Dr. Kurt Harris recently stated, in reference to edits he made on his "getting started guide":
I've deleted references to legumes other than avoiding soy and peanuts, as other legumes seem more and more benign to me.
One of the staple guidelines in the paleosphere has been avoidance of all legumes, but this statement prompts a clarification. People have long said that things like green beans were exempt from the no-legume approach, so maybe this extends further. What evidence is there, which Dr. Harris may be referring to, that most other legumes do not pose the same issues as peanuts and soy?
Though I'm not a bean expert, I will say this: two of the most severe and common allergies in the world are soy and peanuts. This is not the case with other beans, peas, and lentils. I would think that would suggest soy and peanuts have an immunogenicity far beyond other legumes.
Soy is also loaded with phytoestrogens, and peanuts are not uncommonly tainted with aflatoxin, which is toxic and one of the most carcinogenic substances you're going to find outside a lab.
Additionally, legumes like lentils and chickpeas are comparatively lower in phytates than soy and peanuts, reducing their capability to bind up other nutrients.
Cook them well to break down the lectins and don't make them a staple, but there's likely no reason to avoid them entirely.
I think the answer is that no legumes at all puts you in the stone age of paleo whereas limited legumes puts you in the bronze age of paleo.
I think we're fine as long as we don't dip our toes too often into the iron age - unless it is to make free weights, then dip and squat as much as you want.
An easy way to deal with this issue is to simply concentrate your antinutrient-rich foods into their own meals that are separate from the meat/organs you eat. They won't interfere with each others' digestion and you won't really lose out on any nutrition.
I'm currently reading The Jungle Effect, by Daphne Miller. It's pretty similar to Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, by Weston Price. She traveled the globe looking for very healthy cultures, which she found in remote, unmodernized places not yet overly affected by civilization.
Legumes were a staple in several such cultures: (properly prepared) corn, beans, etc. I know chickpeas and lentils are featured in other traditional diets.
Anything eaten in large amounts by very healthy cultures should probably be presumed non-toxic until specifically shown otherwise, IMO.
It seems like "Paleo" is drifting closer and closer to WAP.
High fat dairy, supplementation, and the use of traditionally prepared grains and legumes have also blurred the line.
I'm personally not against this, as I am all for "Wise Traditions" and continued examination of how our bodies are affected by foods (and if something is found to be benign there is no reason to exclude it simply because it is "not Paleo".)
This seems to fall in line with what I was speaking to in my question/post about the "naturalistic fallacy".
In his podcast with Robb Wolf, Dr. Harris noted that if you start just focusing on antinutrients as a way to measure how good/bad a food is you're in for a mess... his example was that sweet potatoes have more antinutrients than white potatoes.
Just anecdotally, I'm hugely allergic to peanuts and most other nuts, but never noticed any issues when eating beans.
According to AllergyNet, lentils "seem to be the most common legume implicated in pediatric allergic patients in the Mediterranean area." Methinks legumes are legumes, and your sensitivity depends on how much you (or your parents) are exposed to their proteins.
I think much of the basis is that the non-soy and non-peanut legumes don’t seem to be well correlated with the diseases of civilization. I have heard that in the US that bean consumption peaked during WWII then went downhill from there. It seems at times that when people adopt a more Western diet, legumes are often pushed aside in favor of other foods. This blogpost kind of explores the scientific issues and rationales: http://www.paleo-diet.co/2010/09/beans-and-paleo-dieting/
Why not see how they affect you, personally, by eliminating them for a long enough period of time (30 days or so) and then add them back in? We're all different and so what may bother one person doesn't bother another.
One of our office mates during the Whole 30 challenge cut out all dairy and as soon as he added it back in we could ALL TELL how much more phlegmy he was - it made it easy to tell if he had slipped over the weekend. :D Wouldn't the same apply in practicing elimination of suspect ingredients for a time? Perhaps certain legumes affect different people in different levels?
Personally, before I draw any conclusions, I would like to see if Mark Sisson and/or Loren Cordain have altered their stances. On legumes other than soy or peanuts. I think (but am not sure) they believe that if you cook beans enough, ferment them, etc. you eliminate or break down many of the antinutrients (mostly lectins). But it would be good to hear their most recent thoughts. Anybody have any updates from them? If not, maybe it's time to email them.
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