Beans, beans, the musical fruit…
…the more you eat the less you toot!
Contrary to popular belief, the more beans (or other high fiber foods) a person eats the less gas they will experience over time.
If you don’t believe me, let’s take a look at your digestive track – specifically the colon. The colon is where our natural gut bacteria live and eat. This type of bacteria is also referred to as probiotic bacteria. We acquire these bacteria at birth, through probiotic foods (such as yogurt) and from our environment.
Indigestible complex carbohydrates, called oligosaccharides, found in beans are some of our gut bacteria’s favorite food. Humans cannot digest these carbohydrates on their own, which is why they arrive at the colon intact. The symbiotic relationship with our gut bacteria makes it possible to absorb some of the nutrients these carbohydrates have to offer. Unfortunately for us, gas is a byproduct produced when breaking down the oligosaccharides. This gas then leaves the colon and we all know where it comes out.
People often experience the greatest amount of gas when they start to ingest high fiber foods in large quantities. We need to train our bodies to break down this indigestible fiber efficiently. To do so we must slowly introduce these high fiber foods to our gut. Always remember to increase your fluid intake as well. Fiber binds to liquid in the gut. Without enough liquid you can become constipated.
Tips to reduce gas:
- Rinse pre-soaked or canned beans several times before cooking.
- Reduce swallowed air:
- Chewing gum, drinking pop, sipping from a straw, and talking while eating can all increase the amount of air we ingest into our digestive tract which can increase flatulence.
- If you are lactose intolerant look for lactose-free options or take a lactase enzyme pill before consuming dairy products
- Steer clear of large quantities of low calorie sweeteners
You can start introducing some tasty fiber to your plate this summer with the refreshing black bean and corn salad below. I adapted it from AllRecipes.com.
Black Bean and Corn Salad
- 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
- ½ cup olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 tablespoon ground cayenne pepper
- 2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 ½ cups frozen corn kernels (or 1 can of corn)
- 1 avocado – peeled, pitted, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 2 tomatoes, chopped
- 6 green onions, thinly sliced
- ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
- Place lime juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, and cayenne pepper in a small jar. Cover with lid, and shake until ingredients are mixed well.
- In a salad bowl, combine beans, corn, avocado, bell pepper, tomatoes, green onions, and cilantro. Shake lime dressing and pour it over the salad. Stir salad to coat vegetables and beans with dressing and serve.
About Laura Ledas
Laura is UBC Dietetic Intern completing her 10 month internship with Northern Health. Even during the Prince George winter, Laura dreams about her summer garden. She loves spending time being active outdoors and is looking forward to enjoying more seasonal vegetables as the weather begins to warm!