How To Prevent Gas From Beans
During my younger days, I came home one afternoon repeating a popular grammar-school ditty:
“Beans, beans , good for your heart,
The more you eat, the more you fart.”
“The more you fart, the better you feel,
So eat some beans at every meal!”
My little brothers loved it, but Mom was not impressed. She demanded that we replace “fart” with the word “toot.” I objected that “toot” and “heart” didn’t rhyme, but she was having none of it.
So from then on, whenever we had beans, we’d sing Mom’s version of the song.
However, no matter what we call it, for millions of people, gas and bloating from beans are so embarrassing and painful that they avoid the low-fat, high-protein legumes entirely.
And that’s not only unnecessary but unhealthy!
A Gut-Health Experts Take on Gas and Bloating from Beans
Coincidentally, yesterday my friend and Exam Room Podcast host Chuck Carrol interviewed Dr. Will Bulsiewicz, author of the best-selling Fiber Fueled.
The first viewer-submitted question Chuck posed to “Dr. B”?
“I’m on day 8 of a plant-based diet, and the gas and bloating is absolutely ridiculous? What is going on?”
Dr.B answered that adopting a plant-based diet for a New Year’s Resolution puts the dieter in a “new you, new microbiome” situation. One of its possible drawbacks, unfortunately, is gas and bloating from beans.
But that’s no reason to give up, thanks to…
Dr. B’s Tricks To Stop Gas and Bloating from Beans
Explaining that your gut microbiome needs time to adapt to a fiber-rich diet, Dr. B offered eight tricks to ease your transition:
- Go low and slow (start small and work your way up).
- Eat more cooked than raw foods (cooked improves digestibility).
- Soak beans before cooking. Drain and rinse them a few times to remove gas-producing raffinose.
- Cook beans with a bit of dried seaweed (kombu kelp recommended here). It neutralizes their hard-to-digest carbs.
- Keep things moving (constipation = bloating)
If constipation still becomes a problem, he suggests:
- Drink more water
- Take a walk after meals.
- Take magnesium supplements before bedtime.
And he speaks as someone who’s been there and done that!
He recalls the days before legumes were a staple in his diet. Overdosing on beans left him “folded over with cramps in my abdomen.”
Today, however, Dr. B’s happy to “pile on the beans!” He speaks confidently about the gut-healing effects of a whole-food, plant-based diet:
“Once the gut settles in and gets adapted to what you are doing from a dietary perspective. This is actually what they [the gut bacteria] want; this is their food; they thrive on this food… You will reach a point where your gut is thriving because of these foods, and the gas and bloating is gone.”
Research Backs the Importance of a Diverse Plant-Based Diet
Throughout the podcast, he mentions multiple research studies on the links between diet and gut health.
The most recent publication, published this week, in the prestigious Nature Medicine Journal – researchers performed deep metagenomic sequencing on 1,203 gut microbiomes from 1,098 study participants.
Among their critical conclusions:
“We found many significant associations between microbes and specific nutrients, foods, food groups, and general dietary indices, which were driven especially by the presence and diversity of healthy and plant-based foods.”
Dr. B’s primary message?
“When you’re eating a diversity of plants, you’re eating the diet that allows all of your gut microbes to feast at the table. And that’s how we build a diverse microbiome.”
Legumes are a cornerstone of a diverse plant-based diet.
Yesterday, I discussed the importance of legumes with a family member who suffered such bad gas and bloating from beans that he actually gave them up. So I suggested he return to them slowly, by testing one-half cup a day of:
- split peas
- pinto beans
- navy beans
or kidney beans. Once he learns which bean his gut tolerates the best and adjusts to that, he can slowly introduce the others.
Eventually, he’ll maximize his plant consumption diversity – and his gut and entire body will thank him for it!