Flatulence

Flatulence (also known as “gas”) is something we all release several times a day. Most of this gas comes from the fermentation of indigestible carbohydrates by bacteria living in the colon. If we do not digest certain foods, they sit in the colon and ferment over time. The bacteria in the colon encourage the formation of flatulence (hydrogen, methane, carbon dioxide and nitrogen). Gas is usually odorless, however, certain foods may encourage a more offensive odor.

• Sulfur-containing foods create such an odor. These are garlic, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, some fruit, caffeinated beverages, beer or chips.

• Foods that create the odorless gas are beans, onions, broccoli, cauliflower, apples, bananas, prunes, peas, apricots, and bran products.

• Slow-to-digest foods (high-fat foods) have the opportunity to sit in the colon for a longer period of time and may produce more flatulence.

Treatments:

• Increase exercise in order to digest your foods more efficiently and decrease the amount of gas.

• Use a dairy-free probiotic and/or lactose-free Kefir – a good bacteria – to neutralize any bad bacteria in your digestive system.

• Use digestive or papaya enzymes to help your digestive process.

• Beano (an enzyme used to digest some carbohydrates) may also be used. You can find it in health food stores and in drug store chains.

• Activated charcoal pills can help to absorb irritants that are causing the flatulence. Be careful not to take them at the same time as other medications.

• Be aware of any allergies to milk sugar (lactose). If you tend to have more gas after consuming milk products (milk, cheese, ice cream) then you may be lactose-intolerant. If so, you may use lactose-free milk or take the enzyme you are lacking called lactase.

• Eat slowly, and do not use straws or chew gum; they encourage the formation of gas.

• Try Pepto-Bismol. It absorbs sulfur in foods and works to decrease flatulence. Check with your doctor if you are taking blood thinners. Pepto-Bismol contains aspirin so you may not be able to use it very often.

• Avoid foods with sugar alcohols (sorbitol, xylitol, or mannitol, isomalt) since these foods digest more slowly and may cause flatulence or have a laxative affect.

About Author: Marci Sloane
Marci Sloane is a registered and licensed dietitian and certified diabetes educator. She is the Food Majesty and author of several books.

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