Why do beans make people gassy?

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Why do beans make people gassy?


It might be a generally taboo subject in polite society, but flatulence happens. In fact, it happens often, on average 14 times per day. Flatulence is caused by a number of different factors: the type of food consumed, how much air is swallowed and the type of bacteria living in the colon. Foods that are high in fibre, such as cabbage, corn and beans, contain sugars that are hard to digest and that reach the lower intestines and colon largely intact. Several hundred of different bacteria live in the colon and live off these undigested foods. Some of these bacteria are gas producers and form gas as a by-product of the fermentation of the sugars. It is the hydrogen and methane gasses that they produce that are eventually expelled through the anus as a fart. As the song goes beans beans the magical fruit, the more you eat, the more you toot, beans are particularly well-known for their gaseous effects on the digestive tract. This is because beans contain large complex sugars, called oligosaccharides that are not digested because our body does not have the alpha-galactosidase enzyme required to break them down. As such, when beans are eaten, the oligosaccharides make it down into the colon largely intact and provide a smorgasbord of food to gas producing bacteria. Many recipes therefore suggest tricks to reduce the sugars present in beans to lower their flatulence-causing properties. Some scientists have even proposed using gamma irradiation to degrade sugars in beans; however the safety of irradiating food may not outweigh the benefit of reducing flatulence. Most recipes therefore suggest soaking beans to release the oligosaccharides into the soaking water and adding a little bit of vinegar to cooked beans to help breakdown the sugars that cause flatulence. So go ahead, eat your beans!

Answered By: Dr. Christine


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