Beat the bloat by soaking grains, beans and legumes
Posted Dec 19 2012 2:51am
Today’s guest post comes from Sharon, from Brisbane Australia. Sharon has taken some time out to discuss why we should soak beans to avoid bloating. And just if you are wondering I have applied these recommendation before to help avoid bloating. It does work!
Beans and legumes have a windy reputation. If you’ve ever eaten too many baked beans or too much dhal, you might be familiar with the bloated feeling that sometimes comes with those meals. But if you’re vegetarian, or you’re trying to eat a few more meat-free meals, you might want to eat meals like these. So why does bloating happen? And is there a way to avoid it?
Bloating is a sign that the body is not digesting food properly. It’s associated with grains, beans and legumes because those foods can be a little more difficult for our bodies to digest. But these foods can help to make them more digestible and nutritious, and reduce any discomfort like bloating.
Why are grains, beans and legumes harder to digest?
Grains, beans and legumes are essentially a plant’s seeds. Seeds are the way plants reproduce. So plants have evolved certain protection mechanisms to make sure their seeds survive to germination, retaining all their nutrients — the very same ones we want to digest — until the conditions are right for a new plant to grow.
Grains, beans and legumes are protected by what are called anti nutrients. These anti nutrients make it harder for our bodies to break down — or digest — the seed and get at its nutrients, and also bind to nutrients from inside our bodies as the seed passes through our guts.
What are anti nutrients?
Anti nutrients are substances found in grains, beans and legumes — usually in the skin. Some of the most common are physic acid, oxalic acid, saponin and lectins. There are two main ways that anti nutrients cause problems in our digestion: by blocking the digestive enzymes in our gut that help to break down food and by binding with nutrients in the seed and in our gut. This interferes with the absorption of nutrients and leaches them out of the body. Not only are we not getting the nutrients we’re looking for in the food, but also over time these foods can actually damage our digestive system. Anti nutrients have been linked to inflammatory problems, digestive diseases, and other long-term chronic health issues.
Beating the anti nutrients
But it is possible to reduce the effects of anti nutrients, and to get to the nutrients in grains, legumes and nuts. This is where soaking comes in. Soaking, sprouting and fermenting these foods begin the process of germination, disabling the antinutrients. Canned beans and legumes are usually pre-soaked and cooked, so you can use these without any preparation. But any dried grain, bean, or legume needs to be soaked and then cooked before you eat it, to make sure the body can digest it. To soak any grain, bean or legume cover with water, and add something acidic. You can use lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, yogurt or whey. Usually about a tablespoon of whatever acidic substance you’re using per cup of dried grains, beans or legumes will do the trick. Leave the seeds to soak for at least eight hours, but up to 24, before you cook them.
Obviously this involves quite a bit more forethought than opening a can, but once you’re in the habit it’s not very difficult. Put seeds you want to use in dinner on to soak at breakfast time, or put them on to soak before you go to bed the night before. You can also soak and cook bigger batches in advance, so they’re ready to use whenever you want them — just like the canned versions.
Article by Sharon Freeman from New Life Nutrition . NLN is a team of dedicated dietitians and nutritionists based in Brisbane, Australia.