Ha ha ha, yes I know, I am so funny! Unfortunately for many of us, my little joke is sad but true. Numerous people find beans hard to digest, as we can often hear. But seriously--- why are legumes NOT Paleo? The Paleo way of eating aims to minimize inflammation and autoimmune disorders by eliminating all that "stuff" that irritates your digestive system and focuses on eating those foods that we as humans have evolved to eat. The reasons to avoid legumes are threefold:
The first is that legumes weren’t eaten frequently, if at all, by the hunter-gatherer sect because they needed to be cooked to be eaten.
The second reason is that they were introduced in abundance to the human diet AFTER the agricultural revolution, when the hunters and gatherers laid down their baskets and weapons and turned to farming.
The third and final reason is that most legumes contain antinutrients; specifically phytates and lechtins--- and they're bad news if you want to avoid gut irritation, decreased mineral absorption, and inflammation (hello “bean baby”—that bloated belly you get after eating beans). YUCK!
Phytic acid contains the mineral phosphorus tightly bound in a snowflake-like molecule (phytates). Phosphorus is a component of DNA, RNA, as well as the phospholipids that form all cell membranes. Thus, it is an essential element for humans, unfortunately the phosphorus in phytic acid is not readily bioavailable (meaning easily digested and useable by your body). In addition to blocking phosphorus availability, the molecule readily binds with other minerals, , such as calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc, making them unavailable as well. Read more about this here (http://www.westonaprice.org/food-features/1893-living-with-phytic-acid.html).
Lechtins pose a very real and dangerous threat to humans; they are poisonous. This is why legumes cannot be eaten raw. Lechtins are sugar-binding proteins, and many members of the lechtin family cause red blood cells to clump together, others clump to the walls of the intestine, and still others can pass through into the blood stream. Once lechtins invade our natural gut defenses and enter behind the walls they cause damage far beyond the gut, commonly in joints, the brain, and the skin. Once this damage occurs to the gut, and the walls are violated, the result is what some refer to as a "leaky gut". "Leaky gut" causes symptoms such as bloating, gas, diarrhea, and abdominal pain as well as other symptoms beyond the gut. A paper published in 1985 by Brauer et al. showed that direct singular injections of legume-derived (lentils, peas, jack beans, etc) dietary lechtins into the knee joints of rabbits induced severe arthritis.
While cooking beans, especially at low heat levels, for long periods of time will disable most of the lecthins in the beans (undercooking can result in food poisoning) who wants to take that gamble!?
Leaky-Gut?!?!?!--- um NO THANKS!! I’m sticking with the Paleo thinking: if it NEEDS to be cooked to eat it--- avoid it.
If you're like me and totally missing that glorious, creamy, garlicy wonder that is Hummus--- stay tuned for a great paleo hummus--- cashew style... recipe to come!