Eating meals. It’s become rare in our culture. All-day grazing or “forgetting” to eat can have negative consequences on our energy and productivity. And, our digestion. In this video, I make the case for why I want you to sit down to eat meals.
OK, so you’ve heard me (and others) talking about how beans and lentils are super healthy. And you’d love to eat them more often. There’s only one thing holding you back – the aftereffects. Gas. Bloating. Beans ‘musicality” if you will. You’re not alone. Read on to get how to make beans and lentils less gassy.
Adding lentils and beans to your diet is a great way to provide your body with protein, fibre, and micronutrients such as iron, folate, and other B vitamins, all at a minimal cost. They are versatile ingredients, fitting into many different dishes, are gluten-free, and have a low glycemic index to boot.
What’s not so great is later in the day when that hearty chili turns into uncomfortable gas or bloating. While an undesirable consequence of a delicious meal, it’s important to keep in mind that this is actually a sign that your digestive tract is healthy and functioning as it should!
The gas is caused by the good bacteria found in our gut. Beans and lentils contain specific types of carbohydrates, and particularly fibre, that our body doesn’t have the ability to digest. As a result, it passes through our digestive tract until it reaches the bacteria in our large intestine, which happily eat up what our bodies couldn’t, and in doing so produce gases. These gases build up until our body has to deal with it and, well, you know the rest. So while passing wind is a good indication of healthy gut bacteria, it’s not so good when Aunt Ruth is sitting beside you at the dinner table.
So to help you continue to cook without worry:
Tips to Make Beans and Lentils Less Gassy:
- Rinse before cooking. Rinsing canned beans and lentils helps reduce the amount of those indigestible carbohydrates, which are released into the water. As an added bonus, it also helps remove any excess sodium. Rinse your beans and lentils under cold water for at least 1 minute to reap these benefits.
- Even better, soak them overnight. If you’re using dried beans or lentils, soaking them in cold water does the same thing that rinsing does, but because they are dry and uncooked, it takes a little longer to get the same effect. Aim to soak your beans or lentils for at least 4 hours, and preferably overnight. Dump the soaking water (i.e. don’t use it to cook the beans). Then be sure to give your beans/lentils a good rinse before cooking to wash away those gas-producing carbohydrates.
- Introduce them slowly. This can be particularly helpful if you’re introducing beans or lentils to your kiddos, but it’s also helpful if you find they tend to make you particularly gassy. By using beans and lentils in small amounts first, it gives your gut bacteria time to adjust to their increase in food supply, instead of overwhelming them with the feast of their lives. Then slowly increase your consumption and you’ll find your body has a better time dealing with it, which means less flatulence for you!
- Call in the reinforcements. If all else seems to fail and you’re still struggling with an uncomfortable amount of gas, digestive enzymes can be called in to help. Sold over-the-counter, look for supplements that contain the enzyme alpha-galactosidase, which breaks up the indigestible carbohydrates and helps ease the digestive process. One brand name is Beano. All of us can use a little extra help from time to time.
Try these tips the next time you’re cooking with beans or lentils and see how they work for you. Happy bean and lentil eating!
Ready to give beans and lentils a try? Check out my recipes.
A BIG THANK YOU to guest co-author (and student) Tanya Ruscheinski!
Do you have problems with your digestion?
These days it seems like everyone has digestion problems. And, most people jump to the assumption that they must have a sensitivity to a food. So, they start eliminating this food and that food to try to get to the bottom of it. Usually eliminating favourite foods and driving yourself crazy as you try to figure it out.
If this is you, I have some actions that I want you to take before you go investigating food sensitivities. They are super easy things that I want you to do first. Because sometimes I have really, really good news. Some people don’t actually have food sensitivities. Yes – you can continue eating all of your favourite foods, without causing gut distress. Even if you do end up having food sensitivities, you want to rule out these simple steps first. They help your digestion of all foods. And, they are healthy habits for everyone.
5 Super Simple Digestion Solutions:
- Chew Your Food. It seems ridiculous that I need to tell you to chew your food. But if you gulp your food down, you’re missing an important first step in digestion. In chewing, you break down food into smaller pieces so that your digestive enzymes can have lots of surface area to work on to digest the food, and then absorb it. There’s also digestive enzymes in your saliva that start breaking food down. With less chewing there’s more undigested food moving through your intestines. The result is that your gut bacteria has more food to ferment, creating gas. If gas and bloating is your problem, this tip is for you.
- Don’t Chew Gum. When you chew gum, you swallow a lot of air. That air has to come out in one direction or the other. Let me speak plainly for a moment: burping or farting. When all that air is stuck in the middle before finding it’s way out – that’s bloating. So, if you get bloated or gassy, stop chewing gum. I can speak to this one personally. I used to be a big gum-chewer. And, I frequently had gas and bloating. Removed the gum. Removed the gas. Amazing!
- Eat Mindfully. Really, this tip is a method to prevent the poor digestion causes I’ve already mentioned above. When we eat mindlessly, we don’t take the time to really chew our food. We also are more likely to swallow a lot of air. Eating mindfully will slow you down, help you chew your food well, and swallow less air. The result – better digestion, less bloating, less gas.
- Drink Water. Water helps lubricate everything – including your digestive tract. We all know what lubrication does – it helps things glide. If constipation is your digestion problem, make sure that you’re drinking those 9 glasses of fluids (for women) and 12 glasses of fluids (for men).
- Things move along your digestive tract through the actions of muscles. Being physically active helps get muscles moving – including in yout gut. If constipation is your digestion issue, be sure to get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity each day (or more).
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