Does pearl barley cause gas?

Ah, the age-old question that has plagued humankind for centuries: does pearl barley really cause gas? As a food connoisseur and dedicated scientist (in my spare time, of course), I have done extensive research on this topic. So grab your reading glasses, a cup of peppermint tea to soothe any impending tummy troubles, and let’s dive into the world of pearl barley.

What is Pearl Barley?

Before we delve into the delicate matter at hand (haha, get it?), let us first understand what pearl barley actually is. Pearl barley is a versatile cereal grain that has been eaten all over the world since ancient times. It is produced by polishing whole-grain barley, which removes most of its outer bran layer and germ.

Pearling also helps cook pearled grains more quickly than unpolished hulled ones because some or all of their bran’s oil content has been removed – meaning less cooking time required (amazing)!

Once harvested (typically from May to August), these tiny seeds go through an intense hulling process before becoming our beloved pearl barley.

Fun Fact Alert:

Did you know that in Germany, they refer to pearl barley as ‘Gerstengraupen’ (try saying that ten times fast)?

Why Do People Think Pearl Barley Causes Gas?

Now back to business- why do people think eating pearls may result in unintended emissions? The simple answer is fiber! (I knew it would be something so innocent)

Barley contains both soluble fiber – which can aid gastro-intestinal transit – and insoluble fiber known colloquially as “roughage”. This roughage stays largely intact throughout digestion because humans lack enzymes capable of breaking it down fully. Basically: leaving lots o’ bits behind (ughhh…my poor stomach already hurts).

This fiber-richness can cause larger amounts of gas formation by gut microbes. Thus, it is a common belief that pearl barley must be the cause of flatulence.

So Does Pearl Barley Cause Gas?

Now, this one may surprise you! In short- not exactly

When fiber travels through your intestines, your gut’s resident bacteria start breaking it down via fermentation. This digestion process results in gas production, but don’t panic just yet – most of these gases are harmless (or smelly for that matter👀). Only specific bacteria can produce some gasses which affect the digestive tract and hence lead to certain GI symptoms like bloating.

Therefore consuming pearl barley will instigate fermentation due to its high fiber content but won’t generally result in excessive flatulence if consumed (in moderation) as a part of a balanced meal plan.

When Might Pearl Barley Not Agree With You:

Here are some concerns though!

  1. Eating large portions – Consuming too much insoluble fibre with little water intake may potentially block up the digestive system (definitely not ideal)
  2. Gluten Sensitivity– Those who express gluten intolerance or celiac disease should avoid pearl barley since it contains gluten.
  3. Fructan Intolerance- Pearled grains contain small amounts of fructans makes them particularly troublesome for people with known fructose malabsorption because they predispose such individuals to fermentable side effects including bloating and abdominal distension.
  4. Adding Pile-Ons: Certain popular culinary accompaniments like garlic or onion could act additive effect with pearled grains leading to indigestion problems.

Yes! I see those countless question marks on top of your head; let’s dive into those queries before we move forward

How Much Fiber is There in Pearl Barley?

Pearl barley boasts ~8g fiber per serving (per 100 grams), which makes it a high-fiber food. This fiber content is what aids digestion, increases satiety and lowers cholesterol levels. It’s important to know that while barley is not the only source of fiber out there, incorporating variety in the diet secures balanced nutrient intakes.

How Do I Reduce Gas Caused by Pearl Barley?

First off, don’t go overboard on pearl barley if you’re prone to gas – this same rule applies kindred foods with high fibre content! The key here is moderation – start with small portions (25 grams or less) and gradually increase as your digestive system adapts to higher intakes (simple right?)

If pearl barley disagrees with you despite dose discipline:

  1. Soak grains before cooking- soaking uncooked grains for several hours (up to 12 hrs) can help reduce antinutrients affecting absorption & ease digestion too.
  2. Drink plenty of water– Water intake can balance insoluble fibre concentrations present in pearled grains during passage through intestines.
  3. Incorporate herbs like ginger or fennel – These naturally aid in reducing flatulence symptoms
  4. Try this: Lemon-Pepper Balourie Soup (my favorite) 😉

Recipe Time:


  • 200g pearl wheat
  • 50g butter
  • 5 cloves garlic chopped
  • 2 small onions sliced
  • Salt, pepper& thyme


1) Start by melting one spoonful of butter along with seasoning until they’re translucent.
2) Add two cups of bone broth/chicken stock along with your cooked peas before bringing the mixture to boiling temperature and then reduce heat level.
3) Cover and let it simmer fully for around ten minutes until all ingredients are perfectly melded together!
Add saltiness if required
4) Lastly – Blend soup thoroughly using blender/ hand-held mixer!!!’ Voila!

Psst. Did We Mention That Pearl Barley is Actually Very Nutritious?

So, we now know pearl barley can cause some digestive symptoms when consumed in large amounts but it’s important to consider its nutrients value too.

Pearl barley is also incredibly nutritious (YAY!) . It has an impressive nutrient profile and packs plenty of essential vitamins and minerals: including manganese for bone growth, magnesium & potassium for your heart health, protein as building blocks in tissues amide other dietary fibre goodness!

How Do I Incorporate More Pearl Barley Into My Diet?

Great question! Here are a few ways you could include the magical grain into your meals on any given day :

1) A “bowl” with sauteed veggies- simply make ‘pearly’ bowls loaded with yummy grilled vegetables topped up with feta cheese
2) Lemon-Barley Soup – Toss together cooked barley broth& herbs like thyme – this warming soup will winter-ready!
3) One-Pot Meals- Grain dishes mixed & baked within seasonal produce ingredients=Ultimate Comfort Food!
4) Meal-prep Salads- Combine pearl barley alongside another ‘grain’ component like quinoa relish or roasted veggies stars here 😋

The Verdict:

The bottom line? As long as you consume pearl barley responsibly(portion-controlled), there’s no reason not to indulge yourself with its delicious taste (alongside health benefits!). Just keep things balanced (moderation wins again honestly.) 🥳 So go ahead – add more pearly grains to your plate guilt-free!

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