Grains, spices, and various starchy vegetables have long been triggers for my colitis, and many people find their skin and digestive systems tank when dealing with these foods.
For many years I completely avoided them, but I’m finishing up a series of experiments to see if reducing their lectin content via processing will lead to a reduction of symptoms.
I’m not going to retread old ground, so you can read about lectins and how they damage some peoples’ digestive systems here, research into effective means of reducing lectin content here, and my prior experiments with reducing lectin content in nightshade vegetables, nuts and seeds, and legumes if you want more info.
In this article I’ll be covering the remaining bases that are interesting to me – starchy vegetables, grains, and spices.
I’ve spent a ridiculous amount of time testing various foods with these processing methods over the last few years, and you might find my results interesting if you’ve also got a funky digestive system.
If you don’t care about my results and only want to know how to fix your own digestive problems, whether it be IBS, colitis, Crohn’s, or general problems, you’ll likely find my book useful: The Raw Food Digestive Tune-Up.
My N=1 Experiments
As I’ve covered previously, soaking dried foods in baking soda and then cooking them a pressure cooker with baking soda is the method researchers have found works best for reducing lectin content.
That works great for beans, nuts, seeds, and grains, but you’re probably not going to soak a sweet potato or some curry powder, so by necessity my tests of these foods skipped the soaking and just cooked them in the pressure cooker sans baking soda.
Below you’ll find my subjective coverage of how my skin and digestive system reacted to this assault. In years past, eating these foods, when normally prepared, left me pretty messed up. My digestive system would start bleeding, constipation would set in, and I’d feel bloated and gassy. I often had skin rashes and acne break out after eating them as well.
Below you’ll find my ratings of how much of a negative negative reaction these foods caused, post lectin-reduction processing. I tested each one at least a half dozen times. A score of 0 means that I had no reaction to it. A score of 10 means that it was about as bad as it could be. A score 3-5 means that my reaction to it was between a 3 and a 5 across the various times I tested that food.
With the exception of sweet potatoes and squashes (which I probably didn’t test enough prior to these experiments to have an opinion on), and herbs like basil, oregano, and thyme, they all messed me up enough to be rated a 5+ on the symptom scale. Let’s see how processing effected them:
I reacted better to starchy vegetables (as a category of food) than I did to any other food category I tested.
I was actually absolutely shocked at how well I digested sweet potatoes and squashes after they’d been run through a pressure cooker. I knew going into these experiments that both were lower in lectin content than almost any of the other foods I’d tested, but even so I didn’t expect them to be digested so well. They essentially gave me no problems. They’re a bit heavier to digest than the fruit I’ve been living off for years, and don’t leave you feeling as light post meal, and in that way alone could be considered inferior, but sweet potatoes definitely work well in most respects if prepared properly.
I also tried baking sweet potatoes, and my reaction to them might have been up to a 1 in some categories, but even then they digested shockingly well.
Most of the other starchy vegetables I tested digested reasonably well, if not as ideally as those two.
Even after soaking and pressure cooking, most of these grains were way more trouble than they were worth. That’s not to say I didn’t handle them better than I used to pre-processing – each one was significantly improved.
Cornmeal (prepared as grits, essentially) was pretty trouble-free. Quinoa also deserves honorable mention.
Spices & Chocolate
Just to be clear, the leaf-based spices – basil, cilantro, oregano, thyme, etc – have never given me any problems. I’ve been using them in my raw salad dressings for years. I just tested them just to see what would happen.
But others, like turmeric, cinnamon, and nutmeg, have always messed with me pretty badly. They continue to after lectin removal processing.
Chocolate was a bit of surprise. It didn’t bother my very much.
Given my particular set of digestive issues, a sane person might consider eating some sweet potatoes, squash, or cornmeal. I’ll be talking more about this going forward.
If you need to fix your digestive system, you should really consider the program I lay out in The Raw Food Digestive Tune-Up.