Legumes are an important part of a healthy, balanced diet for most people. However, some people have conditions that require them to limit or avoid certain legumes. Regulations in Australia recognise soy as an allergen. There is also evidence to suggest lupin is an allergen. Both of these are less common than peanut allergy. Before cutting legumes from the diet, people should seek a professional diagnosis.
Legumes and Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Legumes contain small fibres that are important for healthy gut bacteria. These fibres can be poorly absorbed in the small intestine which can result in increased gas production and worsen symptoms in patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), which is a disorder affecting 15% of the population.
A diet low in FODMAPs can be used as a short term (2-6 weeks) strategy, and it has been found to improve symptoms in 74% of patients with IBS. However, the low FODMAP diet is a therapeutic diet to be conducted under the supervision of a specialist dietitian. It is not a long-term diet as research indicates FODMAPs are probably essential for maintaining a healthy population of gut bacteria which has implication on long term health. For more information on the treatment of IBS with a low FODMAP diet visit the Monash University website.