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food and flatulence

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food and flatulence

Posted by Phil on March 27, 2002 at 15:44:14:

I wanted your take on this article, especially the opposing view in the last paragraph.

from New Scientist:
Food scientists have found a way to eat bean-filled food like curries and salads with far fewer episodes of flatulence. The Indian researchers have discovered that blasting some beans with gamma rays can help oust most of the chemicals that make people fart.

Bacteria in the large intestine produce the accumulation of gas that causes flatulence. When these bugs consume certain types of carbohydrates, called oligosaccharides, they produce a mix of gases that includes methane and certain sulphur-containing gases. It is the latter that have people pinching their noses.

On average, adults produce four to five litres of gas a day, and beans are the vegetables most commonly associated with excess wind. That is because up to 60 per cent of their carbohydrates are oligosaccharides.

So Jammala Machaiah and Mrinal Pednekar in the food-science lab at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre in Trombay, India, decided to see what effect radiation might have on the levels of these carbohydrates in various pulses common in the Indian diet, including mung beans, chickpeas, black-eyed beans and red kidney beans.

Gone with the wind
Using standard food irradiation technology, they irradiated some samples of each with a low-intensity gamma-ray beam, and other samples with a beam three times as strong. They then gave the beans the typical two-day soaking in cold water that people use before cooking the beans.

The researchers report in a paper to be published in the journal Food Chemistry that the initial irradiation slightly reduced levels of oligosaccharides. But the further reduction that occurs naturally with soaking was dramatically accelerated in the irradiated beans, especially black-eyed beans.

After two days' soaking, the low dosage of radiation reduced oligosaccharides in mung beans by 70 per cent, and the high dose by 80 per cent, compared with a drop of only 35 per cent in soaked beans that had not been irradiated.

Black-eyed beans and chickpeas also showed a marked improvement. Only kidney beans remained unaffected by the treatment, but they have only a fraction of the guilty oligosaccharides anyway.

National diet
"In India, beans are a very popular and important part of the national diet, but some people can't eat a lot of beans because of the flatulence problem," says Machaiah. "This is unfortunate, as it is a very good source of essential nutrients. Irradiation would make beans less of a problem."

In Europe, food can only be irradiated under licence, and the treated food has to be marked. Irradiation extends the shelf life of herbs and spices by killing the bacteria that make them rot.

Oligosaccharides are "anti-nutritional factors", says Stephen Cole, technical director of Enzyme Services and Consultancy in Blackwood, Wales. "If irradiation helps reduce them that's good." Cole's company is currently analysing enzymes that break down oligosaccharides in animal feed to prevent pigs or chickens becoming bloated.

But Glenn Gibson, a food microbiologist at Reading University, is concerned that reducing the level of oligosaccharides in the food may have undesirable effects.

"Flatulence is an important indicator of a healthy gut system," he says. "It's only a social problem. You need to expel gas to ensure your gut is functioning properly." The gases that cause it could be of benefit, and we should all just learn to live with it, he says.



Re: food and flatulence (Archive in irradiated food.)

Posted by Walt Stoll on March 28, 2002 at 11:15:57:

In Reply to: food and flatulence posted by Phil on March 27, 2002 at 15:44:14:

Thanks, Phil.

Just because we have the technology to DO something is not a good reason to do it!

Sprouting beans uses up the raffinose (oligosaccharides) in the beans that cause flatulence because our guts do not have raffinase (the enzyme that would be needed to break down raffinose. "Beano"TM has raffinase.

The problem with the irradiuation approach is the URPS that are produced (Unidentified Radiation Products). No one knows what the long term effects to the consumer will be from consuming URPS! We are all participating in an involuntary experiment designed to enrich a certain segment of our culture (the food manufacturers).

I, for one, refuse to participitate in the experiment. How many people know that the tiny, black, stylized blossom on the package means irradiated???

To produce massive amounts of URPS just to avoid gas, when there is such an effective way to do that without risking the public health or enriching the food manufacturers, is a shame--if not a crime! Governments that do not try to protect their public should be considered illegitimate.

Hope this helps.

Walt

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