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Fermented Foods

7 Reasons to Make & Eat Fermented Foods

 The Food that Won’t Go Away!

These days my social news feeds are full of talk about gut health and its impact on our overall health. Here’s a great overview.

In my journey to health I took a deep dive into all the possible ways by which I might restore my health. I quickly learned that a healthy gut was a prerequisite to a healthy body & mind.fermented food

Somewhere along my journey to health I discovered fermented foods. I blogged about them here and basically at the time rode the fence a bit about whether they’re an essential part of a healing diet. Admittedly, fermented foods can be a bit mysterious in the beginning, so perhaps I was still very steeped in the learning curve when I was riding the fence. Additionally, the science to support the benefits of fermented foods wasn’t nearly as strong as it is now.

Regardless, over time fermented foods got their hooks in me. I started to ferment more & more foods until eventually I was fermenting EVERYTHING that had a sugar and starch in it. Initially I did it for the increased nutritional value but I soon realized there was more!

#1 – Preserved & Convenient

You might be surprised that “preserved” is my #1 reason for fermenting foods but here’s the thing, eating a whole foods diet in today’s busy world that is 99% slanted toward convenience, requires a few insider tricks! Most foods that we go to the effort to ferment are a) nutrient dense and b) fresh. It’s the “fresh” part that can interfere with the “convenience” part (and can increase costs when the fresh foods go bad before we can eat them all). So…drumroll please, preserving otherwise labor-intensive (because you have to shop for them often and prep them each time you want to eat them) foods imbeds convenience! Because let’s face it, if the process of eating healthfully sucks the life outta you… Clearly that’s not what we want!

The small upfront investment of time & effort to preserve foods makes them immediately available to you when you need them most – when you’re busy and tempted to eat something less nutrition.

And for a bonus (#1+), perserved foods aren’t as sensitive to the need for refrigeration which makes them quite portable. Talk about convenience!

#2 – Pre- and Pro-biotic & Reduced Sugar Content

The Standard American Diet (lots of processed carbohydrates) and our typical lifestyles (from c-seciton births, to strict avoidance of microbes, to overuse of antibiotics, to chronic stress) wrecks havoc on our digestive & gut health. In fact, our gut health is determined by the microbes that reside in mostly our large intestines. You’ve probably heard of “gut microbiome” or “gut microbiota”. This is the symbiotic & synergistic relationship of microbes (bacteria, yeast, viruses, etc,) in our gastrointestinal tract.

Chances afermre if you’ve got any digestive disorders, your gut microbes are out of balance.

During then process of fermentation, the probiotic (good microbe) content of foods are enhance. AND the fibers of fermented foods serve as probiotics, food for probiotics, as well. How does this happen? The good microbes convert sugar and starches to more good microbes! Talk about a WIN-WIN-WIN!!

#3 – Enhanced Nutrient-Availability of Foods

Without getting too sciency, the fermentation process sort of “pre-digests” foods that can otherwise be difficult for a compromised gut to digest. Let’s back up a second…did you realize that just because you “eat” a nutritious food, there is not guarantee your body will “absorb” the nutrients from said food?? Say whuh?? Yep! Not only are some foods difficult to digest but many of us have such compromised gut health we don’t efficiently use the good food we take in. Insert big frowny face.

However…the cure (restoring our gut health) for what’s ailing us is…you guessed it #2!

#4 – Promote Regularity

This one kind of goes back to #3 but since it’s such a common complaint in our modern world, I gave it a number! I thought about giving it #2…..

#5 – May Treat a Myriad of Health Conditions Way Beyond the Gut

New & exciting science is emerging daily that points to our gut health being the main “driver” of our overall health. From hormone balance (responsible for energy levels, metabolism/weight management, sexual health, and mood regulation) to immunity, the gut sets the stage.

Here’s a crazy long list of how gut health matters:

#6 – You’ll Learn A LOT About Food

If you DIY it, you’ll become a mini-food-scientist. You’ll have the privilege of watch food transform over a relatively short period of time and, in my experience, with each batch of fermented foods, I’ve learned so much about “living foods”. NOTE: As you discover fermenting foods, I always welcome your questions!

#7 – Taste GREAT!

For some, this may not be immediately true. In my experience, as I detoxed my tastebuds from sugary, processed foods, I developed a strong desire for healthier, earthier foods. But this scene, which is probably pretty common, did recently happen…

I was at the farmer’s market waiting in the “peaches line” (summer-summer-summer!). The lady behind me overheard a conversation I had with someone else about sauerkraut and she asked a few questions. She quickly professed her conclusion that she wouldn’t like it and her unwillingness to give it a try. At this, the words of my friend came to mind, “You might not like the taste of cough medicine either but there comes a time when you are willing to drink it anyway because you want the effects. So why would a health-promoting food by any different?”. Anyway, luckily for her, it was my turn to pick out my peaches.

I think the point though is that we’ve been culturally groomed to believe 1-food doesn’t matter much (if at all), so why even consider something that you are sure you wouldn’t like and 2-food should always be hyper-palatable.  I admit to not always loving sauerkraut. I grew to love the taste of sauerkraut and other fermented foods but even when I didn’t yet love them, I held the mindset that eating them was more about health & healing than anything else. Sometimes maybe we need to default to a mindset of health instead of whatever mindset and beliefs we hold that are keeping us hostage to foods that don’t support our health.

What are they?

fermentNow that you’re convinced fermented foods are worth a try, let’s be sure you know what they are!

Simply put, fermented foods (and beverages) have been through a process of lactofermentation in which natural bacteria feed on the sugar and starch in the food (beverage) creating lactic acid. This process preserves the food, and creates beneficial enzymes, b-vitamins, Omega-3 fatty acids, and various strains of probiotics.

You should know that all you need is high quality food (organic is preferred) and salt. Yes, salt. I am not pulling your leg!

I regularly ferment sauerkraut (raw cabbage) which I season in an infinite number of ways, carrots, celery, beets, onions, kimchi, garlic, lemons, milk (this requires a different culture medium, not salt), and kombucha (this also requires a different culture medium than salt).

Who shouldn’t eat them?

Some people have what is called Histamine Intolerance which would really stink because I think it’s hard to know that’s what it is. But like the article indicates, healing your gut may help. Hopefully, you can skip this paragraph altogether but I felt I need to at least include it.

Otherwise, people who have seriously disturbed gut microbiota may not tolerate fermented foods well. In most cases, slowly introducing them works just fine.

You Should Know

…that very few commercially prepared foods are truly fermented in the most beneficial way. Most commercially prepared “fermented/probiotic foods” are pasteurized and the microbes added back in. I guess this is better than nothing. But it’s certainly not the best. Homemade is best! Or buy from someone who you know understands fermentation and does it the right way.

DIY

Here’s why fermenting your own foods is superior to store bought:

  • it’s really not hard
  • you learn soooooo much about the science of food just by having your hands in it & participating in the process
  • it’s about a million times cheaper

I teach all kinds of fermentation classes (maybe you’ve been to one) and I have lots of requests to teach those of you who cannot come to my kitchen. I hope to be able to offer online options for classes soon.

That said, please don’t wait for me. There are lots & lots of online resources for learning simple fermentation, sauerkraut. Try this one! I strongly recommend sticking to basic sauerkraut for starters. I find that my most successful fermentation students are the ones who master the basics first.

It’s Really THAT Simple?

Yes, fermenting foods is really that simple! But healing a broken gut and its sequelae (other health issues) may be a bit more complex than simply making & eating fermented foods.

Maybe fermented foods will be your gateway food to better health…

Your Turn

Leave a comment with your thoughts and/or questions about fermented foods or share fermented foods you already eat!

Cravings – Are They Real?

Cravings are a real thing

I’ll cut to the chase on the topic of cravings. Yes, they’re real. No, we (most of us) probably cannot trust them.

Like most explanations about our current state of food & nutrition, this one requires a bit of backing up before we can go forward.

Biologically speaking, hunger is our body’s message to us to eat and cravings are our body’s message to us to eat something specific that has the nutrients (both macro & micro) that it needed for repair and optimal function.

If we cannot trust them, why do cravings even happen in the first place? Is this not a cruel human feature? If we were to go back a few hundred years (or maybe even just a few really important, very industrial decades), we could trust our cravings. The very purpose of a craving (and hunger) is survival. Hunger and cravings are body-intelligence prompting to eat and guiding us toward what our bodies need to be fueled and nourished. Different foods have different flavors because they have different nutrient compositions for – you guessed it – survival! 

At their unadulterated (pre-industrialized) core, cravings direct us to eat the foods that are comprised of the macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, and fats) and micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, & other goodies) our bodies need for repair and optimal functioning.

In whole, traditional, unprocessed foods, flavor is closely linked with nutrients. Thus, cravings for flavor directed us to the right foods.

Why can’t I trust my cravings?

So, if this is true that cravings are purposeful and meant to inform us, why can’t we trust them? There are likely several explanations:

1-Food is hardly food anymore because through selective hybridization (this isn’t as horrible as it sounds but, over time, it has become a problem), flavor & nutrient values have been altered which might not be that big of an issue (the human body is imbedded with an incredible amount of innate intelligence) except our bodies may have had trouble keeping up the the pace of the changes.

2-Food is NOT food anymore. Somewhere in time our modern thinking about food (coupled with increase demand for food) was that we could manufacture better food than nature could grow in the dirty outdoors. This is not just short sighted…oy, oy, oy… I’ll leave much of the shortsightedness piece for later and concentrate now on the fact that nutrients are complex in ways that our weeeee human little brains don’t understand. The problem here is multifaceted but how it effects our ability to trust our cravings is that in factories, we extrapolated & duplicated (& enhanced – boy did we enhance!) flavor but without the nutrients. Did I mention that the very point of flavor is to direct us to nutrients? Uh…oopsies! And this doesn’t even mention that impact of removing the “dirty” part (oh so much to discuss about food…). Point being, our bodies are confused. We are consuming flavor but not nutrients. No wonder you’re hungry all the time!! Your body is literally starving!

3-Manufactured foods (even those foods that are “fortified”) are engineered to be “addictive“. It’s not about your health. It’s about their profits. The problem, here again, is that the foods aren’t meeting our nutritional needs. They’re only meeting (and increasing) our flavor requirements. But our cravings persist (albeit in a far more confused way because the flavor is there but the nutrients aren’t). Befuddled and confused. But persistent.

4-Most importantly, our cultural norm is to ignore and even silence the wisdom of our bodies. Point in case, symptoms of illness are meant to inform us that something is wrong and needs healing, not that we need a medicine to silence the symptom (which is, indeed, what many medications do).

5-Something yet to be discovered because our human brain in limited…(#truth).

So the question becomes, “what now?”

The answer is simple but not easy. The first step is a no brainer, eat only food from the earth (even if it’s hybridized – which it is! – you’re moving much closer to real food and away from fake & confusing foods) that didn’t pass through a factory.

The second is to start listening to your body. Get to know it. Spend some quiet time exploring what it might be trying to tell you. Unadulterate it. Clean it up. Treat it like the internet, like it knows something you don’t. Like an invaluable resource. Like information you need!

Leave me a comment & tell me what you think…..

A Game Changer You May Wish to Consider

People are always asking me for “baby steps” to a whole foods diet/eating clean (whatever you want to call it). I’ve blogged about this in the past.

 

Recommending baby steps is one of the hardest thing for me because 1-I didn’t do it that way (which doesn’t mean it can’t be done…I know!) and 2-I think it’s super hard to break the addiction to fake foods while continuing to eat them (they’re intentionally engineered that way and I’m not making this up to try 12011356_10153721089234558_4566575597644088043_nto woo you over – see for yourself – and see for yourself).

OK. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, Imma share a little something that has been huge for us in eating a straight-up whole foods diet and I think it’s completely reasonable as a “baby step” for those of you who have some willingness but aren’t “all in” just yet.

It’s kefir cheese dip. Plus veggies for dipping.

If you’ll go back to my post on building a healthy meal you’ll see that were you to eat this as a meal, it only falls short in the protein category (although it’s probably not completely devoid of protein because it’s unlikely that all of the whey strains out). But the micronutrient value in this is a total home run, especially with the veggies! And let’s me real, we’re aiming for “overall” balance. Not every meal will be perfectly balanced.

Back to the kefir cheese because I do realize there’s a chance you don’t even know what it is. I briefly made mention of kefir in my “weird foods” post because it’s a superfood. The probiotics it contains is what makes it a superfood. And if you make it with exceptionally high quality milk, BONUS!

12049567_10153721089274558_1049040108749878478_n

Kefir and kefir cheese are slightly different though. Kefir is fermented milk resulting in lots of beneficial bacteria & yeast minus the lactose (yes, the lactose is converted to good bacteria & yeast!). Kefir is protein (whey) and fat (curds, or cheese), so if you strain off the whey (don’t throw it away!), you are left with cheese!!

Here’s how to make kefir. I always second ferment mine and then blend it with preserved lemons or limes and coconut oil. But other than making it, the rest is optional!

(Note: this is a GREAT website, obviously – since I’ve linked to it three times already! – with lots of info about fermentation!)

To the cheese, I add lots of different flavorings such as fresh, crushed garlic & dried herbs or other seasonings like preserved lime & cumin or minced hot peppers. The list goes on…

12036636_10153721136829558_4528011944375841320_nAlways keeping a container of cut veggies in the fridge is a must, even if you never make kefir cheese. But, really…why wouldn’t you?!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disclaimer: I’ve known a few people who have not tolerated kefir well. If you do not tolerate diary protein, you may still tolerate kefir cheese because most, if not all, of the protein (whey) is strained off. If you do not tolerate dairy fat, only non-dairy kefir (which I did not cover in this post), is an option for you. It seems for some folks though, that the yeast is problematic. For most people, the yeast in kefir is beneficial but everyone’s different. Possibly if you have a systemic yeast issue or an allergy, you may be one of those who doesn’t tolerate it. But for most people, kefir is absolutely worth a try!

Eating 101 – How to Build a Kickin’ Nutritious Meal

For Starters

It’s impossible to do this topic justice in a simple blog post. Plus, there’s no one-size-fits-all. So please know this is just the “intro” stuff.

But it’s enough to get you thinking and doing! And then we can delve deeper later.

Super Simple 101

I’m going to keep this simple but I really do think that if you are ultimately going to assume responsibility for your own individual health and food choices, you are going to need some basic nutrition knowledge. Why? Because (gasp) a calorie is NOT a calorie and it simply ain’t that simple!

Ultimate health is achieved only through loading your body up with nutrients. ALL of them (macros & micros).

Macronutrients = carbohydrates, proteins, and fats (calorie-carrying components of foods) NOTE: NO! All calories are not all created equally!

Micronutrients = vitamins, minerals, trace minerals, organic acids, and phytochemicals (non-calorie-carrying components of foods that are needed for your body to function properly)

See…that’s IT (for now)!

Every Meal

Build every meal around:

#1 – Vegetables – I’m not going to be super specific here except to remind you that corn is not a vegetable and that starchy veggies can be easily overdone (and more importantly, take the place of better choices). But let’s be honest, who’s really building their meals around veggies? So doing this is already a win for almost everyone!

Please note this is a pleural. It’s in your best interest to have numerous veggies. That’s all there is to say about that for now.

#2 – Healthy Fats – The truth is that in the Standard American Diet, our dietary fats are secondary, meaning they’re added to make food more palatable which isn’t, in an of itself, a no-no. The point here is that fats are necessary and we should be included them with intention which is probably a big ol’ shift in mindset for most people.

I’ve blogged about health fats here.

#3 – Protein – Odds are good that some of your fat choices (especially if they’re in the form of food & not just an oil) will also deliver you protein. As a rule of thumb though, animal proteins are more digestible (meaning you actually get the benefit of the food, not just the calorie!) than plant sources (beans, grains, fruits and veggies).

This is a list of proteins in order of “quality” (meaning they deliver a greater value and your body is actually able to absorb & use them):

  • meat, poultry, seafood, & eggs
  • dairy products
  • fruits, vegetable, nuts & seed (good sources of micronutrients but not necessarily protein)

Note: All foods, but especially your protein sources, should be “clean”. OK, that’s a fake-ish word and definitely material for another blog post but, for now, foods should be responsibly & sustainably raised without synthetic fertilizers, hormones, antibiotics, and/or pesticides. Think “locally sourced” (not locally “sold”, locally “raised”). And for crying out load, no foods made in a factory!

#4 – Carbohydrates – If you’re doing #1 and maybe including a fruit or two, you’re likely getting plenty of high-quality carbohydrates. You may need to make adjustments over time based on how you feel, but generally speaking, #1 really does take care of #4.

One More Thing to Ad

Herbs & seasonings are powerful deliverers of micronutrients. Fresh or dried. Use them liberally if you tolerate them well.

How Much Should You Eat?

Contrary to conventional thinking, this is a lot less complex than it’s been made out to be. The same is actually true for what to eat.

You see, there’s this thing called “nutritional intelligence”. It’s not the result though of having “studied” something. Instead, it’s an inherent knowing of what and how much your body needs to fuel itself and thrive. I am all geeked about the subject and will definitely blog about it in the near future but for now, what I want you to know is that processed foods and low-quality factory foods (conventional meats, fruits & veggies) are interfering with our brain’s ability to tell us what & how much to eat. True story. Processed foods are making us dumb…

If you still feel like I haven’t answered the question of how much to eat, apply these two pricinples:

  • Pay really close attention when you eat (I know…I am suggesting the insane!) and eat until you are full but not uncomfortable.
  • If you find you are hungry between meals, consider that you either didn’t enough food or that you didn’t eat the right food. With the right nourishment, our bodies were designed to go for very long times without food.

One last thing to consider (maybe this should be first) is if you are dehydrated. Thirst is often mistaken for hunger. I’m not saying you always need to drink something before you eat. I am saying you need to know your body well enough to know the difference.

How Frequently Should You Eat?

The answer to this question is very individual. But almost unanimously it’s less than we think. I don’t want to get all caveman-mentality on you, but our bodies were designed (as I mentioned just a bit ago) to go for long periods of time (if needed) without food. Think about it, we’d be extinct if we needed a steady supply of food, right?

The steady-stream-of-carbs dogma and mentality…it’s just not working. It’s not working because it’s not accurate. The theory behind all of this is worth exploring more deeply but not today. Just know that there’s science to support this. Unless you’re a one-off (and there are always those), you’re probably really safe to not eat every two hours!

Still. How frequently should you eat? I don’t want to give you an exact number but I will say that I think it’s best to shoot for no more than three meals a day. No snacks (not never, but not usually). If you’re hungry between meals, again, you either didn’t eat enough or you didn’t eat the right foods.

Snacking (for the Die Hards)

If you aren’t successful in transitioning away from needing a snack and you simply must snack, eat meal food instead of snack food. Have a mini-meal following all of the same meal-building above principles.

Addicting Foods

There’s still one small potential trap even if you follow all of the above principles. Most of us find certain food “hyper palatable” meaning they taste so good to us that we have a hard time moderating their consumption. Avoid those foods.

As usual, I am not saying “never”. But I am saying “not often”.

Almost Nothing is Hard & Fast – Or Forever

Conventional health fails to allow for all of the variable and individual differences that effect our nutritional needs. Quite bluntly, if you’re not ready to take personal accountability for your health and nutritional needs, the simplicity I’ve presented here likely won’t work for you.

Also, things will be different for you than for someone else and what works for you will change over time.

In that vane, most of the information I share is a good strong reference & foundation for a deeply nourishing diet. But it has wiggle room. And a lot of variability. Take responsibility for your results.

Individual Meal Science

What I really want to communicate here is that every meal doesn’t have to be “perfect” based on the above principles. For the most part, our bodies aren’t that fragile that one or two imbalanced meals will not cost us our health (if that were true the Greater America would be dead!). What’s more important is that “over time” you meet all of your body’s nutritional needs.

So What (About Nutritional Needs)?

This is definitely a topic for another blog post and I kind of trust that if you’re here & reading this, you are at least somewhat convinced of the power of food (despite what conventional thinking and modern medicine says about food). I guess my appeal to you if you have not yet experienced it’s healing powers is to stay open to the idea.

It really is a thing! And it can change your life in ways you cannot imagine if you are currently living with chronic bs-y stuff that has become normal but really isn’t.

To Give You an Idea

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook or Twitter, you probably get a bit tired of seeing what I eat. I tend to post a lot of pictures. They’re intended to be helpful. But then sometimes I’m just so dang excited about how great my food is that I want to share it! Point being though, I walk my talk. Here’s what I had for lunch:

  • leftover homemade ceviche (seafood cooking in lime juice with veggies & avocado) – fat, protein & a few carbs
  • sliced bell peppers & broccoli & cucumbers & cauliflower dipped in dairy kefir cheese (homemade) with Italian herbs and elephant garlic – carbs, fat & some protein & full of micronutrients
  • dark chocolate – yummy!

I’ve received some comments that the size of my meals is more like the size of their snacks. Two things I want you to know: 1-I am not walking around hungry! and 2-studies clearly conclude that lower calories lead to longevity. I really do believe this is all part of the nutritional intelligence piece.

Shoot

What are your questions? I’m ready for them!!

 

DISCLAIMER: Some of the info in this post is fact and some is opinion. It’s a representation of the knowledge I’ve gained and my experience applying it over the course of my journey to health through food. None of my knowledge or experience is a substitute for your own. But I do hope you find it helpful and that it opens up some possibilities for you!

Healthy Fats to Prioritize in Your Diet

Poor “Fat”

It’s truly an atrocity that dietary fat and bodily fat share the word “fat”. Let’s be honest, no one wants to be fat. But we all sure do want to eat fat!

Say whu???? Eat fat?? Surely she did not just say that!

Yes. I. Did.

Because fat (dietary fat) has been misunderstood, demonized, and left out in the cold for something it didn’t even do; make you fat or cause your heart disease.

Yup. I said that ^^.

The truth is we need to eat fat! OMG – here she goes again. Even saturated fats.

Plus, it goes a really long way toward satiety which is a super big deal!

But you already know that, right? You’ve been hearing this buzz for a while now, so you’ve already begun to shift your thinking. Good for you! The only question that remains is “which fats should I be eating?”.

But in the interest of few words, here’s what you need to know…

The Short List to Eat Liberally (as oils and foods)

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (cold, first press)Coconuts and coconut oil on wooden table, on nature background
  • Coconut Oil
  • Avocado
  • Palm Oil
  • Eggs (the yolks!)
  • Dairy (if tolerated)
  • Butter & Ghee
  • Macadamia Oil
  • Animal and Animal-Rendered Fats*
  • Fish & Seafood

The Short List to Eat in Moderation (as oils and foods)

  • Most Nut & Seed Oils (except Macadamia)
  • Nuts & Seeds
  • Avocado Oil
  • Nut Butters

The Short List Not to Eat

  • Canola Oil
  • Safflower Oil
  • Sunflower Oil
  • Corn Oil
  • Wheat Germ Oil
  • Soybean Oil
  • Cottonseed Oil
  • Peanut Oil

*Please note that I will blog in more detail (almost nothing is an absolute and the above info requires a bit more explanation to be applied for the long term) about fats in the near future, but I get asked often what are “healthy fats” and it seemed the efficient to share them quickly in this manner.

Please feel free to leave questions & comments. It helps me know what info to share!

ripe avocado cut in half on a wooden table ** Note: Shallow depth of field

legume abstract (fava bean, red lentils, adzuki bean, soy, mung bean,navy bean, yellow pea, French lentils) - top view of paper price tags against slate stone

Beans, Beans! They’re good for…

I just started my first “Whole Foods Diet for Life” Group (so exciting!) and a question came up very early on that I think is a pretty common question, so I decided to answer it here! I’ll keep doing the same as their questions (and maybe even their challenges) arise.

Today: about beans……

legume abstract (fava bean, red lentils, adzuki bean, soy, mung bean,navy bean, yellow pea, French lentils) - top view of paper price tags against slate stone

You know the old saying about beans (also called “legumes” in the nutrition world), “…They’re good for your heart. The more you eat, the more you <flatulate>…”.

Most people are quite surprised to learn that fairly commonly, legumes are not consider part of a nutrient-dense, whole foods diet. In some cases, legumes are considered a “gray area food” (we’ll get to that!).

At first glance, I realize not eating beans really makes no sense. I mean, they’re plants after all! And don’t we want to concentrate our food choices around plants?

Well, yes. But…

Here’s the problem with legumes (and this is true of all plant foods to some degree but with lots a variables), they contain anti-nutrients. In the interest of sparing you the crossed-eyed, don’t-be-a-complete-geek face (if you want that face, you can go here), let’s just say that there are several types of anti-nutrients and their purpose is to protect the plant so that it can propagate even if eaten. In humans, it mostly means that some (and sometimes “a lot”) of the nutrients in the plant are not available for absorption because the food goes undigested (typically resulting in flatulence!). In other words, the nutrient value of the food to humans is less than the full potential of the food when extracted in a lab. They’re just not as nutrient dense as their nutritional profile :(. Nor are they as nutrient dense as many other whole foods.

As is true for almost anything you wish to educate yourself about, there is much conflicting information available on the subject. I typically follow the thinking of several very well respected thought & opinion leaders but even amongst them, I’m not able to find a common opinion on the subject of legumes and anti-nutrients (or pretty much anything for that matter – even “The Man” agrees & addresses legumes here too).

Some thought leaders even go as far as to say that anti-nutrients are “harmful” to our intestinal integrity. Oh, no bueno!

Yet nearly all traditional cultures have legumes as a pretty prominent staple in their diets. You can see all the shades of gray on the topic emerging. And honestly, it is quite possibly minutia, the splitting of hairs. Who has time for that??

Here’s the deal about traditional cultures, they’re not eating beans “the American way”! Traditional cultures know & understand their foods and properly prepare legumes by soak, sprouting, and sometimes souring them before cooking them and this has an effect (although the degree to which it is effective is also debatable – you see the trend?) on the anti-nutrients.

As to whether or not to eat legumes, it’s up to you! My personal experience was that my gut health was not good enough to tolerate beans very well when I first began my journey to health. So I bid them farewell for the time being. As my gut health has improved and I’ve learned how to more properly prepare them, I occasionally eat them in small quantities.

Another strike against legumes: they’re also primarily carbohydrates (they have protein in them but they typically don’t give that up to you!) which is potentially only problematic if you have metabolic disease (even if it’s not diagnosed).

Your take-home message? Life is gray!! This is why I tout personal accountability first. You are your own best boss!

I’m here to empower you to develop your own wellness compass. There is a great deal of information I have to share with you (most of it being your springboard to critical thinking about the foods you eat). But, with the exception of a very few “foods”, I’ll never be able to tell you exactly what to eat/not eat.

You can search the ends of the earth for a consensus on what is the perfect diet. The truth is: there is no perfect diet. Perfect changes from you to me to the next person. And perfect changes for each of us over time.

The long & the short is if you currently eat beans and your health is the best it can possible be, keep eating beans! If you’re health could be better and you’re looking for areas of improvement, consider eliminating beans for a time. Pay attention to how you feel. Reintroduce them. Pay attention to how you feel. You get it!

This goes for all foods even if they’re on the “Eat This” of “Don’t Eat This” list!

PS. There are a few “Never” foods that I feel are non-negotiable and I’ll blog about them too. But, again, there’s no consensus on these either. Maddening. I know…