A ton of you have asked for a Bean Protocol review, and I finally gave in.
Hey, a diet based on beans has to healthy, right?
Not so fast.
The Bean Protocol was developed in the 1990s by Karen Hurd, a biochemist. Hurd decided that her daughter needed to detoxify her body after apparently being poisoned by a household pesticide. Doctors gave her daughter a low chance of recovery, so Hurd took matters into her own hands, giving her this ‘protocol.’
Like MAGIC, Hurd’s daughter was saved! Great story!
Excuse me if I sound sarcastic. I just can’t with these stories.
It’s important to note there’s a page on covid on Hurd’s website. She suggests that at the first sign of symptoms, you can attenuate the sickness or even prevent it by doing things like avoiding sugar (including fruit), drinking all beverages hot, staying ‘toasty warm,’ and keeping a scarf snugly wrapped around your neck 24/7.
So yeah, this is the sort of ‘science’ that we’re dealing with here.
The Bean Protocol is meant to be done for three months, but I’ve been seeing that people commonly do it indefinitely.
The whole idea behind the Bean Protocol is that the fibre in beans can help us detoxify our body by binding to bile so we can poop it out. Some of our bile is recirculated, and some is pooped out. The toxins in the bile bind to the fibre in our diet and are eliminated from the body.
Fair enough. This is one important job of fibre, but that’s the end of the intersection between the Bean Protocol and actual science.
Bile is a detergent-like substance that’s produced by the liver and stored in the gallbladder. When we eat fat, bile is released into the first part of the small intestine, and acts to emulsify the fat and make it soluble for digestion.
Bile also binds to hormones and toxins in the body. This is a completely normal function, and is one of the ways our bodies detoxify naturally.
Soluble fibre binds with bile in the small intestine, which results in us pooping the bile out. The body then needs to make more new bile, to replace the bile that was excreted. Incidentally, to make more bile, the liver draws cholesterol out of the blood (cholesterol is a component of bile). This can lead to lower cholesterol levels, too.
But there’s only so much that soluble fibre can do. To go from ‘the excretion of bile helps our natural detoxification systems’ to ‘eating a sh*t ton of beans can cure your infertility, acne, and a bunch of other things,’ is nonsensical.
I find that this happens a lot in the integrative health/functional medicine community.
(Read my post on functional medicine here)
And why in the world does the Bean Protocol food list read like a who’s who of holistic health public enemies?
Here’s what you can’t eat on the Bean Protocol:
‘Factory farmed’ or processed meats
Fruit or any type of sugar
No chilled water (WTF)
No cinnamon (WTF even more)
No exercise beyond gentle movement.
You also can’t eat fat at the same time as you eat beans. This is because ‘fat binds to fibre, so then the toxins can’t.’
Someone clearly missed science class. Do they not think that our bodies are equipped to handle this sort of thing?
** Fostering distrust in our bodies ** – it’s part of the marketing for these trash diets.
Let’s make you think that you have something wrong with your body, then sell you the solution!
The rest of the diet is basically this:
3-4 cups of beans a day
1.5 cups of nuts a day
Vegetables and small lean protein portions
Beans are great, and as you all know, I’m always in favor of everyone eating more plants.
But what I’m not in favor of, EVER, is the spreading of misinformation and false claims. I’m also not in favor of diets that eliminate entire food groups for no good reason whatsoever.
I’m at the point where if an eating plan eliminates gluten and dairy for everyone, it’s a huge red flag.
There is no evidence whatsoever that those things cause inflammation, autoimmune disease, or any sort of health issues for most of us.
The Bean Protocol claims.
Get ready, because you’re about to read some crazy sh*t.
The Bean Protocol is pushed by people who have a fervent belief in ‘toxins’ and being ‘toxic.’ These are the sorts of people who we all see all over social media, taking about hormones and cleanses and mold and parasites and adrenal fatigue.
I am not against alternative health. What I’m against is using physiological impossibilities and general misinformation to sell a product, which very often comes up in the alternative health sphere.
To the layperson, this sort of thing gets confusing when the person giving the claims uses science-y language and a kernel of truth. It gets even more compelling when, like Karen Hurd, they use an emotional or personal story to build those claims up.
The Bean Protocol is all about detoxification, and the people promoting it will try to convince you that there’s something wrong with your body that can be cured with beans.
Here are some of the claims I found about the Bean Protocol, all from influencers who have large followings:
When we are overly toxic – we end up with a buildup of toxins (and hormones) that may continue to recirculate and cause symptoms.
Telling people that they can become ‘toxic’ if they don’t go on X diet or plan, is a very obvious scare tactic. I can assure you that if you’re ‘toxic,’ you’ll be in the ICU, and it won’t be because you didn’t eat beans.
My experience is focused on healing hormone imbalance due to having excess hormones. I am self diagnosed because all of my bloodwork tests and doctors told me that I was within ‘normal’ ranges of health.
I don’t want to sound cynical, and yes – this does happen sometimes, but THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS HORMONE BALANCE, and beans aren’t going to solve your problem.
When you have toxins/excess hormones in your body, but you aren’t getting enough soluble fiber, the body simply recycles those toxins instead of excreting them.
Example – I have excess stress hormones in my body, but before the Bean Protocol I wasn’t eating enough soluble fiber so my body continued to recycle them and the body would purge those toxins through the skin – aka acne.
Right. Wait for it….I’ll bet her acne cleared up when she started eating beans.
Eating more fibre is great for anyone, but what she’s doing here is giving us her uneducated guess *ahem* theory about what was happening in her body.
And it’s wrong, BTW, because your body doesn’t work like that.
There is no way she could ever know that her body was ‘recycling’ stress hormones.
Newsflash: if the ‘stress hormone’ she’s talking about is cortisol (that’s an integrative health favorite), your body gets rid of cortisol in your pee. It doesn’t go through the gut, so soluble fibre from food won’t affect its removal.
Why are we taking nutrition advice from the Town Idiot, again?
Signs that you may need to improve your detoxification capacity:
- food allergies,
- poor stress management,
- acne and breakouts,
- hormone imbalance,
- poor sleep,
- brain fog,
- autoimmune disease.
Um, none of these come from the inability to detoxify your body, and the Bean Protocol won’t cure them. Eating beans doesn’t cure food allergies, FFS. It doesn’t cure ‘poor stress management,’ which is BEHAVIORAL. And telling someone with autoimmune disease that they have the responsibility of whether or not to cure themselves by following the Bean Protocol is just horrible.
It reminds me of the guy who told me that I could have saved my dad from dying of cancer, if I had just fed him a raw diet. Victim blaming is gross.
Often, our body compensates for poor detoxification capacity and it shows up as sugar cravings, caffeine dependence, and weight gain.
This is one I hear a lot from integrative practitioners: that sugar cravings are the result of some sort of toxic buildup. They cite animal studies to ‘prove’ their point, but those studies don’t prove anything. There is ZERO research confirming that ‘poor detoxification’ causes anything related to sugar cravings, caffeine dependence, or weight gain.
It’s like these people are throwing whatever they want against the wall to see what sticks. But science doesn’t care, because it’s not an opinion. And there is no scientific evidence here to speak of.
I think out of all the Bean Protocol claims, the following clusterf*ck is my absolute favorite:
OTHER BENEFITS INCLUDE OF THE BEAN PROTOCOL:
- glowing skin
- stop graying and promotes natural hair color
- mood enhancer
- great sleep
- amazing menstrual cycles, aka low or zero PMS symptoms
- Acne, eczema, arthritis, fibromyalgia, lyme disease, menopause, anxiety, asthma, hashimotos, toxic mold, infertility, diabetes, depression, and more. It’s all about getting toxins out of the body so your body can thrive.
AMAZING MENSTRUAL CYCLES!
Is that the scientific term?
Except that no, beans won’t change your menstrual cycle by flushing out your excess estrogen. And if that was even possible, why would she turn around and say the Bean Protocol ‘helps menopause’?
Wouldn’t that mean that the Bean Protocol INCREASES estrogen?
Which is it, then?
I’m going to ask you once again: do you really think it’s smart to get your health advice from someone like this?
The Bean Protocol is just another eating program that uses a kernel of science and blows everything else outside the boundaries of reality.
Just because Karen Hurd is a biochemist with a certificate course in nutrition (which she obtained AFTER the incident with her daughter..does that count as confirmation bias?) doesn’t mean you should trust them with your health.
Just because some dummy has a lot of followers, doesn’t mean they know sh*t – saying that The Bean Protocol will help cancer, menopause, and depression is completely stupid, and it messes with peoples’ relationship with food and their bodies.
The Bean Protocol is a cleanse, plain and simple, but it’s disguised as some miraculous, scientific cure for whatever.
If the detoxification of our body from toxin-laden bile ‘cures’ so many things, then is it safe to say that this same toxic bile causes them?
It causes or worsens menopause? Lyme disease? Grey hair?
The likely reason why people feel ‘better’ from the Bean Protocol is because they’re changing the way they eat overall. Not because beans are magical and not because the combination of anything on the diet is special and ‘healing.’
Nothing heals everything, and a diet that claims to, is a fraud.