Move over gluten, there's a new fad diet in town.
Lectins are being labelled as the new food to avoid by health conscious millenials, but dietitians aren't buying it.
For about a year now, Google searches for lectins have been on the increase and articles claiming that they cause weight gain and gut inflammation have spread online.
Lectins are a type of protein that enable molecules to stick together and are abundant in most modern diets.
Foods like grains, particularly whole wheat, beans and legumes, nuts, tomatoes, potatoes, pepper, dairy products and eggs all contain lectins – meaning a huge proportion of everyday staples are off limits.
But in all honesty, this doesn't sound like a balanced diet, does it?
Speaking to The Independent, Megan Rossi, a spokesperson for the British Dietic Association, explained that while it's true that a high intake of lectins can be harmful, “there is more to the story than we’ve been told.”
She says that as long as food is properly prepared, lectins should not be an issue for most people.
“If a person is eating cooked legumes and whole grains, these low levels of lectins are tolerated.”
In some instances, a GP or dietitian may advise a patient suffering from digestive problems to cut out lectins, however, the restriction of any food group can greatly increase your risk of nutritional deficiencies.
“The health benefits associated with foods containing lectins, which are packed full of gut-loving fibre and antioxidants, far outweighs the negative effects of trace amounts of lectins for most people.”
“Given this, the exclusion of all lectins in the diet is not only near impossible but not necessarily beneficial."
She concludes by recommending the Mediterranean diet which is generally considered the 'gold standard' by dieticians.
High fresh vegetables, fruit, wholegrains, nuts, seeds and extra virgin olive oil, al of which contain, you guessed it – lectins.