Beans and Flatulence: How Worried are You?
Do we really need to spend time and money on research like this?
Never discount the extremes that the academic and scientific world will go to research subjects for which most of us would declare – don’t bother!
That statement could be no truer than for the research conducted by a pair of American scientists who felt it was worth their time – and someone else’s money – to conduct research on how worried we might be about eating beans.
According to these researchers from Arizona State University and the University of Colorado, many consumers avoid eating beans because they believe eating beans will cause excessive intestinal gas or flatulence. Do you worry about this? Neither do I. And if anyone were worried about a little public toot, perhaps they would just avoid eating beans when they go out to a restaurant or stop by their favorite Taco Bell. They certainly wouldn’t expect someone to conduct a full-blown research project about this, would they?
To justify their research, the scientists stated that “an increasing body of research and the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans supports the benefits of a plant-based diet, and legumes specifically, in the reduction of chronic disease risks.” No problem with that, but why worry about the fear of farting? According to the researchers the purpose of their work was to investigate the perception of increased flatulence and gastrointestinal discomfort among participants who consumed a half cup of beans daily for two or three months
Testing the Fear of Farting
To prove their theory, the researchers had volunteers in three studies complete the same weekly questionnaire to assess their gastrointestinal discomfort issues such as increased flatulence, stool changes, and bloating. Participants consumed a half cup of pinto beans, black-eyed peas, and canned carrots for 8-weeks. Or they ate a half-cup of pinto beans or soup for 12 weeks.
I won’t bore you with the details of how extensive mathematical formulas were used to come to a conclusion. Suffice to say that more of the volunteers had a problem when they consumed the beans than when they had consumed the soup. Something like that.
What Does It Mean?
After all that the researchers say people’s concerns about excessive flatulence from eating beans may be exaggerated. Further, public health nutritionists should address the potential for gastrointestinal discomfort when increasing fiber intake from beans with clients. It is important to recognize there is individual variation in response to different bean types, they say.
Were you expecting more? Nope that’s it – after all that time and money was spent, the big conclusion is that eating beans need not be as big a deal as some people make it out to be. Of course, there’s no proof that anyone at all thinks it’s that big a deal, but why spoil a researchers fun by inserting some obvious facts?
So, the next time you want a bean burrito or bean salad go right ahead. But, when you do just think of the bean researchers who are looking out for your health and the air quality of those around you. Yes, think of them and blow them a … kiss.
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