Monday, January 31, 2005

It's a Gassy Topic ...

... But someone has to talk about it.

It's everywhere:
Eat more fruits and vegetables ... whole grains ... beans!

Have you tried? Lots of people eventually forego this advice, not because it can't be translated into the delicious, but because it gets transformed into the vaporous. Cabbage and onions, multi-grain bread, three bean chili, split-pea soup, the list of potential gas-producing foods is formidable. And gas in the bowels, apart from being poorly recognized socially ...

Responses by participants of a 2003 study on their behavior when passing gas in public:
  • 59 percent left the room
  • 24 percent denied it was them
  • 22 percent coughed
  • 10 percent blamed someone else or a pet
... can be downright uncomfortable. Certain sugars and starches (oligosaccharides) in these foods (See Beano's Gassy Food List.) are difficult for humans to digest, especially humans who've spent years chewing white bread instead of gnawing on stems and husks. Until your body develops a tolerance to these carbohydrates (and it will, to some degree, if you keep eating them) you can swallow some harmless enzymes along with these foods to help break them apart and assist in their digestion ... before they hit the bowel and your resident bacteria have a gas-producing feast.

Beano* contains an enzyme (alpha-galactosidase) that helps digest these foods. People have variable success with it, but that's probably related to taking too little, taking it too long before or after eating the offending food, or taking it to ease the discomfort of lactose intolerance. (Beano doesn't work on milk sugars, for that you want Lactaid.) Of course, there are lots of medical conditions, e.g. irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), that lead to the gas and bloating typical of poorly digested beans. Beano won't help there either.

The science supports it, so if your pocketbook can support it, it's worth a shot. It may even land you a little action:

Beano saved my marriage. My wife now lets me sleep in her bed again.”
- Mr. L. Szabo, California

* The Fanatic does not necessarily endorse or favor the use of Beano compared to other alpha-galactosidase containing supplements. It appears here because it is a widely available, affordable, commercial product representative of the type useful for malodorous vapors.

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