Natural insecticide in undercooked beans

AUGUSTA, Ga., Aug. 1 (UPI) -- U.S. researchers say ingesting too much undercooked red beans and rice causes nausea, diarrhea and vomiting because of a natural insecticide.

Lectins are a family of proteins believed to be a natural insecticide abundant in undercooked legumes and grains that can make people temporarily miserable, said Dr. Paul L. McNeil, a cell biologist at the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta.


Lectins, which bind strongly to carbohydrates on cell surfaces, have a particular affinity for the heavy-carbohydrate coats of epithelial cells that line the gastrointestinal track.

The study, published in PloS One, shows lectins disable gastrointestinal tract cells, which are constantly bombarded while digesting food, from repairing tears in cells walls from all the activity. Repair normally occurs in seconds as internal membranes move up to patch the tear, the cell recovers and the one-cell layer lining of the gastrointestinal tract remains intact.

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