Does Hemp Protein Contain Lectins?
Does hemp protein contain lectins?
The short answer is that hemp contains little to no lectins. Since lectins are found in just about every plant-based food on the planet, with few exceptions, this little detail matters if you’re on a heavily plant-based or lectin-free diet.
Lectins have gained some attention since some research shows that lectins and inflammation may go hand in hand. They may be to blame for some autoimmune and other chronic inflammatory diseases.
This means that hemp bars and other hemp products are an excellent choice for a great snack without the risk of adding lectins to your day.
If you’re looking for healthy ways to follow a more plant-based diet or to try to self-cure a health problem, considering what you’re eating is worth the time spent. Since overeating lectins could potentially cause a variety of health problems, it’s worth knowing what they are and how to avoid them.
What are lectins?
Lectins are considered part of the group of “anti-nutrients” due to the fact that it may interfere with the body’s ability to absorb certain nutrients.
Lectins are specifically defined as proteins that bind to carbohydrates. They act as a protective factor within the plants where they are found. Obviously, the goal of every organism in the food chain is to avoid being eaten, so this feature is great, right?
For the plants, this built-in “armor” is ideal, but for the humans that eat them, perhaps not so much.
A lectin that just about everyone is familiar with these days is gluten. You probably know that for some people, gluten can cause all sorts of digestive problems. Their bodies are incapable of properly digesting and breaking it down.
Similarly, lectins found in other plant foods may also cause digestive troubles for some people. This is where the advice that some people should follow a lectin-free diet comes in.
Some lectins may bind to the lining of your digestive tract, for example, which essentially blocks your body from properly absorbing nutrients from other foods. Things like calcium, iron, and zinc may go to waste, literally. Hence being considered an “anti-nutrient.”
The good news is that cooking plant-based foods properly can drastically reduce if not eliminate this problem entirely. The heat from cooking breaks down the protein structure and stops the lectins in their tracks.
Does hemp protein contain lectins?
All grains including seeds may contain lectins, but there are some grains and seeds that do not contain them at all. The amounts and problem-causing properties differ though.
Hemp seeds are naturally in the unique no-lectin group, so you can trust that your hemp protein powder and other hemp products will be lectin-free.
When lectin is found in seeds, most of this will be found in the hull of the seeds. This protects the seed from pests with a strong outer layer until it can germinate and grow into a new plant. Removing the hull properly during processing is what removes the lectins from many other seeds.
What foods are high in lectins?
The foods that are highest in lectins are plants, and often those where the seeds lack a unique protection structure, i.e. a hull or shell.
Think of it this way: the more difficult it is to separate the seed from its protective layer, you can guess the lectin levels will usually be higher too.
Some examples of common foods that are high in lectin are:
- Legumes (kidney beans especially, but also soybeans, peas, peanuts, etc)
- Vegetable oils (often made from soybeans, corn, etc)
- Grains (wheat, corn, quinoa, etc)
- Nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, etc.)
- Meats and some dairy (although this may be less so in grass-fed meats)
As you can see, most of these plants are foods where it is the seeds themselves that we are eating. This is especially true with the legumes group.
Moses Nutrition has a great reference list of foods that contain little lectin. Just keep in mind that not all lectins cause problems!
Are lectins bad for you?
Some lectins, like the all-to-familiar gluten, can be relatively harmless in much of the population. For those who have a genetic predisposition to GI problems, like in the case of Celiac’s disease, gluten and other lectins can obviously wreak havoc.
Not all lectins cause problems for our digestion, genetics aside. Lectins can differ in their structure, which affects how they can attach to different parts of your GI tract.
Most lectin-containing foods, when properly processed or cooked, end up with almost no lectins left behind. This means that very few lectins can cause problems if eaten in cooked foods, which means they’re pretty much harmless for most everyone.
Even if you’re eating “raw” lectins, like those found in raw almond skins, for example, you’re not going to cause any major problems. Sure, maybe they’ll block a few nutrients from the almonds, but they’ll be out of the way by dinnertime.
The lectins themselves are not typically a problem, unless certain lectins (like gluten for some people) are overeaten at every meal. They could start to sort of build up in your gut, and lead to problems, such as gut inflammation.
Do lectins cause leaky gut syndrome?
First off, leaky gut syndrome is essentially an intestinal problem where nutrients (and more) can “leak” out of your gut into your abdomen. Once these leaks exist, waste can leak out too, which obviously isn’t good.
Current research does seem to show that overeating lectins can cause inflammation in your gut. Whether this is a side effect of already having leaky gut syndrome, or whether it causes leaky gut syndrome to develop isn’t really known yet.
Regardless of the original cause, it is logical to think that once a leaky gut problem exists, you’re at risk of the lectins making things worse, or traveling out of the gut to cause problems elsewhere in the body.
Do lectins cause inflammation?
Studies have shown that when lectin-containing foods aren’t sufficiently cooked, they can cause inflammation in the body.
That doesn’t mean that you need to swear off everything containing lectin though.
Many of the foods that are higher in lectins have other components that counteract the potential problems that lectins can cause.
A great example is tomatoes. While they do contain lectins, they also are well-known for containing lycopene. Lycopene found in tomatoes is an antioxidant that is well-studied and shown to reduce heart disease, inflammation, and possibly cancer risk as well.
In addition, lectins also appear to only cause problems with inflammation in people who are genetically predisposed to it.
What are the symptoms of poor gut health?
Some symptoms of poor gut health — vomiting, diarrhea, frequent bloating, etc — are really obvious and readily recognized.
But your gut health affects your whole body. There are a number of other health issues that could suggest you should take a closer look at your gut health.
Some lesser-known but telling symptoms of poor gut health include:
- Skin irritations (such as eczema, rash, hives, etc; can often be due to food allergies)
- Food allergy or intolerance (may be due to poor ability to break the food down, not a true allergic reaction — taking an antihistamine won’t fix these reactions)
- Fatigue (due to insufficient nutrient absorption)
- Food cravings (suggesting an out of balance population of good gut bacteria vs bad gut bacteria)
- Irritability, mood swings, depression (gut health and nutrient absorption affect how well your body makes your “feel good” neurotransmitters, like dopamine and serotonin)
- Obesity (inflammation can reduce nutrient absorption, so your body will crave more to counter that, which leads to overeating)
Don’t worry though, there’s hope. All of the above problems, if they are a result of poor gut health, can be reversed by improving your diet and rebalancing your gut.
How can I clean my gut naturally?
If you’ve been awake at all for the past decade or more, you’ve definitely come across hundreds of different “gut cleanses.” These are supposed to be designed to clean out your intestines and rebalance things for improved gut health.
The problem with most of the so-called “cleanses” is that they aren’t necessarily healthy. Putting only fruit juice in your body for a week, for example, isn’t exactly what any nutritionist would call a healthy, well-balanced diet.
Avoiding the more fad-diet style cleanses, there are a few things you can do regularly and consistently to help you clean your gut naturally and restore balance to your body as a whole.
1. Drink enough water.
It should go without saying that your body needs a certain amount of water per day. You cannot possibly be at your healthiest if you don’t give your body what it needs.
The common advice is to drink a minimum of 64oz (or about 2 liters) of water per day. Some experts suggest a true “water flush” for gut health would really be to drink half your body weight (in pounds) in ounces per day.
So a 180lb adult would be advised to drink around 90 fl oz of water daily.
Drinking lukewarm water instead of cold can be better for hydration and improving GI processing speeds.
2. Eat a healthy colon diet.
There are a number of foods that are commonly known to be beneficial for overall gut health. Eating more fiber for gut mobility or simply avoiding processed foods can make a big difference in a short time.
By eating gut-friendly healthy foods, you essentially offer your GI system a chance to run smoothly, minimize inflammation, and improve your overall nutrient absorption.
Generally speaking, a healthy colon diet will increase your intake of fruits and vegetables and decrease your intake of meats, dairy, and processed foods. Heavily plant-based diets are among the healthiest choices when it comes to gut health.
What protein powders are lectin-free?
With so many foods that do contain lectin, choosing a protein powder that is lectin-free can be a challenge. Knowing that a plant-based diet is better for your overall health, it’s hard to know how to follow that but not risk adding lectins if you can help it.
The three most common lectin-free protein powder options are listed below.
1. Hemp Protein Powder
Hemp itself is already quite free of lectins, so you know the protein powder will be safe. This makes it one of the best lectin-free protein powder options.
Some additional benefits of a hemp product include having high fiber, omega-3, and omega-6 fatty acids, some cholesterol-fighting properties, and being a vegan option.
With all of these benefits, this is the clear winner among lectin-free protein powder options.
2. Pea Protein Powder
Peas are in the group of legumes that contain high lectins; not all pea protein powders are created equal. High quality pea protein powders are made from a pea protein isolate that does not contain lectin.
That makes this another great vegan option for a lectin-free protein.
3. Whey Protein Powder
Obviously this is not a vegan option, but it is one of the most commonly seen products on store shelves.
Even though whey is typically lectin-free after proper processing, whey protein is inferior to hemp protein for a variety of nutritional and preference reasons.
Most notable of its faults is being milk-based. This makes it impossible for some people to use due to milk intolerance issues.
In addition, you’ll find better benefits from the hemp protein in areas like increased fiber, calcium, and magnesium content, plus a more readily tolerated taste and versatility.
What are the benefits of hemp protein powder?
The unique nutritional makeup of hemp seeds offers an excellent set of health benefits.
The top 5 beneficial factors of hemp protein are:
1. Omega fatty acids
Hemp seeds contain both omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids. These components are known to boost immune system function and increase energy levels. This will help you feel your best and stay healthier.
Hey ladies…did you know that these can also help reduce the symptoms of PMS? That’s worth it by itself!
This compound is shown to help reduce cholesterol levels, which in turn can decrease your risk of heart disease.
3. Complete Set of Amino Acids
There are 9 essential amino acids that the human body requires to build everything. Hemp protein is considered a “complete protein” in that it contains all 9 of these essential amino acids.
One serving of hemp protein provides about 18% of the daily recommended intake of fiber for adults. This helps improve your digestion speeds and ability to absorb nutrients, leading to a healthier gut.
Antioxidants fight free radicals in your body, which means they reduce oxidative damage. This helps prevent many physical changes from slowing signs of aging to helping protect against heart disease and diabetes.
These can also help prevent inflammation, neurodegeneration (as with Parkinson’s disease), and arthritis, among other ailments.
Where can I buy hemp protein powder?
The best part of hemp protein powder becoming so popular is that it’s easy to find it just about anywhere.
Whether you are buying hemp hearts, hemp protein, or other hemp products, you can buy them either online or in your local grocery stores. If it’s a store where you can buy flax or chia seeds, you’ll very likely be able to find hemp products as well!
If you prefer to find a local store near you that carries our products, you can find one with our store locator tool.
Final thoughts on hemp protein and lectins
The biggest takeaway from this article is that what you put into your body can have much bigger effects than you may realize. Can you imagine that eating too many veggies (and too many lectins with it) could make eczema worse?
Eating a diet that is gut-healthy is important for a lot more reasons than you may have been aware of.
By choosing a safe, reliably lectin-free protein source like hemp protein, you can be sure that you are avoiding the potentially harmful effects. With such great health benefits from hemp protein itself, you won’t sacrifice your health.
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