Why legumes trigger psoriasis flare-ups for some people and how can you reduce the inflammatory effect?
Legumes and Pulses are among the most versatile and nutritious foods available, and their Inflammatory effect on Autoimmune Conditions is another highly controversial and debatable topic.
Unfortunately, some people experience joints inflammation, skin flare-ups and nail psoriasis worsening after consumption and many people are unaware that these healthy foods are causing them a great deal of pain.
Why legumes could be triggering inflammation?
Low in fat and No cholesterol; legumes are excellent sources of dietary fibre, a good quality protein with essential amino acids, complex carbohydrates, B vitamins and many other important vitamins and minerals that are nutritionally valuable.
It is hard to believe that; a food that nutritious and has antioxidant properties could also worsen inflammation. However, experiences show they do indeed, and according to many dietitians and researchers, it is due to the legumes’ lectins which are difficult for our digestive system to break down.
Lectins and lectin free diet
Lectins are proteins that bind to carbohydrates/sugar. There are many types of lectins and not all are harmful to health. Some are completely safe and some are known as “anti-nutrients” because resist being broken down in the gut and are stable in acidic environments.
All plants contain lectins in small amounts, but, nightshades, sweet corn, some nuts; sunflower seeds, cashews and pumpkin seeds, legumes; beans, lentils, peas, soybeans, peanuts, mung beans, grain-fed and farm-raised animal proteins, A1 dairy products, have the highest amounts of lectins.
The lectin-free diet has gained popularity since cardiologist Steven Gundry, MD, FACS, FACC, released the New York Times bestseller The Plant Paradox: The Hidden Dangers in “Healthy” Foods That Cause Disease and Weight Gain in April 2017. In his book, Dr Gundry talks about lectins and their harm to human health and suggests a lectin-free (lectin reduced) diet to treat medical conditions such as autoimmune diseases, allergies, and cancer.
Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) and Keto also got peoples attention due to positive results and reviews. Promoters of these diets also believe that lectin-containing foods promote inflammation, leads to weight gain, and are toxic to the body. 
Some studies also have found that lectins may interfere with the absorption of some minerals like calcium, iron, phosphorus and zinc. The binding of lectins to cells in the digestive tract may disrupt the breakdown and absorptions of some nutrients, and as they bind to cells for long periods of time some theories hold that they may play a role in certain inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and Type 1 diabetes.
However, research supporting claims of long-term health effects in humans is limited and existing studies have focused on developing countries where malnutrition may be a factor, or dietary choices are otherwise limited.
What are most harmful lectins?
According to Dr Gundry’s research, Phytohaemagglutinin and Wheat Germ Agglutinin (WGA) are the most harmful lectins to watch out for:
- Phytohaemagglutinin: This is a lectin found in red kidney beans. It happens to be pretty toxic. Phytohaemagglutinin is the culprit behind red kidney bean poisoning. This type of poisoning is the result of eating undercooked or raw kidney beans. According to the FDA, eating just four raw kidney beans may cause symptoms of severe nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea.
- Wheat Germ Agglutinin (WGA): Another dangerous lectin is WGA — the lectin found in wheat products. WGA basically mimics insulin. Therefore, it can block your body’s insulin receptors. Unfortunately, that may lead to decreased muscle mass and feelings of hunger. 
Should you be eating legumes if you have psoriasis?
Not everyone with psoriasis is equally sensitive to legumes! However, If you are experiencing flare ups and legumes are part of your diet, then, observe your skin reaction after consuming legumes. Especially allergenic ones because psoriasis is a sensitive condition that can also react to allergens and irritants.
According to the Food Allergy Research and Resource Program (FARRP), some of the most potent and prevalent allergenic foods belong to the legume family, including peanut. Proteins associated with legume allergy belong predominantly to the family of seed storage proteins (albumins, globulins, prolamins). They are often found in high abundance and retain their allergenicity after heating. Some of those commonly reported allergen legumes are:
How to reduce the harm?
Studies suggest that a combination of soaking, sprouting and cooking legumes will significantly decrease the lectin content.
- Soak your dried legumes overnight. Soaking will help dry legumes to expand, soften and speed up the cooking process. The beans will grow in size, so make sure you have plenty of space in your bowl.
- Add a small amount of baking soda to the soaking water, it is believed that the baking soda will help break down the natural gas–making sugars and cut down the gassiness/flatulence.
- You can also add a strip of kombu for soaking. It is believed that kombu seaweed contains the enzyme required to break down oligosaccharides, thus making the remaining fibre easier to digest.
- Wash your soaked legumes well, discard the separated skin peels because peels are hard to digest.
- Use a pressure cooker if you have one. According to Dr Gundry, pressure cooking will help remove even more lectin content than regular boiling. Also, Pressure cookers can save time by reducing cooking time by half.
- Sprouting is an excellent way to increase the nutritional value of legumes. It increases the vitamins C and B and makes them much easier to digest by breaking down the lectins. You might be pleasantly surprised that sprouted legumes might even help reduce inflammation.
- To sprout; 1) Wash the legumes well and remove any floating beans. 2) Soak the legumes in plain water overnight. 3) Rinse well. 4) Place into a jar 1/4 filled. 6) Secure the jar top with cheesecloth and rubber band as shown in the photo. 7) Rinse and drain 2 to 3 times a day for 2 to 3 days, or until sprouts have reached the desired length (2cm is good). 8) Store in an airtight container in the fridge, they can be safely stored for up to 3 days.
Not all legumes have an equal amount of lectins and not all lectins are equally harmful. However, being aware of high lectin and allergen legumes will help you establish your triggers. Observe, eliminate, or consume in moderation and heal your skin. Everyone’s triggers are different, it is only through awareness you can establish your triggers, heal your skin from the inside out, and take control over your psoriasis. You can do it! Through an active and healthy lifestyle and balanced and clean eating, you are on the path to achieving even better health than ever before.
 Freed, D L. “Lectins.” British medical journal (Clinical research ed.) vol. 290,6468 (1985): 584-6. doi:10.1136/bmj.290.6468.584
 “Lectin guide” Dr Steven Gundry is a renowned heart surgeon and New York Times bestselling author of “The Plant Paradox” and “The Plant Paradox Cookbook.”
 “Are all lectins bad? (and what are lectins, anyway?)” January 11, 2014// by Dr. Sarah Ballantyne, PhD
 What Are Lectins?: Dr.Berg Healthy Keto™ expert and Chiropractor. Aug 7, 2018
 “Lectin.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 25 Apr. 2021. Web. 5 May. 2021.
 Freed, D L. “Do dietary lectins cause disease?.” BMJ (Clinical research ed.) vol. 318,7190 (1999): 1023-4. doi:10.1136/bmj.318.7190.1023
 Dr. Gundry Diet Food List: “A Comprehensive Lectin Free Diet Plan” By Gundry MD Team | Apr 8, 2021
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