While transforming your diet from meat to plant-based, you might try to add more beans, yet feel the beans are causing digestion challenges, is GAS! There are steps you can take to reduce – even eliminate – the digestive discomfort they cause.
On the nutrition front, beans and lentils have a lot going for them. Besides plant protein, they’re exceptional sources of fiber, blood-sugar-regulating magnesium and folate, a B vitamin that makes and repairs DNA in cells.
Eating bean-based meals at least four times a week is associated with lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels and protection against cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes and prostate cancer.— WOOHOO
Let’s Talk About GAS!!
The main cause of gas is the fermentation of undigested carbohydrates by normal gut bacteria.
Some foods, especially pulses, can increase the body’s usual gas production.
First, passing gas is a normal part of the digestive process; it’s a sign that your digestive tract is doing what it’s supposed to do. Studies have reported that a healthy person passes gas an average of 14 times a day, and some people do so up to 22 times daily.
Beans and lentils contain high amounts of complex carbohydrates called oligosaccharides, sugars that the body can’t digest because it lacks the enzyme to break them down in the small intestine. Once these undigested sugars end up in the large intestine, resident bacteria ferment them causing gas that gets released as flatulence. Aren’t you glad I explained that?!!! 🙂
But there is a upside to this fermentation. Much of the indigestible carbohydrates in beans are prebiotic, meaning they fuel the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, microbes thought to aid in immunity (YAY!) and play a role in preventing allergies, Type 2 diabetes, obesity, and inflammatory bowel disease.
5 Ways to Avoid Gas with Beans
- Go slow – add beans slowly into your diet. Start with just a few tablespoons and build up.
- Soak well and rinse well. If you are using dried beans soak for 48 hours and drain and rinse well before cooking. Use fresh water for cooking, not the soaking liquid. If you are using canned beans, rinse well.
- Cook beans until very soft. Cooking well-done until very soft can help with decreasing gas production as well. Even canned beans can be cooked more prior to serving.
- Add ginger or cumin as these spices help with digestion.
- Chew – eat slowly and chew well each bite.