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Getting Bloated After Eating Pulses?

Although healthy, beans, peas and legumes can cause unwanted side effects

Pulses may provide several health benefits while also causing distressing adverse effects including gas, bloating, discomfort, and indigestion.

Some key points to keep in mind are:

  • Indigestible Carbohydrates (fibers) that frequently fill the GI tract, causing gas to develop.
  • Phytic acid is the primary way phosphorus is stored in beans, seeds, and nuts.
  • Oligosaccharides, a more difficult-to-digest type of starch, are found in beans that require longer cooking times such as kidney and navy beans. Because humans do not produce the alpha-galactosidase enzyme required to break it down properly, this complex sugar is hard to digest without assistance.
  • Oligosaccharides feed the good bacteria in your intestine, which then ferment and produce methane and carbon dioxide gases. However, too many of these can cause bloating.

Beans have been eaten for thousands of years in rural areas all around the world, and they've always been prepared by slow-food methods to make them more digestible. We can learn a lot from these ancient civilizations based on how they prepare pulses.

Try the following:

1. If you want to minimize the amount of phytic acid present in beans, soak them for at least 12 hours (or even up to 24 hours).

2. Sprouting may be done by soaking lentils and garbanzo beans for 48 hours. It's easier to digest if they're sprouted for a longer period of time.

3. Soak in Very Warm, Alkaline Water. Squeeze some lemon juice into the water and change it frequently. Drain the water and cover them with more fresh water to rinse before draining and then covering again with very warm water to soak. You may discard any anti-nutrients leached from the bean by changing the water frequently.

4. Slow cooking methods are best: cook over low heat for an extended amount of time to break down the difficult-to-digest fibers.

5. Add carminative spices such as cumin, fennel, coriander, cardamom, clove, bay leaf, grated ginger, pepper and star anise. A pinch of asafoetida may be added. This helps to speed up the digestion process and relieve gas build-up in these beans.

Pulses are a healthy and nutritious food, but they can cause some digestive distress. If you experience gas, bloating, or indigestion after eating pulses, try soaking them beforehand, cooking them slowly, and adding carminative spices to the dish. These methods will help to make them more digestible and reduce the likelihood of experiencing uncomfortable side effects.

Disclaimer: This content is for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Always consult with a healthcare professional before making any lifestyle changes.

Source: Nishteswar, Karra. “Ayurvedic Concept of Food and Nutrition.” Journal of Nutrition & Food Sciences, vol. 6, no. 4, OMICS Publishing Group, 2016.

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