Lectins in Vegetables Causing Bloating

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 08/31/2023

In this article, I want to talk about another common reason why you might feel more nauseous, irritable, and bloated when eating certain vegetables and legumes. These symptoms can be a sign of lectins in vegetables, causing bloating. I've talked about bloating a lot in my past videos and articles. If you've already tried all of my other tips and you still experience bloating, the issue could be dietary lectins.

In this article:

  1. What is bloating?
  2. What Are Lectins?
  3. Are lectins causing bloating?
  4. Other Causes of Bloating

Man with bloated belly after eating | Lectins in Vegetables Causing Bloating


What is bloating?

Bloating is when your belly feels swollen, or like a balloon is being inflated in your abdomen. This can cause some severe discomfort and pain. It leaves you having a stuffed feeling for hours or even a whole day at a time.

Bloating can make your stomach look much bigger than it really is. You can even have difficulty fitting into your clothes if you are extremely bloated. You'll know when bloating happens. You may look in the mirror and notice your stomach is especially distended, your pants may fit extra snug, and your face may feel puffy.

Bloating can be caused by disease, but more often, it's a symptom of poor digestion, food allergies or sensitivities, too many carbonated beverages, overeating, or excessive gas build-up from certain foods. Often times, bloating happens along with other digestive issues, including constipation, indigestion, and nausea. That's because these issues can be linked to the same underlying problems. One of these problems has to do with lectins.


What Are Lectins?

Lectins are carbohydrate-binding proteins found in the food we eat. Both plant-based foods and animal-based foods contain lectins. Not all lectin proteins affect the body the same way, and some foods contain far more lectins than others. Many legumes are exceptionally high in the form of lectins that can cause digestive symptoms.

Humans are unable to digest these lectins, so they pass through the body unchanged. In small amounts, lectins play an essential role in many bodily functions. They aid the immune system and benefit cell growth. However, if you consume large amounts of lectins, or if you have a lectin sensitivity, there can be adverse health consequences.

Lectins can affect the body negatively in several ways. One of which is that they can reduce the body's ability to absorb nutrients. As they pass through the body, they bind to nutrients and carry them out. That is why these proteins are often referred to as anti-nutrients. These antinutrients can starve the body of the vital micronutrients it needs to function properly.

Another way that lectins can harm the body is by damaging the gut lining. As they pass through the body, they can bind to cells on the gut wall. This lets lectins communicate with the cells, which triggers a response. Some forms of lectins trigger irritation and inflammation. This interferes with digestion and causes digestive problems like bloating, nausea, and vomiting.

Researchers believe plants developed lectins as natural insecticides and animal deterrents. They act as a toxin to insects and animals that try to consume them. You can find the highest concentration of lectins in foods like legumes, grains, and vegetables in the nightshade family. However, there are many methods of reducing the lectin content of lectin-containing foods. Cooking, fermenting, and sprouting can reduce the amount of lectin and help prevent digestive issues.

A variety of legumes that can cause bloating | Lectins in Vegetables Causing Bloating


Are lectins causing bloating?

Lectins can cause damage to the gut lining and disrupt the digestive system in a portion of the population. Some people have a sensitivity to lectin; when they eat certain foods, they experience a massive amount of bloating. If you have a sensitivity to plant lectins, you may notice you frequently experience bloating, inflammation, and other digestive problems when you consume whole grains, nightshade vegetables, lentils, and soybean products.

The best way to know whether or lectin foods are causing bloating; you should try cutting high-lectin foods out completely. If the bloating stops, it's a good sign that the lectin-containing foods were the problem.

High lectin vegetables (and legumes):

  • Kidney beans
  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Peas
  • Green beans
  • Chickpeas
  • Soy (including tofu)
  • Zucchinis
  • Peppers
  • Eggplants
  • Potatoes

Try removing these from your diet for a couple of weeks and instead have low lectin vegetables.

Low lectin vegetables:

  • Cruciferous vegetables
  • Celery
  • Carrots
  • Onions
  • Beats
  • Asparagus
  • Garlic
  • Romain
  • Spinach
  • Parsley
  • Seaweed
  • Mushrooms

If removing high-lectin foods from your diet doesn't help your bloating, there may be a different problem you need to address. I have some other tips you can try.


Other Causes of Bloating

1. High Fat Storing Hormone

Many people have high Fat Storing Hormone without even knowing it. Fat Storing Hormone is a major cause of bloating. If you have a distended belly or extra fat around your middle section, this is a good sign you may have high Fat Storing Hormone. I recommend doing the keto diet and intermittent fasting together to combat high Fat Storing Hormone.

2. High cortisol

Cortisol is known as the stress hormone. If you are constantly stressed out, you're likely to have high cortisol. Cortisol can actually cause high Fat Storing Hormone. Try practicing mindfulness and meditation

3. Too many vegetables

Though you should be getting plenty of vegetables on the keto diet, eating too much of anything can cause digestive issues—especially if you aren't used to eating things like broccoli, cabbage, and kale. You may also be sensitive to certain vegetables, so experiment to find which ones could be causing bloating.

4. Too much fat

Fat is a major part of the keto diet, but too much too fast can cause a lot of stomach bloating. Start with smaller amounts of fat and increase your intake as your body gets used to keto.

5. Eating too much

When doing keto and intermittent fasting, many people eat too much at once. Instead of having one huge meal a day, try splitting it up into two smaller meals. Better yet, have one meal of vegetables and one meal with your fats and protein. This will help your digestive system work more efficiently. More on that here.

6. Low stomach acid

Your stomach actually needs to be very acidic. You should have a pH of between 1 and 3. If your stomach isn't this acidic, you will have a problem with digesting food. Food can then sit in your digestive tract and begin to rot, which causes bloating. I recommend consuming apple cider vinegar to increase your stomachs acidity.

Give these tips a try and see how they work for you.

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Disclaimer: Our educational content is not meant or intended for medical advice or treatment.

Editor’s Note: This post has been updated for quality and relevancy.

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