This post did not start out as I'd planned
Ok, so this blog post began as a post all about the benefits of beans. I like to do my research to ensure that what I am talking about is true! In doing so I came across an interesting study whereby a diet high in fibre can cause anovulatory cycles, (you can read the full study here), it’s a long read but basically what they were trying to decide is if too much fibre can cause anovulatory cycles. An anovulatory cycle is a cycle in which we do not ovulate. Since trying to find natural ways to help balance my hormones I came across The Bean Protocol whereby you increase your daily legume intake (beans, lentils and peanuts - yup, peanuts are not nuts). The bean protocol can be strict if followed to the letter, no sugar, caffeine, processed foods, basically all the things I am already doing, so over the last two months I have increased my bean intake. My morning snack is a bean dip with carrot, my lunches are based around beans, then I have a few more snacks containing beans, sometimes even just a tablespoon or two of beans through the day to make sure I get plenty in.
So as you can imagine, I was shocked to discover a study showing that too much fibre can cause your body to eliminate too many good hormones resulting in an imbalance whereby ovulation can be disrupted.
So what am I going to do going forward?
As this is only my second cycle since incorporating beans I think it is too early to decide if it’s interrupting ovulation, last month I ovulated on day 21 of my cycle, this month (according to my BBT) I ovulated on day 30. So beans have not caused me to have an anovulatory cycle, also, if I do have PCOS then my cycles are going to vary and be slightly irregular. I think for the time being I will continue to incorporate beans into my diet. The thing is, everybody is different so what works for me might not work for you and vice versa.
How did the protocol come about?
The bean protocol was first introduced by Karen Hurd. Her 18 month old baby was poisoned by pesticides that were sprayed around the family home. After numerous trips to doctors and specialists her daughter was not showing any signs of improvement and Karen was told that her daughter was dying. Imaginably, Karen was not happy about this news and lack of help being provided so she took it upon herself to study the human body. After her research she made a concoction of nutrient dense foods which she proceeded to syringe feed to her daughter. Within two weeks her daughter was making progress and within six weeks she had a healthy happy daughter! It just goes to show that if a doctor cannot prescribe a pill, they do not want to help. Food really can be the best medicine. To ready Karen's full story click here.
The bean protocol is not to be confused with a bean diet (although I hate the word diet, it implies a calorie and food striction when in face a diet is just defines what we actually eat), it’s a protocol to be followed that enables the liver to work optimally to detoxify your body naturally. It claims to heal the body from a range of ailments, including infertility, inflammation, digestive issues, diabetes, autoimmune diseases and more.
So what is in the beans that is so good for us?
Many diets have given beans a bad rap, for example, the paleo and keto diet do not allow for beans due to their high carbohydrate levels and with the rise of the paleo and keto diets beans have been neglected. ‘Legumes are not allowed on paleo because of their high content of lectins and phytic acid. Similar to grains, this is a point of controversy in the scientific community. In fact, lots of research supports eating legumes as part of a healthy diet because they are low in fat and high in fiber, protein and iron’ this is what Eatingwell.com had to say about beans. So let's get to some biology. The liver is the organ that detoxes your blood, it is where bile is produced (which is needed for digestion) and it metabolises fats, proteins and carbohydrates. We need to look after our liver by avoiding overloading it with excess toxins such as alcohol, tobacco, synthetic beauty products, chemical cleaners and processed and fried foods, especially when consumed in large quantities. In order to keep the liver healthy we can also add nutrients to it and something the liver loves is soluble fibre. The composition of soluble fiber attracts and attaches to the chemical composition of bile that houses all the excess metals, toxins, and hormones from our body. Once the bile has attracted the toxins and excess hormones it can move through and leave the body in urine and faeces. If we do not rid our bodies of hormones and toxins via the liver, these will just be recirculated through the body.
Your body is clever and has many ways of letting you know that something is wrong, these however can be easily overlooked rather than addressed. If our bodies are overrun with toxins and excess hormones we can experience the following:
Poor quality sleep (this was a big one for me)
So how can we increase our soluble fibre?
By eating more legumes! Think beans and lentils. They are so easy to add into your diet as meals or snacks. We all know the saying Beans beans, good for your heart, the more you eat the more you fart! Well this may be the case if you do not consume beans regularly but as your body starts to work as it should, your wind should settle down. Some people are able to tolerate some variety of beans better than others so play around and see how you feel.
However, it’s not quite as simple as just eating more beans, we want to ensure that we are not adding more toxins into the body, the liver is working hard already and does not need you putting in more toxins. Part of the bean protocol means cutting out refined carbohydrates as these are high in sugar, sugar itself, caffeine and too much fruit (again because of the sugar content). Try and stick to low GI fruits initially and then start adding more back in if you feel the need to do so. I would also recommend upping your water intake as that will help flush out the excess toxins and hormones that the liver has worked so hard to remove.
So now you know the origins and the benefits of beans - will you be trying to incorporate more in your diet?
I will do a follow up post in a few months to let you all know if I have indeed noticed any benefits. I think going forwards I need to be a little more strict with what I am eating, no diet is perfect and there are still a few coffees and refined carbohydrates I can cut out here and there but I also want to live a balanced live where I don’t end up having an all out binge because I didn’t allow myself the odd treat! I have to remember the bigger picture and realise that one good week of eating will not have me seeing the results that I am after. I need to be consistent and persistent when it comes to lifestyle changes. I just want to feel the best I can and wake up feeling refreshed, I want to have a regular cycle naturally and above all I want a healthy happy life!