In some of my cookbooks and on my website, you’ll find recipes for savory things like hummus and lentils. They’re packed with healthy fiber and protein, but some Warriors who have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) say they have trouble digesting these substances, and they cause flare-ups of their symptoms.
Before I go into more details about the connection between legumes and IBS, let me make one thing clear. The recipes and meal suggestions I make are general recommendations that are healthy for most people. However, being a Brain Warrior means knowing and optimizing your individual brain and body. You need to use common sense and adapt the recipes and food lists to your personal needs.
This goes for people with food allergies, as well as for those with physical conditions, such as IBS. This condition involves the large intestine and that can cause a variety of symptoms, including abdominal cramps, diarrhea, constipation, boating, and gas.
3 Ways Legumes Cause Problems for IBS
1. Lectins: Legumes contain lectins, carbohydrate-binding proteins found in a large number of plant foods. When ingested by humans, these substances can cause biochemical changes to the cells that line the intestines. These changes can contribute to poor absorption of nutrients and leaky gut, which has been linked to IBS and causes many of the same symptoms. Lentils are a softer bean and don’t have the same lectin concentration as other beans, which makes them more easily digestible for most people. However, if they bother you, eliminate them from your meal plan.
2. Phytic acid: Legumes also contain phytic acid, which hinders digestions and can leach minerals from your body. This promotes bloating and flatulence, two symptoms that are common in IBS.
3. FODMAPS: Legumes are considered FODMAPs, which means they contain a type of short-chain carbohydrates that are hard to digest. Most of us don’t have the enzymes in our guts that are needed to break down these carbohydrates. People with IBS have even more trouble with FODMAPS, which can cause uncomfortable and embarrassing digestive problems.
Alternatives to Legumes
If legumes exacerbate your IBS symptoms, then by all means, it’s best to avoid them completely. Fortunately, there are many alternatives that are just as delicious but that don’t cause gastrointestinal disstress. For example, if hummus doesn’t agree with you, you can switch to dipping your veggies in guacamole. Easy, right?
As always, it’s important to focus on what you can have, not on what you can’t have. So search out some alternatives and enjoy!