Avoid Eating Beans If You Have These Medical Conditions

After hiking with your daughter over the weekend, you've decided that your diet needs to change. You've noticed that beans are commonly included in a heart-healthy and well-balanced diet because they are high in dietary fiber and give you a little protein boost. 

For example, soybeans, like edamame, can be used as a meat substitute due to their high protein content. They also lower your risk of heart disease compared to red meat since beans are low in cholesterol and saturated fats (via the National Heart Association). It's also one of those food categories offering a plethora of variety, like black beans, green beans, lentils, chickpeas, and peanuts, per Healthline

But while beans might be great for the general population, they contain chemicals that can aggravate specific conditions, like purines, tyramines, and oligosaccharides. When eaten, these chemicals can be a trigger for gout, migraines, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). 

Knowledge can help you make the best health decisions, so explore the symptoms of each disease and why beans should be avoided or limited under specific circumstances.

Beans can trigger gout

People who suffer from gout can tell you that the condition is no joke. Gout is a painful disorder where uric acid buildup forms urate crystals in the joints, creating intense joint pain, inflammation, redness, and limited range of motion, according to the Mayo Clinic. Now, your body is constantly producing uric acid due to the purines in your food getting broken down, but high levels cause an issue.

Purines are part of the chemical makeup of beans, from kidney beans to lentils. While the concentration of purine in lentils, green beans, and dried beans might not be as high as anchovies, tuna, and red meat, they still contain a moderate amount, per Certified Food & Ankle Specialist, LLC. Therefore, experts suggest avoiding beans, or at least those with the highest purine levels, if you're at risk of developing gout.

However, the research in this area is a bit murky. According to a 2020 study published in Frontiers in Nutrition, beans, though rich in purines, were found to lower serum urate levels at higher intake levels, which means a lower risk of triggering gout. These findings were also backed up by 2015 research in Arthritis & Rheumatology, where bean consumption was found to lower gout risk (compared to poultry and shellfish). Since more research is needed, exercise caution when eating beans by only consuming those low in purines and eating them in moderation.

Migraines and beans don't mix

Most people have experienced pain in their heads, like an annoying drum or a tight band around their temples. More often than not, you just pop a Tylenol and call it a day. But 10% of the world experiences a headache so debilitating it makes life impossible; this headache is a migraine (via the Journal of the American Medical Association). In addition to acute pain that can strike any area of your head, migraine sufferers also experience auras, vomiting, sensitivity to sound and light, vision loss, and numbness that can last from 4 to 72 hours on average, states the Mayo Clinic. Unlike your average headache, migraines can be susceptible to specific triggers like stress, alcohol, hormone fluctuations, physical strain, and certain foods, like beans, according to the Association of Migraine Disorders.

But it's not the bean itself that's the problem; it's tyramine within specific beans that sparks a relentless migraine. NH Health & Wellness suggests that beans like lima, fava, Italian, navy, garbanzo (chickpeas), pinto, pole, snow peas, and pea pods should be avoided like the plague because of tyramine, but everything else is fine. The reasoning behind it is that tyramine needs monoamine oxidase (MAO) to break it down, and migraine sufferers might not have enough, meaning a chickpea salad for lunch could trigger suffering, per WebMD.

Beans are a trigger food for IBS sufferers

You've probably heard that eating beans can make you toot. And toot you do. However, those dealing with IBS can deal with more than just occasional gas when eating chili. The oligosaccharide (natural carb) in beans triggers your IBS because they resist your intestine's digestive enzymes (which is also the reason people without IBS get the farts), according to Healthline.

IBS is one of those mysterious conditions that can be hard to diagnose since the cause can be so vague. However, the Mayo Clinic notes that the construction of the intestines, infection, nervous system issues, and gut microbes might be to blame. Regardless of the reasoning behind it, IBS causes several different symptoms like constipation, diarrhea, cramping, feeling of fullness, bloating, and pain. It's most commonly diagnosed in young females with a family history of the disease or history of abuse.

Foods can be triggers, so steering clear of anything that might make your guts feel like they've been put through a vise is a wise course of action. Limiting how many beans you eat, soaking them overnight, or cutting them out altogether can help ensure your IBS treatment stays on track.