Why do we fart after eating beans?

Beans are one of the most nutritional foods out there. They are a great source of protein and contain many minerals like calcium, magnesium and potassium. Beans also contain several vitamins and soluble fibers that help with digestion. Dietitians often recommend beans as a protein source without fat.

However, this fantastic food has a small side effect that is considered embarrassing by everyone. The otherwise healthy food has a reputation of making one fart after eating it. This habit of beans makes many people reluctant to eat them. Beans’ tendency to make one fart comes from a group of sugars called oligosaccharides. The oligosaccharides are polymers made up of various types of sugar monomers and these are responsible for the sweetness of beans. The most recognizable ones among them are raffinose and stachyose. These sugar molecules are too large to be processed by the small intestine and pass on to the large intestine. There are no enzymes in our body that can synthesize these large molecules. Once in the large intestine, these molecules are broken up by the millions of bacteria residing there. These bacteria are inevitable part of our digestive system as they are responsible for releasing a number of necessary vitamins for us. As a result of these processes, various gases are released. These include hydrogen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide and methane. When these gases put enough pressure on the anus, it opens and releases them. It is the cause of the flatulence. The bad smell commonly associated with fart is produced by methane.
Even though the human body can’t process the oligosaccharides, some species of fungus possess the enzymes to break them down. These enzymes are now turned into supplements helping to solve gas problems. One of the most popular products is Beano, which is made from the enzyme alpha galactosidase, which is derived from the fungus Aspergillus nige. Those with gas problems often rely on Beano. There is also a new product named Bean-zyme which is cheaper than Beano. Another way to reduce the flatulence after consuming beans is soaking them in water for some time before making food. The yeast produced during the fermentation consumes the oligosaccharides, making beans fart-free!
In all fairness, beans are not the only food that causes flatulence. Vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage, fruits like banana and apple, dairy products and fatty foods can all make you fart. Only a balanced diet can keep the flatulence under check.

Watch the video from Men’s Health magazine explaining the process graphically. (HBA is not affiliated with the creators of the video.)

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