Releasing gas is a natural part of digestion however you may find yourself releasing a lot more after consuming legumes.
Legumes are a high-fiber food, which when consumed too quickly can lead to side effects, such as gas and bloating.
In the colon, fiber begins to ferment by the bacteria. The gas released is a byproduct of this fermentation.
The galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS) are a group of carbohydrates that cause issues as we do not have the enzyme needed to break it down.
They are broken down by a fermentation process in the digestive system.
Legumes contain a ton of health benefits, being high in protein, fiber and containing essential nutrients.
Despite this, they are not a staple in a Western diet, one of the reasons potentially being the gassy effects they leave behind.
If an individual already has digestive issues, the GOS in legumes can exacerbate digestive distress.
How can I eat beans without getting gas?
Some find that adding beans into your diet slowly can help avoid any embarrassing situations.
By slowly increasing the number of beans you are consuming, this problem can be overcome as there is much less fermentation occurring in the colon.
Soaking beans in water reduces the GOS content.
Cooking the beans after this, even further decreases the levels of GOS present.
Consuming a sufficient amount of water is important.
This helps to reduce any negative side effects as it helps keep your digestion working well, and allows everything to move through the system in a timely manner.
When the beans have time to ferment in the colon, this leads to gas whereas by consuming a lot of water, this process can hurry along and reduce gas.
Of course, you’re going to chew your meal however are you chewing properly?
The mouth is the start of the digestive process, when you chew, you break down the food into easily digestible pieces, and allow your body to absorb the nutrients much more easily.
One way to accomplish this is to eat more mindfully, with fewer distractions. Otherwise, it can be so easy to wolf down your food and end up with some gassy problems.
When eating beans, paring them with a healthy serving of veggies can help the digestion process.
Beans are slow to digest so giving careful thought to the food consumed prior to and during the meal can help.
Avoid eating fruit or sugary foods too close to a meal with beans. This will help prevent further fermentation and lead to less gas.
Fruits digest very quickly, so pairing them with slow-digesting foods can cause a lot of fermentation and cause digestive distress.
This can also depend on each individual’s health, and whether or not they can tolerate certain foods.
Some may find that pairing their bean dish with yogurt can help as the live cultures in the yogurt help the digestive process along.
Others may be sensitive or intolerant to dairy, and this could make things worse.
When paired with a grain like rice, which is easily digestible, this can help dilute the GOS in the beans and reduce gas.
If using canned beans, they should be rinsed thoroughly before using. This also helps to reduce the gas-producing properties which have leached into the water.
Some people use acidic ingredients at the end when cooking beans to ensure the beans get tender.
It is believed that foods high in acids prevent the beans from cooking thoroughly, which makes them harder to digest.
By waiting for the beans to cook through, and then adding ingredients like lemon, and tomatoes can help reduce the fermentation process and cause less gas.
What to put on beans to prevent gas?
What exactly are these magical spices that give you the ability to enjoy your beans without any worry?
Epazote is often used in Latin dishes, most predominantly in Southern Mexico. Its usage dates back many years to the Mayans and the Aztecs.
It is also known as Jesuit Tea, pigweed, wormseed, Mexican tea, and Paico.
It is most known for reducing gas that occurs following the consumption of beans.
For years now, it has been used to reduce gas and stomach cramps although there is no scientific basis for this claim.
It has a very strong odor in its a fresh form, but when dried or cooked, this smell mellows out.
When cooking beans, use around 1 TBSP of dried epazote. With a fresh plant, around 2-3 sprigs per 1 cup of dry beans are ideal.
Another home remedy, ajwain seeds has been used for centuries to relieve gas.
It is believed that the active enzymes contained within ajwain help to improve the flow of stomach acids.
This helps relieve indigestion, bloating, and gas.
Soaking beans in water and baking soda helps to reduce gas.
By adding baking soda to the water that is soaking the dried beans decreases the GOS content.
You will need to be careful with the baking soda, adding too much may end up leaving you with a bowl of mush.
Be a bit stingy with it, and sprinkle it into the water carefully.
Ensure you rinse this baking soda water thoroughly once you are ready to cook, this is both to discard any of the GOS that has leached out and also to reduce the amount of sodium in the food.
Sodium will toughen the beans which increase the cooking time. Once the beans have cooked, discard this water again, and use the beans in your meal.
Beans can also be cooked with spices that aid digestion such as ginger.
Ginger is often used as a remedy to treat indigestion, an upset stomach, or nausea.
But when used as an ingredient in a bean dish, it can help the beans digest better, reducing gas.
Do soaking beans cause less gas?
Luckily, there are ways to enjoy beans and reduce gassy effects through the cooking methods used.
Soaking beans for around 8-12 hours prior to cooking them can help to reduce the amount of GOS present in the beans.
Once soaked, however, the key is to throw out the water used and use a fresh batch of water to cook the beans.
Less GOS will help your body digest the beans a lot easier.
Some suggest draining and rinsing the beans every 3 hours to properly eliminate the gas-causing properties.
The pesky sugars causing the gas will leach out into the water during the soaking process.
This is why it is so important to do this process prior to consuming them.
Some people may find themselves more sensitive to the sugars or have digestion issues that the beans are exacerbating.
In this instance, being extra careful with the soaking and getting rid of the water every few hours can help.
Other people may find that they are not super sensitive but want to reduce the chances of gas, and so one long soak may be enough.
If 8-12 hours is too long, doing a speed soak in a pressure cooker works very well.
Soaking beans has no effect on the nutritional profile of the beans so it will not have a detrimental effect.
Do lentils cause more gas than beans?
Lentils contain fewer gas-producing compounds compared to beans.
They do still contain GOS which means consuming them can certainly lead to gas however at a lower risk than beans.
Many lentil dishes prepared in a traditional manner, lead to less flatulence.
This is due to a combination of factors that include cooking methods, spices, and soaking.
In many South Asian cuisines, lentils feature as a staple, however, there tend to be fewer issues with these dishes due to the spices used that aid digestion such as turmeric and cumin.
Although there is no defined list of which legumes cause more or less than others, the general opinion seems to be that the more fiber, the more likely it is to cause gas.
Some may find that beans such as chickpeas, kidney beans, and black beans cause a little less gas as they contain a little less fiber than other beans.
Lentils and beans have the same amount of fiber, although they have a little more protein.
They do differ in their levels of GOS, but it is still important to prepare and cook them in a way that reduces any potential side effects.
The carbohydrates GOS are responsible for causing gas when consuming legumes.
To combat this when eating beans, utilizing the right cooking methods, soaking the beans for a long period of time, and cooking well will help reduce the GOS.
Following the long soak, the water must be discarded in order to eliminate these carbohydrates.
Other methods include using baking soda, consuming plenty of water, and chewing the beans well.
I’m Chris Watson & the Founder of EatForLonger.com. I’m a food and wellbeing enthusiast researching and sharing foodstuffs and simple food-based concepts, such as fasting and clean eating.
I hope it inspires you to make tiny changes to what you eat and when you eat while optimizing your healthspan and all-around well-being.
Read more About Me here.