kidney beans, fart, no-gas beans

Nutrition experts are constantly encouraging all of us to eat more vegetables. People who eat the most produce are about 15 percent less likely than those who eat the least to develop heart disease and similar problems (Zhan et al, Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, May 24, 2017).

People who follow a DASH diet rich in vegetables have lower blood pressure and are less susceptible to diabetes. A DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) includes at least four servings a day of vegetables and four of fruits. The much-touted Mediterranean diet is also loaded with veggies.

These diets are also full of beans. Legumes like beans and lentils are a healthful substitute for meats. In addition to the protein they provide, they are great sources of fiber that can help nourish the microbes in our digestive tracts.

Beans and Veggies Can Make You Fart:

Unfortunately, though, there is a drawback to a bean-heavy menu. You may have already guessed it: gas. Legumes contain lots of compounds called oligosaccharides. So do vegetables such as artichokes, broccoli, cabbage, chickpeas, garlic, leeks, okra and onions.

Humans can’t break down these complex sugars. But bacteria in the large intestines can. They love oligosaccharides and use them as food. One outcome is gas—hydrogen, carbon dioxide and in some people methane.

Can You Benefit from Beans Without Suffering from Gas?

How can you get the benefits of beans, lentils and vegetables like brussels sprouts or broccoli without having to fart? Some cultures have traditional flavorings that are purported to counteract gas. In India, asafetida (hing) is frequently added to legume dishes. Turmeric is also reputed to have digestive benefits. Mexican chefs put the herb epazote in their pots of beans.

Ginger and fennel are also popular for this purpose. Either can be added to the legume dish or made into tea for consuming between meals.

Gas-Reducing Trick for Cooking Beans:

If you are cooking beans and want to minimize their gas-producing power, here is a suggestion: Cover the beans with a generous amount of water. A ratio of nine parts water to one part beans is recommended. Bring them to a boil, cook for three minutes and allow them to cool for four hours. Pour the water off, add plenty of fresh water and cook the beans for half an hour. Then discard this water and add more to cook the beans until they are done. This final cooking water should also be discarded to get rid of the oligosaccharides raffinose and stacchyose that cause gas.

If you are not in control of the cooking process, you might want to try taking Beano at the beginning of the meal. This product contains the enzyme alpha-galactosidase. It can break the oligosaccharides down and deprive intestinal bacteria of their fuel. The consequence: you will not have to fart so much.

Medicines That Can Trigger Gas:

Food is not the only culprit for creating gas. Some medications can also contribute to flatulence. The weight loss drug orlistat (Alli, Xenical) is notorious for this complication. Some antidepressants, including paroxetine, sertraline and venlafaxine, may also cause problems. For a longer list of medications that can trigger excess gas, you may wish to consult our Guide to Digestive Disorders. It also mentions other ways to combat flatulence and bloating.

Anyone who would like a printed copy, please send $3 in check or money order with a long (no. 10) stamped self-addressed envelope:

  • Graedons’ People’s Pharmacy
  • No. G-3
  • P. O. Box 52027
  • Durham, NC 27717-2027

A pdf can also be downloaded for $2 from the website:

You may also be interested in our interview with Dr. Gerard Mullin and Dr. Norman Robillard. It is Show 1023: How to Rebalance Your Digestive Tract Bacteria.

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  1. Ogbemi

    What about taking BEANO to counter the effect of gassing when you eat beans or other vegetables? Does it work?

  2. Dianne
    Florida, USA

    My tricks for avoiding gas is soaking my beans in water over night and rinsing well, then I add a pinch of baking soda when cooking.

  3. Neil

    Macrobiotic diets also include seaweed (kombu/kelp) cooked with beans which also seems to reduce gas.

  4. Mary Ellen

    I always thought that Irritable Bowel resulted in diarrhea and cramps. Imagine my surprise when I read that symptoms also include constipation and bloating. Looking back, I am convinced that I have had IB since I was a child, as before I was 8 years old, I had hemorrhoids. In following the FODMAP diet, I am now virtually gas free and my bowels are much improved.

    Beano never did help with the gas, nor did GasX or any other product designed to help. Sometimes I think you just have to bite the bullet and avoid those things that your body just cannot accommodate. Gluten was another trigger for me. I was heartened to find out that it wasn’t my imagination, when my 23&Me results came back showing that I had a marker for Celiac. I have given up many foods that I dearly love but the results are indeed worth the sacrifice. Healthy for some, but not for me.

  5. Neville
    United Kingdom

    I have been diagnosed with diverticulosis, itself resulting in embarrassing gas problems. This is exacerbated by eating your mentioned healthy diet which I refuse to give up.
    I find that taking a peppermint capsule after meals is effective. I have read that peppermint contains an analgesic MENTHOL, and although not in pain, rather discomfort, it does help my problem.

    It would be appreciated if you could email me if you decide to publish my message.

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