Have you ever participated in a farting contest? Neither have I.
(sound of crickets..)
(sound of silence interrupted with a tiny "pip" sound flatulent)
Campy bathroom humour is definitely not my style. That's so cro-mag.
A group of researchers with a penchant for discovering the truth about the urban myth that beans make you emit gaseous anomalies were farting around recently and came up with a process for teasing out whether or not people who eat beans produce more melodious gastrointestinal malfeasance than those who eat carrots or non-fart-causing soup... I wonder if one could order that soup in a restaurant.. "What will you be having today sir?" "What's your soup du jour?" "We have three selections today, a brilliant clam chowder, an ingenious beans/ horseradish/ cabbage combo, and sans flatulensence; our non-farting soup" "Your other soups fart?"
Server.. "pip".. looks sideways..
The concern of the research team was that peoples flatuphobia prevents them from consuming beans. Beans are highly regarded by the worlds health authorities and daily consumption of the little (potentially) wind producing nuggets is associated with lowered cholesterol, reduction of overall chronic disease risk, and of course improved gastrointestinal function.
Flatuphobia; the highly regarded urbandictionary.com, informs us that the term initially referred to the fear of accidental bowel movements when farting (see also "shart"), but is now more associated with fear of farting in enclosed spaces such as elevators or in very quiet environments, such as a church service.
A bean walks into a GI track, "We don't digest your kind, partner.." Says the enzyme tender.
"You're going to regret that in a couple hours" says the bean.
The studies bean counters suggest why legumes may cause intestinal gas.. some of the sugars in beans are not digestible by human intestinal enzymes and are broken down by gut bacteria fermentation. Byproducts of this process include olfactory delicacies such as methane and sulphur, as well as hydrogen and carbon dioxide, which are moved out of the body in the form of flatus..
Researchers were keen to point out that there is variability of gas production between people, seemingly playing down the potential wind-farm - bean connection, adding that beans are enjoyed around the world. Indeed people in Eastern and South African countries consume annually around 50 kg (110 lb.) of beans whereas US residence dine on a mere 7 lb. of the party pleasers.
The purpose of this study was to investigate the perception of flatulence and GI discomfort among those eating 1/2 a cup of beans daily (1).
Study subjects were fed beans and enclosed in an elevator or quiet church service for 12 weeks. OK that's not totally true, only partially true. The part about 12 weeks was true.
Perception of flatulence. Are people unclear as to whether or not they let one rip? About that elevator thing.. Maybe the researchers are onto something here because when it's totally obvious someone has abused their social contract privileges and sneaked a cheek with a silent but deadly in an elevator, everyone looks around with a disdained accusatory gaze while simultaneously claiming innocence. Two men say they're Jesus, one of them must be wrong.
If Jesus farted in an elevator would it be heavenly? "And let it be said that the Son of God did cause a ruffle in his robe and his disciples were lulled with lavender" .. Luke 1:20:19
The study was well designed with randomized crossover trials. Some participants ate beans and some ate carrots or the previously mentioned special soup du jour, then the groups switched. The outcome?
Once the smoke cleared less than 50% of people reported increased flatulence from eating pinto or baked beans, and only a 19% increase with black-eyed peas. Which reminds me of the Black Eyed Peas performance at the 2011 Superbowl.. not their best performance, they stunk out the joint..
3-11% of all study participants, even those on control diets reported increased flatulence.
"Peoples concerns about excess flatulence from eating beans may be exaggerated". That's a verbatim quote from the study conclusions, I didn't doctor that one..
The caveat? "It is important to recognize there is individual variation in response to different bean types".
Rinsing beans during the preparation process removes a lot of the sugars that cause the colon kerfuffle, so although this study claims that there's nothing to worry about.. ("nothing to smell here people, keep moving"), if you want to further decrease the less than 50% chance that you'll succumb to intestinal sugar sorcery, rinse your beans if canned, and after the soak and also after being cooked if you're using dried beans.
Experiment with different beans to see what your individual response may be, which may be best done alone if you suffer flatuphobia, otherwise churches and elevators appear to be the favoured testing grounds.
I've got some beans soaking now..
(1) Nutrition Journal | Full text | Perceptions of flatulence from bean consumption among adults in 3 feeding studies
(2) I strongly suggest investigating this historic account of.. well.. just check it out..
(3) more background investigation