What? I started to make bread this morning and for me, it is an all day process as I want to negate all of the deleterious effects from some of the components of wheat, mainly the lectin and phytate constituents. Well I guess in order for you to understand why I do that, or why there is a need, we need to look at what happens in the human body when these compounds are eaten. With that as a starting point, we can begin to root out some of the mystery, the hype and the controversy surrounding the consumption of one of the staples of life here on planet earth. Well, actually the controversy is primarily here in America and a little bit in other English speaking countries, but for the most part, it is an American controversy. I think that this realization is significant for the simple reason that American food manufacturing processes are the reason that lectins and phytates have become a controversial issue. Traditional preparative techniques used for millenia and throughout the rest of the world take care of the problem. Here in America, we forgo those processes and lectins now fuel the fires of the bickering discussion between proponents of various factions of food fadists.
Lectins are pretty much everywhere in nature. With every plant and animal having their own specific lectin groups within their cellular structure. However; by far and above the very small levels in animal sources are dwarfed by the plant kingdom which has greater numbers and varieties of lectins within their structures. Lectins are long convoluted chains of glycoproteins with each having some pretty specific functions. And as great as science is, we are just learning about what most of those functions are. I can tell you what those lectins DO, and even that is a little controversial. The why, is all speculation. I suppose we should ask people like my brother who is a firm solid creationist as to why his god in all his infinite mercy and wisdom would create a world for his chosen people to exist wherein most of the plant life for us to exist by consuming actually contain compounds that are detrimental to our health at best and toxic at worst.
Agglutination is the process that occurs when lectin glycoproteins come into contact with other living things, their bodily fluids, cells and many even have been found to be hydroscopic, that is they attach themselves to water molecules. Agglutination is pretty simple, it means that the lectin sticks to things. Not everything, but certain things. That is one process that is believed to aid in seed germination. The lectins not only hold onto water, but their sticky surfaces are believed to attach and hold onto invasive viruses and bacteria during this critical cycle of plant growth. And that takes us to one thing that we do know, and that is that for the most part everywhere in the plant kingdom, the seeds of plants have higher amounts of lectin in them than in the bodies of the plants themselves. And although we eat a lot of plants as omnivores, the ones that are at the forefront of all the controversy are the seeds of all the plants out there. Primarily we are looking at grains. With wheat being the really big and most controversial subject out there.
And here's the reason why - lectins, specifically those making up the molecules of gluten. The two specific molecules are gliadin and glutennin, they are sticky, and they not only work together to create that wondrous molecule gluten, but they do still remain sticky after the making of American bread making and readily attach themselves to any cellular walls that they come into contact with. It's that agglutinative response that causes problems. The smaller gliadin molecule once it sticks to the microvilli of the intestinal tract have some sort of reaction to a very specific enzyme that a very small percentage of the human population has within their bloodstream. The tTG or the tissue TransGlutanimase enzyme in a poorly understood role allows the gliadin molecule that once stuck onto the villi to then allow actual damage to the cell structure of the intestinal wall. What then can happen is that the cell damage interferes with the absorption of nutrients, and in some extreme cases, can cause inflammation to the point where it becomes painful to the individual. Let's emphasize this, those with the tTG enzyme are generally people that are of Northern European descent and less than 1 percent of those people with the tTG enzyme actually develop Celiac disease and at this time there is no understanding as to why.
Of greater concern here is the media construct called Leaky Gut Syndrome. This malady has been explained as what happens when the gliadin molcules stick to the villi in the intestine and are able to tear holes into the lining and allow the contents of the intestines to enter the bloodstream. Please note, there is no medical condition called leaky gut syndrome, it does not exist and is not even possible. If a human were to have holes in their intestines and fluids and partially digested foods were to leak into your bloodstream, you would die. Period. This is a construct of massive proportions that is remotely based on the previous facts about Celiac disease and has at its basis, the very nature of the lectins that form not just gluten in wheat, but exist in all of the other grains, seeds, nuts and legumes. Let me repeat that, Leaky Gut Syndrome is not a real medical condition. A whole lot of people make a whole lot of money from promoting the fear that such a thing is real. There are things about lectins that are real, and I can tell you about them. The agglutination aspect of lectins causes problems in that the molecules often stick to the intestinal walls and trap a lot of the nutrients that we should be absorbing from the foods we eat. In reality they trap and hold a lot of the vitamins and minerals and so in fact have antinutrient properties. The lectins also trap bacteria and viruses that are floating about in the foods we eat and exist in our digestive tract. Let's remember that there are a lot of bacteria in there, and the good kind thrive in that environment, and that some of the bad ones, love it when they get caught and stuck to the sides of the intestinal walls. This is pure speculation on my part, but looking at the data on this subject, I conclude that in humans with poor nutrition, with poor bacterial populations in their intestines, probably get stomach aches when they eat fast food, greasy food, candy or anything that isn't upright and healthy for them.
Yes yes yes, it's true that gliadin contact with intestinal villi leads to increases in zonulin production and increased permeability. Permeability means that nutrients, fluids and even proteins are able to pass through the cell walls with greater ease, as is the purpose of digestion. That does not mean that it tears holes in the intestinal walls. I'm sure that there are a few readers that will send me emails about this research, and conclude incorrectly that increased permeability means leaky gut when in fact it does not.
So, back to my bread dough. Early this morning I took a couple pounds of hard red winter wheat and ground it on the finest setting on my wheat grinder and also mixed in a pound of Kamut. Only because it was sitting there in the cupboard and I figured I should get rid of it. I took a tablespoon of local honey and dissolved it in 4 cups of water along with 500 mg of Vitamin C. I added a half cup of organic yogurt and mixed in enough of the fresh ground flour to make a stiff dough. I covered it and have let it sit now for almost 6 hours. In a few minutes I am going to mix a teaspoon of yeast into a half cup of water and when it bubbles up, add it to the mixing bowl and mix it into a stiff but still sticky dough. After letting it rise for another two hours I will form loaves and let them rise once more then bake them.
This process is one that breaks down most of the lectins in the wheat flour. It doesn't get rid of all the gliadinn that is needed to form the gluten to allow the bread to rise so it gives me nice soft bread that is incredible in both flavor and texture. One of the things that Americans have had to deal with is the processing of our foods to suit the needs of the corporate giants that are more concerned with making money and producing a product as rapidly and as cost effective as possible all to the exclusion of the health benefits that processing techniques that were discovered and used over thousands and thousands of years. Those processes have been found to reduce the lectin content as well as breakdown the phytates that are present and that bind up most of the minerals we need for nutrition. It is a sad fact that several millennia of our ancestors have through trial and error discovered methods for treating and cooking grains and legumes and within a couple of generations the drive to achieve ever greater wealth has caused a halt to healthy food production. It is all still possible, eating healthy is easy, if a bit time consuming, but it is worth it in the end. Look at my six part series here on this blog about Making Healthy Foods Healthier) And here are a few picts of the Kolaches I made and the rolls