Supplements, the Bean Protocol and Advice from Mom

Have you ever heard the advice, everything in moderation? My mom used to say that to me growing up. She never said it in a discouraging or shameful way, but more as a way to remind me that our diets are meant to have a little bit of everything, in balance.

Well, after earning a Master’s Degree in Nutrition and spending time in clinical practice, I now know that my mom’s advice was spot on. What we know from the science is that a balanced diet, rich in variety, is a great way to approach health and wellbeing. This concept of “everything in moderation” has started to feel even more important to talk about, as new diet trends seem to be approaching health and nutrition by suggesting one food group being the focus of a diet. So for this blog, I wanted to talk about the “Bean Protocol” and society’s recent focus on vitamin and mineral supplementation.

So, first….the Bean Protocol, ever heard of it? It seems to be the new Keto or Intermittent Fasting. The Bean Protocol is a new fad diet that focuses on the intake of beans as a way to help your liver “detox and heal from a range of ailments,” according to its creator. The creator of the “protocol” claims that by eating beans one can help a whole range of health issues including infertility, inflammation, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, digestive issues and more. The protocol involves trying to eat “soup beans” or lentils from anywhere between three to six times a day for at least three months, but likely more depending on what ailment you’re trying to cure.

It’s an interesting idea because people have been promoting beans as a healthy source of fiber and protein for years! But, you don’t need beans to “detox” your liver because in fact your liver is always “detoxing.” That is the job of the liver! So while beans might help the process because they contain fiber, they won’t be boosting the job of your liver. Don’t get me wrong: as a dietitian, I think it would be great for people to eat more beans! They’re sustainable, high in fiber, and rich in minerals. But they are only one part of a healthy balanced diet, and eating them three to six times a day sounds like a stomachache waiting to happen! So, try eating them once a day with a balanced plate.

Next, let’s talk about supplements! First, Vitamin D is a great supplement because it’s hard to get enough Vitamin D naturally, especially if you live in a place that’s not very sunny. However, for most other supplements, if your diet has balance and variety, they are not needed! Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains naturally have vitamins and minerals packed in them. And, choosing vitamin-packed food instead of supplements provides: 1) greater nutrition 2) fiber, which has many positive effects and 3) antioxidants.

If for some reason you can’t eat a varied diet, then supplements make sense. But for those who can, eating a healthy diet is a better choice than buying supplements. And you’d be surprised, it’s probably much cheaper too!!