So, you’re trying to eat more plant-based which includes eating more legumes in the form of beans, peas, and lentils. You’ve heard about all of the health benefits of beans. But for some people, especially those that rarely eat beans, eating them can mean some unfortunate gas being passed. And it can be very unfortunate for those downwind of you.
If consuming beans has become a social liability causing you to avoid beans altogether, I have good news for you. You don’t have to be a gas-ball forever nor do you have to avoid beans forever. Our bodies adjust to new foods quite quickly and there are things you can do to make eating beans a lot more comfortable.
- Start Slow
Did you know that the food we eat determines the type of bacteria we have in our gut? Plant-foods that contain fiber promote the growth of “friendly” bacteria in our gut. Fiber-poor diets that are high in dairy, eggs, and meat (think keto and the standard American diet of processed foods) can instead promote the growth of not-s0-friendly bacteria that are not great at digesting fiber-rich foods. But our bacterial makeup can change within just a few days when we start eating different foods consistently. Starting with a small portion of beans, say a few tablespoons, at a time and increasing it gradually can allow time for bacterial flora to form that digests the fiber and gas-forming sugars called oligosaccharides in beans.Starting with easier to digest legumes may be a good idea, too. The smaller legumes such as red lentils, split peas, mung beans, and adzuki beans are great and delicious options. Try to include fermented bean products like miso and tempeh in your new plant-based diet. And tofu is a lower fiber bean option that can be easier to digest than whole beans.
- Buy dry beans and soak them before cooking
As I just mentioned, beans contain a type of sugar called oligosaccharides. This is the main contributor to the bean musical. This compound remains undigested until it reaches the colon. This is where the bacteria begin to feast on it which produces gas. Oligosaccharides are water-soluble which means when you buy dry beans and soak them before cooking, much of that gas-producing compound is left behind in the soaking water. Cover your beans with water by a couple of inches and soak for at least 8 hours. I like to soak mine for 24 hours and I change out the soaking water at least once during that time. Before cooking, be sure to drain, rinse, and use fresh water to then cook your beans. Bonus: dry beans are less expensive than the canned version!
- Use kombu when cooking your beans
Kombu is a type of seaweed that can be added to your pot of beans while they are cooking. Kombu can help neutralize the gas-producing compounds and also add some beneficial vitamins and minerals to your beans. When boiling beans, remove any white foam that forms at the top of the pot as this contains oligosaccharides.
- Flavor your beans with beneficial spices that enhance digestion
Use spices such as fennel, turmeric, ginger, cumin, and turmeric when cooking beans. These spices are known to enhance digestion and decrease gas in the gut. Use a mix of your favorites or pick one or two to add to the cooking water or in any dish that calls for beans.
- Be sure to rinse canned beans
When using canned beans, be sure to drain out the canning liquid and give them a good rinse to help reduce gas.
- Consider a supplement or digestive enzyme
Most people will notice a reduction in gas when eating beans in about 1-4 weeks. But for those with impaired digestion, it may be a good idea to get some extra help for a short time. This Gentle Digest supplement is a great natural option. All it is a combination of beneficial spices that reduce gas and bloating and promote healthy digestion. You can also use a high-quality digestive enzyme until your body’s bacteria adapt to eating more fiber-rich foods. These are not meant to be used forever though. If you are finding you can’t digest plant-foods well without a supplement’s help, reach out to me. I can help you with that.
- Relax when you eat
This tip is not exclusive to eating beans. No matter what you are eating, it’s a good idea to take a few breaths or say a little prayer before you eat. Whatever works for you to center yourself before eating. Our digestive process doesn’t work at the top level if we eat while we are stressed out. Remember, rest and digest.Now, go and enjoy that bean filled burrito bowl! Or whatever bean dish you fancy.
Do you have issues digesting beans?
Did you used to?
Did you try any of these tips?
I’d love to hear from you. Drop any comments or questions below