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How to Eat More Beans and Fart Less


Written by Sondi Bruner, from her fume-free West Coast kitchen.

As Maeve said ever so eloquently in her recent post about beauty products, when we welcome the goodness of whole foods into our lives, our bodies refuse to tolerate any old crap we continue to put into them.

It's also true that when we rid ourselves of toxins, we can even begin to have reactions to the healthy stuff, too. That's because once the terrain in our bodies is clear, our true food intolerances become illuminated.

Since I cut out all the garbage, I've noticed that beans and legumes often do not agree with me, even though I didn't have a problem consuming them in the past. Which sucks, since I love to eat hummus by the spoonful.

Beans and legumes are nutritional powerhouses. They're stuffed with protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals. They help you lose the junk in the trunk, lower your cholesterol, balance your blood sugar and keep your poops regular.

Unfortunately, beans and legumes are notoriously difficult to digest, due to their high content of both protein and complex carbohydrates. They contain something called 'oligosaccharides', which are sugars that remain undigested until they get to your colon, where the bacterial feast begins and then presto – you're tooting a musical tune.

The good news is there are ways that you can make beans and legumes far more digestible. I've been using these tricks for the last couple of months and let me tell you, they work. Your tummies, and your friends and loved ones, will thank you.

So let me share with you how you can eat more beans and fart less:

1. Use dried beans. Please don't give me a load of baloney about how dried beans are more difficult to use. Most brands of canned beans are loaded with salt and bisphenol A, which messes with your endocrine system, amongst other things. We don't want that, do we? Not only are dried beans healthier because you can control what you add to them, but they are also way, waaaayy cheaper, even if you buy organic. If it's the prep time that turns you off, get yourself on the list for Meghan's new online classes, which will show you all the tips and tricks that make meal prep a breeze.

2. Soak your beans. Soak your beans for at least eight hours. I like to soak mine overnight, or you could leave them to soak in the morning and cook them when you arrive back home in the evening. Soaking beans and legumes reduces the amount of those pesky oligosaccharides, plus it decreases their phytic acid content. Phytic acid binds to vitamins and minerals, making them less available for us to use. So soak those babies!

3. Drain and rinse your beans. Don't take the beans with their soaking water and simply transfer them into a pot for cooking. Using a large colander or strainer, drain your beans and legumes and rinse them really, really, really well. This makes sure you eliminate any starches or phytates that were released during soaking time.

4. Add kombu during cooking. Seaweeds like kombu or kelp help make beans more digestible, plus they add a little bit of extra vitamins and minerals. You could also add spices that aid digestion like fennel, cumin or ginger.

5. Practise moderation. For the bean newbies, try eating them in small amounts to give your body time to adjust, and then increase your consumption. For some of us, though, beans will always be a tricky beast, but that doesn't mean we need to stop eating them! We can reap the benefits from even a quarter or a third of a cup. So instead of hoovering two heaping bowls of black bean chili, go for a half cup serving – and pack your plate with plenty of veggie goodness, too.

Question of the Day: Do you have any bean-eating tips to share?

Sondi Bruner a holistic nutritionist, food blogger and freelance writer who can’t stop dreaming about what to create in the kitchen.  You can find her blogging here and follow her on Twitter here.

28 Responses to “How to Eat More Beans and Fart Less”

  1. Kamore said… January 19, 2013
    Have tried using two or more sticks of carrots which sort of works for me .but soaking is a must .
  2. percy said… December 11, 2013
    While that stuff helps some, it doesn't help all. To me it's not worth it and I just avoid beans and lactose containing dairy except hard cheeses. I have no problems with things like onions, garlic, cauliflower etc... but beans/milk/ice cream... just not worth it at all b/c of bloating and discomfort, it got worse the older I got and adding gradually more beans (tried that before) just made it that much gradually worse. I eat a pretty heavy asian diet of rice/fish/lean meat/vegetables and it is by far the easiest on my stomach.
  3. […] are one of them! Now, there are a lot of things to keep in mind for people who wish to include more beans in their diet.  First of all, if you do not eat beans a lot, you should ease your way into them.  I say this […]
  4. Joe said… July 8, 2014
    I cook a lot of beans, especially cannellini beans. I always add a couple of bay leaves to the cooking beans which eliminates their gassiness.
  5. Jennifer said… August 28, 2014
    I'm not sure if I can agree with the ppl who say just eating more beans will make you immune to their er, effects. I come from a southwestern Native [Original] American family. We eat ALOT of beans, pop-overs and "chumuth" [tortillas]. It was our main dish as kids and growing up. My mother has always soaked and strained them and has added bayleaf and cumin [not at the same time though] without result (except for deliciousness). Never has there been a relief from the gas using these methods. :( Not saying they are absolutely bunk but they just never worked for any of us who have been eating beans for 30+ years each. I've found that taking a drink (I like to call it a shot) of Apple Cider Vinegar either before or after bean consumption can help wonders! I've come to depend on ACV for gas, bloating and heartburn. Be mindful though, drinking ACV strait out of the bottle can be like taking a shot of gross liquor to the brain [even diluting it helps little] but the instant relief is often worth the momentarily discomfort and you can gargle your mouth out or wash down the rest by chugging water. Not for everyone but something some people can try. Baking soda works a bit too but DO NOT USE BOTH ACV and BAKING SODA! X-( one source for ACV info:
    • sarah hayes said… January 12, 2016
      I am sooo gonna try Apple cider vinegar, I love recipes with chickpeas, and hummus. But whether I soak, use cumin, turmeric, or bay leaves. nothing works and It hurts! Next stop ACV :-)
  6. […] I make my own beans now. They have no salt (unless I add salt), are always fresh, are cheaper and more environmentally friendly than the cans. And, they cause less flatulence! […]
  7. […] Chickpeas are always a popular option, but lentils, kidney beans, pinto beans, navy beans and lima beans are all good options as well. If you or your guests are new to eating beans, start off with a small amount, since beans are quite starchy and can make us toot (for tips on how to make beans more digestible, check out this post). […]

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