Posted in Health

Legumes, Starch and Farts 101

  1. How to appreciate farts for what they represent to your body’s health.
  2. How to minimise farting when there is no dog around to blame.
  3. How to best enter the wonderful world of beans and legumes.
Starchy Carbs
Research suggests that starchy carbs, not a meat-heavy diet, advanced the human race.  They provided the fuel to grow and power our energy hungry brains.
Many of our starchy friends also contain fibre which is a type of carbohydrate that our upper digestive system can’t digest …fibre turns into really good food for (usually)good bacteria lower in our intestine.  These are the foods can really ratchet us up to 11.  I’m looking right at you, jerusalem fartichokes.
Of course legumes also have this reputation too, and in some cases justifiably so, but there is one common  hidden veggie that may be giving legumes a worse reputation than they deserve…read on to find the possible culprit…!

1 Think of farts as good bacteria burping ‘thanks’ after a great meal.

15-18 pop offs a day is pretty average.  More or less will depend on what you have eaten and who you have partying in your gut. 

Purna Kashyap, a gastroenterologist at the Mayo Clinic: Eating foods that cause gas is the only way for the microbes in the gut to get nutrients. If we didn’t feed them carbohydrates, it would be harder for them to live in our gut.”

And we need to keep these colon-dwelling critters content.  When they gobble up food — and create gas — they also make molecules that boost the immune system, protect the lining of the intestine and prevent infections.

And the more fibre you feed these friendly inhabitants, the more types of species appear, studies have found. This bump in microbial diversity has been linked to a slimmer waistline.

Most gas made by the microbiome is odorless. It’s simply carbon dioxide, hydrogen or methane. But sometimes a little sulfur slips in there.

devil's fart.jpg

2. So you definitely want to eat farty foods regularly for health, but there may be times that social convention overrides their health benefits, so here are some tips

  • You may like avoid these foods for 24 hours before critical times
  • Gas producing oligosaccharides are apparently water soluble.  Soak dried pulses in a large amount of water and use the water on the garden.  Maybe change the soak water midway through. 
  • When eating, chew carefully to maximise what is digested higher up in the digestive system.  Saliva is an important part of digestion and the smaller pieces are also more thoroughly broken down.
  • Try taking  digestive enzyme supplements before, or along with starchy meals.
  • Fart in the face of social convention…it is just another means of controlling individuals via herd mentality anyway!

The amount of oligosaccharides in legumes varies, so certain kinds of beans may make you gassier than others. Lentils, split peas, black-eyed peas, mung beans and adzuki beans are relatively low in oligosaccharides, while garbanzo, kidney and black beans contain average amounts. Soybeans, navy beans and lima beans are fairly high in oligosaccharides, and widely considered the most “disagreeable.” Avoid Boston baked beans and other sweetened beans if you’re prone to gas, as the added sugar in these dishes is another source of gas.


  • Finally don‘t just blame the legumes! Most foods that include legumes also include ONIONS.  My partner always said that onions made him fart, but to my peril I never believed him.  I do now.  There is heaps of info on the interweb about this.  Leave them out of legume dishes and you might be pleasantly surprised.

 Whenever you add more fibre to your diet, your digestive system usually goes through an adjustment (that may include increased bum humming) before you find your body copes better with fibrous foods. Don’t give up, legumes are wonderful…cheap, tasty, healthy and easy. Really.

3 I get it, legumes are wonderful. How to prepare them?

Quickest: Red split lentils are the earth’s gift to the unprepared.  Just wash them and cook, no soaking required.  Dhal Tadka, bolognese and lentil soup are great ways to use red splitsters.

Quick: You can speed up the soaking and cooking process of other critters in three ways…

  • Soak in boiling water – this brings the soak time down from overnight to a couple of hours, especially useful in winter time.
  • Add bicarb soda to the water.  About  1 tsp at the time of cooking.
  • Use a pressure cooker – today is my sister’s 40th and my gift of one to her inspired this topic.  I bought her a Tefal Secure Neo 5 as on special it is a ‘reasonable’ price, gets great reviews and includes a steam basket.  Mine is an old banger from the op shop for $5, it does a great job, so go second hand if you can find one.  Red split lentils in a pressure cooker… now that’s fast food!

Less quick,  good if you don’t have a pressure cooker, also has other benefits:

  • Try and soak from the morning, a day, or even two before.  This way you get the added advantage of the pulse beginning to germinate or ‘activate’.  Green split peas are like little rocks without a good soaking.  Start with the water warm and cover with water to more than double the dry height of soakees.  In cold climates, leave in a warm place to soak. (Like on top of the fridge).

You will get the best results though with a pressure cooker, so here is my handy guide.

Use legumes in hommous, nachos, tacos, soups (miso, pho etc), salads, curries, stir-fries, process chickpeas into ‘mince’, make felafels from green (frozen/fresh) broadbeans  etc


All I am saying, is give peas a chance.