The gastrointestinal issues that result from eating beans, put simply, are just “gas.” Normal gut bacteria ferment indigestible sugars found naturally in beans that cause gas. Beans are a healthful, inexpensive source of high-quality protein, so how can you eat them comfortably?
• If you’ve just added beans to your diet, take it slow. Start out with a small amount and get your gut and your gut bacteria used to it. Try different varieties of beans to see if some are easier to digest than others.
• Probably the simplest remedy is to take Beano, an over-the-counter, natural enzyme that helps digest the normally indigestible sugars.
• How the beans are prepared also affects their potential gassiness. Soaking raw beans before cooking, tossing out the soaking water and adding fresh water for cooking makes a big difference. Try adding the herb epazote to the cooking liquid, used frequently in Mexican cooking. Even rinsing canned beans helps.
— Sharon Salomon, M.S., R.D.
Environmental Nutrition, distributed by Tribune Media Services