Beano (dietary supplement)
Beano is an enzyme
Enzymes are proteins that catalyze chemical reactions. In enzymatic reactions, the molecules at the beginning of the process, called substrates, are converted into different molecules, called products. Almost all chemical reactions in a biological cell need enzymes in order to occur at rates...

-based dietary supplement
Dietary supplement
A dietary supplement, also known as food supplement or nutritional supplement, is a preparation intended to supplement the diet and provide nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, fiber, fatty acids, or amino acids, that may be missing or may not be consumed in sufficient quantities in a person's diet...

 that is used to reduce gas in the digestive tract, thereby improving digestion and reducing bloating, discomfort, and flatulence
Flatulence is the expulsion through the rectum of a mixture of gases that are byproducts of the digestion process of mammals and other animals. The medical term for the mixture of gases is flatus, informally known as a fart, or simply gas...

 caused by gas. It contains the enzyme alpha galactosidase that breaks down oligosaccharide
An oligosaccharide is a saccharide polymer containing a small number of component sugars, also known as simple sugars...

s such as raffinose
Raffinose is a trisaccharide composed of galactose, fructose, and glucose. It can be found in beans, cabbage, brussels sprouts, broccoli, asparagus, other vegetables, and whole grains. Raffinose can be hydrolyzed to D-galactose and sucrose by the enzyme α-galactosidase , an enzyme not found in the...

. It was introduced as a liquid, but that has been discontinued and it is now available only as tablet
A tablet is a pharmaceutical dosage form. It comprises a mixture of active substances and excipients, usually in powder form, pressed or compacted from a powder into a solid dose...

s and strawberry-flavored "Meltaways."

Mechanism of action

Beano is a product containing the enzyme alpha galactosidase, which is derived from the fungus Aspergillus niger
Aspergillus niger
Aspergillus niger is a fungus and one of the most common species of the genus Aspergillus. It causes a disease called black mold on certain fruits and vegetables such as grapes, onions, and peanuts, and is a common contaminant of food...

. The enzyme works in the digestive tract to break down the complex or branching sugars (polysaccharides and oligosaccharides) in foods such as legumes (beans and peanuts
Peanuts is a syndicated daily and Sunday American comic strip written and illustrated by Charles M. Schulz, which ran from October 2, 1950, to February 13, 2000, continuing in reruns afterward...

) and cruciferous vegetables
Cruciferous vegetables
Vegetables of the family Brassicaceae are called cruciferous vegetables. The vegetables are widely cultivated, with many genera, species, and cultivars being raised for food production such as cauliflower, cabbage, cress, bok choy, broccoli and similar green leaf vegetables...

Cauliflower is one of several vegetables in the species Brassica oleracea, in the family Brassicaceae. It is an annual plant that reproduces by seed...

, broccoli
Broccoli is a plant in the cabbage family, whose large flower head is used as a vegetable.-General:The word broccoli, from the Italian plural of , refers to "the flowering top of a cabbage"....

, cabbage
Cabbage is a popular cultivar of the species Brassica oleracea Linne of the Family Brassicaceae and is a leafy green vegetable...

, brussels sprouts, among others). The enzyme breaks those complex sugars
Complex carbohydrates
Complex carbohydrates may refer to:*oligosaccharides, a saccharide polymer containing a small number of component sugars...

 into simple sugars, making these foods somewhat more digestible, and reducing intestinal gas.

The polysaccharides and oligosaccharides found in these foods might otherwise pass through the small intestine
Small intestine
The small intestine is the part of the gastrointestinal tract following the stomach and followed by the large intestine, and is where much of the digestion and absorption of food takes place. In invertebrates such as worms, the terms "gastrointestinal tract" and "large intestine" are often used to...

 unaffected. Once in the large intestine
Large intestine
The large intestine is the third-to-last part of the digestive system — — in vertebrate animals. Its function is to absorb water from the remaining indigestible food matter, and then to pass useless waste material from the body...

, those sugars may be metabolized by intestinal flora, fermenting
Fermentation (biochemistry)
Fermentation is the process of extracting energy from the oxidation of organic compounds, such as carbohydrates, using an endogenous electron acceptor, which is usually an organic compound. In contrast, respiration is where electrons are donated to an exogenous electron acceptor, such as oxygen,...

 to produce the gases that cause discomfort.

Two randomized controlled trials show reduction in gas by subjects taking oral alpha galactosidase. Another study indicates alpha galactosidase may interfere with the diabetic medication acarbose
Acarbose is an anti-diabetic drug used to treat type 2 diabetes mellitus and, in some countries, prediabetes. It is a generic sold in Europe and China as Glucobay , in North America as Precose , and in Canada as Prandase...



The Beano label also lists a second enzyme that can be used therapeutically, invertase
Invertase is an enzyme that catalyzes the hydrolysis of sucrose . The resulting mixture of fructose and glucose is called inverted sugar syrup. Related to invertases are sucrases. Invertases and sucrases hydrolyze sucrose to give the same mixture of glucose and fructose...

. Recently, Beano's label has been revised with the warning "Contains: cod, flounder, redfish, wheat."
ALLERGIC REACTIONS" Severe vomiting and diarrhea lasting several hours.


Beano was developed in 1990 by Alan Kligerman of AkPharma after research into gas-causing vegetables that had begun in 1981. The idea for such a product was proposed at least as early as the 1780s in Benjamin Franklin's
Benjamin Franklin
Dr. Benjamin Franklin was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. A noted polymath, Franklin was a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, musician, inventor, satirist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat...

 essay "A Letter To A Royal Academy
Fart Proudly
"Fart Proudly" is the popular name of a "notorious essay" about flatulence written by Benjamin Franklin circa 1781 while he was living abroad as United States Ambassador to France.-Description:"A Letter To A Royal Academy" was composed in response to a call for scientific papers from the Royal...


Its patent is owned by GlaxoSmithKline
GlaxoSmithKline plc is a global pharmaceutical, biologics, vaccines and consumer healthcare company headquartered in London, United Kingdom...

 which acquired it in 2001 from Block Drug
Block Drug
Block Drug Company was a pharmaceutical company based in Jersey City, New Jersey, that specialized in dental care products.GlaxoSmithKline purchased the company for $1.24 billion in 2001....


Beano received a US patent (5445957) on August 29, 1995. The estimated expiration date of this patent is December 5, 2014.

Use in the brewing of beer

Simple sugar
Sugar is a class of edible crystalline carbohydrates, mainly sucrose, lactose, and fructose, characterized by a sweet flavor.Sucrose in its refined form primarily comes from sugar cane and sugar beet...

s are also produced as a consequence of the malting process that eventually produces beer
Beer is the world's most widely consumed andprobably oldest alcoholic beverage; it is the third most popular drink overall, after water and tea. It is produced by the brewing and fermentation of sugars, mainly derived from malted cereal grains, most commonly malted barley and malted wheat...

. The complex sugars are not broken down by the yeast
Yeasts are eukaryotic micro-organisms classified in the kingdom Fungi, with 1,500 species currently described estimated to be only 1% of all fungal species. Most reproduce asexually by mitosis, and many do so by an asymmetric division process called budding...

, and are eventually consumed by the beer drinker, possibly causing flatulence. Homebrewers have found that it is possible to add Beano to their brew to produce a beer that has a less malty flavor. The Beano breaks the complex sugars into simple sugars, and these simple sugars are consumed by the yeast, producing alcohol (or some acetic acid in the aerobic reactions in early fermentation).

The addition of Beano to the brew reduces the complex sugar content of the final product, thereby reducing the carbohydrate content of the beer, and also slightly increasing the alcohol content of the beer. A disadvantage of the addition of Beano to homebrew is that the lower carbohydrates lead to less head retention of the beer, the loss of the sugars results in a less sweet flavour of the final product, and fewer of the malt
Malt is germinated cereal grains that have been dried in a process known as "malting". The grains are made to germinate by soaking in water, and are then halted from germinating further by drying with hot air...

y flavours are conveyed since some of those flavours are from the complex sugars that are affected.

The addition of Beano to homebrew beer (at a rate of about four tablets per 5 gallon brew) gives a low gas, low carbohydrate beer (about half the carbohydrates that it would otherwise have), but also alters some of the flavours of the beer. The loss of flavour is less apparent the darker the beer is, and the higher the alcohol content of the beer (since the alcohol numbs the tastebuds somewhat). Consequently it is suggested that a dark ale
Ale is a type of beer brewed from malted barley using a warm fermentation with a strain of brewers' yeast. The yeast will ferment the beer quickly, giving it a sweet, full bodied and fruity taste...

 or a stout
Stout is a dark beer made using roasted malt or barley, hops, water and yeast. Stouts were traditionally the generic term for the strongest or stoutest porters, typically 7% or 8%, produced by a brewery....

 would be the best candidates for the use of Beano with minimal effect on the final taste of the beer. All in all, the practice of adding Beano to homebrewed beer is not recommended for a high-quality end product. Many homebrewers will instead add extra amylase
Amylase is an enzyme that catalyses the breakdown of starch into sugars. Amylase is present in human saliva, where it begins the chemical process of digestion. Food that contains much starch but little sugar, such as rice and potato, taste slightly sweet as they are chewed because amylase turns...

enzyme, an enzyme that naturally occurs during the mashing of grains, to reduce complex sugar content.

External links

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