Photo by Raederle Phoenix, 2012
Question: I would have to eat almost one and a half gallons of chopped watercress in order to get the protein I receive from ½ a cup of black beans. Isn't it more logical to have a diet that includes beans?
- What's wrong with beans?
- What foods are good for stomach ulcers?
- What vegetables are high in protein?
Answer: You're absolutely right it would take an absurd amount of watercress.
However, most Americans have serious digestive problems from eating so much toxic garbage (aspartame, corn syrup, agave nectar, splenda, MSG, colorings, artificial flavorings, hydrogenated oils, canola oil, and so on and so forth). These digestive problems make eating something like beans tantamount to disaster.
A weak digestion can not pull apart those dense proteins. "Dense proteins" are the kind found in meat, beans, nuts, seeds and grains. Proteins that are not "bound" or "dense" that are in the form of amino acids are present in vegetables, sprouts, and fruits.
Anyone with acid reflux, candida, weight issues, high toxicity exposure (like a smoker), IBS, diverticulitis or any colon complications should not be eating beans until healed. Healing fully from one of those conditions can take many years.
I've met few people in my travels of the U.S. who doesn't have at least one digestive problem. Even the Paleo diet does not recommend eating beans.
To understand why beans are so hard on the digestive system it is important to know about how long it takes to digest various food types.
Foods have different digestion times.
Fat alone takes the longest of mono-form foods (only oils are 100% fat).
Complex foods that contain protein, fats and starches take the longest (beans).
Average digestion times for a very healthy digestive system (multiply up to 4x for unhealthy digestive systems):
Beans take six hours;
Meats, diary, nuts, avocados, seeds and eggs take around four hours;
Vegetables take around two hours;
Most fruits take about one hour;
Melons take around twenty minutes.
(The above, of course, is altered somewhat by the volume of the given food consumed.)
It's very important to let your stomach be empty between meals.
Problems that can arise by eating when your stomach already has food in it: gas, acid reflux, lack of nutrient absorption, stomach cramping, inability to lose weight, inability to gain muscle, hormonal imbalance and more.
If you mix fruit and beans at the same meal then the entire meal will take six hours or more to digest and will likely give your body a very hard time.
Someone with stomach ulcers, IBS, severe candida, etc, should not be mixing any of the above food groups in general, except with a few things like lemons and lettuce which can be added to almost anything safely.
When you're not done digesting when you go to bed you don't sleep well. Personally I get circles under my eyes if I am not done digesting before I go to sleep. Also, best sleep is generally done starting at three hours after sunset. If the sun sets at 7pm then you want to aim to be asleep before 10pm for optimal sleep. This has to do with hormonal cycles.
Without good sleep we don't release hormones to heal, build muscle and burn fat. If we eat before bed we digest food instead of healing resulting in fatigue, sore muscles (that didn't recover/heal) and so on.
If someone really needs some more "dense" protein that is already bound up because they are absolutely too busy to eat enough vegetables then I'd recommend boiled amaranth eaten as a mono-meal, or soaked chia seeds added to dips, smoothies or wraps. If you have a dehydrator, then you can soak chia seeds, put them in at 105 degrees overnight and you've got awesome healthful crackers with a great Omega-3 to 6 ratio, plenty of iron, and calcium, healthy fat and protein.
However, all of that said, it is important to know that dense proteins are bound and have to be broken into amino acids and then rebuilt into proteins again in the body. When you consume amino acids that are not bound into proteins then you absorb them immediately and easily. The difference this makes for people with a weak digestion, or for athletes trying to build muscle is tremendous. Many vegan athletes are going raw these days because of the enhanced recovery time and the quicker muscle building. There are raw athletes who eat nothing but fruits and vegetables and incredibly strong and healthy.
Question: I haven't come up with anything about the human digestive system being unable to process the protein in beans. In fact almost everything I read said that in order to be healthier we should eat more beans. Am I looking in the wrong place?
Beans are great for people with absolutely no digestive problems who are very active. Native peoples who are out and about all day along, on their feet, and don't eat any processed foods whatsoever can eat beans daily if they like. Native peoples are also likely to know to soak their beans thoroughly and rinse them several times to remove all the enzyme inhibitors (which are present in all seeds to prevent them from spoiling before it is time to sprout).
Question: Isn't it true that a person needs fats in their diet, and that without fat the body starves?
Answer: Absolutely. You need around 10% of your calories from fat minimum, and around 7% of your calories from protein minimum. For the average person I recommend 15%-25% calories from fat, and 9%-12% calories from protein. I personally consume 20% calories from fat and 10% from protein on average. This is assuming a diet that is 1800 to 2300 calories. Someone eating a higher calorie diet may need lower percentages as they could still get the same amount of grams of fat and protein with a lower percentage.
Now, keeping that in mind:
Average fruit: 5% calories from protein, 5% calories from fat
Average vegetable: 20% calories from protein, 10% calories from fat
Some fruits that are far away from the average:
Pomegrantates: 11.8% from fat, 6.8 from protein
Avocados: 77.3% from fat, 3.9% from protein
Olives: 88.1% from fat, 2.4% from protein
Apples: 2.7% from fat, 1.7% from protein
Pineapple: 2% from fat, 3.8% from protein
Cucumber: 5.9% from fat, 10.3% from protein
Zucchini: 15.7% from fat, 17.4% from protein
Mulberries: 7.5% from fat, 11.1% from protein
Kiwano Melon: 24% from fat, 13.6% from protein
Some vegetables that are far away from the average:
Cabbage: 3.3% from fat, 12.5% from protein
(Cabbage juice is partly so great for stomach ulcers because the low fat and protein is easy on a distressed stomach.)
Watercress: 7.6 from fat, 50.7% from protein
Spinach: 14.1% from fat, 30.1% from protein
Beet Greens: 5% from fat, 24.4% from protein
Potato: 1% from fat, 7.3% from protein
Alfalfa Sprouts: 25.1% from protein, 42.3% from protein
Fresh Rosemary: 37.5% from fat, 6.2% from protein
So the above examples are far from the averages I gave in either fat or protein or both. However, most fruits and vegetables we commonly find at grocery stores land within 3% of the averages I gave. Combine those averages with a few of the select exceptions above and it is very easy to get a minimum, good or excessive amount of protein or fat in the diet.
Adding olives and avocados daily to other fruits and vegetables could easily result in consuming more fat than is required or healthful. (Not that these are not healthy fats, they are!)
Adding sprouts to each meal can help an athlete get the amount of protein they need, as well as eating salads with spinach, watercress and kale instead of lettuce. If more protein is desired one can even emphasize protein-rich fruits such as mulberries (available dried and raw from Nutiva's Naturals), zucchini (a great base for a raw hummus), cucumber and so on.
I have compiled the nutritiounal information from the USDA on hundreds of produce items in comparison charts that compare things by their type (fresh herbs is one chart, cruciferious vegetables another chart, root vegetables another, and so on). It is way more information than one can simply memorise, but I can assure you that you can get 40% calories from fat and 25% from protein on a diet that is 100% raw fruits and vegetables if you so desired and get all of your nutritional requirements met. If you are interested in getting a copy of these charts they are available when buying my Meal Plans & Recipes package.
Comment: People tried to survive the winter on a diet that didn't include enough fat, and while they would still have enough food to eat, their bodies would shut down and they'd die. This was called "Rabbit Starvation" (named after rabbit farmers who tried to survive with only rabbits as their main source of food - rabbits have almost no fat).
Reply: This is absolutely true again. If someone ate nothing but apples and sweet potatoes (both under 4% fat) they'd kill themselves. That is certain. In certain climates and historical situations it was absolutely necessary to hunt animals for their fat, or to store up vast amounts of nuts for winter survival. However, in a tropical location, or in an urban location we are now able to eat entirely fruits and vegetables and get ample fat and protein because of the selection available to us.
Question: Are you suggesting that someone with digestive problems should be aiming for low protein in their diet (based on your comment about cabbage juice)?
Answer: Yes. Or at least, minimum, which is around 9% calories from protein on a 2000 calorie diet. However, more protein could be consumed safely for someone with digestive problems as long as it is all coming from fresh fruits and vegetables. However, foods like beans, nuts, seeds, grains and animal products would hinder healing.