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How To Improve The Digestion Of Beans And Other Pulses

How do you improve the digestion of beans and other pulses?

Last year Daen and I undertook an exciting challenge; we went vegan for a month for Veganuary. With Daen being a degree-qualified nutritionist and personal trainer in London, we were very excited to go full blast on the plant-based diet. Most of our meals and food essentials were already structured around vegetables but this time we really had to make our 31 days, which meant 93 meals, vegan. Furthermore, we had to make sure to eat the right amount of protein, good fats and other essentials needed to fuel our bodies and feel good. Also not forgetting having as much variety in our diet as possible.

Therefore, going vegan meant some of the food essentials (see our guide of vegan food essentials) we are used to eating had to change to a plant-based list of vegan foods. Although beans were already part of our food essentials, they of course became even more handy and frequently used during Veganuary, due to their protein content. I can tell you that by the end of January, I experienced what a lot of people experience with a plant-based diet and an increase of beans in their diet: bloating, wind and an uncomfortable, slow digestion.

We got to talk about it with our vegan friend and fellow nutritionist, Leith Johanson, founder of Nutriactive and Sofa2Stamina. Leith recently published her plant-based lifestyle Ebook.

Here are Leith’s 6 tips on eating beans and improving the digestion of these amazing large seeds:

1. Increase Bean Consumption Slowly

If you are coming from a predominately meat diet, you may run into trouble. As meat has zero amount of fibre, you may not be used to the increase in fibre to your diet. Increasing your bean intake slowly will allow your digestive system to adjust to the change.

2. When Cooking Beans, Soak Them For 24 Hours Before Cooking

Soak your beans up to 24 hours before cooking and once cooked, rinse thoroughly. If keeping them to consume over a few days, keep them in an air tight glass container submerged in water. Rinse well each time you get them out to use them.

3. If Using From A Can, Rinse, Rinse, Rinse

By rinsing beans, you’ll get rid of any starch found on the surface that may be affecting your digestion.

4. Try 1-2 Tablespoons Of Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)

Drink 1-2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in warm water 30 minutes before eating or consume a salad in ACV or something fermented such as sauerkraut at the same time as your meal. These things can aid digestion.

5. Adding Them To A Soup Can Assist In The Digestive Process

Adding them to a soup can also assist in the digestive process. Herbs and spices contain medicinal properties, add them to a bean curry or a bean soup.

6. Eat Slowly And Try To Avoid Drinking At The Same Time

Drinking water whilst eating can dilute the digestive enzymes your body produces naturally, making the food harder to digest.

We hope you enjoyed Leith’s tips and please let us know if you have any questions or comments.

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What Makes a “Detox” Juice?

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Peanut Butter, Banana, Kale: Your Protein Green Smoothie this winter!


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Little Lemons Make a Colossal Contribution: Lemon Water Detox!

As a nutritionist, one of the most common asked question is how do I get my day started? Here’s a super easy way I get each and every day off to a flying start!

For an easy detox or cleanse, all you need is half a lemon and some water. Here’s what I do: First thing each morning, squeeze the half lemon into a nice big glass of water.

Lemon water detox, watch our quick video:

Drink the lemon water down. Leave it for 15-20mins before you have breakfast. This is a good time to go take a shower, prep your lunch for the day or pop the pan on the hob ready to poach those eggs! Just make sure you rinse your mouth with a little fresh water afterwards to avoid leaving acid residue on your teeth.

The benefits of lemon water are multiple…

  • It stimulates your gastric juices and prepares your stomach for the food that you’re about to eat, making it easier to digest properly and absorb the nutrients you need,
  • It helps your liver to detox, cleanse your body and flush out unwanted toxins, it also helps stimulate the bowels,
  • It has an alkalising effect, helping to balance out the acidity of most of our modern diets,
  • It gives you a head start on your water intake for the day, a great way to hydrate. If you use a pint glass, for instance, you’ll be around half a litre into your suggested 2 litres before you’ve done anything! (568mL in the UK/imperial, 473mL in the US).
  • It can be something you do throughout the year or for a few weeks 3 or 4 times a year.

Always use fresh lemons, not juice from concentrate. Some of the nutrients in the lemon juice may have been damaged or lost during the concentration/reconstitution process.

You may also like to read Our Food Grocery Essentials

An alternative to fresh lemon is Apple Cider Vinegar, which is generally available in health food stores. You only need to use around a dessertspoonful.

Voila! Lemon water. It’s such an easy thing to incorporate into your day with such wonderful benefits to detox and cleanse your body!

Please note: This may not be suitable if you have a stomach ulcer, experience heartburn or reflux.


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