Sugars. Bacteria. Large intestine. And why beans cause flatulence (and how to stop it).
As the old rhyme goes: “Beans, beans the musical fruit. The more you eat, the more you toot.” Lots of fiber-rich vegetables and legumes can cause flatulence, but beans are the most notorious in this regard.
Beans contain oligosaccharides (a small polymer of sugar made of three to nine monosaccharides (i.e. simple sugars). The human stomach doesn’t have the enzymes to digest oligosaccharides. Hence, they make their way into the large intestine, where friendly bacteria ferment and break them down.
Carbon dioxide, nitrogen, hydrogen and methane are released as byproducts. The gases build up until they have nowhere to go but out the back door.
To reduce gas production, boil dried beans a few minutes then soak overnight before cooking. The outer coating contains the indigestible oligosaccharides, most of which will dissolve in the hot water. The next day, rinse and cook them in fresh water. If you use canned beans instead of dried, rinse those before cooking too. Be warned, though, that washing away those sugars means a less tasty bean. You’ll have to decide if it’s worth sacrificing taste for a less windy day.
You want a second helping of beans? Apparently, eating beans more often may lessen flatulence. The bacterial flora in your gut adapt to beans being a regular part of your diet and give off less gas!
What type of bean causes the most gas? Anyone care to experiment? Spill the beans in the comments below!
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