16 reasons beans may be the food of the future.
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Gates Foundation: The Story of Food

Let's get one thing straight here: Beans may get a bad rap, but they're fantastic.

It's not uncommon to hear people say negative things about beans. "They don't give you enough protein! They're gross! They make you fart!" But don't let those naysayers get to you. There are two big things these folks are missing.

This kid is not excited about his beans. Don't be like this kid. Image via iStock.


The first is that the word "bean" doesn't refer to a single food so much as an entire category. A "bean" is simply a large seed from the plant family Fabaceae. "Beans" don't just include black beans or green beans, but also lentils, soybeans, chickpeas, and even peanuts. Yes, peanuts are beans!

The second thing to remember about beans is that they're critical to global food security, especially in the face of climate change. As our global population continues to expand, it's so important to have a supply of crops that can survive a variety of growing conditions.

A farmer in El Salvador holds beans. Image via Marvin Recinos/AFP/Getty Images.

With those things in mind, let's get to it.

What's all the bean fuss about? Here are 16 reasons why beans are great:

1. Beans are inexpensive.

A can of black beans at most grocery stores in the U.S. will cost you less than a dollar. Even if you're pretty hungry, that's two servings at 50 cents each, tops. Still out of your budget? Opt for dry beans — they're even cheaper.

2. They're high in fiber.

A single cup of boiled lima beans has 13.2 grams of fiber. If you're an adult woman, that's more than half your recommended daily fiber.

3. And they're low in fat.

We all need some fat in our diet to stay healthy, but scientists generally agree that foods naturally low in fat are good for you.

Beans make burritos excellent. Image via iStock.

4. Beans don't require much water to grow.

The production of one gram of bean protein uses about five gallons of water. In contrast, one gram of a starch protein (like rice) uses eight gallons of water, and one gram of beef protein uses 40 gallons of water. This can help farmers preserve water and can protect crops during a drought. Speaking of droughts...

5. Beans can be drought-resistant.

Scientists have recently developed strains of beans that mature faster and use even less water than typical bean crops (qualities that make them more resistant to drought). These strains are already in use in Uganda.

6. They can be heat-resistant, too.

20 years ago, a scientist in Colombia cross-bred the common bean with the tepary bean, which is much more tolerant of heat. Most common beans don't do well in temperatures that stay above 66 degrees, but the heat-resistant hybrid beans thrive. This means that as global temperatures rise, areas where beans can still grow won't shrink as drastically — in fact, bean-viable areas could even expand.

Green bean harvest. Image via iStock.

7. Beans are versatile.

Refried beans, hummus, lentil dumplings, bean burgers, bean brownies, chili, fudge, salsa, lentil soup, samosas, lentil sprouts, doughnuts, bean dip ... you get the idea.

8. And they're delicious.

Don't like hummus or green beans? See above. There's a type of bean dish out there for everyone.

9. Beans are high in iron.

A cup of boiled lentils has about 6.6 mg of iron — about a third of the recommended daily intake for an adult woman. Iron transports oxygen around the body.

10. They're good for your heart.

Remember all that fiber beans have? And all that fat they don't have? Scientists say these qualities help reduce cholesterol and lower your risk of heart disease.

Beans and rice — a classic. Image via iStock.

11. And they're good for your digestion.

Another benefit to high-fiber foods: They "move you" and can help relieve constipation. Hey, that's not a bad thing!

12. Beans are even the subject of rhymes.

Beans, beans, they're good for your heart. The more you eat, the more you fart. The more you fart, the better you feel. So eat your beans with every meal!

13. They are high in zinc.

A single serving (2 tablespoons) of store-bought hummus has 0.55 mg of zinc. Come on, who doesn't love hummus? That's almost 7% of the daily recommended zinc for an adult woman. 7% from a couple spoonfuls of hummus!

Soybeans growing in Germany. Image via Daniel Roland/AFP/Getty Images.

14. Beans have a lot of protein.

A cup of canned black beans? 16 grams of protein. People who don't get enough protein risk a form of malnutrition called kwashiorkor, which is all too common in developing countries. Having access to inexpensive, protein-rich foods is a huge deal for people facing a limited food supply.

15. They're great nitrogen fixers.

More accurately, the bacteria that live on the roots of beans are great nitrogen fixers. This improves the quality of the soil and helps other plants thrive, even long after the beans are gone.

16. They come in many strains.

International seed gene banks hold about 40,000 bean varieties. This variability is a huge deal in a changing climate. Need a bean that tolerates a certain type of soil? A certain temperature or rain level? You've already got hundreds of strains to choose from, and conventional breeding allows scientists to combine and manipulate those traits.

Beans are a big deal for food security.

Let's recap: They're high in protein, they have a multitude of other health benefits, they can survive heat and drought while improving soil quality for future crops, and they're pretty inexpensive.

Sure, beans aren't going to solve the global food crisis on their own. But they're definitely going to be an important crop in the years — and growing conditions — to come. So next time you hear someone being negative about beans, you've got 16 new facts to choose from to change their mind.

Some people are neat freaks and some people aren't. Most of us prefer a clean and tidy space, but not all of us are able to maintain one. Not only do people go through various stages of life that make keeping house trickier than other times, but some people have neurological, psychological, and emotional realities that make it harder than it is for others.

The problem is, a messy house is often a source of judgment and shame.

Licensed therapist and TikToker Kc Davis is turning that notion on its head with videos that explain how her own ADHD impacts her messiness and how she's learned "to clean as a messy person."

Davis shared a video showing her doing "a full reset" of her space while explaining the various reasons why some people don't have the executive function capabilities to "clean as they go." From ADHD to physical disabilities to having experienced abuse surrounding cleaning, some people find it impossible to keep things neat and tidy. For people who don't struggle with executive dysfunction, this video may not make sense, but for those who do, it's extremely validating.

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Some people are neat freaks and some people aren't. Most of us prefer a clean and tidy space, but not all of us are able to maintain one. Not only do people go through various stages of life that make keeping house trickier than other times, but some people have neurological, psychological, and emotional realities that make it harder than it is for others.

The problem is, a messy house is often a source of judgment and shame.

Licensed therapist and TikToker Kc Davis is turning that notion on its head with videos that explain how her own ADHD impacts her messiness and how she's learned "to clean as a messy person."

Davis shared a video showing her doing "a full reset" of her space while explaining the various reasons why some people don't have the executive function capabilities to "clean as they go." From ADHD to physical disabilities to having experienced abuse surrounding cleaning, some people find it impossible to keep things neat and tidy. For people who don't struggle with executive dysfunction, this video may not make sense, but for those who do, it's extremely validating.

Keep Reading Show less
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Each year, an estimated 1.8 million people in the United States are affected by cancer — most commonly cancers of the breast, lung, prostate, and blood cancers such as leukemia. While not everyone overcomes the disease, thanks to science, more people are surviving — and for longer — than ever before in history.

We asked three people whose lives have been impacted by cancer to share their stories – how their lives were changed by the disease, and how they're using that experience to change the future of cancer treatments with the hope that ultimately, in the fight against cancer, science will win. Here's what they had to say.

Celine Ryan, 55, engineer database programmer and mother of five from Detroit, MI

Photo courtesy of Celine Ryan

In September 2013, Celine Ryan woke up from a colonoscopy to some traumatic news. Her gastroenterologist showed her a picture of the cancerous mass they found during the procedure.

Ryan and her husband, Patrick, had scheduled a colonoscopy after discovering some unusual bleeding, so the suspicion she could have cancer was already there. Neither of them, however, were quite prepared for the results to be positive -- or for the treatment to begin so soon. Just two days after learning the news, Ryan had surgery to remove the tumor, part of her bladder, and 17 cancerous lymph nodes. Chemotherapy and radiation soon followed.

Ryan's treatment was rigorous – but in December 2014, she got the devastating news that the cancer, once confined to her colon, had spread to her lungs. Her prognosis, they said, was likely terminal.

But rather than give up hope, Ryan sought support from online research, fellow cancer patients and survivors, and her medical team. When she brought up immunotherapy to her oncologist, he quickly agreed it was the best course of action. Ryan's cancer, like a majority of colon and pancreatic cancers, had been caused by a defect on the gene KRAS, which can result in a very aggressive cancer that is virtually "undruggable." According to the medical literature, the relatively smooth protein structure of the KRAS gene meant that designing inhibitors to bind to surface grooves and treat the cancer has been historically difficult. Through her support systems, Ryan discovered an experimental immunotherapy trial at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, MD., and called them immediately to see if she was eligible. After months of trying to determine whether she was a suitable candidate for the experimental treatment, Ryan was finally accepted.

The treatment, known as tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte therapy, or TIL, is a testament to how far modern science has evolved. With this therapy, doctors remove a tumor and harvest special immune cells that are found naturally in the tumor. Doctors then grow the cells in a lab over the next several weeks with a protein that promotes rapid TIL growth – and once the cells number into the billions, they are infused back into the patient's body to fight the cancer. On April 1, 2015, Ryan had her tumor removed at the NIH. Two months later, she went inpatient for four weeks to have the team "wash out" her immune system with chemotherapy and infuse the cells – all 148 billion of them – back into her body.

Six weeks after the infusion, Ryan and Patrick went back for a follow-up appointment – and the news they got was stunning: Not only had no new tumors developed, but the six existing tumors in her lungs had shrunk significantly. Less than a year after her cell infusion, in April 2016, the doctors told Ryan news that would have been impossible just a decade earlier: Thanks to the cell infusion, Ryan was now considered NED – no evaluable disease. Her body was cancer-free.

Ryan is still NED today and continuing annual follow-up appointments at the NIH, experiencing things she never dreamed she'd be able to live to see, such as her children's high school and college graduations. She's also donating her blood and cells to the NIH to help them research other potential cancer treatments. "It was an honor to do so," Ryan said of her experience. "I'm just thrilled, and I hope my experience can help a lot more people."

Patrice Lee, PhD, VP of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Exploratory Development at Pfizer

Photo courtesy of Patrice Lee

Patrice Lee got into scientific research in an unconventional way – through the late ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau.

Lee never met Cousteau but her dreams of working with him one day led her to pursue a career in science. Initially, Lee completed an undergraduate degree in marine biology; eventually, her interests changed and she decided to get a dual doctoral degree in physiology and toxicology at Duke University. She now works at Pfizer's R&D site in Boulder, CO (formerly Array BioPharma), leading a group of scientists who determine the safety and efficacy of new oncology drugs.

"Scientists focused on drug discovery and development in the pharmaceutical industry are deeply committed to inventing new therapies to meet unmet needs," Lee says, describing her field of work. "We're driven to achieve new medicines and vaccines as quickly as possible without sacrificing safety."

Among the drugs Lee has helped develop during her career, including cancer therapies, she says around a dozen are currently in development, while nine have received FDA approval — an incredible accomplishment as many scientists spend their careers without seeing their drug make it to market. Lee's team is particularly interested in therapies for brain metastases — something that Lee says is a largely unmet need in cancer research, and something her team is working on from a variety of angles. "Now that we've had rapid success with mRNA vaccine technology, we hope to explore what the future holds when applying this technology to cancers," Lee says.

But while evaluating potential cancer therapies is a professional passion of Lee's, it's also a mission that's deeply personal. "I'm also a breast cancer survivor," she says. "So I've been on the other side of things and have participated in a clinical trial."

However, seeing how melanoma therapies that she helped develop have affected other real-life cancer patients, she says, has been a highlight of her career. "We had one therapy that was approved for patients with BRAF-mutant metastatic melanoma," Lee recalls. "Our team in Boulder was graced by a visit from a patient that had benefited from these drugs that we developed. It was a very special moment for the entire team."

None of these therapies would be available, Lee says without rigorous science behind it: "Facts come from good science. Facts will drive the development of new drugs, and that's what will help patients."

Chiuying "Cynthia" Kuk (they/them) MS, 34, third-year medical student at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine

Photo courtesy of Cynthia Kuk

Cynthia Kuk was just 10 years old when they had a conversation that would change their life forever.

"My mother, who worked as a translator for the government at the time, had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and after her chemotherapy treatments she would get really sick," Kuk, who uses they/them pronouns, recalls. "When I asked my dad why mom was puking so much, he said it was because of the medicine she was taking that would help her get better."

Kuk's response was immediate: "That's so stupid! Why would a medicine make you feel worse instead of better? When I'm older, I want to create medicine that won't make people sick like that."

Nine years later, Kuk traveled from their native Hong Kong to the United States to do exactly that. Kuk enrolled in a small, liberal arts college for their Bachelor's degree, and then four years later started a PhD program in cancer research. Although Kuk's mother was in remission from her cancer at the time, Kuk's goal was the same as it had been as a 10-year-old watching her suffer through chemotherapy: to design a better cancer treatment, and change the landscape of cancer research forever.

Since then, Kuk's mission has changed slightly.

"My mom's cancer relapsed in 2008, and she ended up passing away about five years after that," Kuk says. "After my mom died, I started having this sense of urgency. Cancer research is such that you work for twenty years, and at the end of it you might have a fancy medication that could help people, but I wanted to help people now." With their mother still at the forefront of their mind, Kuk decided to quit their PhD program and enter medical school.

Now, Kuk plans to pursue a career in emergency medicine – not only because they are drawn to the excitement of the emergency room, but because the ER is a place where the most marginalized people tend to seek care.

"I have a special interest in the LGBTQ+ population, as I identify as queer and nonbinary," says Kuk. "A lot of people in this community and other marginalized communities access care through the ER and also tend to avoid medical care since there is a history of mistreatment and judgement from healthcare workers. How you carry yourself as a doctor, your compassion, that can make a huge difference in someone's care."

In addition to making a difference in the lives of LGBTQ+ patients, Kuk wants to make a difference in the lives of patients with cancer as well, like their mother had.

"We've diagnosed patients in the Emergency Department with cancer before," Kuk says. "I can't make cancer good news but how you deliver bad news and the compassion you show could make a world of difference to that patient and their family."

During their training, Kuk advocates for patients by delivering compassionate and inclusive care, whether they happen to have cancer or not. In addition to emphasizing their patient's pronouns and chosen names, they ask for inclusive social and sexual histories as well as using gender neutral language. In doing this, they hope to make medicine as a whole more accessible for people who have been historically pushed aside.

"I'm just one person, and I can't force everyone to respect you, if you're marginalized," Kuk says. "But I do want to push for a culture where people appreciate others who are different from them."