At the 2nd Annual Ancestral Health Symposium 2012 (AHS12), Maelán Fontes, MS, PhD cand, gave an absolutely brilliant talk titled Food and Western Disease Beyond Nutrients—Antinutrients

Maelán is an affiliate researcher at the University of Lund (Sweden) and PhD candidate in human Nutrition. He is co-author of the widely known paper Western Diet and Lifestyle and Disease of Civilization, published in Research Reports in Clinical Cardiology.
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Collaborators: Dr. Staffan Lindeberg. Lund University, Dr. Loren Cordain. Colorado State University

Western diseases, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity, are approaching pandemic proportions worldwide. Atherosclerosis, the basis of cardiovascular disease, affecting the majority of Westerners, remains essentially unexplained. Up to the present, dietary prevention has mainly focused on an optimal intake of macronutrients (carbohydrate, fat, protein and alcohol), micronutrients (vitamins, minerals and trace elements) and dietary fiber. However, increasing evidence now suggests that the importance of these dietary factors have been overestimated.
A food-related health problem that has likely been overlooked relates to bioactive substances in edible plants. Many of these are part of the defense system against herbivores and the highest concentration is accordingly found in seeds, including beans and grains. A review will be given of some of these phytochemicals, their sources and their potential negative health effects, including (but not limited to) the following:
1. Lectins (WGA, SCA, PHA, SBA, PNA etc); From wheat, rye, beans, peanuts, barley, potato, rice, lentils, tomato, etc; Barrier disruption (gut, blood vessels etc), tyrosine kinase receptor binding (thus competing with insulin, EGF, IGF), red blood cell agglutination, intestinal bacterial overgrowth etc.
2. Saponins (tomatine, solanine, chaconine, etc); From tomato, potato, soya, quinoa seeds, alfalfa sprouts etc; Barrier disruption, adjuvant (immune) activity etc.
3. Protease inhibitors (Inhibitors of trypsin, alpha-amylase, chymotrypsin etc.); From soya, cereal grains, legumes, potatoes, egg white etc; Protease inhibition with subsequent undigested proteins/peptides potentially entering the circulation, allergenic activity etc.