Leaky Gut Syndrome and Sprouts
At the bottom of the food pyramid, the strong wide base supporting the rest is the carbohydrate category made up of bread, cereal, and whole grains. We are advised that this category should make up 30% of our daily diets; one-third of a full plate of food. Prominently favored are whole grain fiber-rich foods. People with autoimmune diseases may have difficulty with this category and with legumes. Eating a diet rich in these foods can cause leaky gut syndrome. Let us find out how sprouting can help.
Leaky gut syndrome affects the lining of the intestinal walls and allows bacteria to flow from the intestines into the bloodstream. There is permeability in an area where there shouldn’t be any. What is in the intestines should stay in the intestines and not move to the bloodstream. Common symptoms are bloating, gas, intestinal cramps, food sensitivities, bodily aches and pains. In leaky gut syndrome, the cause of the common symptoms are from the toxins leaving the intestines and flowing into the bloodstream.
Those fiber-rich whole grains usually come from seeds in the grass family of Poaceae. This family of cereal grasses includes wheat, barley, rye, corn, millet, oats, sorghum, spelt, teff, and rice. The “whole” of whole grain includes the bran, germ, and endosperm. If you are eating white rice, white bread, or white flour, the aforementioned has been milled away.
Gluten-free grains are seeds from non-grass broad-leaf plants. This category includes quinoa, buckwheat, chia, and amaranth. These are not grains but we eat them as if they are.
Which sprouting seeds are Legumes? Alfalfa, Crimson Clover, Red Clover, Red Lentils, Green Lentils, French Green Lentil, Green Peas, Garbanzo, Soy Beans. Legumes come from plants in the pea family, the Fabaceae family. They have seeds in pods, distinctive flowers, and typically root nodules containing symbiotic bacteria able to fix nitrogen. For some legumes, we eat the fruit or pod that contains the seeds. Think of string beans and snow peas. For others, we eat the seeds. Think of peanuts and kidney beans.
Mother Nature creates the seeds and grains to propagate the plant. They need to be tough to get through bad weather conditions and be eaten by animals. It is by this method that plants spread from one location to another. An animal eats the seed or grain; it goes through the digestive process; gets “planted” somewhere else. Mother Nature gave the seeds and grains properties to survive, and it is those properties that can cause inflammatory responses in us.
The inflammatory response is caused by four difficulties.
- 2. Phytates and Phytic Acids
- 3.Enzyme overload
- 4.Bacterial overgrowth
Lectins are part of Mother Nature’s Pest Control System. To survive, seeds use lectins to repel pests. According to the Miriam Webster Dictionary, they are “any of a group of proteins, especially of plants that are not antibodies and do not originate in an immune system but bind specifically to carbohydrate-containing receptors on cell surfaces.” Pests are deterred from eating grains and legumes due to the lectins. The agent of deterring the insects can give our digestive system issues of inflammation. Not for everybody but for some people.
Raw kidney beans are high in a type of lectin called Agglutinins. These are natural insecticides Mother Nature uses to protect the beans from being eaten by animals or other pests so the kidney bean can find a place to grow into a plant. It can cause autoimmune responses in our bodies. GMO grains and beans are specifically modified to be stronger against pests and have more effects on us. Another reason to remember to use non-GMO foods.
Anyone with difficulties with lectins should also avoid members of the nightshade family (Solanaceae). This family includes but is not limited to peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplant. The lectins found in these foods damage the lining of the intestine and make their way to the bloodstream where they cause more trouble.
Grass seeds contain prolamins, another type of lectin that can lead to problems. It is soluble in alcohol which is one reason it is hard to digest – our alimentary canals do not have alcohol to break up the prolamins. Oats and rice which are used as gluten-free grains contain a protein that has a similar structure and can cause difficulties in people with gluten sensitivity. It is important to listen to what your body is telling you.
Phytic acid and phytates are related. A phytate is a salt of phytic acid. It is a precipitate of a phytic acid reaction. Phytic acid is “C6H18P6O24 that occurs in cereal grains and that when ingested interferes with the intestinal absorption of various minerals (as calcium and magnesium).” When grains are used as the basis of your diet, the amount of phytic acid and phytates becomes important because you are not absorbing calcium and magnesium in the amount your body needs. Calcium and magnesium both have many open bonds, and they attract other minerals to them. When your body has sufficient amounts of Calcium and Magnesium, you usually have enough trace minerals. But when you are low on calcium and magnesium, you are also low on other minerals because they have no place to bond. Cooking, sprouting, and choosing non-GMO grains are important to reduce the effects of phytic acids and phytates on our systems.
Digestion is the process of breaking proteins into amino acids so the body can use them. Your body produces enzymes that break the strong protein bonds. But when the seed has an extra layer of lectins, your body is caused to produce even more enzymes and they can’t work on anything because the lectins won’t let them through, so they end up working on the lining of the intestine causing leaky gut.
Now you’ve got enzymes eating at the walls of the intestines and you’ve got food inside your digestive system that hasn’t been properly broken down. The undigested foods can lead to an overgrowth of harmful bacteria in your gut and that harmful bacteria is let out of the closed system because the intestinal wall has been previously compromised. Some of the undigested food can be let out, too.
The body’s reaction to what it doesn’t know is to become inflamed. Inflammation is a response to the unknown as the body ramps up to win over the invasion. While you keep eating and not properly digest food and some of the food and harmful bacteria get out, the body continues to fight against it all. That inflammation response is what keeps us healthy in most cases but can become an out-of-control response and dis-ease occurs.
What’s a body to do? “Make sure to soak, sprout, and slow cook them. Try not to make grains or legumes the focus of your diet.” Try eating dark leafy greens, sprouts (alfalfa, clover, broccoli, kale, cabbage, fenugreek) are included in this category. Think of arugula, bok choy, cabbage, kale, lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, and cress. Sweet potato makes a wonderful substitute for white potato. Squash comes in many varieties; some are available in the summer and hearty choices in the winter.
Leaky gut syndrome can be difficult to live with because your body has so many uncomfortable symptoms. It can also make you feel as if you have no choices left to eat. But once you find out the foods that calm your gut and make you feel healthy there is no turning back. Good health is awaiting you. Sprouting seeds can help and mature sprouts give you a wide variety of delicious choices.
MD, Amy Myers. “The Problem with Grains and Legumes.” Amy Myers MD, 6 June 2017, www.amymyersmd.com/article/problem-grains-legumes...
Plant Lectins: The Ties That Bind in Root Symbiosis and Plant Defense. Peter L De Hoff, Laurence M Brill, Ann M. Hirsch. NCBI. 2009.