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The Source of Nutrients to Enjoy Everyday
(26.10.2020) back
Legumes like beans, lentils and chickpeas are a great addition to your daily menu
Legumes not only taste good – they're also unbelievably healthy so you should be eating them every day
 
You should be eating beans, lentils and peas every day
There are so many varieties of legume, and all of them are rich in fibre, protein and other nutrients
 

 
 
"Oh no, sorry, I can't eat that. If I do, I don't feel well afterwards!" This is something one often hears in restaurants if there's something with beans or other legumes on the menu. Today we want to make it clear that eating this type of food is enormously important, and we'll let you know what you can do to make things easier for your digestive system.

Natural source of protein and energy for our bodies

It is well understood that consuming enough protein is essential for the proper functioning of many processes in our bodies. As consumers, we're free to choose what kind of protein we should be eating, whether from animal sources or plant sources. For the most part, people prefer to get their protein from meat or dairy products because it's commonly believed that they are easier to digest than plant protein. Unfortunately the regularly consumption of dairy products and meats in order to get your protein puts a strain on the entire body. Eating in such a way can throw off the balance in our digestive systems, and animal-based foods are also rich in fat and cholesterol instead of valuable nutrients and fibre.

If legumes are prepared properly – beans, lentils, peas, chickpeas, soy, etc. – then they are actually much easier for our bodies to digest than animal-based products. They even provide us with even more protein, and it's in a form that's easier for our bodies to utilise. Legumes are not only rich in protein, iron and zinc – they also contain nutrients like fibre, folate and potassium in just the right concentrations. This is only true for plants. Actually, by eating legumes you'll be making use of the best source of protein, fibre and other nutrients…without all the saturated fats and excess salt, and absolutely zero cholesterol.

Findings from the most comprehensive research into diet and cancer ever carried out were published in 2007 by the American Institute for Cancer Research. To prevent cancer, one of the recommendations contained is to include wholegrains and/or legumes in every meal. Not once a week, and not once a day – you should be eating legumes or wholegrains every time you sit down to eat.

Small tricks with big effects – here's how to make legumes easier to digest

It is of course clear that foods like lentils and beans are more difficult to digest than blanched or steam vegetables. The reason that so many people in the West find such protein-dense foods challenging to digest is actually due to the emphasis on animal-based sources of proteins in varied Western diets. The long-term consumption of meats and dairy products actually significantly weakens the effectiveness of our gut flora. The human digestive system is naturally best at digesting plant-based foods, including quality carbohydrates. Our bodies can get all the nutrients we need when we eat a plant-based diet.

By consistently consuming a less than optimal diet, at some point the functioning of the digestion also becomes sub-optimal. This is why many people suffer with a variety of digestive complaints when they start eating more plant-based sources of protein. This effect is short-lived for almost everyone – there's simply a brief readjustment phase while your stomach and intestinal tract get used to eating more plant-based sources of protein and less meat and dairy.

In addition, there are some tricks you can use to make your transition to eating more legumes much easier:
  • Be certain that linseeds, beans or chickpeas are always thoroughly cooked
  • When preparing legumes, add several bay leaves to make your meal more easily digestible
  • When you cook legumes, some foam collects on the top of the cooking water – it's essential to skim this off to improve digestion
  • Most kinds of beans need to be soaked thoroughly before cooking, so be sure to keep this in mind when timing your meal preparation

Slowly transitioning to this optimal source of protein is the key

So let's say that you're now ready to consider making some changes to your eating habits, and ideally you'll actually be making those healthy changes. You have everything you need to make it happen! Make the shift to a plant-based diet that includes whole foods like quality carbohydrates along with fresh fruits and vegetables. Keep in mind that changing how you eat is a process, and it may take a while before it becomes natural for you…plan on about two months. It might also require some time for your digestive system to adapt to eating more beans and other legumes. Relatedly, it's better to not simply give up eating meat entirely one day; instead, slowly eat less and less over time to ensure that you're able to shift to getting enough protein from plant-based sources. Take it easy on your body as you settle into your upgraded eating habits – that's how to make an ideal transition. Once you're eating in a more vegetarian way, be sure to eat at least one portion of plant-based protein every day. Legumes are of course best. You'll be amazed with how fit and healthy you'll feel!

Source: Dr. Michael Greger and Gene Stone,  How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease, Flatiron Books, 2015

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