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3 Random Cooking Hacks That Could Change Your IBS Game

photo credit: Natalie DeVries

1. Clean your beans.

Many IBS sufferers tend to avoid consuming beans because they are technically a high FODMAP food (1) and can cause some gut distress in some of us. The reason for that extra bloating (and gas) after eating many types of beans is due to their high fructan content (again, making it a high FODMAP food). However, it does not mean beans are off-limits if you have IBS.

Because beans tend to have a high amount of resistant starches (a slow fermenting starch, much different than the fast fermenting starches in other high FODMAP foods), there could be some benefit to adding beans to your gut-healthy diet.

The amount of resistant starch in beans is much higher than that of other starchy foods like bread and potatoes. However, the resistant starch in beans is not a bad thing, it's actually quite helpful to our overall gut flora: these starches have been reported to help feed the good bacteria in our larger intestine, helping boost overall colonic health (2).

Of course, if you have a sensitive stomach to start (I'm looking at you, IBS suffer), you have probably experienced that bloated feeling after consuming beans. Consuming cooked canned beans can be one of the best ways to keep beans in your low FODMAP diet because the boiling/canning process tends to "leach" some of these FODMAPs from the beans (3). However, it is very important to rinse them from the liquid they are stored in to wash away that extra FODMAP. Otherwise, we consume the parts of the bean that seems to be the toughest part of this food to break down, causing that gas we all are trying to prevent.

2. Soak your nuts.

Another top tip for making some foods easier on your IBS gut is to soak your nuts in water overnight for easier digestion. Why? Many nuts and seeds contain something called an "anti-nutrient," which interferes with proper digestion and absorption of beneficial vitamins and minerals (4).

By soaking nuts before consumption, we making things a little easier on our bellies during the digestion process. In addition to removing some of these anti-nutrients, soaking nuts can also make them softer and easier to digest from a texture standpoint (5).

But before you go soaking all of the nuts in your house, here are a few tips to start:

  • Purchase raw nuts to start--these are the un-processed/un-altered version which contain the most nutrients. Soaking these will unlock those nutrients for better digestion.

  • Be sure to cover the nuts fully with water and soak for up to 48 hours. Be sure to rinse the nuts before consuming!

  • Yes, these nuts will be different than what you are probably used to: more plump, soft, and a little damp. That's okay! Instead of chewing on dry, gritty almonds, you will be enjoying a smoother nut!

3. Massage your greens.

...Specifically your kale ;) The most common complaint I hear from clients who are trying to eat more greens but struggling with the digestion of them is that they cause "indigestion," bloating, and overall stomach aches. A common reason for this is because the structure of a hearty green leafy vegetable (like kale) can be tough for our tummies to break down, especially if our stomach acids are not in a healthy spot to start.

To help combat this, I've found that "massaging" my kale before consuming it "raw" helps break down the leaf before leaving my stomach to do all of the work.

How I do this:

Drizzle 1-2 tsp olive oil onto a bowl of raw, chopped kale. Using your clean hands, begin to squeeze the kale in a massaging motion to fully cover the leaves with olive oil. Once the leaves start to turn darker green and look softer, they should be ready to use in a salad or as a side with a little lemon juice!

If kale is still a tough green for you to add into your diet, try something softer first like baby spinach leaves.

If you are interested in trying massaged kale, check out my Autumn Kale Salad recipe here!


(4) Dr. Axe

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