I have been trying to add beans into my diet more, but why do they make me feel so bloated and distended in my belly? Is there anything I can do to remedy this? – Gregorio
Beans are high in fiber, a type of complex carbohydrate that isn’t broken down by digestive enzymes in the small intestine. Fiber tends to make one feel fuller and for longer, drawing water into the intestinal tract. The bacteria in your large intestine feed on it by fermentation and produce gas as a byproduct. Expelling the gas as flatulence should relieve pressure and distension.
The most notable gas-producing compounds in beans are raffinose and stachyose. If you are using canned beans, always rinse them well before use. When cooking dry beans, soak for 8-24 hours then drain, rinse well and use fresh water to boil them in until soft. Skim off the foam! You can also try cooking them with a dried kombu seaweed strip.
It may be that you are particularly sensitive to the type of short-chain carbohydrate found in beans called galactan. This polysaccharide is poorly absorbed in the small intestine but rapidly fermented by gut bacteria. It is also found in green and yellow (wax) beans, cabbage and Brussel sprouts. You might try increasing your fiber and protein from other sources such as peas and quinoa.
Also, to avoid any added symptoms of indigestion, eat slowly and chew thoroughly. This not only improves digestion but limits swallowing air as can happen when gulping food (alleviated by burping).
– Debbie J., MS, RD
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