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Natives Raised Eating Legumes:Unaffected by Gas?

I dare ask this question in the CH community because I feel comfotable that it will be taken seriously and in stride. I have been eating/cooking alot of South Indian food lately, which is a cuisine dominated by legumes/dal. And I have simultaneously been experiencing a lot of gas. The same thing happens when I eat alot of Latin bean foods and Japanese tofu dishes.
So I'm guessing that when a people is raised from babyhood eating these foods, they are not afflicted with gas. Does anyone actually know about this? Thank you.

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  1. TONS of fresh (grated or crushed) Ginger tossed in while cooking lentils alleviate such issues for me. And going easy on ginger returns the symptoms, YMMV.

    2 Replies
    1. re: amhutap

      Doesn't TONS of ginger make the lentils too spicy to eat? It would be for me --I like it in small quantities. Too much is torture.

      1. re: neverlate

        Can make it spicy of course, I rather enjoy it especially in colder months. You'd have to tune it obviously to your taste. What I do know is that crushed ginger in a jar adds spice..and does not help much beyond that..at least for me.

    2. The more often you eat them the less problem you will have digesting them

      3 Replies
      1. re: scubadoo97

        second this. Your system will adjust to them if they become a regular part of your diet. In the meanwhile, there's beano.

        1. re: BeaN

          Yes, beano works really well.

          There are a number of ways of soaking/rinsing/cooking the beans which purport to reduce gassiness. I haven't tested them.

          1. re: Louise

            none of those methods have any significant benefit in the long run

        1. re: alkapal

          interesting article, alkapal -- esp. this bit:

          "The soaking helps denature phytic acid, and gentle cooking makes the vegetable protein digestible, especially if served with digestion-enhancing spices (typical of Indian cuisine, for example), pickles, chutneys or fermented dairy products such as yogurt or sour cream."

          (i had no idea that pickles and yogurt helped with gas!)

          1. re: cimui

            Pickles most likely refer to Indian style pickles which contain spices that help de-gas (e.g. cumin, ajwain, fennel, etc.). Yogurt contains various bacteria which help with digestion and may help with digesting beans specifically.

            The thing with soaking is that it's usually the "whole" beans and dals that are soaked, not the 'split' ones (e.g. sabut moong vs. moong dal etc.) I don't know too many recipes that call for soaking the split dals, unless it's to grind them into idli batter or something.

            Some information for the OP: when introducing solid foods to babies (e.g. age 9 months and above), when Indian mothers start introducing pureed dals, very often they prepare an infusion like a 'tea' of spices boiled in water: fennel, ajwain, cumin are the most common. A few drops of the water are either mixed with the dal or given to the baby to sip, as an anti-gas measure. Oh, and the dals are usually boiled soft with a pinch of salt, turmeric, and hing. This is the first step in making most dal dishes for the rest of the family, so at this stage a little is taken out for the baby, and spices are added to the remainder according to the recipe.
            We start with the 'easiest to digest' daals: moong and masoor, moving on to toor. Chana dal, and the whole beans are considered less digestible and given to babies much much later.
            I did this with my kids, learnt from my mother.

            1. re: Rasam

              thank you rasam. i really appreciate your taking the time to tell me about dal acclimation for babies. while i eat alot of yoghurt w/ my indian food, maybe i should drink a spice infusion as well. The wonderful udipi restaurant that used to exist here near boston- served a tea-less spice tea w/ all their feasts; maybe now i know why.

              1. re: opinionatedchef

                You're welcome

                BTW: Indian babies are given yogurt also when they are given dals etc. Not necessarily at the same meal, but increasingly so, until you converge to the adult style meal of rice or roti + dal + sabzi + yogurt.

                For yourself, the spices would likely be *in* the dal: most dals or beans are cooked with some combination of the following: hing, cumin, fennel, ajwain, ginger, etc. But if you want to sip a spice infusion with your food, why not, plus you say the restaurant served it ...

                Also there are the after meal digestives / mouth fresheners (sugar coated fennel; betel nut shavings, etc. : mukhvas).

                For seriously gassy people, there are the home remedies - turned pharmaceuticals or herbaceuticals: e.g. Dabur Pudin Hara (mint based antacid anti-gas from Dabur Pharmacy);

                Various choorans (ground spice balls) - seriously addictive (delicious) digestives; dozens of varieties ranging in tastes from sweetish (e.g. rose petal based pellets) to sweet sour (e.g. tamarind + cumin balls) to flat out spicy (e.g. dried ginger slices dipped in lemon, black salt, long pepper, etc.)

                Some have evocative names like "lakkad-hazam" (digest wood) or "patthar-hazam" (digest stone). :)

                Different conditions call for different choorans, but they are delicious enough to eat as a ... well, not a snack or a nibble, but like spicy mints maybe ....

                Pudin Hara caplets, chooran, mukhvas, etc all available at your nearest Indian Grocery Store.

                Choorans and mukhvases are a whole other topic. Sigh.....

                1. re: Rasam

                  boy do i wish you lived next door! i will look for those this week. where are you from in india?

                  1. re: opinionatedchef

                    On the internet, we are all next door :)

                    I am Southern (see my chow-name), lived all over the North, so am comfortable with foods and languages of most parts of India.

                    ps: in my previous I forgot to mention the whole post-prandial betel leaf packet thing (paan supari).

                    1. re: opinionatedchef

                      ps: are you mostly interested in Southern Indian cooking, or other regions too? tx.

                      1. re: Rasam

                        i am interested in Southern Indian foods, specifically the desserts and tiffin that use various dal. Uppama and wada are my current passions! I have always made my wada w/ urad dal only but now i'm going to try using other dal as well. I want to try Adai too. After searching for a so. indian cookbook with more unusual offerings, i bought Vegetarian Samayal of So. India but it is small for the cost and I may return it.

            2. re: alkapal

              Thanks for that link! Who knew that Boston baked beans are the descendant of cholent?
              Maybe some of the nutrition scientists on the board can clarify - if the gassiness is from undigested sugars, is it better for diabetics (I am borderline type 2) NOT to soak beans or use Beano? Perhaps it is best not to do anything to break down those complex sugars.

            3. a lot of s. indians add a tiny pinch of asafetida to dishes, to reduce gas and bloating. also, culturally, at least amongst many older indian and chinese folks, passing some gas isn't regarded as being all that horrific. toot away, i say.

              1 Reply
              1. re: cimui

                You beat me to it. Asafoetida is added to dal among certain Indians both for its flavor and its digestive properties.

              2. Good old Cooks Illustrated did a lab test on beans a few years ago comparing soaking/cooking methods and cound that the quick soak method removed the most of the non-digestible whatever that causes gas.
                That's the method in which you bring the dried beans to a boil in a good quantity of water, boil for one minute, remove from heat, cover and let sit for one hour. Discard that water and proceed with your recipe.
                That's impractical with something that cooks as quickly as lentils, with canned beans, or tofu.
                I've been eating beans my entire life so I'm largely "immune" but there are some other foods that will give me problems. It's possible that there are things besides lentils in the Indian food that give you "distress."

                I've heard people say that you can build up the bean-immunity if you eat enough of them.
                Who knows?

                2 Replies
                1. re: MakingSense

                  If you convert your diet to a fiber rich diet that doesn't compete with the high fat/high sugar content of the typical American diet, the flatulence will subside. The healthier you eat, for the longer period of time, the less gasseous you'll become.

                  1. re: SweetPhyl

                    I take it that this is anecdotal and you have no real evidence to substantiate this claim?

                2. According to McGee (On Food & Cooking, rev.), the fast-soak does remove a lot of the complex sugars and cell-wall cements (the problem-causers) but also a lot of flavor and nutrition. He prefers long cooking, which breaks most of them down into simple sugars. Based on personal experience I agree with the folks who say when you eat legumes often the problem is dramatically reduced, based on many cycles of eating them rarely then frequently.

                  1. Stachyose and raffinose, the starches in beans that are hard to digest, are broken down into carbon dioxide and hydrogen rather than being converted into blood sugar.

                    As to your question; Yes people who eat a lot of beens are seldom troubled by intestinal gas.

                    The good news is, eating beans more often will promote the development of the bacteria responsible for breaking down stachyose and raffinose.

                    11 Replies
                    1. re: Demented

                      Demented, your reply is most helpful; thank you. I like learning about scentific/body info.
                      Now, of course, I wonder about these bacteria and how long they have to be re-stocked to be effective in their digestive work. Aromatherapy, have you formed any experience opinions on this?

                      As to method of cooking, with Indian dal-( many types, all cook quickly.)the tiffin or snacks or breads based on dal are made w/ soaked dal that are ground and then fried. so i wonder how this treatment affects the complex and undigested sugars and digestion.

                      As to asafoetida, my experience with it is quite different from it's googled purported properties. It is a notorious substance in my family's lore.Whenever we returned from our monthly feast at(the long gone) Annapurna, an Udipi restaurant in Worcester Ma., we all independently ran to the bathroom upon returning home. So for us, asafoetida is the real cleaner-outer. I guess this could be viewed as removing gas(carminative) because it removes all traces of food that would cause the gas! At least it did for us. (And all the other ingredients in those meals we typically consumed in our own cooking, so we figured it had to be the A.)

                      1. re: opinionatedchef

                        Can't speak to the herbal additions purported to change the nature of the starches found in beans.

                        As far as cooking them goes... I've used the quick soak method, changing the water after soaking, not changing the water after soaking, adding vinegar in the last 15 – 30 minutes of cooking, replacing a ¼ cup of the cooking water with cider vinegar for the last 30 minutes of cooking and on and on.

                        The only thing that's made a difference for me... Has been making beans a regular part of my diet.

                        1. re: opinionatedchef

                          No, I just know what works for me, no idea why.

                          1. re: Aromatherapy

                            Is anyone else amused (or grateful) that "Aromatherapy" keeps popping up on a thread about gas? :) Everytime I see that screen name next to this post, I get a chuckle out of it.

                            All the suggestions on how to "tone down" beans are also interesting--as Rasam mentioned about yogurt, for example. Must be why raita is on the table along with dal. I always figured the raita was there to cool your mouth when the spices start to take over. Of course, that works, too!

                        2. re: Demented

                          It is the bacteria in your large intestine which produce the gases as they ferment the various indigestible saccharides from legumes or other high fiber foods. So if, as you say "eating beans more often will promote the development of the bacteria responsible for breaking down stachyose and raffinose" then you would be more prone to having gas, not less.

                          Human beings lack the enzyme alpha-galactosidase required to break down these oligosaccharides. (Beano or similar products provide this enzyme.) Since they are not digested and absorbed in our small intestine they arrive in the large intestine intact where the bacteria, which posses an alpha-galactosidase enzyme, go to town.

                          1. re: kmcarr

                            That being the case, would people with insulin resistance be better off making friends with flatulence rather than taking Beano or using any of the pre-soaking methods that supposedly improve digestibility?

                            1. re: greygarious

                              I hesitate to answer this question as I am not qualified to offer medical or nutritional advice. DON'T TAKE ANYTHING I SAY AS AUTHORITATIVE.

                              That said, it is my understanding the the prolonged soaking is meant to purge the problem oligosaccharides from the beans into the soaking water which is then dumped down the drain. If that is true then it is not a consideration for someone with insulin resistance.

                              The Beano aspect I really have no idea if it is significant. It would be a matter of how many additional net carbs are created by the breakdown of the stachyose and raffinose. I don't know what their normal concentration is in the bean (and I'm sure it varies by bean variety).

                              Besides, if you keep your bean eating at home, what's a little flatulence among family?

                              Edited to add:

                              O.K. I found some information on the web (Google is your friend) which suggests that persons with diabetes should be cautious when using products like Beano. Here are some links:

                              http://www.preventcci.com/treating/de... (near the very bottom of the page.


                              http://www.beanogas.com/FAQ.aspx (again, near the bottom under "Medical considerations".


                              And apparently persons with galactosemia should really avoid using Beano.

                              1. re: kmcarr

                                Yeah, I live with 3 large dogs....my contribution is just a spit in the ocean!

                                1. re: greygarious

                                  greygarious, put a spoonful of yogurt in your dogs' food every day. I did that (still do for the one remaining gal), We had one large and two medium dogs, that never EVER had gas- and one of them was a German Shepherd. Yogurt makes a difference, truly. Probably wouldn't hurt you either (wink).

                          2. re: Demented

                            OK, here it goes - TMI - but I speak with experience

                            While I believe that long term exposure to beans will build up the defensive walls - there will be breaches. As a daily consumer of all kinds of beans (my main protein source), I sometimes need to make sure I'm downwind . . .

                            [red face - now wanting to change screen name]

                            1. re: alwayscooking

                              To damned funny Always, but no need to change your ID.

                              Beans have been part of my regular diet for years, and as I stated in an earlier post, “people who eat a lot of beens are seldom troubled... “ I must admit that from time to time it might be best we leave the windows open.

                          3. see this article on methods to avoid gassiness -- also special attention to item #10, mentioning the ingredients kombu or epazote: http://www.ehow.com/how_1958_reduce-e...

                            1. An older South Indian couple opened a greeting card shop in a local shopping center about 15 years ago. As much as passing gas is a pretty normal function (I would think for most of us to varying degrees), the wife seemed to make a very regular habit of this function. I'd walk in searching for a greeting card and would be greeted not by the wife's hello, but by a rhythmic tooting sound. She was literally passing gas at the pace one about every 20 seconds. She seemed to be chanting something under her voice, followed by a, "brraat." Needless to say, customers found this off-putting. As they'd walk in, the noise would catch their attention and after a while, they'd walk out. The card shop closed after about a month. I don't know if this behavior was a cultural norm for this couple, but what wasn't sitting well with the wife wasn't sitting well with potential customers either...

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: bulavinaka

                                Since it happened 15 years ago, I don't think the shop closing had to do with the popularity of e-cards.

                              2. When I became a vegetarian, I began eating lots of beans and legumes and the gas was horrendous. I took papaya enzymes and they definitly helped, but really, after a few months my body adjusted and now, 5 years later, I find my gas is about the same as it was before the change over.

                                1. The other day I cooked soaked beans (pinto/navy mix) in water with onion and celery. When they were done and still hot, I heated the juice from a jar of bread&butter pickles and poured it over the beans. They were in the fridge for a day before I dug into them last night. I've been having legumes daily for over a week so perhaps I've now developed a tolerance, but I noticed that the pickled beans (unlike my standard vinaigrette-marinated 6-bean salad) left no "vapor trail".