Beans & the Second-Meal Effect

Beans & the Second-Meal Effect
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The so-called “lentil effect” or “second meal effect” describes the remarkable effect of beans to help control blood sugar levels hours, or even the next day, after consumption.

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

We’ve known for decades that beans have an exceptionally low glycemic index. You give someone cooked beans, peas, or lentils, and you don’t even get half the blood sugar spike you get with the same amount of carbs in the form of bread, pasta, or potatoes. So, if you’re going to eat some high-glycemic food like white rice, consider having some beans with it, and the more beans the better.

Check it out, as your bean-to-rice ratio increases from left to right, from more rice-with-some-beans, to more like beans-with-some-rice, you can see these trends towards improving cardiometabolic risk factors. “Substituting one serving of beans for one serving of white rice was associated with a 35%…lower risk of…metabolic syndrome [or pre-diabetes].”

Why do beans have such a low glycemic index? Maybe it’s because they’ve got so much fiber that absorption is just slower or something. But, it was this next study that blew people’s minds.

Started out same as before. Give someone some bread for breakfast, and get a big spike in blood sugar and insulin levels, but give the same amount of carbs in lentil form, and you blunt the effect. Okay, but now, let’s follow through to lunch.

At breakfast, same as before, big spike with the bread; small spike with lentils. But then, for lunch, both groups got the same meal. Both got bread, and those that had lentils four hours earlier with breakfast had less of a glycemic reaction to the bread. At the time they called it the “lentil effect,” but chickpeas appear to work just as well, so it has since been dubbed the “second meal effect.” Eat lentils for dinner, and then for breakfast, even if forced to drink sugar water, you have better glycemic control. Beans moderating your blood sugar, not just at the meal you eat them, but hours later; even the next day. 

How is that even possible? The mystery has since been solved. Remember what our gazillions of gut bacteria do with fiber? They produce compounds like propionate with it, which gets absorbed into our system and slows down gastric emptying—slows the rate at which food leaves our stomach, so we don’t get as much of a sugar rush.

It’s like symbiosis. We feed our good bacteria; they feed us back. So, you have a bean burrito for supper, and by the next morning, it’s time for your gut bacteria to eat that same burrito, and the by-products they create with it may affect how our breakfast the next morning is digested.

They figured this out by giving people rectal infusions of the amount of propionate your good bacteria might make from a good burrito. And, you can see the stomach relax within minutes of the rectal infusion. So, I guess if you forgot to eat any kind of beans, peas, or lentils for supper, and need to blunt the effect of your breakfast doughnut, it’s theoretically not too late. But, in general, I encourage people to administer their food orally.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

We’ve known for decades that beans have an exceptionally low glycemic index. You give someone cooked beans, peas, or lentils, and you don’t even get half the blood sugar spike you get with the same amount of carbs in the form of bread, pasta, or potatoes. So, if you’re going to eat some high-glycemic food like white rice, consider having some beans with it, and the more beans the better.

Check it out, as your bean-to-rice ratio increases from left to right, from more rice-with-some-beans, to more like beans-with-some-rice, you can see these trends towards improving cardiometabolic risk factors. “Substituting one serving of beans for one serving of white rice was associated with a 35%…lower risk of…metabolic syndrome [or pre-diabetes].”

Why do beans have such a low glycemic index? Maybe it’s because they’ve got so much fiber that absorption is just slower or something. But, it was this next study that blew people’s minds.

Started out same as before. Give someone some bread for breakfast, and get a big spike in blood sugar and insulin levels, but give the same amount of carbs in lentil form, and you blunt the effect. Okay, but now, let’s follow through to lunch.

At breakfast, same as before, big spike with the bread; small spike with lentils. But then, for lunch, both groups got the same meal. Both got bread, and those that had lentils four hours earlier with breakfast had less of a glycemic reaction to the bread. At the time they called it the “lentil effect,” but chickpeas appear to work just as well, so it has since been dubbed the “second meal effect.” Eat lentils for dinner, and then for breakfast, even if forced to drink sugar water, you have better glycemic control. Beans moderating your blood sugar, not just at the meal you eat them, but hours later; even the next day. 

How is that even possible? The mystery has since been solved. Remember what our gazillions of gut bacteria do with fiber? They produce compounds like propionate with it, which gets absorbed into our system and slows down gastric emptying—slows the rate at which food leaves our stomach, so we don’t get as much of a sugar rush.

It’s like symbiosis. We feed our good bacteria; they feed us back. So, you have a bean burrito for supper, and by the next morning, it’s time for your gut bacteria to eat that same burrito, and the by-products they create with it may affect how our breakfast the next morning is digested.

They figured this out by giving people rectal infusions of the amount of propionate your good bacteria might make from a good burrito. And, you can see the stomach relax within minutes of the rectal infusion. So, I guess if you forgot to eat any kind of beans, peas, or lentils for supper, and need to blunt the effect of your breakfast doughnut, it’s theoretically not too late. But, in general, I encourage people to administer their food orally.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image thanks to Pacific Northwest National Laboratory via flickr

 

Doctor's Note

But what about the gas? Check out my blog post Beans & Gas: Clearing the air.

What other superpowers do beans posses? They’re packed with potassium (Preventing Strokes with Diet), mad with magnesium (Mineral of the Year—Magnesium), and a preferred source of protein (Plant Protein Preferable). They improve breast cancer survival (Breast Cancer Survival & Soy), reduce hot flashes (Soy Foods & Menopause), delay premature puberty (The Effect of Soy on Precocious Puberty), and they’re a great bargain to boot (Eating Healthy on a Budget). 

Which beans are most antioxidant-packed? See The Best Bean and The Healthiest Lentil (hint: skip the jelly variety; see Raisins vs. Jelly Beans for Athletic Performance). Which beans lower cholesterol the most? See Soy Worth a Hill of Beans?

Lentils for breakfast? Well, the Brits like baked beans on their toast, but I’ve started using a handful of sprouted lentils in my breakfast smoothie (see A Better Breakfast, and Antioxidants Sprouting Up).

The propionate video I reference is Fawning over Flora, with a follow-up Boosting Good Bacteria in the Colon without Probiotics.

For more context, check out my blog posts: Top 10 Most Popular Videos from 2013, and Why We Should Eat More Beans.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

94 responses to “Beans & the Second-Meal Effect

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    1. Interesting question. Without knowing the answer, I would guess: Since soybeans are simply a type of bean, the effect would definitely be there–when eating the *whole* soybean.

      However, if the theory is that it is the fiber creating propionate (sp?) that causes the beneficial effect effect of beans, then tofu would not have the same effect. My understanding is that tofu is congealed soybean milk.Thus, tofu would be lacking the fiber. (Not that I have a tub of tofu in front of me to check.)




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        1. Having worked in a small artisan tofu factory, tofu is in fact coagulated soy milk. Just like you coagulate cow, goat or sheep milk to make cheese, you coagulate soy bean milk to make tofu. After coagulation, the curds come to the top, which are skimmed off and then pressed to make a slab of tofu, which is then cut up into squares. That’s it. Not much to it. But, no fiber in tofu. There is a by product called okara, which is what’s left over after pressing the soaked and then ground soy beans to get the milk. It can be used for many dishes. Hope this helps.




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          1. I would be interested to find out why these chemicals are needed to coagulate soy milk? Why not something like lemon juice, or just citric acid?




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            1. Definitely, those should work as well. But wouldn’t they impart a sourness to the tofu? If so, that’s probably why magnesium chloride and calcium sulfate are being used.




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                1. Good to know that vinegar does not impart any sourness to the tofu.

                  Back in my early days of discovering tofu, I got it from one health food store that it turns out didn’t change the water daily in the bulk tofu bucket (this was in the days before pasteurized prepackaged tofu). So, because of that, their tofu quickly became sour, which I thought was how it was supposed to be, until I ate some really fresh tofu. I asked, what’s wrong with this tofu, it’s not sour? And was told that tofu isn’t supposed to be sour.

                  Live and learn!




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      1. if its all about the soluble fiber then there should be lots of other options. according to the mayo clinic, 1/2 cup of brussels sprouts have as much soluble fiber as half a cup of beans (2 g), but since they have only a quarter the glycemic load, theyd do more for your morning blood sugar. Turnips and asparagus have 1.7 grams in a half cup and the same load or less of the sprouts. half a cup of carrots has 2 g of fiber and a load of 3.




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  1. I’m somewhat concerned about the issues that some raise regarding the toxins in beans, legumes, and grains (i.e., the phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors, for example). I typically soak mine before cooking, but I’ve heard that even that doesn’t remove all the toxins from these otherwise superfoods. The authors of The Perfect Heath Diet explain this in detail. I would much rather consume beans than meat as a protein/nutrition source, but not if the toxins won’t treat my body right. Any thoughts on this from Dr. Greger?




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    1. Bob, hmm…I think it’s important not to think of phytic acid as a toxin. Phytic acid has been shown to be beneficial in certain cases. Studies have shown that phytic acid may reduce the incidence of numerous types of cancer, Alzheimer’s, cirrhosis, arthritis and Parkinson’s Disease.

      Yes, phytic acid strongly binds to metallic cations. However this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In some cases this is good. For example, arsenic is in many foods. Phytic acid binds to arsenic. If you eat seafood, phytic acid binds to mercury.

      If, however, you have a mineral deficiency then perhaps you may need to be strategic in terms of when you consume certain phytic acid rich foods.




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      1. Very interesting–and thanks for pointing that out. I’m still researching this, so what you raise is certainly worth considering and looking further into. Thx.




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        1. Soaking grains with buckwheat or rye ( have phytase)
          is supposed to inactivate the phytic acid but don’t know if this applies to beans.




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      2. The thing about phytate, yes it does bind certain mineral ions at physiologic pH. But picture it like a buffer, when fully saturated with goodies, it releases them when the concentration becomes low…that is, when they are needed most. its one of the most basic functions of buffers in living systems. It is just a convenient lie to say phytic acid binds important minerals and not explain the rest of the story. easy way to cast phytate as a serious “toxin”. it is kinda true but a lie. I can hear Paul Harvey: “now you know the rest of the story….Goodae” Hey, he musta had kiwi blood!




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        1. Coacervate, “it releases them when the concentration becomes low” if this were true there wouldnt be any evidence of mineral deficiency in cultures that eat primarily whole grains and legumes. but if you check out the Hardin Village dig in the US, [kentucky i think?] the skeletons showed severe mineral deficiency disease compared to a group with the same heritage eating other foods.




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    2. After some research, I’ve decided that most of the beans or especially “soybeans are bad” is a myth. This link summarizes most of this:

      http://zenhabits.net/soy/

      So one of the recent blogs that seemed to endorse the Hallelujah Diet which criticized soybeans for their estrogen content was probably not based on sound science…………also same for all their expensive supplements with the message that eating whole plant food will still leave one malnourished!




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    3. I worked for one group who made it clear my job was to make soy look bad. e.g. Trypsin inhibitors- how could something that inhibits digestion be a good thing? It was easy to make up true lies that TI was bad for you …and of course too much is…but if you search “trypsin inhibitor cancer” you will learn some very interesting truth.

      Soybean contain LAL (lysinoalanine) and that is bad. True and lie. Processing at high pH does create damage in the form of LAL and other protein crosslinks. Are they really bad? Well definitely not good for you.

      So don’t overly process your soy protein. If dairy wants to through stones, look at casein, the only significant food protein that contains phosphorous. And guess what, this form of phosphorous (phosphoserine) is a “good leaving group” meaning it easily converts to a reactive form that is highly prone to making LAL and other crosslinks.

      The spin game is never ending. Look to see who funds the research. This site is a “candle in the darkness” to quote Carl.




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        1. I each much more grains/nuts than soy, so soy is not a major concern of mine. While I am concerned about adverse health/digestion effects from legumes in general (call them anti-nutrients, phytic acid, whatever), this thread seems to be co-opted by a discussion regarding soy and marketing. It has, however, been interesting to read some of the links above, so thanks to the commenters above.

          But what about grains and nuts? We eat plenty of those. Any thoughts regarding the claims being true/substantiated of the folks that say that the adverse health effects of the anti-nutrients in grain/nuts/legumes outweigh the benefits?

          I’d think a Dr. Gerger video series on that (the science behind the toxins/anti-nutrients in grains/nuts/legumes) would be very popular. There’s got to be some research on the subject, no?




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          1. im of the opinion that grains and legumes shouldnt be eaten at all, but even nuts and seeds are quite high in antinutritious components, especially of you eat them in qunatities similar to the grains and legumes. so if youre going to eat them i think it makes sense to use ancestral soaking, souring and sprouting methods to reduce their anti nutrient content and toxic impact.




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    4. We have to be careful not to make the reductionist mistake, to point out single nutrients, and label single nutrients good, bad, healthy, not healthy. We know for a fact, that the bean as a whole is a healthfood.




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    5. Bob, I read that book too. At the time there was a lot of truthiness to it, but ultimately I concluded that while there was a sliver of common ground on things like dairy is bad and veggies are good, the rest is pure fantasy. Grains and legumes are trying to kill us? Bleed yourself regularly to keep iron (it comes from from the meat, you know) from building up? Really? People have a complicated – and varied – biology and it is impossible to micromanage individual nutrients – if you do finish PHD you should move on to an author who really knows his stuff and has actually done nutrition/cancer research like T. Colin Campbell, in his new book Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition, and also his first book the China Study.




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      1. Chris Masterjohn and Denise Minger have thoroughly deconstructed the China Study. T. Colin Campbell is a charlatan. Chris Kresser summarizes all of this very well here:

        http://chriskresser.com/rest-in-peace-china-study/

        The “toxicities” you list are bunk. There are parasites, pathogens, endotoxins, hormones, and environmental toxins in or on plants. Saturated fat, cholesterol, heme iron, harmane, and methionine are not toxins.




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    6. bob, i dont eat beans or meat and i dont think you need to choose either of them. there are quite a few high protein veggies like greens, asparagus and broccoli and these dont contain nearly the level of toxins and anti-nutritious components that legumes do.




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    7. One toxin to be aware of is phytohaemagglutinin (let’s add that to next year’s spelling bee!). It is found in high concentration in red kidney beans. YOU HAVE TO COOK THE BEANS AT 100 degrees Celsius for 30 MINUTES to neutralize ‘most’ of the toxin. If you slow cook at 80 degrees, you actually increase the toxicity of the beans. I live at 4500 foot elevation and water never gets above 95 degrees when it is boiling so I need to invest in a pressure cooker or rely on canned beans. BTW Eden Organic doesn’t use Bisphenol A in the linings of their cans but they do add Kombu seaweed which has an MSG effect on my system (Kombu is the seaweed MSG was first isolated from)…. Lastly a comment about the trypsin inhibitors in soybeans. Your body’s supply of endogenous digestive enzymes like trypsin and chymotrypsin are one of your first lines of defense against developing cancers in the body. Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez uses pancreatic enzymes with his patients to break down their cancers, and soybean products are not on his acceptable foods list because of the trypsin inhibitors…




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    1. It took a while, but I no longer scare away people or animals. also bean gas is sooo much lighter than carne-vapour eew :)

      Others have said to start slowly, build up to regular serves. Struth.




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    2. Hi Ann. I’d have to agree with Coacervate’s comments. With frequent consumption of beans your intestinal microflora will change and after some time you will not have this issue.




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      1. Thanks Devin, I want to take the opp to say, some months ago I complained that flax seed made me sick. I solved the problem by going back to this principle. I quit completely then started using only 1/4 of a teaspoon in the grinder. that was ok. slowly I’ve upped the “dose” until I’m close to 1 tablespoon a day. Going slow is the key to making these radical positive changes to your diet.




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  2. Another great post Dr. Greger. Readers might also be interested in ‘Glycemic Index–Not Ready for Prime Time’ from McDougall’s July 2006 newsletter.




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  3. Huh. So the ole song “let’s eat beans with every meal!” can be updated to ‘every other meal’ to offer actual health advice!




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  4. Dr. Greger, are you at all concerned with eating “canned” beans due to excessive cooking times coupled with high temperatures? Canned beans are cooked inside the cans for several hours, and at very high temperatures. Are there any studies examining any sort of detrimental effects to the proteins, fats, carbs, sugars, etc. as a result of this method of cooking?




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    1. Elsie, i don’t presume to speak for dr greger. I would say that canned foods, modern cans are lined with plastic that leak harmful chemicals. bis phenol A is a plastiziser that we are getting forced to eat. … from cans and plastics. so that alone is bad enough. but does harsh processing affect the nutritional quality of canned foods…well yeah. you know, just on general principles we know that some heat treatment improves nutrional quality and too much decreases. so what do you think. is retorting your food a good idea. NOPE. i don’t think so. I say keep cans for emergency or immediate needs but use dried beans as mucha s you practically can. I recommend an electric pressure cooker…too useful to pass up. Unless you worry a lot about explosions …then just soak and cook, you know.




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      1. another approach is to use red lentils instead of beans.
        red lentils cook very quickly even without a pressure cooker.
        wont’ work well for burritos, but do work exceedingly well for soups, curries, ethiopian bean stews, etc.




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    2. If you check the glycemic index of canned beans it is a lot higher than cooking from raw. In general once a food is processed the glycemic index shoots up.




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      1. the index is only higher because the starchy cooking liquid is included in the measure. processing does shoot the index up, but cooking them yourself is no diff than cooking them and canning them.




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    3. I have the same concern – I rarely use canned beans. I prefer dried beans, and I always cook the hole bag and freeze the beans in portions. That way I always have “fresh cooked” beans. Easy.




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    1. What do you mean, phum? how did you get that question from the video? are you asking a question? if so put a ? mark at the end ok? how could it ever be good to skip dinner? are you confused about the conclusions of the research? write lots of words ok?




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      1. i take that to mean if beans provide a true second meal effect and you eat them for lunch, that should mean you can skip dinner. though i think it was tongue in cheek.




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  5. This isn’t really about beans. I was just reading about astronomy. Apparently they were looking for planets and they found one that was just like Earth…so they’re gonna keep looking. heh.




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  6. I wonder if this could be good news for dieters. If blood sugars are more stable with the inclusion of beans in the diet, it stands to reason that appetite – even the next day, will be lower.




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  7. I love beans and the bean burrito for breakfast sounds awsome. Anything to wrap in a tortilla, (wish I could find oil free) and eat out of hand is good to me. The more beans, the better? Aren’t you worried about too much protein? I am trying to follow the McDougall plan and am aware that we as a country/society, eat too much protein, even as vegetarians/vegans with our use of beans. Thus the use of a lot of starches which have a lot of protein too, but tend to be more filling without overdoing the protein. I will say here, that I’m no expert and have a lot to learn, but this seems like it might be an issue. What say you? Dr, Greger. and thanks for all you do. Much appreciated. Lynn




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    1. LynnCS: Fellow bean-lover here.

      I don’t understand your concern about too much protein when it comes to eating beans and following the Dr. McDougall plan. The reason I say that is that I believe that Dr. McDougall counts beans as a “starch”. So, I would think that no matter how you look at it, you are doing good with eating beans. (Of course, all good-for-you foods in moderation…[I know, that word is meaningless.])




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  8. Dear Dr,

    Question: On the very first paper you reviewed, the area under curves are not equal. Specifically, the area under the “Grains” appears greater than the area under the “Dried Legumes”. This would mean that the energy provided by 50-g of grains is greater than the energy provided by 50-g of Dried Legumes.

    I’d have expected equal areas under the curves. Kindly clarify.




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      1. I’ll restate my point.
        The aim of the paper is to compare the increase in the glucose levels due to intake of beans and other carbohydrates (grains, bread, pasta etc.)

        My point: to have a fair comparison of rise in postprandial glucose level, the calories in beans, grains, bread, pasta etc. should be the same.

        The study doesn’t keep the intake calories constant, rather it keeps the weight constant (at 50 g). Calories in 50 g grains are greater than the calories in beans; of course the mean and the peak blood glucose level will be higher for beans.

        In my opinion, the study is flawed, and the conclusion is biased. On the other hand, my understanding of the study could be incorrect, please correct me if that is the case.

        You can read the complete paper at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1713902/




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        1. dude, i wasnt challenging you, i just didnt understand your point. i agree with you. the study most definitely is flawed and the conclusions drawn from it even more so.




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  9. Business in the Front, Party in the Back Millet Stew

    – 1 small red onion, chopped
    – 1 small yellow onion, chopped
    – 2 cups large button mushrooms, sliced
    – 3 cups water/homemade vegetable broth
    – 1 cup uncooked millet
    – Jar strained tomatoes
    – 1 tbsp chili powder
    – 1 ½ cups cooked* adzuki beans
    – 4 cloves garlic, minced
    – black pepper

    Crush and mince garlic then set aside. Sauté onion and mushrooms in a large pot until onion translucent, about 5-10 minutes. Add remaining ingredients except beans and garlic. Lower heat and simmer, covered, for about 45 minutes, until millet is cooked. Add in beans and garlic 5-10 minutes before millet is fully cooked. Season to taste with sea salt and black pepper.

    *If using canned beans select those packaged in BPA-free cans such as Eden Organic brand. http://nutritionfacts.org/video/bpa-plastic-and-male-sexual-dysfunction/

    Bookmark my new Plant-Based Emporium Facebook page for all my latest recipes. https://www.facebook.com/PlantBasedEmporium

    ~Complements of lovestobevegan




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  10. Thank you for great video. It seems propionate is good, but do propionate producing bacteria thrive of legumes only? Can you point out what kind of fiber do they like as well? Is there any kind of second meal effect after tomatoes, raisins etc.? Just wondering about proper fiber…




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  11. this post took me ages to finish because im not tech savvy with formatting, but my wife was helpful in setting that up for me.

    im flabbergasted at what passed for evidence in this post. has anyone examined the citations themselves? there isnt a single one that demonstrates what dr. greger claims it does. The first issue being that in almost every study, the beans are compared to the only whole food that is actually higher on the glycemic index or load than they are- grains. take a look-

    R. C. Mollard, C. L. Wong, B. L. Luhovyy, G. H. Anderson. First and second meal effects of pulses on blood glucose, appetite, and food intake at a later meal. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab 2011 36(5):634 – 642

    this study found that people who ate a meal with beans had better blood glucose and less appetite than those who ate macaroni and cheese.

    J. Mattei, F. B. Hu, H. Campos. A higher ratio of beans to white rice is associated with lower cardiometabolic risk factors in Costa Rican adults. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 2011 94(3):869 – 876

    This one showed that blood glucose was better if people ate less white rice. i dont think this one even needs explaining.

    T. M. Wolever, D. J. Jenkins, A. M. Ocana, V. A. Rao, G. R. Collier. Second-meal effect: Low-glycemic-index foods eaten at dinner improve subsequent breakfast glycemic response. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 1988 48(4):1041 – 1047

    this study found that the total glycemic index of dinner was the determining factor on BG in the morning. and they specifically state that “Eating, at dinner, foods with different fiber contents but the same GI had no effect on postbreakfast glycemia.” in other words, fiber content was irrelevant as long as the total GI of dinner was low. most every plant food other than grain has a lower GI than beans. if you stick with greens and non-starchy plant foods your total meal GI will be even lower than it would be with beans.

    F. Brighenti, L. Benini, D. Del Rio, C. Casiraghi, N. Pellegrini, F. Scazzina, D. J. A. Jenkins, I. Vantini. Colonic fermentation of indigestible carbohydrates contributes to the second-meal effect. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 2006 83(4):817 – 822

    this study didnt use any actual whole food. “test meals consisting of sponge cakes made with rapidly digestible, nonfermentable amylopectin starch plus cellulose, amylopectin starch plus the fermentable disaccharide lactulose, or slowly digestible, partly fermentable amylose starch plus cellulose.”

    D. J. Jenkins, T. M. Wolever, R. H. Taylor, H. M. Barker, H. Fielden. Exceptionally low blood glucose response to dried beans: Comparison with other carbohydrate foods. Br Med J 1980 281(6240):578 – 580

    in this study, the beans were compared to grains, cereals and pasta, breakfast cereals, biscuits, and tuberous vegetables [of the tubers, the sweet potatoes had similar GIs to the beans]

    D. J. Jenkins, T. M. Wolever, R. H. Taylor, C. Griffiths, K. Krzeminska, J. A. Lawrie, C. M. Bennett, D. V. Goff, D. L. Sarson, S. R. Bloom. Slow release dietary carbohydrate improves second meal tolerance. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 1982 35(6):1339 – 1346

    this study compared whole lentils to whole grain BREAD and found the beans performed better.

    come on people, grains are the only food that beans could possibly look good against but that means that against everything else, theyre not better.




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    1. I find the glycemic index interesting and consistent with what we understand about the metabolism of simple and complex carbohydrates and protein. However, clinically it causes alot of confusion with my patients with diabetes who assume they should consume low glycemic foods. Although low glycemic foods tend to not cause as high a rise in serum glucose they also contain fats which make the diabetes worse via insulin resistance and down regulating mitochondria as well as fructose which is metabolized by the liver to among other things fatty acids and uric acid. They can also contribute to weight gain and obesity worse because they tend to be higher in Calorie Density. A clinical example are patients with diabetes. It is important for them to appreciate type two diabetes is a “glucose” processing problem caused mainly by fats. Furctose which is very low glycemic can contribute to worsening the diabetes if consumed above a certain threshold. Dr. Greger’s 8/9 video on Reducing muscle fatigue with citrus cites two articles that relate to the threshold issue with Orange Juice see… http://nutritionfacts.org/video/reducing-muscle-fatigue-with-citrus/. You might find his series of videos in early 2013 relating to Uric acid and fructose of interest as well: http://nutritionfacts.org/video/miocene-meteorites-and-uric-acid/; http://nutritionfacts.org/video/flesh-and-fructose/ : and http://nutritionfacts.org/video/apple-juice-may-be-worse- than-sugar-water/. Of course you need to stay tuned to Nutrition Facts.org as the science keeps coming.




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      1. there are more very low fat, low glycemic plant foods then there are animal foods. Eat a salad or a bunch of greens. almost every non-starchy veggie is low-glycemic and will perform better than beans for your blood sugar.

        please dont refer to me to other posts by dr. greger. after seeing that every citation in this post was a fail, i dont consider him a reliable resource for information and prefer the science journals themselves. the discussion is more informative.

        i dont agree that diabetes is caused by fats. ive seen data where high fat diets cured diabetes. dr. cousens uses vegan diets that are almost 50% fat to cure them.




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          1. same place as you, dude.

            when talking glycemic load, low is under 10. moderate is 11-20 and high is over 20. the black beans you linked to have a load of 14, the same as the buckwheat groats [grain]. Adzuki and navy beans have a load of 21, thats the same as brown rice, amaranth and millet, and like paleo huntress pointed out, a fudge brownie or a small snickers bar. pink beans 20, kidney and pinto beans are 15.

            but spinach has a load of 2 and kale a load of 3. tomato and red pepper both 2. eggplant and zucchini both 2 too.

            Beans have a significant glycemic load. if you want better blood sugar in the morning, you should probably skip the beans and eat your veggies instead.




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        1. I agree. Dr. Cousens is the only plant-based guru that I have any respect for. When you listen to him talk, it is clear that he is respectful of all whole-food diets and his voice is absent of the sneering and condescension heard in so many of the voices of the pb gurus. Plus, I’ve been following his research on diabetes and he very much is curing it with a moderately high fat diet.




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      2. Don, i want to add too that the creators of the glycemic index state very emphatically that the index is useless without serving size information, which is where the load measurement comes in. carrots are a high glycemic index food but a low glycemic load food. beans are low glycemic index food, but a moderate to high glycemic load food. the index uses a set amount of carbohydrate to compare foods but the load uses the index and serving size in its calculation. dr. greger keeps talking about the low glycemic index of beans but he doesn’t mention the moderate to high load. when you look at the loads of other plant foods and see most are less than 5, and that white rice he says is high glycemic has a load of 23, a load of 21 no longer looks “low”




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      3. Great comment Dr. Forrester.

        Would you clarify what it is that you mean when you write,

        “Although low glycemic foods tend to not cause as high a rise in serum glucose they also contain fats”

        Are you talking about the trace fats found in foods like greens, celery and peppers or were you referring to only the animal-based low glycemic foods?

        You also wrote this-

        “They can also contribute to weight gain and obesity worse because they tend to be higher in Calorie Density.

        I don’t disagree that there are some high calorie, low glycemic-load foods, but many are lower in calories too. Chicken breast is lower in calories than the same amount of brown rice or ripe banana and pretty much every non-starchy vegetable is both lower in calories and lower in glycemic load. Even the super-high fat avocado is lower in calories than that cup of rice.

        Please let me know if I took away something different from your comment than what you intended.




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  12. Garbanzo beans (chickpeas): We usually remove the skins from garbanzo beans when making hummus because it makes smoother, creamier hummus. Are we losing a great deal of nutritional value by doing this?




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  13. How about butyrate formed from complex carbohydrates, fermented by gut bacteria? These carbohydrates were insufficiently digested and non-absorbed in the small intestine so they continue to be broken down in the large intestine. Different complex carbohydrates (serving the function of pre-biotics) feed different strains of intestinal flora and promote good intestinal health, providing short chain fatty acids for the cells of intestinal lining as a source of energy and also create a pH favoring good intestinal health – this all reducing the risk of cancer, also by controlling the proliferation and promoting apoptosis of the intestinal lining tissue.




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  14. Since Peanuts are also legumes, would they also cause the second meal effect?
    Is so, peanut butter in oatmeal would be a good choice




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  15. Lectins in beans would make them seen that they need to be fermented. Lentils have traditionally been fermented and this reduces their lectin level to zero.




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  16. I wish there was clear documentation concerning which bacteria are involved in producing propionate. I still have trouble finding the original studies. I maybe have to search harder.




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  17. I was on a keto diet for a while. If you do some research on the keto websites, they (some) advocate a lot of veggies and small amounts of meat. In fact there are people who are vegetarians and are on a keto diet. Believe it or not, often moving from a SAD to a keto diet is an improvement. Getting away from junk and processed foods is positive. I have read some attacks on Dr. Dominic P. D’Agostino, PhD, but I think there is something to his research.
    I am currently moving to a WFPB diet.




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  18. Not sure where to post this, but I hope the Dr will respond.

    I switched to a whole food plant based diet. I am also an athlete, trying to put on muscle and mass. I plan my meals carefully to account for every calorie and balance the ratios. This means around 3500 calories a day. 45%carbs, approximately equal split between protein and fat for the remainder. So over 400g of carbs, around 115 of fat (all from nuts, avocado, ground flax seed, omega 3-6-9, some in tofu, and a teaspoon at best of olive oil), and around 200g of protein.

    I have had to cancel social outings due to gas and bloating. I’m now consuming around 90g of fiber a day. The gas is horrible.

    But if I follow the advice here, white pasta, white rice v brown….is not even as good as nothing. Gee…fear mongering a little? I need to cut back on fiber for the sake of having a life, but still maintain calories. I can’t consume lentils or beans since I’m partially on the Fodmap plan. Vegetables pretty much all have fiber. My only option is to up my fat, or my protein, or stop with so much whole grains, substituting in some regular pasta or white rice.

    But…this is a no-no, bad, unhealthy, right?

    Some nuanced input would be welcome.




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    1. I’m no professional in the subject, but just to give you an opinion of a fellow man.

      Perhaps you went up with the fiber intake too fast? Those daily calorie amounts are really big and it can add-up to consuming huge amounts of fiber with that amount of daily calories, without giving your body time to adapt to the new whole-wheat-only policy.

      Have you tried to make the chance in your diet slowly and gradually? Giving your body time to adapt it just might. And even if not, you can see at which point you start to get the problems for more than one day in a row and stay below that if necesary.

      Another thing is, that if you really burn that many calories (or get them stored as muscle), maybe you shouldn’t be afraid of having some really calorie dense foods, even if it would mean more healthy fats or unprocessed natural source sugars. You are surely getting enough of the good micronutrients, even if only most of the carbs would be from whole wheat sources. So, even if it would mean more carbs or more healthy fats, perhaps you would burn it away. Although, to my limited understanding, only 45% of daily calories from carbs sounds like too little, even for a muscle building program already. From what I know, 60% would be closer to ideal.

      Hope a real professional will answer your question as well, though it has taken a long time already. Here are my unprofessional 2 cents for what it’s worth.




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  19. Hello, your video mentions propionate, as a result of fermentation of beans. Isn’t proprionate suspected to be a possible cause of autism?
    Do you think people prone to autism should avoid beans and legumes? Thanks.




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  20. Thank you so much for sharing this amazing knowledge!

    I Have a off topic question, I would like to study a heath science career but I’m not sure which would be the best for me, I want to help people to prevent diseases or heal from them trough diet and also would love to do research, so I don’t know if go for nutrition or medicine.

    Thank you for your attention.




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    1. I believe go with your passion! You can be successful both ways! For example Julieanna (http://plantbaseddietitian.com/) has done very well without having to have a medical degree! I would always recommend personally getting a qualified degree, such as ND, RD, OD, CD or MD, but there are others, such as say Rich Roll, who have made great careers without any real certifications, so it depends what environment you wish to work in.

      Some pros and cons I see-
      Pros-
      Dietician-
      1. Clients usually more open to dietary and lifestyle interventions
      2. Shorter course of study
      3. Often longer consultations

      MD-
      1. Minimal restrictions with clinical work environment
      2. Often better medical insurance coverage (patients pay less)
      3. Minimal restrictions with medical interventions/investigations/treatments (can use pharmaceuticals if indicated, order bloods and scans etc…)
      4. Often the first point of access for patients and a good place to at least open the door to lifestyle intervention as often trusted as an ‘authority’
      5. Learn a lot of the basic human physiology/anatomy which provides a good basis to understand human structure and function and pathological process in great detail

      Cons-
      Dietician-
      1. Can be restricted in clinical settings
      2. Restricted in tests that can be ordered (such as blood tests)
      3. A lot of people don’t think to see a dietician for say back pain

      MD-
      1. Long and difficult course of study, often very competitive, often takes many years post graduation before you can practice independently.
      2. Often hard to have good work-life balance
      3. Some patients just want a pill and leave! May be in situations that are frustrating especially when studying and knowing the ‘truth’!

      I’m sure there is more but that’s just off the top of my head! At the end of the day regardless of your choice your passion will guide you and help you help others heal :) All the best!




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    1. Erik: I know what you are talking about in terms of the information out there scaring people about “anti nutrients” and phytates. Here’s the thing: 1) most of the phytates are removed when you cook the beans. Most people eat beans after they the beans been cooked, 2) the little bit of phytates that you might still get are likely good for you. Check out the information here on NutritionFacts concerning phytates: http://nutritionfacts.org/?fwp_search=phytates&fwp_content_type=video Fighting cancer among other possible health benefits sounds like a good thing to me…
      .
      If you see a source warning you against beans, that’s big hint that the source is probably not reliable for good information about nutrition.




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  21. Of the various grains, barley is my favorite. Used by all ancients, several traditional peoples, generally preferred over the other grains (rice was a later historical development of which I’m investigating the reasons), was a staple before it was replaced by potato, said to promote general equilibrium in the foundational ayurvedic text, the Caraka Samhita, and of the five cereals of Chinese medicine, named the best by the Yinshan Zhengyao.




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      1. I vaguely remember Greger or other vegetarian/vegan nutritionists saying gluten is beneficial. One quick find though I haven’t looked at reviews or more recent articles:

        Effects of a gluten-free diet on gut microbiota and immune function in healthy adult human subjects.
        https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19445821

        There are also at least a few that mention if bread was made in the traditional way (freshly ground, sourdough, favor other grains such as barley, rye, and (red/blue/dark colored) corn with less of wheat, etc.), those with gluten sensitivity would be fine. My guess is that it is perhaps, as they say, an imbalance or excess, caused by decades of bad habits and maybe it can be resolved.




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  22. Is this effect the same from other types of resistant starch? Could white potatoes (cooled), normally associated with spikes in blood sugar and insulin, have any second meal effect>




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