We Nigerians love our beans; think about all the delicious recipes we make with beans. Beans porridge in different styles (plain beans porridge, stewed beans porridge, ewa agoyin, yam beans porridge etc.) moi moi, akara etc. But sadly, though beans are packed with protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, they also have one unpleasant side effect — they’re famous for leaving you with stomach gas and resultant farts…lol.
This unpleasantness happens because beans contain unique starches and sugar molecules called oligosaccharides. To be properly digested in your body, these sugar molecules require special anti-oligosaccharide enzymes which are absent in the human digestive tract. The incomplete digestion therefore produces gas which causes discomfort and flatulence.
This indigestion, bloating and subsequently, flatulence are the major factors limiting the consumption of this nutritious and healthy staple food. But don’t let this problem compel you to abandon the wonderful benefits of eating beans.
Let’s find out some tips and habits we can take on to help reduce the gas problems associated with eating beans.
If you know you’re planning to have a bean dish tomorrow, plan ahead and prepare your beans the night before. You’ll be less likely to pass any gas after eating.
Cooking Your Beans
Measure out the amount of dry beans you want to make and wash them thoroughly under cool running water. Remove any dirt or debris you see. Drain water using a strainer. Because it takes a while to properly prepare beans in a way to minimize gas, you might want to cook enough to last for several meals.
Put the washed beans into a large bowl. Pour in enough water to cover the beans, plus a little extra. I usually put twice the amount of water; so for every cup of beans, I put 2 cups of water and a bit more. Put a lid on the bowl or cover with plastic wrap and allow to soak overnight, or for at least 8 hours. Some people suggest as little as 5 hours but the longer, the better – thinketh I.
After soaking, strain the soaking water from the beans using a colander or strainer. Rinse the soaked beans one more time under running water. This removes much of the gas-producing oligosaccharide carbohydrates that were released during soaking. You could also boil the beans for about 5 mins before straining the soaking water and rinsing the beans, but it’s optional if you soaked your beans for at least 8 hours.Transfer the soaked beans to a pot, add in fresh water and simmer until fully tender.
Do not add salt right away when cooking beans. This cooking advice is important because adding salt too early slows down or hampers the process of boiling off the unwanted substances which cause gas and subsequently indigestion.
Cook beans with gas reducing spices and herbs like cloves, cinnamon, and garlic which are potent in reducing gas. The potency of garlic increases when heated, whereas the potency of cinnamon decreases. Other spices have a smaller effect in reducing gas, including turmeric, black pepper, asafoetida and ginger.
Never undercook beans. Most dry beans should be cooked for at least 1 hour, except when using pressure cookers. Cooking the beans thoroughly continues the process of eliminating the stubborn oligosaccharides.
Always prepare beans recipes where beans are mixed with other staple foods such as Rice and Beans and Beans and Yam/Plantain/Potato/Baby Corn Porridge. This is so that your digestive track does not have too much beans to digest in one meal.
Prepare the beans recipes where the beans coat is completely removed such as in Nigerian Moi Moi, Akara, White Moi Moi (Ekuru) and Peeled Beans Porridge. Removing the beans coat greatly reduces the unwanted substances in the beans.
Eating Your Beans
Skip dairy foods, like cheese and milk, when you’re sitting down to eat your bean dish. Dairy contains lactose, a type of milk sugar. In some people, lactose leads to gas, so the stomach gas you’re experiencing may not even be caused by the beans – though this habit is kinda hard for some of us who enjoy eating beans porridge with garri soaked with milk – any garrium and milk lovers say YES to that?
Chew each spoon of beans thoroughly. If you shovel food in too quickly, you won’t chew enough and will be more likely to swallow air, further increasing any issues with gas. Put down your fork between bites and focus on chewing; as in take your sweet time.
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Limit the quantity of beans you eat in a meal. Start with small quantities then slowly increase consumption levels as your digestive tract adapts to digesting the beans.
Eat beans and similar gas – causing legumes regularly to build up your body’s ability to process them.
Avoid drinking soft and carbonated drinks like Coke when eating beans which aid and abet the gas production problem.
I hope these tips and habits will work for you. If not, there’s no rush, give it more time. After a recent episode with gas which my GP said was a major result of gas causing foods, I started practicing these tips with beans and other gas producing legumes and I have seen a major if not complete depature of my bloating issues.
Remember that though bloating can be very uncomfortable, not to mention the farts… there is really no other physical harm caused by eating beans. So do not allow a little gas stop you from enjoying the amazing health benefits of eating beans.
By the way here’s another good piece of information to have;
Chewing gum is another gas -causing culprit, so avoid it if you can, or at least cut down your romance with it a little bit If you are having general bloating issues.