Much like dairy, beans and/or grains don’t work for everyone. Caution and care is warranted. How you prepare them can make all the difference. The health of your gut makes a difference too.

Instead of eliminating whole food groups like some restrictive diets do, I’d rather guide you the same way I do my 1-1 clients so you can determine what works best for you. 


Here’s the short answer:
Beans and grains need to be soaked for 6-8 hours before you cook them. They’re also easier to digest if they’re sprouted first (optional). The exceptions are the smaller ones like split peas, red lentils; and millet and quinoa, which are ‘seed grains’ that don’t need to be soaked, just rinsed.

Consume in moderation and listen to your body. If you have an auto-immune condition, are following a gut healing protocol, or are actively managing a disease, it may be best to avoid beans and glutenous grains for a time until the body is ready or in remission.

The short reason why: 
They contain lectins and phytic acid. Foods that contain lectins, consumed in high amounts and not cooked properly, are known to be toxic. Phytic acid is an anti-nutrient that blocks absorption, so you’re not getting all the B vitamins, protein, and nutrients you thought you were getting by eating these otherwise healthy, whole foods.

They’re also harder to digest if we don’t soak them. It’s important to soak, beans, grains, nuts, and seeds.

Years ago, and well, in places other than the US, soaking was a known food tradition that everyone did.

Today, in ‘merica, we ain’t got time for that. And have lost our way at the mercy of convenience. We are now a population of people with chronic bowel issues and have gotten so used to it, it’s become our norm.

If we’re eating modern wheat, we’re also consuming a very hybridized form of wheat that is a far cry from the true plant from whence it came. Then add on pesticide residue from glyphosate, the most common herbicide used across the planet. What a disaster for our bodies. Consistent consumption of glyphosate can take a major toll on our gut lining and become the gateway for dis-ease.

It’s one reason why gluten free has become so front and center. Fad or not, it’s wise to avoid exposure to modern wheat and any crops treated with glyphosate or roundup ready.

Not all gluten is equal. You may be able to eat the bread in Italy and be fine, but feel ill when eating it here in the U.S. That’s a post for another day.

What happens if I don’t soak grains and beans?
The lining of our bowels pays the price. You likely will not digest them well and you likely won’t absorb most of the nutrients from them either. That shows up in a bloated belly, a cramped belly, a constipated, and uncomfortable one. This compounds over time to destroy our gut lining. It might trigger autoimmune flares for some.

For vegetarians who use beans and grains as staples in their diets… and those with regular gastro-intestinal issues, leaky gut, IBS, auto-immunity, and mal-absorption — pay close attention here. 

It’s best to choose gluten free grains like oats, rice, buckwheat kasha. Try soaking them before cooking them and see how you tolerate them. If you experience digestive issues or other body and mind flare ups, it’s likely a good idea to give grains a rest while your body is in a healing state, even with soaking. Some on my clients prefer to be mostly Paleo and simply feel better minimizing grains or avoiding all together.

Listen to your body.

And go here to read more about how to soak and cook whole grains, culinary tips, including a cooking chart with ratios.

Soaking and cooking beans:  
Soak them for 6-8 hours as well in filtered water with 1/4 cup raw apple cider vinegar. Drain and rinse. Cook them according to their appropriate cook times, likely less since soaking speeds up coaking. I also like to add in a 2-3” stick of kombu seaweed to add minerals, tenderize them, and support digestion; or a a teaspoon of baking soda to the pot. You can fish the seaweed piece out before serving. No, it doesn’t add an ocean-y or fishy flavor!

I know soaking is an extra step in the cooking process. If you’re planning your meals ahead, it takes 1-2 minutes to put beans or grains in a bowl covered in water in the morning. Buying beans in bulk is also very budget friendly.

Also, one of my personal favorite heirloom bean brans is Rancho Gordo. And if I don’t have time to soak and prepare beans the way I want, Eden Foods is a high quality brand that takes care of this for us, including BPA-free lined cans.