Lectin Sensitivity, Gluten, & Genes to Check

Written by Joe Cohen, BS | Last updated:

After the last Lectin post, I had a lot of people asking me how I figured out which genes are involved with food sensitivities (because you won’t find that list anywhere else on the internet!)

It’s actually quite difficult to find the relevant genes responsible for food sensitivities, because there isn’t a lot of science on the matter.

So how did I go about identifying it?

First, I looked at conditions that are definitely contributed to by food triggers, especially inflammation in the gut. These conditions include IBD, IBS, Celiac’s and other conditions of gut inflammation. Also, if they are involved with other autoimmune conditions, that would be an additional signal.

Second, I looked at if it made sense mechanistically to be linked to food sensitivities based on the expression changes of the genes resulting from the variants.

Third, I looked at myself and some clients who I was confident had a variety of food sensitivities and confirmed that they had the risk versions of these genes as it relates to gut health.

Surprise, Surprise – A Connection to Th1/Th2/Th17!

I’ve been talking about Th1/Th2/Th17 for about 7 years now, and I’ve always suspected it to be related to food sensitivities, but couldn’t quite prove it. It made sense if you put the pieces of the puzzle together, but I felt there could be more proof needed as to exactly how important it is.

But something interesting happened when we developed the SelfDecode DNA Gut Report and personalized blog: I was able to research which genes were most likely to be involved in food and lectin sensitivities much more efficiently.

Without software and a professional team of researchers, it was way too difficult to discover these things on my own.

Up until recently, I could only confirm 1 gene responsible for lectin sensitivity – and that’s CNR1. I’ve been looking at this gene for 3-4 years and I am convinced it’s strongly connected.

But now I’ve been able to come up with a more expansive list of genes, and it turns out that all of the genes I thought were related to lectin sensitivity are also related to an overactive Th1/Th17 immune system. This honestly surprised me. I thought that maybe 25% of the issue was related to Th1/Th17 dominance, but it seems to play a bigger role than I imagined based on the genetic analysis. Almost every lectin gene is related to it in one way or another.

Lectin Sensitivity: It’s More Common Than You Think

Lectins are a type of protein found in especially high amounts in legumes and whole grains (especially wheat). You see, everyone wants to talk about gluten, but a lot of people aren’t talking about lectins. Gluten is a lectin, but just one of many.

As a result, many people are going around avoiding glutens, but never getting to the root cause of their issue.

Lectins aren’t bad for everyone. But, for some people with certain genetic variants, they overstimulate the gut immune system, and trigger inflammation throughout the body.

And we’re not just talking about an upset stomach. People with lectin sensitivity suffer from:

  • Digestive problems
  • Conditions like IBS and IBD
  • Brain fog
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Focus & attention issues
  • Aches & pains
  • Slower recovery
  • Insomnia
  • Cold intolerance
  • Weight balance
  • Skin conditions (Yes! Your eczema could be a result of lectin sensitivity.)
  • Headaches
  • And many more symptoms that you may not typically associate with food sensitivity issues!

How Can You Tell If You’re Lectin Sensitive?

Unfortunately, there is no ‘smoking gun’ for lectin sensitivity, no single symptom or set of symptoms that can identify this problem with certainty. However, there are genetic markers that make you more likely to be lectin sensitive. The more symptoms you have, the higher the likelihood of lectin sensitivity.

If you’ve been experiencing symptoms like the ones above and haven’t been able to get to the bottom of your issues, it’s probably time to explore the potential of lectin sensitivity.

To check if you might be lectin sensitive, there are two major things you can do:

  1. First, you should check your genes for markers of sensitivity.
  2. Then, you can try a lectin avoidance diet to see if it improves your symptoms.

Like I said, before SelfDecode came out with the Personalized Genetics Blog which shows you genetic scorecards with colors to indicate risk (red = most risk, orange = moderate risk, green = low risk) and the comprehensive gut health DNA report, I wasn’t even able to figure out my complete genetic risk for lectin sensitivity on my own.

But now, it’s extremely easy!

Here’s the list of genes you should check that can indicate sensitivity to lectins and other agents in plants that will overstimulate your immune system (along with my scores to compare):

So, if you haven’t checked these genes yet, I highly advise getting a SelfDecode DNA Kit to test your genes for lectin sensitivity! This is the absolute best and most reliable way to test for these types of food sensitivities. If you’ve already had your genes tested from another company, you can just upload your DNA file and see your risks right away.


Like always, with a SelfDecode membership, you’ll get access to all these amazing other features as well:

About the Author

Joe Cohen, BS

Joe Cohen, BS

Joe Cohen flipped the script on conventional and alternative medicine…and it worked. Growing up, he suffered from inflammation, brain fog, fatigue, digestive problems, insomnia, anxiety, and other issues that were poorly understood in traditional healthcare. Frustrated by the lack of good information and tools, Joe decided to embark on a learning journey to decode his DNA and track his biomarkers in search of better health. Through this personalized approach, he discovered his genetic weaknesses and was able to optimize his health 10X better than he ever thought was possible. Based on his own health success, he went on to found SelfDecode, the world’s first direct-to-consumer DNA analyzer & precision health tool that utilizes AI-driven polygenic risk scoring to produce accurate insights and health recommendations. Today, SelfDecode has helped over 100,000 people understand how to get healthier using their DNA and labs.
Joe is a thriving entrepreneur, with a mission of empowering people to take advantage of the precision health revolution and uncover insights from their DNA and biomarkers so that we can all feel great all of the time.


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