2265 North Clybourn Avenue    Chicago, IL 60614    P: 773.296.6700     F: 773.296.1131

Knowledge Base

Welcome to our extensive library of articles on health concerns and conditions, alternative therapies, nutrition, nutritional supplements, and much more. Acupuncture / Traditional Chinese Medicine Aging Allergies & Food Sensitivities Alternative Therapies Big Pharma Evils Bone Health Candida (Yeast) and Parasites Cardiovascular Health Case Studies Chiropractic & Physical Medicine Dermatology Digestion Diseases Ear, Nose & Throat Environmental Sensitivities Eye Care Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Fitness & Exercise Health Insurance Issues Healthy Lifestyle Immune System Inflammation Integrative Medicine Lyme Disease & Morgellons Men's Health Mental Health Nutrition, Nutritional Supplements, Vitamins, & Herbal Remedies Pain Management Sexual Health Thyroid, Adrenal, & Sex Hormone Issues Weight Issues Women's Health

All Hail The Bean!

What a pleasant surprise to open this week’s Archives of Internal Medicine and find the results of a trial on the benefits of eating legumes–beans, lentils, and chickpeas. This was a real clinical trial, working with a group of people who had mild Type 2 diabetes. During the three-month study period, half the enrollees ate one cup of legumes daily, the other half a comparable amount of whole-grain carbohydrates (breakfast cereals and breads). Periodically, researchers monitored all the usual suspects–weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglycerides–along with hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), a test that gives your doctor a bird’s-eye view of your average blood sugar levels.

The purpose of using legumes in particular (as opposed to, say, the potentially extinct Twinkie) relates to the glycemic index (GI), which ranks foods based on their effects on insulin and blood sugar.

  • Low-GI foods, legumes among them, convert slowly to glucose, the sugar your body runs on, and thus have a low number on the GI.
  • High-GI foods quickly spike blood sugar and have a higher number. Examples include refined white flour and wheat flour products (breads, pretzels, crackers) and actual sugar-containing food and drink (cakes, cookies, Twinkies, Coke, fruit juice).

More physicians are finally realizing the real villain in chronic disease isn’t fat, but sugar.  Did you know the average American eats about 120 pounds a year? By reducing sugar intake from all sources, your chances of developing obesity, chronic heart disease, diabetes, and even some cancers drop considerably.

Every time you indulge in a high-GI food your blood sugar quickly rises. In response, your pancreas releases insulin, needed to escort the sugar into your cells, where it’s utilized for energy. After years of this glucose-up, glucose-down cycling, two less-than-desirable shifts occur:

  • Your pancreas tuckers out, producing less and less insulin. And without insulin to remove sugar from your bloodstream, blood sugar rises.
  • Your cells become resistant to whatever insulin your pancreas is still struggling to produce, meaning cells won’t open up and let in the sugar for use by your body. This, too, leaves sugar in your bloodstream.

These two changes are the basis for all the drugs prescribed for diabetes. One group of pills whips your pancreas to produce more insulin, the other tricks your cells into becoming less resistant to insulin. And while many people can last for years on these drugs, at some point the pills fail and you’re called into your doctor’s office to learn how to give yourself insulin injections.

So you can see how it would be handy for people in the early stages of diabetes, and really all of us interested in longevity, to take some steps to prevent blood sugar spikes. In the bean study, eating up to a cup a day of legumes did people a lot of good. First and foremost was a measurable decline in HbA1c, the most important tracking test for diabetics, with any drop in numbers equalling a reduction in the heart risks linked to  diabetes. In addition to lower HbA1c, bean eaters also lost more weight and waistline inches, and were found to have a small but statistically significant drop in their blood pressures and heart rates compared to the grain eaters.

As you’ve known since third grade, some people digest beans better than others. The reason beans make you toot is a complex sugar (which digests slowly and is therefore responsible for beans’ low GI) called raffinose. Some of us have a shortage of the enzyme alpha galactosidase, needed to break down raffinose. If that describes you, the raffinose passes undigested through your stomach and small intestine before entering your large intestine, which is filled with bacteria that can digest it. This is the process that produces several gasses, notably carbon dioxide, methane, and hydrogen sulfide.

Two steps can help prevent bean-related discomfort. First, soak dried beans overnight in water and rinse in the morning before cooking. This reduces their raffinose content. Second, use Bean-O or Bean-zyme when you eat beans. They contain the enzyme (the alpha galactosidase) needed to digest beans.

The role of inflammation
What surprised me in the journal article was that there was no mention of inflammation and its contribution to chronic disease, even though some of the positive health benefits seen in the study, like the drop in blood pressure, might be due to the relatively low inflammatory effect of beans. In fact, it’s amazing how rarely inflammation (or following an anti-inflammatory eating program) is mentioned in any medical journal. The newly published The Great Cholesterol Myth, by Jonny Bowden and cardiologist Steven Sinatra, MD, states flatly that physicians have been misled by the pharmaceutical industry into cholesterol-phobia and maintains the real villain is inflammation.

As a quick example of this blindness toward the role of inflammation, in this week’s Internal Medicine News, a young rheumatologist, Karmela K. Chan, MD, titles her commentary “Anti-Inflammatory Diet Anyone?” She relates how one of her patients with rheumatoid arthritis refused her conventional medications and instead visited a naturopathic physician who recommended an anti-inflammatory diet. Unlike 99.99% of US physicians, Dr. Chan actually then read something about anti-inflammatory eating and naturopathic medicine and went on to meet Celeste Ruland, ND, a local naturopath, to learn exactly what naturopaths do. Dr. Chan seems relatively open to Dr. Ruland’s idea of “empowering a patient to stay well” and “mind-body balance,” though perhaps Dr. Chan was a tad patronizing with her remark, “This may sound like excessive tree-huggery, but I do think there is some value to this.”

She also gloats just a bit in her epilogue. Eight months later, despite his healthful lifestyle changes, Dr. Chan’s patient had worsened and currently is taking immune modifiers and acknowledging that he’s doing better than when he was on the anti-inflammatory diet alone. Oh well. No one said the transition to integrative medicine would always be seamless.

Be well,

David Edelberg, MD

PS:  A common bean complaint is their lengthy cooking time. You get home from work tired and hungry and you really don’t want to wait an hour for your rock hard dried beans to soften. Get a pressure cooker (your grandmother had one), either stovetop or, even faster, one of the newer electric ones. Beans in ten minutes.

 

Leave a Comment


  1. Addie says:

    Legumes are versatile. You don’t have just one way of eating them. Here they’re so closely associated with the old West we think of them as no taste, no cuisine last ditch attempts to avoid starvation. But tthinking in terms of nouvelle cuisine, the use of food to flavor other food, legumes become tres chic. If you use the above beans in ten minutes method, you can whip up great sauces and dressings in short order. Make your own hummus with cooked chickpeas, garlic, salt and lemon juice ( I do mine all to taste) in the food processor. Then heat up that hummus, and dilute it a bit. It makes a great soup base, or pasta sauce. Chiil it, dilute it, and it becomes a really good salad dressing. You can do this with any kind of legume varying spices and consistency to taste.

  2. Jeanmarie DiNoto says:

    Dr. edelberg, what about canned beans, like Progresso, well rinsed?

  3. Dirk VanKoughnett says:

    For those of you interested in looking into pressure cookers, there is a test of a number of available ones in this month’s Cook Illustrated, including electric models

  4. Dr.R says:

    To Jeanmarie. Convenience may be the best reason to use canned beans. There are slight differences in nutrients that are outlined in this article. http://www.livestrong.com/article/310832-dried-beans-vs-canned-beans-for-nutritional-values/

  5. Irene Frederick says:

    Yes… the tide seems to be turning a bit…
    In line with your views, Channel 11 (PBS)
    just finished airing a special called
    “The Heart of Health” by Brenda Watson.
    She talks about ‘silent inflammation’ and how it contributes to most chronic diseases, and how to go about removing/reducing it.
    She presents very clearly and in an easily understandable way.
    I’m not sure if you can see it online on Channel 11. She does have several books available… and her website is:
    http://www.renewlife.com

Join our Newsletter

Get health recommendations, delicious and time-saving recipes, medical news, supplement reviews, birthday discounts, and more!

BIRTHDAY

Health Tips

Dr. Edelberg’s Health Tips contain concise bits of advice, medical news, nutritional supplement and pharmaceutical updates, and stress relief ideas. With every Health Tip, you’ll also receive an easy, delicious, and healthful recipe.

When you sign up to receive Health Tips, you can look forward to Dr. Edelberg’s smart and very current observations arriving in your in-box weekly. They’re packed with helpful information and are often slightly irreverent. One of the most common responses to the tips is “I wish my doctor talked to me like this!”

Quick Connect

Get One Click Access to our

patient-portal

The Knowledge Base

Patient education is an integral part of our practice. Here you will find a comprehensive collection of staff articles, descriptions of therapies and nutritional supplements, information addressing your health concerns, and the latest research on nutritional supplements and alternative therapies.

Join our Newsletter

Get health recommendations, delicious and time-saving recipes, medical news, supplement reviews, birthday discounts, and more!

BIRTHDAY

Upcoming Workshops

**Facial Rejuvenation Guasha Class
The Ultimate DIY Anti-Aging Facial!

With Mari Stecker, LAc
Thursday September 21, 2017, 6:30-8PM, $65 course fee

Join us and learn a traditional Chinese facial rejuvenation technique that you can do yourself! Guasha treatment is a 2,000 year old Chinese massage technique that uses a flat tool to apply pressure to the skin to increase circulation as it moves along acupuncture channels.

Facial guasha is an easy to learn technique that:
* encourages blood flow and promotes radiance
* prevents wrinkles
* activates cells to regain facial elasticity
* drains fluids to detoxify skin and reduce puffiness
* sloughs off dead skin cells
* uplifts and tones skin
* firms up facial muscles
* minimizes dark circles
* promotes a healthy, younger and more radiant look

Space is limited and registration is required.
Register online or call WholeHealth Chicago at 773-296-6700
More>>

 

**Herbs for Lyme Disease
September 30th, 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm
With Seanna Tully, MSTOM, LAc, RH(AHG)

Join us for an introduction in the use of herbs in the treatment of Lyme disease.

In this workshop you will receive:
*A primer on herbs used for Lyme and herbal energetics
*Guidelines on dosing and correct use
*Gain self-help tools for you and your family

Space is limited and registration is required.
Register on-line or by calling (773) 296-6700

 

**Vaginal Rejuvenation
October 12th, 6:00pm – 8:00pm  Fee: $65
With Mari Stecker, LAc & Renee Zambo, RYT

Are you experiencing vaginal dryness? Or pain with intercourse? Have you been told you have vaginal atrophy due to menopauseAre you frustrated because you believe your sex life is overWell, it doesn’t have to be!

Come learn easy, non-pharmaceutical, non-hormonal, low cost techniques that you can do at home to help alleviate vaginal dryness, atrophy, thinning of vaginal skin and/or painful intercourse.

This class is appropriate for any woman who is experiencing discomfort during intercourse, pelvic exams or daily activities due to vaginal dryness and atrophy as well as women who are experiencing vaginal changes due to perimenopause, menopause, cancer treatments, hysterectomy or medications.

This class will include information on specific instructions for self-treatments that can be done at home as well as yoga postures and meditation that focus on the pelvic region.

Movement and breath will draw awareness to the pelvic floor, and facilitate both the full relaxation and activation of pelvic floor muscles. A short guided meditation will reconnect awareness to the feminine energy held within the pelvis.

Space is limited and registration is required.
Register on-line or by calling (773) 296-6700.

 

**Wellbeing for Seasonal Change
Three Saturday Workshops with Renee Zambo, RYT
October 28, November 18, and December 9 at 1:30-3:00pm
Fee: $49 for each or $120 for all three

Late Fall is the natural transition from our vibrant summer and harvest season, to a cooler and quieter time of year. While this transition is necessary for the natural world and ourselves, the shorter daylight hours and longer nights can have unique and challenging effects on many of us.

Space is limited and registration is required.
Register online or call WholeHealth Chicago at 773-296-6700
More>>

 

Recent Health Tips

  • Six Super-Devious Big Pharma Tricks

    Just about everyone is experiencing the shock of astonishing increases in their health insurance costs, including, interestingly, members of Congress who buy health insurance through Obamacare plans. We tend to forget that all insurance premiums (health, auto, property, life) are pegged to the benefits paid. …Read More »
  • Ten Drugs Doctors Should Consider De-Prescribing

    Physicians use the word polypharmacy when a patient is taking five or more prescription drugs daily. A recent survey showed that half of women Medicare recipients were taking five or more drugs daily, and 12% of them were taking ten (!) or more. New patients …Read More »

September Sale: 20% Off Metagenics Children’s Formulas

Make sure to start the school year off on the right foot! Support your little ones with a variety of Metagenics children’s formulas, all 20% off during the month of September.  More>>