The Truth About Legumes

Cavemen didn’t eat beans. Right?

If you are familiar with the “Paleo Diet,” you are aware that legumes are certainly not on the menu. The reason for the exclusion of legumes is the simple fact that legumes contain phytic acid (which blocks the absorption of some minerals) and lectins (which damage the small intestine). Seems legit, right?

Well, what if I were to tell you that there are several foods that are embraced by the Paleo community that contain far more levels of one or both of these “harmful substances” than do legumes?

One perfect example is nuts. Many nuts contain greater levels of phytic acid than legumes, yet paleo followers gladly pop handfuls of almonds into their mouths without thinking twice. Why is this acceptable while enjoying a small serving of pinto beans in my burrito bowl is frowned upon?

One thing that is becoming increasingly obvious to me about the paleo diet is that the “spokes people” of the lifestyle (Mark Sisson, Robb Wolf, etc.) as well as many other followers will do whatever they can do back up the “story” of the paleo diet (not trying to point fingers! These people are wonderful and offer some great info, too!). You know, the whole “only eat what was available to our ancient ancestors before agriculture” story. This sounds great at first, but can be extremely harmful when science and current research that contradicts the diet is ignored, simply because it doesn’t follow the storyline.

A great article about legumes by Chris Kresser goes into more detail about whether or not legume consumption is beneficial or harmful. Here are a few key points I’ve chosen to highlight for you, just in case you don’t want to read the entire article:

To my knowledge there’s only one study demonstrating humans being harmed by consuming legumes. This is the study often used by Paleo advocates to “prove” that legumes are dangerous. However, what is often neglected is that this study described a case of food poisoning that occurred in hospital patients who ate legumes that hadn’t been cooked properly. Suggesting that we shouldn’t eat cooked legumes because raw legumes cause disease is like saying that we shouldn’t eat cooked chicken because we can get Salmonella from eating raw chicken…

In fact, cooking legumes for as little as 15 minutes or pressure-cooking them for 7.5 minutes almost completely inactivates the lectins they contain, leaving no residual lectin activity in properly cooked legumes.

The problem with telling people to avoid legumes because they contain phytic acid is that many other foods in the diet—including “Paleo-friendly” foods—contain substantially higher amounts of phytic acid than legumes. For example, a serving of trail mix, that beloved Paleo favorite, is likely to be much higher in phytic acid than a serving of lentils. Cacao beans (chocolate) have about the same amount of phytic acid as most beans. And spinach and swiss chard are higher in phytic acid than almost any legume, nut or seed!

-Chris Kresser

 

Kresser also mentions a few foods that are totally 100% “paleo” that contain higher levels of phytic acid than legumes: sesame seeds, Swiss chard, and spinach. Take what you want from the article, but I have decided that I will allow small amounts of legumes into my diet. The benefits of eating a small amount of legumes seem to outweigh any drawbacks for me personally, but you can take this information or leave it. I think that the phytic acid and lectin arguments are moot at this point.

I recently watched an interview with Abel James from The Fat Burning Man and Dr. Fuhrman who is a physician and proper nutrition advocate. The two discussed the dangers of following any specific diet and touched upon legumes, grains, and other dogmas of the paleo diet. It’s a great interview, and I suggest you watch it if you are at all interested in the subject! Here’s a link to the video.

What are your thoughts on legumes and the restrictions of the paleo diet? I’d love to hear your opinions 🙂

 

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How to Make Chicken Soup from Scratch

What’s more comforting than a hot bowl of chicken soup? I’m not talking about that junk that comes in a can that claims to be healthy and hearty, I’m talking about the real deal. Homemade. Making chicken soup from scratch can sound a little intimidating, but it’s really very simple and versitile.

Check out my video to see instructions on making your own chicken soup completely from scratch. Use any combination of vegetables and seasonings you like! This is more of a method than a recipe, so adapt it to your taste.

 

 

How to Make Chicken Soup from Scratch

 

Broth Ingredients:

  • 1 whole chicken, giblets removed (2-4 lbs)
  • 2 hearts celery, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, chopped
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 tsp peppercorns
  • Water to cover ingredients in pot

Soup Ingredients:

  • 1 Pot of broth
  • Shredded chicken (from broth)
  • 2-6 cups of vegetables of your choice. (Broccoli, carrots, celery, onion, spinach, kale, cauliflower, okra, green beans, mushrooms, etc.)
  • Seasoning of your choice (I used 1 tsp salt, 2 tsp pepper, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp oregano, 1 tsp paprika)

Instructions:

  1. In a large pot, begin with broth ingredients. Simmer ingredients for 1.5-2 hours, or until chicken is cooked thoroughly and meat is falling off the bone.
  2. Remove chicken from pot, and strain solids from the broth.
  3. *Optional Step*Cover broth and place in fridge to cool, allowing fat to solidify and float to the top. Skim fat off top once cooled, or you can leave it. It’s up to you. If you choose to leave fat in broth, no refrigeration needed. Leave at room temperature.
  4. *Optional Step* Puree solid vegetables, giblets (bones removed), and 1-2 cups of broth. Place puree in fridge to cool if you cooled broth. If you are leaving fat in the broth, then don’t place puree in fridge because the process is going to go much faster.
  5. Separate meat from bone of chicken, shredding it with your fingers. If you wish, you may use a knife to cut chicken, but I’ve found that using my fingers is much easier and quicker.
  6. Add meat back to pot of broth, bring to boil. Add veggies and seasoning, simmer until veggies are fork tender.
  7. *Optional Step* Stir in puree mixture and allow it to come up to temperature.
  8. Enjoy!

This soup freezes well, so you can make a large batch and freeze some so that you can enjoy it over the next few weeks.

 

Screen Shot 2014-05-08 at 7.37.08 AM

 

Why You Probably Should Be Drinking More Water

Water. We all need to drink it to survive, but how much is enough? If you are like most Americans, you probably aren’t drinking nearly enough to stay fully hydrated throughout your day.

Recommendations on optimal water consumption differ depending on who you’re talking to. Many people suggest drinking 8 glasses of water per day, while the Mayo Clinic recommends women drink 2.2 Liters while men should drink 3 Liters (or about 100 oz) of water per day.

Other sources will tell you to drink at least 1 oz. of water per pound of body weight. This seems a little closer to what I believe is optimal, at least for myself.

I’m definitely not a medical doctor, and am not qualified to recommend any specific quantity of water for you to drink per day. What I have found what works for me, however, is much more than what has been recommended by medical and fitness professionals.

On any given day, I typically drink between 6-10 liters of water (which translates to 200+ ounces, sipped on throughout the day, not chugged all at once), depending on my activity level on any given day. On days when I have a challenging workout I drink more water than those with minimal physical activity. This is more than triple the volume of water recommended by most sources. When I drink less than this, I begin to feel dehydrated and lethargic.

My typical daily water intake looks like this:

Morning: 1 cup of coffee + 2 liters of water before lunch time
Afternoon: About 2 liters of water from 1pm-5pm
Evening: About 2 liters of water from dinner time to bedtime + 1-2 cups of herbal tea

The Benefits of Drinking Plenty of Water

  • Water flushes out toxins and cleanses the body.
  • Water supports healthy kidney function.
  • Drinking plenty of water will help your skin look younger and healthy. Maybe even radiant 😉
  • Aids digestion and keeps things moving.
  • Can help relieve and prevent headaches  or migraines.

Tips for Drinking More Water Throughout the Day

  1. Keep a refillable water body on hand at all times. If your water is sitting on the desk in front of you all day, you are more likely to remember to drink it.
  2. Right when you wake up in the morning, drink a minimum of 8oz of water (up to a 1 liter is extremely beneficial). Since you’ve been sleeping all night, your body has become dehydrated. It’s important to get that water in!
  3. Water too boring for you? Try adding some lemon slices or frozen berries to give it some flavor. Just fill up a container with water, add the fruit, and refrigerate it over night. In the morning, strain the fruit out and enjoy all the benefits of water with some added flavor and vitamins!

 

What about coffee or soda? Do those count towards my water intake for the day?

 My answer – NO. Since coffee is a diuretic, I don’t think it gives the same lasting benefits as a glass of water. It may even work against your water intake, since it flushes fluid out of your body. As for any type of sugary or alcoholic drink (soda, juice, sweetened iced tea, beer, martini, etc.), this does not count towards your water intake. Alcohol actually dehydrates you. As for the sugary drinks, enjoying them in moderation is fine (fine, but not encouraged), but you should not guzzle down soda after soda because you think it is hydrating you. Think of it more as a dessert than a tool to hydrate your body. If you must drink sugary drinks, try to only enjoy them only in moderation.

 

To summarize… 

If you know you aren’t drinking enough water (you know who you are!), make a conscious effort to up your intake! Drink a few glasses as soon as you wake up, and keep a refillable bottle full of water near you all day.

 

urinechart

 

Sources:
http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/water/art-20044256

http://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/everyone/basics/water.html

Looking for Some Bikini Body Motivation?

Hey everyone! This post is aimed towards the ladies out there, but gentlemen, feel free to keep on reading if you please. This week was the launch of the annual Bikini Series hosted by Tone it Up. It is an 8 week (7 weeks left) fitness program that takes us all the way to the first day of summer…June 21.

Each day, the trainers Karena and Katrina post a new workout as well as tips and tricks to staying on track towards your goals. They have various fitness videos on their website and on YouTube, which seem pretty easy, but as with most workouts, you get what you put into it. I love mixing up my fitness routine once a year when their Bikini Series comes around. It’s always a great motivator to prepare for summer.

If you’re interested in joining a community of ladies who share a common goal of getting fit, you should definitely check this out. It’s not too late to join! Click here to find out more.

Tone-It-Up-BIKINI-SERIES-2014-karenakatrina

 

Remember to stay active and moving! This should be increasingly easier now that the weather is warming up.

Well, I’m off to the lake to get in a little wake boarding this morning. Until next time!