Beans, peas and lentils (also known as legumes and sometimes referred to as pulses) are packed full of nutritional benefits. Being excellent sources of plant-based protein, makes them a critical food choice for vegans and vegetarians. They are rich in fibre which is a key influencer in maintaining a healthy weight, blood sugar levels and bowel health. Because they are a form of complex carbohydrates, they help to prevent the kind of blood sugar spikes that can lead to fatty liver, high cholesterol, or type 2 diabetes.
Beans and lentils are also packed with critical nutrients such as folate, iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc, all of which are needed for healthy blood, bones, nerves and immunity. Importantly, beans and lentils are rich in antioxidants which are protective, cell-nourishing, anti-ageing and detoxifiers. There is also a strong link between a diet containing beans and lentils and a reduced risk of heart disease.
However, for some people, beans and lentils are a digestive health nightmare. According to more than 20 clinical trials, adverse digestive reactions to these is due to a lack of the enzyme - alpha-galactosidase.
In a healthy gut, beneficial bacteria will naturally produce alpha-galactosidase to break down complex carbohydrates which act as prebiotics in the gut. Prebiotics are a critical food source for beneficial gut bacteria, particularly the strains that help maintain a healthy appetite, well balanced blood sugar levels, healthy weight maintenance and healthy heart and bowels.
When you don’t have sufficient alpha galactosidase-producing strains of gut bacteria, this may result in unwelcome digestive symptoms such as wind, bloating, flatulence and abdominal cramps, especially after eating oligosaccharide-rich foods such as beans, peas and legumes.
If beans, peas, legumes, onions or garlic cause problems for your gut, you may benefit from supplementing with the alpha-galactosidase enzyme. This breaks down the troublesome oligosaccharide component of all complex carbohydrates.
What does Alpha-Galactosidase do?
Alpha-galactosidase is a digestive enzyme needed for breaking down complex carbohydrates, especially the oligosaccharides found in beans and legumes. However, oligosaccharides can also be found in other foods, such as:
Vegetables: asparagus, scallions, white onions, leeks, garlic, kale, green and red cabbage, broccoli, tomatoes, corn, chicory and Jerusalem artichoke
Fruit: nectarines, watermelon, pears, blueberries, sour cherries, mulberries, kiwi, red currants, raspberries, cantaloupes, figs and bananas
Grains: wheat, bread, pasta, couscous and rye
Legumes: all beans, peas, chickpeas and all lentils
Herbs: Burdock, chicory and dandelion
Beverages are not generally a significant source of oligosaccharides; however, the following may contain small amounts (and can therefore generate symptoms)
- Soy and other plant milk
- Fruit juices such as prune or pear
The Gut Benefits of Alpha Galactosidase Enzyme
The alpha-galactosidase enzyme supports the breakdown of complex carbohydrates and assists in the release of prebiotic fibres known as FOS, GOS and Inulin to promote beneficial bacteria such as Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli. They each have their own, unique, well-studied and documented health benefits:
- FOS (Fructooligosaccharides): is an oligosaccharide that promotes the growth of healthy gut bacteria such as Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli. This fibre is also associated with enhanced mineral absorption – particularly calcium and magnesium - and helps reduce colon cancer risk.
- GOS (Galactooligosaccharides): is linked to healthy immune responses, better digestive function and reducing gut inflammation by supporting anti-inflammatory bacterial strains.
- Inulin: is well documented for having a minimal impact on blood sugar levels, able to regulate glucose and better glycaemic control - particularly important for those with diabetes or insulin resistance. It is liked for weight management because it increases feelings of fullness and satiety. As a heart health fibre, it is associated with improved blood lipid profiles, including lower levels of ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol (Low Density Lipoprotein) and Triglycerides.
Be aware, as Inulin is a sweet-tasting oligosaccharide, it is often used by food manufacturers as a sugar or fat replacement. This modifies the texture of food and improves its health profile. It may also be added as a healthy source of fibre. If you lack the alpha-galactosidase enzyme for digesting oligosaccharides, you may react to this added inulin. This makes pinning the causes of food reactions solely on beans and legumes more difficult, as it may be the inulin in a broader range of foods that is the culprit.
Foods that are likely to have inulin added:
- Yoghurt - particularly those that claim to contain beneficial fibre
- Cereal and nutrition bars and snacks
- Baked goods such as bread, muffins, cookies and biscuits
- Meal replacement shakes and protein shakes
- Dairy alternatives such as soya milk, other plant milks and ice creams
Where can I find Alpha Galactosidase Enzyme?
All Enzymedica Digestive Health Enzyme products contain Alpha Galactosidase. So, if eating beans and other vegetables cause you problems, here are our top picks:
Enzymedica Digest Gold with ATProTM
Trust Enzymedica - the Number 1 Digestive Enzyme Supplements Brand
For over 20 years, Enzymedica, has been renowned for efficacy and quality, committed to offering you natural digestive health and wellness products. Every one of our formulas uses the same high standards. We consistently source the best ingredients available, each one backed by cutting-edge scientific research.
When it comes to overall wellness of your body, mind and spirit, digestion is key. At Enzymedica UK, the number 1 digestive enzyme supplements brand, we offer superior solutions for natural digestive health and wellness. Every one of our products is uniquely formulated to be as effective as possible.