Preventing Flatulence via Digestive Enzyme Supplements
In reference to my post on soaking legumes and reducing oligosaccharides, a reader asked me if there has been any research on the efficacy of Solgar’s Vegetarian Digestive Aid.
In my research on soaking beans and reducing oligosaccharides, I didn’t come across any study using a battery of digestive enzymes such as what is contained in Solgar’s preparation. Solgar’s Vegetarian Digestive Aid does not contain the digestive enzyme considered most effective at reducing flatulence from beans, alpha-galactosidase. Bean-zyme, a vegan version of Beano, contains alpha-galactosidase, as does Deva’s Vegan Digestive Support.
In their article, Effective Management of Flatulence, American Family Physician provides a chart comparing the effectiveness of various methods. They rank a couple of probiotic preparations as being highly effective, and slightly more effective than a large dose of alpha-galactosidase (they cite reference 1 below). The large dose, 1200 GaIU, would be the equivalent of 8 Bean-zyme tablets. A smaller dose of 300 GaIU, the equivalent of 2 Bean-zyme tablets, was also somewhat effective.
I found one other study (2) measuring the effectiveness of alpha-galactosidase, in which it did not seem quite as effective, but they were using drops rather than tablets and I’d be concerned about the drops themselves being digested before they could take effect.
As an aside, in preparing legumes, they can be treated with enzymes that will remove all of the oligosaccharides, but I’m not aware of a practical way for people to do that at home.