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Hi, pod fam! 

Anyone else still under the #beanfluence from our Season 2 chat with Unique Hammond? (Here’s a refresher!) It’s been beans on beans in my house ever since (shoutout to Jovial for making the best beans ever, am I right?). In that ep, Unique mentioned learning about the magic of beans through her mentor, Karen Hurd. Because my love for beans (and natural healing tools) runs DEEP, I knew I had to hear more about Karen’s story. And I know you all are gonna want to hear this, too.

This week’s guest is none other than the “Bean Queen” herself: biochemist & nutritionist Karen Hurd. We’re talking about the terrifying personal experience that led to some incredible discoveries about beans, what soluble fiber does for the body, and how easy it is to incorporate this healing tool into your daily life.

Psst: If you’ve been following along on IG, this is the convo that inspired my producer and me to give up caffeine (stay tuned for more on that in next week’s ep). Let’s get juicy!

“The Girl Who Lived”: Karen’s Daughter, Ruth

You’re gonna want to hear this story directly from Karen, so I highly highly highly recommend listening to this ep, if you haven’t already. But I’ll give you the gist of it here.

When Karen’s daughter, Ruth was 18 months old, she was exposed to an organophosphate that was used to exterminate carpet beetles in their home. This poison was 100x the strength it should have been, and Ruth started having seizures, followed by her liver and immune system going into failure. Doctors all told Karen there was no cure, but Karen was not about to let her little girl die, so she started doing research. 

And she got herself an answer: soluble fiber (found in beans) could help remove toxins from the body. So she introduced beans into Ruth’s diet, and within two weeks, she was a healthy, happy toddler again. No drugs, no medical treatments, no surgeries—just BEANS. Can we just take a moment to celebrate beans?! (And another moment to celebrate Ruth’s health and Karen’s perseverance.)

Oh, and can we give Karen some extra credit for discovering all of this without the power of the internet? This was almost 30 years ago, and you couldn’t just Google things. But—thanks to Karen’s research (and a lot of technology advances)—a parent going through something like this today COULD do that.

So, what did Karen discover about how beans support healing?

Our body has a few detox pathways, but only one of those removes fat-soluble waste. Think: dietary fat, environmental toxins, metabolic waste, and excess hormones. Essentially, the liver produces bile (a fatty substance), which binds to fat, and sends it to be excreted as a bowel movement. But the thing is…somewhere around 95% of fat-soluble waste just gets recirculated into the bloodstream over and over, which means those toxins and waste and excess hormones are just being pushed toward the exit but never finding the door.

Basically, our liver is this amazing, detoxifying organ, but it can’t get credit for all the work it does unless we help support it on that final step. How do we do that? With soluble fiber. Soluble fiber is made from polysaccharides, which have these long chains of branches that physically trap/capture fat-soluble molecules. And once they’re trapped, they are TRAPPED. And 100% of the soluble fiber we eat gets excreted as a bowel movement. Soooooo…long story, short: soluble fiber makes sure that the fat-soluble substances your liver has deemed as waste actually make it out of your system.

Where do we get soluble fiber? BEANS: easy to find, easy to make, easy to help support detox.

Beans aren’t the only source of soluble fiber, but they are the richest source—by a long shot. Oatmeal has about half the soluble fiber content, and veggies vary but average around 10% of the soluble fiber content of beans. 

Some general recommendations for using beans therapeutically… 

Most people who just want to support their body’s natural processes can eat beans with their meals normally. Karen recommends a half-cup of beans at each meal: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Cook them however you want: buy dried and soak/pressure-cook them yourself or simply heat up some beans from a can.

For those with hormonal concerns, illness beyond the typical cold/flu, severe allergies, or other toxicity concerns, Karen would take a more personalized approach to therapeutic recommendations. One thing she might suggest is eating beans about 1.5 hours apart from other food so the soluble fiber attaches to toxins/excess hormones rather than the good fats in your diet. Another approach might be consuming 2 tablespoons of beans every 20 minutes (which is similar to how she helped Ruth heal). We recycle our bile somewhere between 21 and 72 times per day, so a constant intake of soluble fiber helps ensure we’re getting rid of toxins at every opportunity.

One last thing: because soluble fiber helps clean up excess hormones (including adrenaline), Karen suggests a spoonful of beans before bed for those struggling with anxiety/insomnia.  

Okay, it’s not beans-related, but WHAT IS THE DEAL with caffeine? 

Beans are a big part of Karen’s work, and she recommends them in different ways for all of her clients. But improving your well-being is often a multifaceted approach, so Karen may recommend other diet and lifestyle changes. One of the most common things she recommends is giving up caffeine. I know, I know… 

I asked her to give it to us straight. If someone’s dealing with anxiety or hormonal concerns, should they rethink caffeine? “They have to,” says Karen. “If they want to get well, they will have to rethink caffeine.”

Here’s why.

Caffeine stimulates the release of adrenaline (which can exacerbate anxiety), but it ALSO stimulates estrogen production, which was news to me! While it’s not necessarily the CAUSE, your morning cup of coffee could be a contributor to excess hormones in the bloodstream (and related concerns like hyperplasia, fibroids, cysts, etc.). 

Let me tell you: the universe sent Karen to me at the right time because I NEEDED this push to finally take the plunge and stop consuming caffeine. Almost immediately following this recording, I gave up caffeine cold turkey, and I’ll tell you all about it next week. And I promise you it was the best decision I could have made for my health. Stay tuned!

As always, tune into the episode for allll the juicy goodness in this ep! Be sure to share your thoughts with me on IG: @shoporganicolivia.



Connect with Karen Hurd:

Visit her website

Follow her on Facebook

Shop my favorite Jovial-brand beans at Vitacost:

Cannellini Beans

Borlotti Beans

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