Celiac and Legumes

23 Comments

If you peruse some of the gluten free websites you will notice folks who are still struggling with significant GI problems despite strict adherence to a gluten free diet. It’s a really unfortunate situation as these folks are typically quite sick and they have been put through the mill of modern medicine to finally receive a diagnosis of gluten intolerance. These folks are lucky in that some doctor, usually a rheumatologist, finally figured out the OBVIOUS. Now these poor souls embark on a gluten free lifestyle that includes rice flour, and loads of legume products. This is not helping the insulin resistance most of these folks have AND it is exposing them to other lectins which have significant GI problems as well.

Swapping out one neolithic food for another might mitigate some problems, only to produce others. I used to hang out on a few of these gluten free forums but the owners of the sites were not happy with me not recommending the rice cookies and crackers they sold and the folks on the forum were already overwhelmed with trying to figure out how to live gluten free. Telling these poor souls that legumes and other grains were problematic as well just launched them over the edge. Too much hassle, too little reward.

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  1. Nicholas Hahn
    June 9, 2008 at 10:17 pm

    Robb,

    Besides the obvious high GI of rice, I’m trying to think of other things that would make polished white rice bad. Living in Hawaii, I often hear that “no one is allergic to rice,” which is a staple here.

    Since there are anti-nutrients in rice, I’d like to tell people that even if they aren’t celiacs, overweight, or diabetic, rice consumption can still be injurious to their health.

    Do you know of any information on long-term, latent anti-nutrient damage?

    Thanks.

    Nicholas-
    The anti-nutrient issue is a real deal and we see this played out in the height difference between Okinawans (Tall) and Most of the rest of Japan (short by comparison to Okinawans or Japanese Americans). The Okinawans get the bulk of their carbs from a nutrient dense tuber and get a fair amount of protein in a mixed bag of fermented soy products, fish and meat. For folks who have solid access to fruits and veggies this is likely not that big an issue, leaving the glycemic load as the main downside of rice.
    Rice is without a doubt much more benign from an immunological perspective than say wheat, rye, oats, barley and millet.
    Robb

    • Tayna
      May 19, 2011 at 2:02 pm

      After I cut out all grains (including rice) for 4 months, I noticed that rice made me tired when I tried to eat it again. I met an Asian and he echoed the same discovery. In Asia, rice sensitivity is very common. Its not as common over here because we don’t eat it as often.

  2. Brad
    June 10, 2008 at 3:27 pm

    Children’s lymric:

    Bean beans the magical fruit
    The more you eat the more you toot
    The more you toot the more you friends hate you, beautiful women run from your noxious emissions, roll down the windows, blame the dog, raise the sash on the fume hood, bean breath hippie ego looking down at me because I accept what I am, a meat eater, squeeze the Charmin you’ll be using a lot of it to wipe that bean filth from your inflamed anus, beans have feelings too, beans is murder, trading a delicious cow for beans, Jack, silly Jack.. Fee! Fie! Foe! Fum!

    Brad

  3. Andy Nagy
    July 23, 2008 at 1:57 am

    So I guess hummus is also a no-no. But is it at least borderline OK? The Zone recommends for a snack hard boiled eggs with the yolks removed, stuffed with hummus. Before taking your seminar in SF, I tried this as a snack, and it’s sooo good. Oh, well…

    Andy-
    It’s just VERY carb dense. Use it if you like it. Also, if the eggs are n-3 eggs you should be eating THOSE yolks!

  4. Dan Knip
    July 30, 2008 at 4:15 am

    Rob,

    Can’t believe someone other than me figured out celiac folks should avoid legumes. I knew no gluten by a celiac dna test, but the legumes I learned the hard way. Good luck getting doctors to see that only paleolithic foods are the best answer for celiac treatment.

    Dan-
    It’s kind of a sad state of affairs. If you hang out on any of the celiac websites the people are still having significant digestive problems in addition to heading towards type 2 diabetes…for many of these folks the gluten transition is so life altering that a suggestion to remove all the rice bread, chickpea flour products they are using is just too much. Too bad.

    • Lisa
      June 22, 2011 at 10:36 pm

      I’m reading this blog because I am a celiac in search of a reason why legumes bother me so much. I recently discovered a bakery that uses pinto bean flour to make extremely delicious GF cookies and cupcakes. But these things (pinto bean flour, hummus, etc) are incredibly hard on my wee digestion. It seems that what suits me best boils down to a finite number of foods: fruit, vegetables, rice, tree nuts, meats, fish, and A2 dairy. I shall be content :D

  5. Kasey
    November 25, 2008 at 11:30 pm

    If Rice bread is bad, is tapioca better? Or should I stick with Corn flour? It really is overwhelming and confusing!

    Kasey-
    these other items are problematic because of insulin load…high carbs!
    The stuff to keep in mind:
    1-the autoimmune aspect of grains/legumes.
    2-the glycemic load of the same.

    This is where meat, veggies and fruit take care of 99% of our ills. Then we just have occasional forays into foods like rice bread etc. Hang in there, you will get a handle on things.

  6. Amanda Hicks
    February 1, 2009 at 11:48 pm

    - I know this is an old post, but I just happened upon it. I do not have an official Celiac diagnosis as I have figured out that gluten and grains make me sick and cannot stomach the thought of ingesting them long enough and in enough quantity to produce positive test results.

    That said I have also noticed blood sugar issues and am very interested in how they are all related. I have also figured out that I need to keep my foods to low gi to feel the best.

    Even more coicidentally I was reading recently about someone saying that small kids could be the result of diabetes. My son has had a positive gene test for Celiac’s and is showing antibodies against gluten (and casein for that matter) he has been off now for 3.5 months and seems to be slowly putting on some weight , but it is slow. So, reading that and your post give me something to think about.

    Fwiw, I cook nearly paleo. We eat grassfed beef and good eggs. I don’t do gf baked goods for the most part- like coconut flour muffins on Sunday and prepared gf products are very, very rare. My son does eat a fair amount of fruit though, mostly bananas- but I do keep him to 1 c of 100% juice a day.

    Anyway- excuse the ramblings- I just find it all interesting.

    Thanks Amanda! Good stuff!

  7. Milos
    February 15, 2009 at 9:27 am

    Been seeking a dietary/nutritional solution to several bouts of tendonitis in different parts of my body that have stopped me from exercising. I’m 56 and don’t want to waste away, so it’s been depressing. I discovered the Weston Price diet by accident but have a gut sense (no pun intended, or maybe yes) that it’s way too restricted and too heavy on the saturated fats. I’m not convinced, despite their claims, that it’s a wonderful thing to pile on the cream and the beef. Also they don’t have the impressive amount of scientific research behind them that I’ve discovered in Dr. Cordain’s book, which I’m reading right now.

    So I have some questions that I’m hoping you can answer for me. The first concerns the prohibition on tuberous vegetables. If one of the main criteria is length of time humans have been eating foodstuffs, I’d think yams and yuca, for instance, would be allowed. Indigenous people all over the world have root vegetables in their diets, since they are so easily “gathered” by just digging them up. I absolutely love sweet potatoes and yuca and would really miss them.

    I also wonder about the total prohibition on lentils, split peas and the like. I think of the millions of Hindu vegetarians, who get all their protein from lentils, yellow split peas and chick peas (and the flours made from them) and dairy. They also eat a lot of whatever fruits and vegetables they can get their hands on, as well as rice and wheat. They may not have a lot of variety in their diets depending on economic limitations, but statistically they have a low incidence of heart disease, obesity, Alzheimer’s and the like. Their diet also contains a lot of spices, including turmeric, a wonderful anti-oxidant. How do they fit into the Paleo picture?

    Here’s another one: although we are genetically identical to the humans who lived 40,000 years ago, there are significant variations in diet among races and ethnicities arising from climate variations and available resources. Like the Eskimo who thrives on fish and blubber or the Mongol who lives on yak and its by-products…people adapt amazingly well over generations to very limited conditions, and can live long, healthy lives eating very little. So it’s clear that there isn’t just one way to eat healthy.

    Just trying to make sense of the do’s and don’ts of the Paleo diet. It’s very confusing and disheartening to me when dietary philosophies take on the tone of religious wars, everybody waving their supposed authenticity in the air — my diet is better than your diet! What impresses me about Paleo is the research. It’s not just a guy tripping around the world and looking at the teeth of a few cultures, coming home and making pronouncements (not that W. Price did that — I think his followers did).

    I’ve got serious enough health issues to at least consider taking the grains and beans out of my diet. But I’m allergic to wheat, dairy and soy and don’t eat those, and the thought of removing the few remaining grains (quinoa, buckwheat, corn and rice) and the beans, which I love, is depressing. Whenever I cut out carbs all together, I feel unsatisfied, no matter how much of animal protein, vegetables and fruits I eat.

    Knowing the science and understanding the underlying reasoning would help.

    Thanks for your insights into these topics.

    Milos D.

    Milos-
    When you get sick enough, and depressed enough…changing your food and finally getting well will seem like a reasonable trade. A few things to consider:
    The Health of Legumes:
    http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0999/is_7190_318/ai_54561205/pg_1

    Health of Vegetarian Hindus:

    Similarly, the Russians of the Caucasus mountains live to great ages on a diet of fatty pork and whole raw milk products. The Hunzas, also known for their robust health and longevity, eat substantial portions of goat’s milk which has a higher saturated fat content than cow’s milk (86). In contrast, the largely vegetarian Hindus of southern India have the shortest life-spans in the world, partly because of a lack of food, but also because of a distinct lack of animal protein in their diets. H. Leon Abrams’ comments are instructive here:
    Vegetarians often maintain that a diet of meat and animal fat leads to a pre-mature death. Anthropological data from primitive societies do not support such contentions.
    With regards to endurance and energy levels, Dr Price, from the Weston Price Group, traveled around the world in the 1920s and 1930s, investigating native diets. Without exception, he found a strong correlation between diets rich in animal fats, robust health and athletic ability. Special foods for Swiss athletes, for example, included bowls of fresh, raw cream. In Africa, Dr Price discovered that groups whose diets were rich in fatty meats and fish, and organ meats like liver, consistently carried off the prizes in athletic contests, and that meat-eating tribes always dominated tribes whose diets were largely vegetarian.

    The above from CrossFit Balboa

    Brother, you need less information and more action.

  8. ciarraighli
    September 30, 2009 at 6:29 am

    let me also mention that indians (dots, not feathers) suffer greatly from heart disease & obesity, stomach problems & diabetes, at least when they get over here & quit walking all the time. in india, as in europe, people are thin & fit from daily walking or labour, which often falls by the wayside when they adopt our comparatively lazy, suburban american lifestyle. there is nothing magically healthy about their vegetarian food. i ate it for several years & became lethargic & skinny. (on the bright side, at least i had not the faintest trace of love handles billowing over the sides of my sari, but it’s quite the price to pay for not getting enough protein & other nutrition from your food.)

  9. Cheryl
    February 15, 2011 at 6:05 am

    Robb,
    I thought that somewhere I read a comment from you that if beans were soaked before cooking they were safe to eat. Is this true?

    What can be a good substitute for beans, something with a similar carb/protein ratio? I find them very filling and they give me long term energy. They seem to be the perfect afternoon snack for me.

    Thoughts? Changes to be made?

  10. BeefWalker
    June 17, 2011 at 11:06 pm

    I’ve recently come across a lot of talk about the Hunza (or to be exact, the Hunzakut) people and their ‘longevity’. One long post on Keith Hunt’s site called “Protein and 7 Points for Health” found at: http://www.keithhunt.com/Food12.html quotes heavily from a book by Paavo Airola, Ph.D., N.D. (who “was at the time (1971) a world-famous Nutritionist” says Hunt) and mentions the Hunza people extensively. My fellow Australians and kooky vegans, Harley and Freelee have mentioned the Hunza too in support of their business.
    (NB: I love how Harley slanders Paleo-writers and then adds “I’m sure he’s a nice guy!” as some kind of fake, pretend hippie generosity of spirit).

    So, Robb, what’s your take on the Hunza story?
    I’ve just read an interesting, if not terribly well written, history debunking their 100year plus life-spans and their supposed mostly vegetarian lifestyle here: http://www.biblelife.org/hunza.htm and I’d be keen to know more.

    PS: It’s been reported recently, that due to the severe jump* in the price of bananas here in Australia to around $14kg, the 30 Bananas a Day loons are having to spend $600/wk+ on their fructose habit.
    No wonder Durian Rider is posting so much of late, he and Freelee need even MORE money!

    * This price-hike is one part sadness, one part greed – ie. The recent severe floods and cyclone in Queensland destroyed many crops, while many with intact crops are profiteering from this tragedy.

  11. Merav
    February 26, 2012 at 12:04 am

    Robb,
    This post is really condescending and hurtful. I don’t know if your advices are good or not (and for that matter, I don’t really care).

    To define a group of million of people with Celiac as:

    “these folks are typically quite sick” (can I see your research data on that?)

    “these poor souls ” (thank you, we are quit alright, not feeling so miserable today)

    “the insulin resistance most of these folks have ” (again, do you have any real data on that?)

    “folks on the forum were already overwhelmed with trying to figure out how to live gluten free” – Yes, we are so helpless, and clueless – just waiting for you to come and save us.

    A little of humility and modesty could be nice, and I hope you have the guts to post this one!

    Merav

  12. Sunel
    April 9, 2013 at 9:15 pm

    How is one meant to consume adequate fibre then, if legumes also are not allowed? No, vegetables don’t provide sufficient amounts. THe aim is 30g per day.

  13. Sam
    April 14, 2013 at 5:42 pm

    I actually agree with this post, and would like to point out that the condition in which people live with Celiac disease is VERY different depending on how much damage there is in the intestines. In celiac disease the actual symptoms are very different from person to person, and I myself have an array of symptoms due to the severity of damage that others may not. It IS difficult in North America to maintain a gluten free diet not simply because of a lack of product (lucky for us the gluten free diet is in vogue so there are more options emerging), but also because of the difficulties in food preparation depending on your personal state of living (and in many cases, that includes laziness).

    Celiac is NOT an intolerance to gluten, it is a triggered auto-immune allergic reaction causing damage to internal organs and it’s severity is measured according to villous atrophy using the marsh score (1, 2, 3a , 3b, 3c, 4; where 4 is permanent damage). I’m twenty one years old and I was diagnosed last summer under the category 3b. Yes– I count among the people who are quite sick, and I’ve found from my own experience that a great many foods are very difficult to digest, and certain foods are impossible to digest such as dairy, soy and oats. At this point, the problem isn’t so much consuming adequate fibre or nutrients as finding food that is just plain digestible.

    The biggest thing I’ve learned in this process is that it is not reasonable to classify certain Celiac sufferers under the same recommended daily intake of food as “normal” “healthy” individuals. Honestly, if you get enough problems when you eat x food, it doesn’t matter what it is, you will avoid it. If you condition yourself not to eat foods you like, over time you won’t even miss them because you will have gotten used to your new diet. You won’t meet your daily quota (even if you ate the same proportion of food as a healthy person, you won’t absorb the same nutrients from it if you could eat the same food), and cutting foods out makes that even harder– so what I’ve found that helps is that I eat more and generally supplement my diet with vitamins– there aren’t any other options at present.

    That being said, unless there was scarring, celiac sufferers will generally heal within a few years of being completely gluten free. So if you are despairing a your loss of legumes, wait a while and rentroduce them slowly, you may be able to eat them in a few years time.

  14. Denise
    September 8, 2013 at 3:38 am

    Thank you for this post. I have been diagnosed a celiac since June of this year (2013) and still have had digestive issues though going completely gluten free. I have been going through elimination processes (incl. dairy, but I knew that) and now..legumes! All sorts..even edamame which still gave me some discomfort and soy..oh dear, thats a bad one. And inflammation of facial skin. Some rosacea has since returned, too, along with inflammation of joints though not near as severe as I once experienced. Looks like paleo is the right choice, though I will say it is daunting to give up rice products. I am planning on gf Japanese fried rice with fish tonight and salad.

    Am I really slowly killing myself eating rice? Legumes I can give up. Rice? That will be the hard one.

  15. Tony
    September 29, 2013 at 10:01 am

    Dear Rob,
    I have noticed that with split soup from peas that have been thoroughly soaked it’s OK for me. This makes the soup a little bizarre. It does not get creamy but the peas are like little soft balls. If you want it creamy you have to food-processor it. Does this make any sense?
    Tony

  16. vlad
    October 16, 2013 at 2:32 pm

    Most centenarians are plant eaters or plants make over 90% of their food.

    I knew a 106 old man who ate mostly corn, potatoes, bread and a little milk whole his life. These were locally produced foods – no pesticides & chemistry :)
    Also he ate meat(lamb, chicken) but only on big holidays, like once per month, also locally produced. He claimed he had never bought meat.

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