint.
Here’s another example: The mucus that lines mucous membranes is a mucopolysaccharide. It is a bunch of sugar molecules that traps lectins. When we eat lectins, our mucus production can go into overdrive as it attempts to bind to as many lectins as possible. This may make us feel inflamed and congested. That’s why some people who drink pasteurized milk from conventionally raised cows may often have a lot of mucus production and congestion. This milk contains “A1 casein”, which has lectins that stimulate an overproduction of mucus.
Lectins lurk almost everywhere. Large amounts of lectins are found in raw legumes like beans, peas and lentils as well as whole grains. Also, nightshades, which includes tomatoes, eggplants, potatoes, goji berries, peppers, paprika, and chili peppers, are high in lectins. A plant’s seeds and skin contain the highest amounts of lectins. Some herbs like basil, rosemary, garlic, chives, ginger and parsley contain high levels of lectins.
Once you begin removing lectins from your diet, it could take up to 2 years to heal your gut.
#2 Phytic Acid & Phytates
Similar to lectins, phytic acid is manufactured by plants. It is the storage form of phosphorus in the seed. When the plant grows, phytic acids release phosphorus to help the plant grow.
In humans, phytic acid prevents the absorption of specific minerals in our gut and reduces the digestibility of proteins in our diet. Phytic acid binds to calcium, iron and zinc when ingested, forming complexes preventing these minerals from being absorbed and used by the body. When phytic acid binds to a mineral, it is called phytate. Phytates aren’t digested when we eat them because we lack the enzyme phytase that would break them down.
The dominant foods containing phytic acid include beans, seeds, nuts, grains & legumes as well as some roots and tubers.
When oxalates are eaten, they bind to minerals to form crystals like calcium oxalate or iron oxalate. This can occur in the colon, in the kidneys, or in the urinary tract. By binding these minerals in the gut, oxalates reduce their bioavailability and can lead to mineral deficiencies.
For some people, consuming oxalates may lead to developing kidney stones. About 80% of all kidney stones are formed from calcium oxalates although there are other forms.
Raw cruciferous vegetables like kale, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower and radishes have large amounts of oxalates. Other high-oxalate foods include cacao, black pepper, rhubarb, almonds and beans. Herbs containing high levels of oxalates include turmeric, cloves, and cinnamon.
Oxalates can bind to calcium in the blood and form tiny, sharp crystals that can be deposited anywhere in our bodily tissues. These oxalate crystals can cause joint pain or burning sensations in our eyes, mouth, ears and throat. They’re often the hidden, underlying cause of unresolved health issues. And when an effort is made to limit oxalate intake, health improves.
However, it may require several months for oxalates to leave the body’s tissues. If you decrease your oxalates too quickly, you might experience what’s called oxalate dumping, which is where the body rapidly gets rid of its oxalate stores, leading to several uncomfortable symptoms.
Examples of symptoms of oxalate dumping include:
- Hives or skin rashes
- Mood changes
- Painful bowel movements
- Painful urination
- Muscle cramps
- Trouble focusing
Gluten, which contains lectins, is a family of proteins that is present in wheat, rye, barley, and some other types of grains. As a matter of fact, gluten could be an ingredient in many processed foods, cosmetics, prescription medications, and nutritional supplements. The human body cannot completely digest gluten. One of the remnants of the incomplete digestion of gluten is gliadin and its other gliadin structures.
Gliadin, a form of lectin, has the potential to slowly and deliberately destroy various tissues of the body. Its effects are cumulative, producing chronic inflammation over time.
It causes gut dysbiosis and opens holes in the gut lining, allowing toxic substances and undigested proteins to leak into the bloodstream. Researchers have proven this damage to the gut lining occurs in every human whenever gliadin is present in the intestines. This is known as increased intestinal permeability but is generally called a “leaky gut”.
However, the human body is resilient and reparative. The cells of the intestinal wall replace themselves every 4-5 days. If anti-nutrients and other irritants to the gut were not reintroduced again, you would have a new epithelial lining in your gut after a week. But the problem is a process of repetition. Constantly consuming gluten as well as being exposed to the other anti-nutrients or any other gut irritants will perpetuate damage in the gut.
A Perfect Solution to “Human Kryptonite”
As I see it, Kryptonite affects Superman as Anti-Nutrients affect Humans. Eliminate anti-nutrients, and you’ll eliminate their toxic harm.
Bringing animal-based foods into your diet while limiting plants containing lectins, phytates, oxalates, and gluten will help take your health to the next level. If you’ve noticed joint pain, never-ending fatigue, or bloating, they might just disappear when you focus on (1) removing the toxic effects caused by antinutrients and then (2) increasing the bioavailability of nutrients by consuming animals “nose-to-tail”.
My Better Belly Blueprint is my mini-eBook where I describe a 70% animal-based diet including up to 30% plant-based selections, which minimize lectins, phytates, oxalates, and gluten.
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