Unlike corn, wheat, sugar, hydrogenated fake butters and processed foods- legumes and beans are typically thought of as healthy foods. Around the world even the legume soy is considered a healthy and nutritious food as well as hummus and lentil soup. Just because you don't find these foods at the fast food drive thru, doesn't mean they are optimal for health and may actually be creating and adding to health issues.
What foods are considered legumes?
- Beans. The most common varieties of legumes are beans. These include adzuki beans, black beans, soybeans, anasazi beans, fava beans, garbanzo beans (chickpeas or hummus), kidney beans and lima beans.
- Nuts. Some legumes are inappropriately called “nuts.” The most common example is the peanut, with other examples including soy nuts and carob nuts.
- Peas. A number of legumes are labeled as peas, including green peas, snow peas, snap peas, split peas and black-eyed peas.
- Lentils. The lentil is an edible pulse. It is a bushy annual plant of the legume family, grown for its lens-shaped seeds
- Soy. Is a species of legume native to East Asia, but has become almost totally genetically modified at this time.
What does a Bean consist of?
Legumes such as beans consist of soluable fiber, moderate amount protein and a hefty carb and starch content. They are also high in lectins and phytic acid, which are know nutrient depletors.
What are Lectins and Leptin Restistance?
Lectins are anti-nutrient depleting proteins. They bind to insulin receptors, attack and bind to the stomach lining and they seemingly cause leptin resistance. Leptin is the supervising hormone – the gatekeeper of fat metabolism, monitoring how much energy an organism takes in. It surveys and maintains the energy balance in the body, and it regulates hunger. And leptin resistance is a predicting factor to complications of metabolic syndrome independently of obesity.
What are Phytates or Phytic Acid?
Phytic acid in grains, nuts, seeds and beans represents a serious problem in our diets, because they make minerals bio-unavailable, which is not good for optimal health.
“Phytic acid not only grabs on to or chelates important minerals, but also inhibits enzymes that we need to digest our food, including pepsin, needed for the breakdown of proteins in the stomach, and amylase, needed for the breakdown of starch into sugar. Trypsin, needed for protein digestion in the small intestine, is also inhibited by phytates.” (source)
” Phytic acid has a strong binding affinity to minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron, copper, and zinc. This results in precipitation, making the minerals unavailable for absorption in the intestines. Phytic acids are common in the hulls of nuts, seeds and grains.” wikipedia
Immune Response and Toxicity
Because we don’t digest lectins, we often produce antibodies to them. Almost everyone has antibodies to some dietary lectins in their body. This means our responses vary. Certain foods can even become intolerable to someone after an immune system change or the gut is injured from another source. The presence of particular lectins can stimulate an immune system response.
Over the long term, when the diet lacks minerals or contains high levels of phytates or both, the immune response goes up and metabolism goes down, and the body goes into mineral-starvation mode. The body then sets itself up to use as little of these minerals as possible. Adults may get by for decades on a high-phytate diet, but growing children run into severe problems. In a phytate-rich diet, their bodies will suffer from the lack of calcium and phosphorus with poor bone growth, brain development issues, speech impairment, short stature, rickets, narrow jaws and tooth decay; and for the lack of zinc and iron with anemia and possibly even autism.
Symptoms can include skin rashes, brain fog, moodiness, fatigue, digestive issues, increased mucous production, dry itchy skin, IBS, infertility, dental issues, tooth decay, bone issues, joint pain, burning of mucous membranes (vaginal area) and general inflammation. Other chronic disorders may be correlated with leaky gut — for example, researchers have even noted that children with autism have very high rates of leaky gut and similar inflammatory GI tract diseases.
What about Grains?
It's not just legumes-nuts, seeds and beans, that contain high amounts of lectins and phytates, but also grains. Grains with these anti-nutrients wreck a lot of havic on the digestive tract, immune system, reproductive organs, the heart, kidneys, brain and joints.
How can we neutralize some of these anti-nutrients?
For optimal health, I recommend avoiding beans and for certain grains. However, if you do eat them they need to be prepared properly rinsed, soaked, fermented and sprouted. And at the very least rinsed and soaked. I do, personally, eat nuts and seeds in moderation. I just simply soak them in a glass jar with filtered water with a lid on over night. Then rinse all the grey sludge floating on the top…yes, that is the acid and lectins. Then dry and sometimes roast. Now, they are ready to eat!
The harmful effects of lectins and phytic acid can be mitigated some by using traditional methods of preparation such as sprouting, fermenting, and soaking, though even these do not remove the lectins and other anti-nutrients completely. Unfortunately, these methods are rarely practiced anymore.
Soaking is a good first step – it can help reduce some of the phytic acid but doesn’t completely eliminate it. Sprouting is the most effective method for legumes, reducing phytic acid by 25 to 75 percent. The process of sprouting a batch of beans or legumes is actually fairly easy: all you really need to do is keep them moist and give them access to the air. Fermentation also greatly reduces the phytic acid of many different types of food – and it gives your gut flora a boost as a bonus.
After any soaking or fermentation, you still have to cook your legumes before you can eat them – this adds another layer of protection because heating most beans and legumes (with the exception of peanuts) will destroy a majority, but not all of the lectins.
These traditional methods of cooking won’t turn lentils or beans into a magical health food. But if you do need to eat them for some reason, they can help reduce their more dangerous aspects.
How to Properly Prepare Grains and Legumes.
Tutorial by Sarah Pope Weston A Price Chapter leader and video below.
I used to eat legumes and grains, once I stopped, all of my health issues went away instantly. How about you, I'd love to know in the comments below.