There is literally no single food better for your digestive issues than beans.
I said it, and I mean it.
Yes, even for my friend waiting with the, “but beans give me gas!” rebuttal.
Even for you, beans can be your ally and key to healthy digestion.
There are many reasons beans are the best food for your digestion. Here are the three biggies:
Beans (and really I mean legumes of all kinds when I say beans) are literally brimming with prebiotics.
A quick rundown of prebiotics…
(Apologies to those of you that have been in my community for a bit. I’ve shared prebiotic info ad nauseam by now. Thanks for bearing with me for my new friends.)
Prebiotics are important bacteria our body needs to feed our gut.
Probiotics are the strains of bacteria that actually take up residence in our gut. The more diverse and healthy probiotic bacteria we have, the better our gut will work. Think high immune function, easy digestion, gut permiability, resisitence to allergies, lower inflammation, etc. We want lot’s of healthy probiotics.
Prebiotics are just as important as probiotics because prebiotics are the probiotics food. Prebiotics literally feed probiotic bacteria, helping it to thrive.
Also, not every prebiotic bacteria feeds all probiotic bacteria. Certain strains of probiotics only feed off of certain prebiotics. So not only do we need lot’s of prebiotics, we need a variety to be sure each probiotic is being fed.
So, guess where prebiotics come from? FIBER!
Fiber is where we get prebiotics. Fear not, you don’t need ANOTHER supplement in your routine. You just need fiber.
And guess which foods have the highest amount of fiber?
Ding, ding, ding!!! Beans.
Eating beans daily will help you increase the amount of prebiotic bacteria in your gut, leading to a healthier gut microbiome, thus, helping your entire body thrive, but particularly, your digestion.
Another reason beans are imperative to help you reach your digestive health goals are from the types of fiber beans have- soluble and insoluble fiber.
Soluble fiber is a type of fiber that dissolves in water. It sort of gets absorbed by your digestive tract, feeding the good gut bacteria in your digestive tract. This keeps things working properly.
Insoluble fiber passes through your digestive tract mostly untouched, but it’s kind of like the custodian of your intestines. It bulks up your stool so you are more likely to have healthy bowel movements, and it snags any lingering debris along the way, cleaning out the pipes.
Both types of fiber are key for a healthy gut and digestion, and you guessed it, beans have both.
Not only do they have both, beans have more of each than nearly any other food we consume.
Consume beans and watch as your gut imbalances and digestive issues dissipate.
Lastly, because beans have more soluble fiber than any other food, by a landslide, they are the best at helping you balance your hormones.
When our body produces too much of a certain hormone, often times that hormones will continue to circulate in our body. Think estrogen dominance… That excess estrogen struggles to make it’s way out of the body, so it continues to circulate in your body, not only creating too much estrogen, but it’s old estrogen and not what our body wants.
Soluble fiber can actually bind to this excess hormone and, with the help of healthy digestion, usher it out of the body efficiently. How incredible is that?!?
If you suffer from excess estrogen, low testosterone, or a wonky thyroid, beans could actually be the key to support your hormone regulation.
Ok, so we are officially in love with beans and all they can do for our body- yay! But let’s get down to brass tacks.
How do we eat them in the most supportive way, and how often do we need them?
If you are only interested in getting enough beans to support healthy digestion, about 1-2 servings of beans a day will suffice, but it depends on your fiber intake.
The average person needs a minimum of 30-40 grams of fiber a day. Most Americans get about 10-15 grams.
If you eat a lot of plants each day- fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, and whole grains– one 1/2 cup serving of beans is probably enough. It offers up 15 grams of fiber, so that, along with your other fiber rich foods should get you to your fiber goals. Throw some in your soup or salad for lunch or dinner and you will be set. But really, you need them every day.
If you don’t get much fiber throughout the rest of your day, I’d shoot for 2 servings a day. Aim for 1/2 a cup with lunch and 1/2 a cup at dinner.
*Big asterisk- If you don’t eat fiber filled foods and haven’t had beans in a while, start slow. Start off with a 1/4 cup of beans each day for a week, then increase it to 1/2 a cup a day for a week, etc. If you go too fast, you will experience uncomfortable digestive distress. It will subside eventually, but I don’t want it to scare you away from beans!
If you are someone that also wants to optimize beans for hormonal reasons, shoot for 2-3 servings a day AND you want to be sure to consume them without a fat source at least 1x a day.
If you are looking for hormone support, we don’t want to eat beans with fat. The soluble fiber will bind to the fat content instead of the excess hormones, removing that instead of the hormones. So shoot for 1-2 servings of beans without fat each day, and your third can be eaten with some fat. You still need to consume fat, just do it at least 30-60 minutes after consuming beans.
This is certainly not an exhaustive list, but this would help you get in three servings of beans, one of which is totally fat free, and two of which are very low fat, helping to support excess hormone removal.
This is by far my client’s biggest concern with increasing their bean consumption.
They’ve lived a life where gas follows a serving of beans, so considering eating them daily is scary.
The reason you experience gas when you consume beans is because your body isn’t used to all of the fiber. As your body starts to consume additional fiber, it starts to expel stagnant bacteria that needs to be removed. This is a good thing, but it can be smelly and uncomfy.
As you continue to expose your body to this new bacteria, it will get used to it, having gotten rid of bacteria no longer serving it and letting the new bacteria settle. Your body will get used to the new bacteria.
It typically takes my clients about a week or two for their gas to subside, and once it does, they are hooked on beans for life. Honestly, they start to crave them because they are so nutrient dense and they feel their body start to thrive.
The gas will subside and then your body and digestion will thrive.
Have I convinced you to increase your bean consumption? I hope so! There are so many reasons to prioritize beans in your diet and I know you will enjoy so many health benefits when you do.
Please reach out if you could use some support in incorporating beans into your routine. Your digestion will thank you!