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Food allergies, lectins and N-acetyl glucosamine

vitamin vitamins fish oil low carb gluten probiotic oily skin

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#1 jemini

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Posted 16 June 2008 - 04:52 PM

For some of us out there acne is more than healthy diet and exercise, but caused by specific foods. I still have acne and oily skin despite exercsising almost daily, low carb, high veggie diet and other supplements like fish oil, probiotics and brewers yeast. I have been able to connect my acne to intake to certain foods, namely wheat, but other grains and plants as well. Digestive supplements and enzymes did nothing to help me consume these foods, and avoiding these foods 100% is difficult and inconvenient.

I was doing a little research at my work today and came across some interesting things. Many people know this already, but many food allergies/intolerences are mostly due to food particles called lectins. I won't go into too much detail, but lectins are essentially compounds found in pretty much all plant foods and are compounds that are a combination of carbohydrate and protein. These compounds are very resistant to cooking and digestion and often have bad effects on the body. Traditional methods of food preparation such as soaking and fermenting grains DOES reduce the lectin content considerably, but still does not eliminate it.They can react and activate all sorts of things in the digestive track and the immune system. All plant foods have lectins, but some plants seem to contain more harmful ones than others. The big ones include soy, wheat, corn and most other grains, and many legumes as well.

Big deal, I never thought much of this lectin theory since I couldn't see the connection with glucose and blood sugar. Most holistic methods of treating acne revolve around regulating blood sugar levels. Then I found this
http://www.jstor.org/pss/62526
and this
http://www.ncbi.nlm..../pubmed/7032601
Essentially, one of the lectins in wheat binds to the insulin receptor and activates it. It also amplifies the signal from insulin. So despite a "healthy" diet and lifestyle, your body is still overreacting to the insulin. LEctins have also been attributed to other bad things as well, but I won't bother listing them, just google it for more info.

As many of us already know, high insulin levels, or in this case, an exaggerated response to normal insulin levels are one of the major causes of acne. The obvious treatment would be to avoid lectin containing foods, and this is also the most difficult. Other methods include to ferment and soak your own grains and legumes for extended periods of time. Cool as a hobby, but not practical in the real world where one is on the go and may be limited in their food choices.

Then I came across several studies like this

Decay accelerating factor (DAF) is a cell-surface phosphatidylinositol- anchored protein that protects the cell from inadvertent complement attack by binding to and inactivating C3 and C5 convertases. We have measured DAF on human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC) by immunoradiometric assay after its removal by phosphatidylinositol- specific phospholipase C or Nonidet P-40 detergent extraction and have previously demonstrated that DAF synthesis can be stimulated by phorbol ester activation of protein kinase C. We now report that although stimulation (4-48 h) of HUVEC with various cytokines, including TNF, IL- 1, and IFN-gamma, did not alter DAF levels, wheat germ agglutinin (WGA) (5-50 micrograms/ml), a lectin specific for binding N-acetyl neuraminic acid and N-acetyl glucosamine residues, increased DAF levels fivefold when incubated with HUVEC for 12 to 24 h. The lectins Con A and PHA also stimulated DAF expression twofold, whereas a number of others including Ulex europaeus, Bandeiraea simplicifolia lectin I, and Ricinus communis agglutinin I, which bind to endothelial cells, were inactive. The increase in DAF by WGA was inhibited by N-acetyl glucosamine (10-50 mM) but by neither N-acetyl neuraminic acid nor removal of surface N-acetyl neuraminic acid with neuraminidase. However, succinylated WGA, which has unaltered affinity for N-acetyl glucosamine but not longer binds N-acetyl neuraminic acid, was inactive. These data suggest that the binding of WGA to sugar residues alone is not sufficient to trigger DAF expression and that occupation of additional, specific sites are required. The increase in DAF levels on HUVEC was blocked by inhibitors of RNA and protein synthesis. We conclude that continuous occupation by WGA of specific binding sites on HUVEC triggers events leading to DAF synthesis. This unique, long term stimulation of endothelial cells by lectins may be relevant to cell:cell interactions at the endothelium.

There are many other studies which prove this point, but I will just use this one to prove my point since it was the first one which popped up on google. It is a well known fact that lectins bind to other glycosylated receptors in our body. N acetyl glucosamine is basically a wierd sugar found commonly in fungi, bacteria and in other forms in our body. It is known that wheat germ agglutenin, as well as many (but admittedly not all) lectins bind with NAG.

Then I also found this recent study:
http://www.sciencedi...c837a31ae49ffb7

I was able to find a more complete abstract from a different site which went into a little more detail, and compared NAG to 10% benzoyl peroxide. Both were found to be effective, but TOPICAL NAG was considered superior since it reduced inflammation much quicker (1 week as opposed to 4) and no irritation.

It would be no surprise that the subgroup of acne patients were found to have increased circulating lectins (perhaps leaky gut) or increased sensitivity to them. By applying NAG, it allows the lectins to bind to that instead of the insulin receptor, thus safely and effectively reducing the insulin response caused by the lectins. So, it makes sense that if it works topically, then it may also work orally. NAG is a hard supplement to find, since your body doesn't absorb it well, and the bacteria in the gut metabolize it as well. Which is normally a bad thing for a supplement, but good in our case. Perhaps, just perhaps if taken with a meal with a known allergen (wheat, corn, etc) it would bind to the lectins in the food before they had a chance to interact with receptors in the gut and be taken up into the system.

So in summary, supplementing with NAG (at what dose, I don't know) may help REDUCE the effects of acne caused by a food intolerance when taken with the meal. Obviously, the best means of treatment is complete avoidance, and I still recommend avoiding most grains as much as possible if they give you problems. But combined oral and topical therapy with NAG may allow some of us with known food intolerances help us get by with the occasional cheat with little to no repercussions.

I am going to the vitamin shop right now to pick some up and do some self experimentation. I would go into more detail and put in more citations because I know its a bad habit to say stuff without reinforcement, but I bookmarked all the stuff on my work computer and I am just to busy to look all this stuff up again atm. Just look through google if you want more information.

Now, this is just a theory, and a relatively untested one at that. I just thought this could be important for some people out there, and this is a relatively obscure supplement that may be useful to our arsenal.

Quick Edit: here is a good site which essentialy sums up info on lectins and the use of NAG
http://www.vrp.com/a...art2009&zTYPE=2

here is a site with more of the abstract about NAG and acne
http://www.skinandag...om/article/7579

#2 ComplexIssues

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Posted 16 June 2008 - 08:22 PM

thanks for this indepth analysis! Please do let us know how the experimentation goes.

#3 TDNB

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Posted 04 May 2011 - 11:02 PM

Ancient bump, anyone have experience? I'm planning on doing this.

#4 alternativista

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Posted 05 May 2011 - 08:32 AM

NAG is a glyconutrient that binds up the lectins in wheat/gluten.

But lectins are in all foods and different foods have different lectins that range from deadly to pretty harmless and different glyco-nutrients bind up those different lectins. This is why you need to eat a big variety of foods, especially fruits and vegetables.

See the ZAG enzyme thread for more info on the various problematic lectins and the nutrients that bind them up--nutrients that just happen to be in traditional dishes/food combinations that people have eaten for thousands of years. http://www.acne.org/...gg-t247794.html

Edited by alternativista, 27 September 2011 - 10:04 AM.


#5 chunkylard

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Posted 05 May 2011 - 10:09 AM

QUOTE (TDNB @ May 4 2011, 11:02 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Ancient bump, anyone have experience? I'm planning on doing this.


We forgive you for bumping this up because it actually has some vital information. I've heard several times that most gluosamine supplements can be used to diminish the effects of lectins in grains specifically. I don't have first hand experience and it's probably not something you can gauge too well on a personal level without getting some sort of testing done but perhaps its one of those compound supplements like Gymnema Sylvestre that can be used to "cheat" once in a while whenever your diet is not-so-great. (You'd still have the gluten to worry about though.)

I'd definitely be interested in trying Glucosamine and Gymnema Sylvestre together and going on a bread binge but I won't for obvious reasons. Anyone up for the task? tongue.gif

Edited by chunkylard, 05 May 2011 - 10:10 AM.


#6 EyzzChinaDoll

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Posted 26 September 2011 - 07:31 PM

I'd try anything out that would allow me go on a chocolate binge goddamit...
Also, I want to add that I couldn't find any NAG supplement, except for something called Forlex, which actually contains hydrolyzed chitin which is said to be the natural polymer for NAG. I'm quite confused.

#7 alternativista

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 10:04 AM

^ The supplements are usually called Glucosamine and they are available just about everywhere. Older people take it for their joints. It comes from chitin, which is what all fungus are made of as well as insects and crustacean exoskelatons.

But i don't know that glucosamine has anything to do with whatever lectins there are in cacao. You'd have to look that up. I found a really long list of foods and their lectin content. There's a link somewhere in the ZAG enzyme thread: http://www.acne.org/...gg-t247794.html

Edited by alternativista, 27 September 2011 - 10:04 AM.


#8 EyzzChinaDoll

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Posted 29 September 2011 - 02:14 AM

If anyone has been experimenting with dosages on this and discovered what's the proportion that works, please do share. Also, from what I understood, this is not a supplement that should be taken constantly, but rather when straying from our low GI diet. The only tricks I've gathered so far by reading the forum were - either chase the sugary, processed etc dish with an occasional dose of psyllium, or increase stomach acidity via betaine hcl or, with some glicemic-managing supplement like Gymnema Silvestre. I was planning to take gymnema s tho on a regular basis since I've been a sugar fiend for ten years now and it's almost maddening to quit the addiction. But I'm not sure if anyone tried it and works quick for acne.

(also, right now I'm on a zinc (about 20 mg but will increase) &vitamin c (600 mg) + evening primrose 2500 mg & vit E 50 mg + flax seed oil cure, also taking psyllium daily for a while - some say it works with acne. another question which I don't know where to post would be - supplements taken on an empty stomach --- 1 h before psyllium and all --- make me feel nauseous and want to throw up. thinking to change the order and take supplements 2 h after the husk, let's see if that works. really hoping not to screw my stomach with all these supplements). I think I may be doing something wrong. Thinking a Mega-zinc supplement with no vit c added, as a next and better step.
Ty for your answer alternavista, and jemini for the topic, you guys are ace <3

#9 alternativista

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Posted 29 September 2011 - 07:54 AM

If anyone has been experimenting with dosages on this and discovered what's the proportion that works, please do share. Also, from what I understood, this is not a supplement that should be taken constantly, but rather when straying from our low GI diet. The only tricks I've gathered so far by reading the forum were - either chase the sugary, processed etc dish with an occasional dose of psyllium, or increase stomach acidity via betaine hcl or, with some glicemic-managing supplement like Gymnema Silvestre. I was planning to take gymnema s tho on a regular basis since I've been a sugar fiend for ten years now and it's almost maddening to quit the addiction. But I'm not sure if anyone tried it and works quick for acne.


I think you have it confused with a fiber supplement with a similar name which I'm not going to be able spell right. Something like glucomanan. You take fiber supplements before a meal to lower the glycemic impact. The studies I've seen had diabetics take psyllium 30 minutes before the meal.

Glucosamine is for binding up the lectins in wheat. And does something for joint inflamamtion or something which is why the supplements are so widely available.

#10 EyzzChinaDoll

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Posted 29 September 2011 - 01:47 PM

ah, had no idea about the other name, glucomanan - but thanx for mentioning it. what I was trying to do was browsing the boards to make a list of things that would count as a safety net for times when I happen to stray from my diet (in the past 2 weeks I've been cutting down all gluten and sugar and my skin cleared. About once or twice a week I still moderately break my newly developed diet habits, and that's why I need any tips about minimizing the effect). Glucosamine sounds like it's definitely worth a try. I don't know about Gymnema Sylvestre but sounds good as well.

#11 alternativista

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Posted 29 September 2011 - 07:29 PM

It's not another name, it's a completely different thing. Glucomannan is a fiber supplement. Glucosamine is not. And you should use caution with glucomanan if you want to carry it around with you in capsule form. you want to take fiber supplements with a glass of water, and you want to take glucomannan with a big glass of water. Or dissolve it in water before you drink it. You should find the lengthy discussion thread we had on it for more info on the hazards.

Other things you can do about blood sugar:
Have only a very small amount of the high glycemic thing, ideally only after a good meal. Or take a fiber supplement beforehand.
Have vinegar before hand, such as a salad with a vinnagrette dressing.
Do some brief intense activity such as climb a few flights of stairs, squats, etc to burn up glucose stores in cells so that they will take in more glucose.

And it's possible that sulfur binds up free glucose to keep it from doing the damage it does when you consume more than insulin can get into your cells. So sulfur containing foods might help.