Beans really might be a magical fruit. Recent studies find beans to be nutritional powerhouses rich in fiber, resistant starch, and plant protein. Adding beans to your diet promotes weight loss, insulin sensitivity, and cardiovascular health.
However, the power of a tiny bean may be even more impressive than previously thought. New studies on the body’s gut microbiome reveal that this internal ecosystem may affect our overall health in significant ways and that beans may be the key to unlocking its powers.
The Gut Microbiome
The human body’s microbiome is a collection of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and microorganisms that live throughout the body’s surfaces, like the skin and the digestive tract. However, most of the microbiome lives in the gut, which contains over 1,000 species of bacteria and trillions of organisms.
The gut microbiome produces vitamins, develops immune responses, and enhances the benefits of food. For instance, the gut microbiome converts dietary fiber and resistant starch into short-chain fatty acids that protect the intestines’ cells and regulate metabolism.
How Do Beans Help Gut Health?
The large intestine’s bacteria rely on prebiotics to survive. Prebiotics serves as food for gut bacteria. When your body isn’t getting enough prebiotics through your diet, the gut bacteria need to find new food, which ends up being the immune defense on the surface of the intestinal lining.
While all plants contain probiotics, beans, which are full of fiber and resistant starch, are especially rich in prebiotics. In addition, beans’ ability to nourish the gut microbiome and promote short-chain fatty acids production helps kick your immune system into gear.
Additionally, as studies dig deeper into the species of bacteria living in the gut microbiome, researchers have discovered that people with multiple sclerosis lack a bacteria that breaks down isoflavones. This nutrient is also highly prevalent in beans.
As new studies into the gut microbiome find connections between chronic conditions and the foods and nutrients that offer potential remedies, beans may be a powerful tool in improving your overall health.