Want to eat more pulses but don’t want the (gas) pain? Me too so I went searching for information and here is what I found.
Go Slow: If you have not been eating pulses because they cause a lot of gas for you, then you probably need to work your way up slowly. Sitting down to an entire cup of baked beans or vegetarian chili is not going to go well for you. Start by adding pulses to dishes that contain other ingredients so that you don’t eat more than 1-2 tablespoons of pulses at any one sitting. This process will give your body and microbiome more time to adapt. You may never be able to eat a really large amount of pulses at a time but even a small amount is healthful.
Eat sprouted beans and pulses: Where I shop, it is easy to buy fresh mixed sprouted beans. The company recommends sprinkling them on salads etc. For me, that would give me terrible gas. I actually use the sprouted beans in soups, stews and chili. They are already easier to digest due to the sprouting process and I further soak and cook them to help out my delicate digestive tract. If you want to make your own sprouts, one source I read noted that the only ones that are actually easy to sprout are lentils and garbanzos – so keep that in mind.
Soak pulses before cooking: This is where the advice gets specific. Many sources say, soak for 8 hours or overnight – this is not nearly long enough, as my colon plainly advised me. Here is what I have gleaned from reading a variety of sources:
• Soak for at least 48 hours (ie 2 days) before cooking, up to 3 days even
• Change soaking water frequently, up to 3 times per day. Rinse the anti-nutrients away with each water change.
• Use very warm soaking water (but under 150 degrees Fahrenheit – or else you will deactivate the enzyme that breaks down the fiber). Obviously the water will cool off by the time you change it but the warmth aides in rehydrating the beans and enabling the enzymes to digest the oligosaccharides that we can’t digest ourselves.
• Use alkaline soaking water. There were a variety of conflicting pieces of advice on how to achieve this but one method that seemed credible was to add a small amount of baking soda to the water.
Cook the bean dish on low heat for an extended period: Traditional recipes using pulses always used a slow cook method in order to improve digestibility as much as possible.
Eat the meal with some fermented food: The probiotic in the fermented food may help digest the remaining fiber in a comfortable way in the digestive tract.
If you need ways to improve your iron stores, consider eating your pulses with a small amount of animal protein. This may not impact the gas forming property of your meal, but evidence suggests that the non-heme iron in the beans is more readily absorbed in the presence of heme-iron, found only in animal sources.
Go – cook and enjoy! I welcome comments and suggestions that you may have to help others add more of these healthy foods to their diet.