Help for Intestinal Gas

Help for Intestinal Gas

Julian Whitaker, MD

Everybody produces gas; one to four pints and 14 “episodes” a day, on average. It’s primarily caused by the human body’s inability to completely digest certain carbohydrates—we simply lack the enzymes to break them down. When these carbs arrive in the intestinal tract they are metabolized by the trillions of bacteria that reside there, which break them down in a fermentation process that releases hydrogen, carbon dioxide, methane, and other gases. (The odor is caused by sulfur compounds.)

Cutting back on carbohydrates should be your first step. This may require a little trial and error because not everyone has the same “triggers.” The most problematic are starches (grains, bread, pasta, potatoes, etc.), fiber, and some sugars (raffinose in beans, cruciferous vegetables, and whole grains; sorbitol and other sugar alcohols; and, for some, lactose in milk products).

Eating fewer starches and sugars provides multiple benefits, but don’t completely eliminate healthy fiber-rich beans and vegetables, even if they make you gassy. Instead, try products such as Beano, which contains the enzyme that targets raffinose sugars, and combination products that contain a variety of digestive enzymes. I also recommend probiotic supplements, which help establish beneficial bacteria in the gut, and simethicone, a time-proven over-the-counter product that reduces intestinal gas. Look for Beano and simethecone in drugstores.


  • Digestive enzymes and probiotics are available in health food stores, online, or by calling (800) 810-6655.

Modified from Health & Healing with permission from Healthy Directions, LLC. Photocopying, reproduction, or quotation strictly prohibited without written permission from the publisher. To subscribe to Health & Healing, click here.

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