Beans mean gas, right?
If you’re unlucky and have serious digestive system problems like me, they might also mean significant bloating, constipation or diarrhea, and maybe even bleeding intestines. I also notice that I tend to get itchy skin and acne after consuming beans, split peas, and lentils.
For many years I’ve avoided all legumes, along with cooked food in general, as part of the raw food diet that brought my colitis under control.
But my recent experiments with reducing my food’s lectin content in the hopes of eliminating the well-documented negative digestive effects of lectins lead me to try the same thing with legumes.
In this article I’ll tell you how things went.
Lectin Removal Protocol
As I’ve previously described, nutritional studies have generally found a combination of of soaking beans in baking soda and pressure cooking them will remove all or most of their lectin content, along with a wide variety of other antinutrients that can cause digestive problems.
My own experiments have backed this up. I generally find soaking legumes in water and baking soda for at least 24 hours and cooking them in a pressure cooker for a minimum of 30 minutes does the best job of reducing negative symptoms. More might be better, but it’s hard to say with certainty.
How Much Of An Improvement?
Keep in mind that I’m an extreme case. Very few people react as poorly to such a wide range of foods as I do. Not only does my digestive system rebel after I eat lectin rich foods, but I tend to get itchy skin, rashes, and acne as well.
So how well did these methods reduce my symptoms?
Check out the chart below for my ratings, but the short answer is that they made a huge difference without totally eliminating the problems these foods bring about. If I simply cooked these legumes via boiling, I would suffer skin acne problems ranging from 3-5 and digestive problems in the 6-9 range after consuming them.
A few days in a row would likely leave my intestines bleeding.
After processing, all of the beans, peas, and lentils caused me less problems, but some became almost benign. Lentils gave me by far the best results. Soy beans were still pretty problematic. Tofu, which used to destroy me, surprisingly got a lot better after processing.
How Legumes Are Improved by Lectin Removal
I tested each of these legumes at least half a dozen times, giving myself enough days in between for my skin and digestive system to return to normal. A rating of zero indicates no symptoms. A rating of 10 means horrible symptoms. A rating of 0-3 means that, on various tests, I noticed symptom severity ranging between nonexistent and fairly mild.
What To Make Of This
Simply put, none of the processing methods I mention will make as big of a digestive impact as simply eating a raw food diet designed to minimize digestive problems. If you’re currently suffering from IBS, colitis, Crohn’s or general digestive problems, my book, The Raw Food Digestive Tune-Up, will give you the best guide to freeing yourself of them.
If you’re going to eat beans, lentils, split peas, and other legumes, however, reducing their lectin and other antinutrient content through the processing methods I mention above will likely make them less problematic for you, however.