We're told to eat more plant-based proteins and then when we do eat more beans, we end up sitting alone in a room due to the, ahem, after effects. That this is one of my top posts of all time is no surprise. At nearly every health event I have lectured at, I am asked if there is a way to eat beans and fart less. What is usually asked is this:
"I love beans and feel great when I have them, but when my husband eats them, he will nearly blow me out of bed. What can I do?"
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.
This is where beans come in. It's not that we may be intolerant to them, it's that when our microbiome adjusts and changes, we can become more sensitive to some things that never bothered us before. Likewise, there can be very healthy foods, like beans, and even broccoli or kale that don't work for even the most iron-clad digestive systems.
Beans and legumes are nutritional powerhouses. They're dense sources of protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals. They can help us to feel fuller with our meals, support blood sugar balance and improve our pooping thanks to that load of fibre.
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.
Beans and legumes are notoriously difficult to digest, due to their high content of both protein and complex carbohydrates.
The good news is that there are ways to make your beans and legumes more digestible, which will help reduce the tushie trumpets.
How To Prepare Beans
- Use dried beans. 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 cheaper, even if you buy organic.
- Soak your beans. Prior to cooking, 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 the oligosaccharides that can cause a lot of the gut disruption. This also decreases their phytic acid content. Phytic acid binds to vitamins and minerals, making them less available for us to use. So soak those babies!
- 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.
- Add kombu to the cooking water. 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.
- Practise moderation. 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.