Legumes and Paleo diet

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Legumes in Paleo diet do not play any role

The most common legumes which are currently present are beans, lentils, soybeans and peanuts. There are certain types of legumes which are highly toxic in nature when they are in their uncooked form. They are so highly dangerous, according to a research they can kill mice in just two weeks when they are carefully administered in their raw form and added to just 1% of their diet. Now it is considered that these dangerous toxins are removed when the legumes are cooked but that is not true because not all of them do. There was a time when there was a restriction in the import of red beans in South Africa. They were also legally prohibited for the human consumption because of their potential toxicity nature.

Legumes are categorized as tossocologicamente, which puts them in the same category as the cereals. They are from the family of grains and are often consumed by the herbivores. To protect themselves from the mammals including humans, they have developed such toxins. The two major toxins of legumes are considered to be lectins and alpha – amylase inhibitors, which are also found in cereals in large quantity.

The two effects of toxicity due to legumes are;

  • Legumes have drastic effects on the contraction of the organs and it also retards the growth. The mice who were administered the legumes during a study were actually given lectin alpha – amylase legumes. They severely suffered from the indigestion problems and the growth in them was retarded. If you feed the mice with the soybeans then it causes an alteration of the organs. It was reported that the pancreas in the mice who were given lectin alpha – amylase legumes was very heavy in weight as compared to the mice who were fed with the soy, resulting their pancreas lighter. There was a study where humans volunteered and they were provided with the bean lectin phytohemagglutinin. As a result, there was a contraction in the cistefellea, with two – third of the natural size.
  • The other effects of legumes include indigestion, bloating, diarrhea, and leaky gut which in medical terms known as increased intestinal permeability. The effect of the beans on the permeable intestines of the mice was so immense, that it allowed the bacteria and harmful toxins to enter in their body. The lectin phytohemagglutinin beans have a negative effect in the stomach blocking the production of the acid, which leads to the prevention of proper digestion mainly of proteins.

However, the very typical effects of the toxicity of legumes on the human body include bloating and reflux if they are cooked properly. If they are not well cooked or consumed undercooked then the results and the reactions of them could be more severe.

The Anti- Nutrient Vegetables

This is the list of all the anti – nutrients which are found in beans, legumes and soy. They all contain

  • Phytates
  • Lectins
  • Saponins
  • Protease inhibitors
  • Polyphenols (tannins and isoflavones)
  • Oligosaccharides of raffinose
  • Flavonoids glycosides
  • Cyanogenic glycosides


Phytates inhibit from the absorption of zinc, iron, calcium and magnesium which are present in cereals and legumes. The cause of these phytates are nutritional deficiencies. When the vegetables are cooked well, they still do not have any effect on the phytates. The effects of phytates however are reduced by fermentation and sprouting.


It is considered that all the anti – nutrients beans are the main cause which contribute to some of the effects of food poisoning. However the experiments on the animals has suggested that there is a special lectin present in the legumes called fitoemoagglutanina in all varieties of Phaseolus Vulgaris, which is the main cause of poisoning. The studies on the human tissues has indicated that all types of lectins including fitoemoagglutanina can cause increased intestinal permeability, which is the base step towards immune disease. A conciliation of intestinal integrity which is produced by these very lectins can be the cause of low level inflammation that can further lead to the atherosclerosis and also cancer. Phaseolus Vulgaris species which include lectins, soy and peanuts are also thought to be the major cause of increased intestinal permeability.


Like the damage of lectins, if the ingestion of saponins is higher, then the damage of it is greater. It has very dangerous effects where the major threat of saponins is to increase intestinal permeability. The increase allows the gut bacteria and the toxins to interact with the immune system which is due to cancer and the heart disease. The other major problem of saponins is that if you cook the vegetables for up to 2 hours, you cannot guarantee the removal of saponins and they will still be present from 85% up to 100%.

Protease Inhibitors

When a normal human consumes any type of proteins, the enzymes present in the intestine break down the proteins into amino acids. These particular enzymes are called protease and they should operate in a normal manner for the appropriate absorption of proteins. All types of Legumes contain a common anti – nutrient named as protease inhibitors, whose purpose is to prevent the enzymes present in the intestine from breaking down the proteins. This could be the main reason why the quantity of proteins in legumes are very less as compared to the proteins available in the meat products. During the experiments on animals, it was observed that the Protease Inhibitors ingestion dejected the growth in them and also caused an enlargement of the pancreas.

Polyphenols (tannins and isoflavones)

The antioxidants which protect the plants from insects, sun and other different types of organisms are known as Polyphenols. The nature of phytates are almost similar as compared to the tannins and have negative impacts in digestion by reducing the protein digestibility. They also impede the smooth inclusion of different minerals including iron. However, it increases the intestinal permeability by damaging the intestine. Whereas, Isoflavones plays the role like female hormones. There are some concentrated isoflavones which are present in soy can cause goiter, which is a very large thyroid gland that appears when the level of iodine is low in the human body. These isoflavones are called phytoestrogens.

There was a study commenced by Dr. Ishizuki, where his subjects were of average 61 years of age. They were carefully administered 30 grams of soy every day for 3 months. The results were rather disturbing and there were symptoms of malaise, lethargy, hypothyroidism and constipation, and 50% of all the subjects developed goiter. There was a survey done by Dr. Gustavo Roman in 2007, where it was indicated that the soy isoflavones has the potential ability to impair the normal iodine metabolism and thyroid function and could also help in the development of autism.

Oligosaccharides of raffinose

There are complex sugars present in almost all the vegetables and legumes, which are available today for our consumption and they are highly responsible for the formation of gas in the intestines. The enzymes called Mancandoci which are present in the intestine, help in the breaking down of these complex sugars into simple sugars. These Oligosaccharides are then metabolized and transformed by the gut bacteria into various different gases like carbon dioxide, methane, and hydrogen. The symptoms can be different in different people depending upon the bacterial flora. Legumes belong to the family of foods which have a high level of FODMAP. They have certain type of carbohydrate which causes the digestive problems in some people particularly vulnerable.

Flavonoids glycosides

Fava beans can have a fatal effect in people who have a genetic defect known as G6PD. There is a simple blood test in order to verify if someone is suffering from this deficiency. If these beans are consumed by the individuals who are genetically vulnerable, then it can cause haemolytic anaemia. There have been many experiments on the fava beans and it is unclear until this point as how they can cause Favism in an individual. However, the real culprits which are present in the vegetables and legumes could possibly be anti – nutrients.

Cyanogenic Glycosides

When the cyanogenic glycosides are consumed and digested, they are then transformed into a very deadly prussic acid in the gut. However, if you cook the legumes properly, then the majority of this dangerous compound will be destroyed, but cooking the legumes doesn’t end the problem. When cooking the legumes, a very large quantity of hydrogen cyanide is transformed into thiocyanate, which join forces with the soy isoflavones to become anti-nutrients. These anti-nutrients can later on be the reason in formation of goiter because it weakens the metabolism of iodine.


The damage from the consumption of legumes can be reduced to some extent with some precautions but it cannot be eliminated completely. Precautions like sprouting, fermentation and baking the legumes for a longer time, in regards to the soy and peanuts consumption. However, we have established the fact that the legumes have a very low quantity of nutritional and bio-availability as compared to food products like fruits, vegetables, meat, fish and poultry. In one line, it can be concluded that “no matter how you look at things, legumes were never and not part of the Paleo diet.”

daniele de vivoLegumes and Paleo diet

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