The Science Scoop

By Will Owen /// Staff Writer

Have you ever heard the children’s song that goes, “Beans, beans, the magical fruit: the more you eat, the more you toot. The more you toot the better you feel, so eat your beans with every meal”? Despite the fact that beans aren’t generally classified as a fruit, there is scientific merit in the statement that beans make you fart. Ever wondered why?

As an avid farter and dedicated science major, I decided to find out. As it turns out, there are molecules in beans that can’t be digested by your stomach or small intestine, called oligosaccharides. These carbohydrates pass right through your small intestine, all the way down to your colon.

Here, there are tons and tons of friendly bacteria that consider themselves a part of your digestive system. These bacteria are really good at munching on oligosaccharides and are really happy when you eat beans because they get to feast on the leftover carbohydrates. As these little critters satiate themselves, they start emitting gases such as nitrogen, hydrogen and carbon dioxide. Once these gases are created, there’s no going back. That pressure builds up, and TOOT — your friends are pissed at you.

Thankfully, there’s a solution at your local Fred Meyer. The class of alpha-galactose enzymes, which have the capacity to break down this type of molecule, has been isolated and put into pill form by scientists, and you can buy it under the brand name “Beano.” Ultimately, it’s not your fault that you fart — it’s the way your digestive system evolved. Tell that to your friends next time you rip a fat one.

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