Why Beans Make You Fart & What to Do About It
Most people know that beans like pinto beans, black beans, navy beans and baked beans make you fart. But just why do these popular legumes make your body so gassy?
Also, if you still choose to eat beans, which are actually quite a healthy and high fiber food, how can you greatly minimize the amount of flatulence they cause?
Why Do Beans Give You Gas?
Boiled beans, and even canned baked beans, are high in fiber and loaded with vegetable protein. They are also low in fat and contain minerals like magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, copper, and zinc.
Beans like kidney beans, fava beans and pinto beans are a great source of B vitamins, particularly folate and B1. Canned baked beans also contain some B vitamins, though they do have much more sodium and bisphenol A from plastic can linings may be an issue.
All forms of beans are rich in soluble fiber, which is considered beneficial for digestive health and preventing constipation. Unfortunately, it’s this same soluble fiber that also behind the stomach gas, belly rumbling and excessive gas when you eat them.
The way baked beans make you fart starts with oligosaccharides such as raffinose and stachyose. These indigestible carbohydrates are not absorbed in your small intestine during digestion. Instead they pass through to your large intestine intact.
While the digestive processes of the small intestine cannot break down oligosaccharides, the bacteria in your colon thrive on them and produce large amounts of hydrogen, nitrogen and carbon dioxide gas through bacterial fermentation.
Eating foods high in raffinose and other oligosaccharides, like pinto beans or baked beans, usually leads to an increase in gas-causing bacteria in your lower intestine, and a corresponding increase in bloating, farting and other symptoms of gassiness.
Can You Have Beans Without Farting?
Soaking dried beans overnight, or for at least 12 hours before cooking them can greatly reduce the amount of gas-causing oligosaccharides they contain, as well as mineral binding phytates.
To do this, drain out the water you’ve soaked them in and then boil them in new water. Ideally add some gas combating fennel seeds or fresh ginger near the end of cooking to further improve beans digestibility.
Obviously, this is not a good option with a canned product. So, can you still eat baked beans and greatly reduce the way they make you fart?
The reason why people have problems digesting beans is that we lack the alpha-galactosidase enzyme in our digestive tract. This enzyme breaks down indigestible oligosaccharides into smaller components so they can be digested.
For many years, people have taken a product called Beano, which contains alpha-galactosidase to help prevent gas from beans.
Now there is a better and cheaper option called Bean-zyme. It contains alpha-galactosidase like Beano, but costs less and doesn’t contain fish gelatin, so it can be used by vegetarians or vegans.
How to Take Bean-Zyme to Stop Gas from Beans
The directions for Bean-zyme recommend taking two tablets at the same time as any meal containing beans, chickpeas, lentils or other legumes. You can also prevent gassiness from other oligosaccharide-rich vegetables like cabbage, mushrooms or broccoli with Bean-zyme as well.
Most people will swallow them, but if you’ve had excessive flatulence from beans before, it would be worth taking an extra step to make sure that they are quickly dispersed in the digestive tract.
Start by taking your first mouthful of beans. Chew them up and then pop in two tablets of Bean-zyme. They don’t have much of a taste so you shouldn’t notice them beyond the texture. Chew them up as well and swallow them down.
Some people don’t have very strong hydrochloric acid secretions in their stomach and there have been are reports of tablets passing right through a person’s system.
While this step is probably unnecessary for most of us, it does give the alpha-galactosidase enzyme a bit of extra time to work on breaking down the raffinose in your small intestine.
Amazon have this bulk Bean-zyme at a price which is much less than Beano per capsule. It’s a relatively inexpensive product to keep on hand whenever you want to enjoy beans without farting.
You can use it not just with dried beans and baked beans, but with any meal containing foods high in oligosaccharides like chickpeas, lentils, cabbage, broccoli, or large amounts of onion or mushrooms.
Beans certainly aren’t the only type of food that makes you fart. There are many other causes of flatulence, such as poor digestion from eating too fast or too much, the lactose in milk, sulfur-containing foods, high fructose drinks and fruits, and even coffee or soda interfering with digestion.
For beans and legumes though, as well as other gas causing vegetables high in oligosaccharides, taking this inexpensive supplement is an easy was to enjoy them without the gassiness.
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Photo 1 credit with thanks: VirtualErn
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