Intestinal Gas Part of Fibers Action

Intestinal gas is a common complaint—and a normal side effect—of eating a high-fiber diet. If your eating plan has been typically low in fiber, minimize the discomfort that comes with "bulking up." Increase your fiber intake slowly over several months. Drink enough water, too, to help reduce the effects of intestinal gas and prevent impacted stools.

People especially complain—and sometimes joke—about beans and vegetables in the cabbage family: "They give me gas!" Gas forms in the intestines because humans lack the right enzymes to digest certain carbohydrates, leaving people feeling gassy and bloated. Other foods or ingredients reported to cause gas for some include milk, wheat germ, onions, carrots, celery, bananas, raisins, dried apricots, prune juice, and sorbitol. Sorbitol, which is slowly digested, is actually a sugar alcohol, not a sugar.

To help tame the gas caused by beans:

Label Lingo

Fiber

Although the Nutrition Facts panel

on a food label gives the specific amount of fiber in

foods, "fiber lingo"

on the label may offer a quick

description. Look for these terms as you walk the super

market aisles:

Label Term . . .

Means . . .

High fiber

5 g or more per serving

Good source

2.5 to 4.9 g per serving

More or added fiber

At least 2.5 g more* per

serving

*As compared with a standard serving size of the traditional

food

-J

  • When preparing dry beans, soak them overnight, then discard the soaking water. Some gas-producing carbohydrates get absorbed in the soaking water. For cooking the beans, use fresh water.
  • Allow enough time to cook dry beans thoroughly. That makes them easier to digest.
  • If bean dishes or other foods cause gas, take smaller helpings.
  • quot;Degas" canned beans by draining off the liquid, then rinsing the beans. That also reduces the sodium.

If you need more relief from intestinal gas, several nonprescription products may help. Products containing charcoal, which are taken at the end of a meal, help absorb gas in the intestines. They can interfere with the absorption of medications, however, and are not recommended for children. Products with a food enzyme called alpha-galactosidase help convert gas-producing carbohydrates to more easily digestible sugars. They're sold in the form of tablets or drops taken before a meal. Products with simethicone help relieve gas symptoms but do not prevent them. This substance works by breaking large pockets of gas in the intestines into smaller bubbles.

Be aware that other gas-reducing or gas-preventing products are sold, some with questionable claims. You're wise to check with your doctor before using any gas-reduction products.

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