25. What to Do about Flatulence (Gas)

Flatulence is passing gas through the anus. For the average adult, this happens about 6 to 20 times a day.

Where does all that gas come from anyway? Often, it comes from swallowing air. It also comes from intestinal bacteria that produce carbon dioxide and hydrogen (both odorless, by the way) in the course of digesting the food you eat. The tiny amounts of other, more pungent gases give flatus its characteristic odor. Eating certain foods, like peas, beans, and certain grains, produces noticeably more gas than eating other foods. Also, when you add fiber to your diet, do so gradually.

Common sense says to avoid swallowing air and to eliminate foods that are considered notorious gas-producers (or eat them in small amounts). Well-known offenders include:

  1. Apples and apricots.

  2. Beans and peas (dried, cooked).

  3. Bran.

  4. Broccoli and brussels sprouts.

  5. Cabbage and cauliflower.

  6. Dairy products (for persons allergic to lactose).

  7. Eggplant.

  8. Eggs.

  9. Nuts, onions, and popcorn.

  10. Prunes and raisins.

  11. Sorbitol (an artificial sweetener).

The medication simethicone may help. It has no known side effects. Simethicone is available by prescription and in over-the-counter (OTC) brand name products, such as Mylicon, Gas-X, etc. Other OTC products, such as Bean-O and Phazyme, may help curb gas caused by eating foods, such as beans, bran, nuts, onions, soy, and many vegetables.

Gas may signal a variety of other problems worth looking into.

  1. Lactose intolerance (inability to properly digest milk, cheese, and other dairy products). (See Tip 113 in chapter 4, Eating for Better Health.)

  2. Bacterial overgrowth in the intestines (often caused by certain antibiotics).

  3. Abnormal muscle contraction in the colon.

Chapter 1
  1. Fast Relief for Everyday Health Problems