For some people, they could be.
Beans are the edible seeds of legumes plants and legumes contain a protein called lectins.
Lectins are carbohydrate-binding proteins that act as agglutinins (agglutinins cause things to stick together and form a mass).
Undigested lectins can increase gut permeability, induce pro-inflammatory signals, and create an immune response that can lead to the production of antibodies against them. This can lead to autoimmunity against your own tissues due to cross-reactivity.
Most lectins are resistant to heat and digestive enzymes so they don’t always break down with cooking or digestion.
Lectin are in beans like kidney, navy, black, & garbanzo beans, but also in foods like grains, peanuts, cashew, night shade vegetables (like tomatoes, potatoes, etc), and some dairy products.
In susceptibly people, lectins also promote autoimmune reactivity through its interactions with your gut microbes! Here’s another area where you gut microbiome plays a role in autoimmunity.
Some microbes have receptors on their cells for lectins. Because lectins can bind things together, it binds bacteria together and then bind them to your gut wall which creates a lot of inflammation and damage to your gut wall. This increases your risk for a leaky gut and autoimmunity.
The microbiota also release toxins like lipopolysaccharides (LPS) which are bacterial toxins that increase leaky gut and allow the passage of lectins & these toxins into your blood stream! Once in your bloodstream, lectins can target any tissue. This includes the liver, thyroid, heart, muscle, pancreas, and even the brain!
Lectins are not an issue for everyone with an autoimmune disease, but removing beans (lectins) can be very beneficial for some genetically susceptible individuals. The only way to know for sure is by completely removing them for a period of time and see if your symptoms improve. For those who want to do testing, there are food sensitivity tests for lectin-containing foods to see if your immune system is reacting to them. As always, this is not medical advice and I am not your doctor, so please check with you doctor first if you have specific dietary needs. Removing lectins may require you to work with a naturopathic doctor, nutritionist, or other health professional in order to make sure you are getting adequate nutrition so reach out for help if you need. If you would like to work with me on addressing your autoimmune disease naturally, CLICK HERE to get started!
Vojdani A, Afar D, Vojdani E. Reaction of Lectin-Specific Antibody with Human Tissue: Possible Contributions to Autoimmunity. J Immunol Res. 2020 Feb 11;2020:1438957. doi: 10.1155/2020/1438957. PMID: 32104714; PMCID: PMC7036108.