If you love beans – but they don’t love you – fear not! You don’t have to avoid them because help is at hand. If you wondered why you get wind, bloating or flatulence after eating beans, we explain in this article what is happening in your body and what you can do about it.
Beans and Nutrition
Nutritionists recommend we include beans in our diet because they are the great protectors of our heart, colon and BMI (body mass index). As well as being an excellent provider of nutrients such as potassium, magnesium and iron, they are one of the few vegetable sources of protein. High in friendly fibres, beans have cholesterol-lowering effects. They are also great for regulating blood sugar and preventing insulin spikes which prevent us from having hunger pangs between meals. With their super low-fat and high antioxidant content, beans are a great addition to any diet, particularly if weight loss is your goal.
Beans are a FODMAP food
If you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), you may be familiar with the term ‘FODMAP’. This refers to a group of foods that are linked to IBS-like symptoms such as wind, bowel changes, bloating or stomach pains after eating. Beans contain the sugar - Oligosaccharide - the ‘O’ in FODMAP.
FODMAP stands for ‘Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols. These are all names of fruit and vegetable sugars that some individuals find difficult to absorb. Depending on the severity of symptoms – many people find that avoiding FODMAP foods will reduce their bowel symptoms. The problem is, many FODMAP foods are a rich source of nutrients and minerals, so staying on a low FODMAP diet for a long period of time can develop into a nutrient deficiency – specially for those on vegan or vegetarian diets.
Beans, Wind and Bloating
Some people struggle to fully break down oligosaccharides. When this sugar is not broken down properly, it passes into the small intestine where the naturally present bacteria begin to consume it. As they “eat” the sugar, they release a gas which fills up the bowel and causes it to stretch. This stretching effect causes pain which then leads to wind and flatulence. Occasionally, the body may draw water into the bowel to flush the problem away – causing diarrhoea. If the beans are combined with another food you are unable to digest, symptoms can become more severe.
How To Reduce Bean Related Bloating
Some cooking methods can reduce and weaken the oligosaccharide content of the beans, such as soaking them overnight and then boiling and straining them. Eating sprouted beans can also help. As some beans have higher oligosaccharide content than others, it is worthwhile testing your resilience to bean induced wind and bloating, by trying one variety at a time, to help identify and isolate the culprits .
Enzymes That Support Bean Digestion
To break down oligosaccharides we need an enzyme called Alpha Galactosidase. It tackles troublesome vegetable sugars and is particularly good at addressing the oligosaccharides and polysaccharides in beans and legumes. However, some people are unable to produce enough Alpha Galactosidase naturally. When this is the case, people can turn to supplements.
Any good enzyme supplement will be measured in ‘FCC’ which is the international standard for enzyme activity – and alpha galactosidase activity is measured in ‘GaIU’. Avoid any alpha galactosidase supplements which are measured in “mg”, as this only tells you the weight of the capsule and not the potency of the enzyme.
Enzymedica’s BeanAssistTM contains 300GaIU of Alpha Galactosidase. This means that just one capsule is required to break down the troublesome components of beans. If taken alongside any meal containing beans, you should be able to enjoy your food. By preventing any symptoms before they start, you should be able to enjoy not only beans, but other pulses too. Why miss out on good nutritious foods when help is at hand?
Enzymedica are The Enzyme Experts and the number one enzyme brand - providing natural products to help people overcome digestive problems. We are so confident in BeanAssist, we guarantee - success in 30 days - or your money back.