How can I reduce flatulence?

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Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
You pass gas (fart, if you prefer) about 14 times a day. Fortunately, most go unnoticed. Otherwise a four-hour conference with 10 people would deliver 24 wind-breakers. Meeting adjourned!

Most passed gas is nitrogen. Carbon dioxide, methane and hydrogen are also common -- and inoffensive -- byproducts of digestion. Embarrassing noises announce the passage of gas when your tense sphincter acts as a wind instrument. And the smell -- that’s from hydrogen sulfide, which is produced when sulfur-rich food is digested by bacteria in your colon.

Foods that promote sulfuric smells include eggs, meat, fish, beer, beans, broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage. If you don’t want to give up potentially gassy foods, you can control odor by eating leafy, green vegetables alongside them and taking a probiotic daily (pill form works best). To enjoy beans without the soundtrack, soak them ahead of time or try a little Beano.

Other ways to reduce gas: Keep your bowels moving with regular exercise; rely on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to move things along; and stay hydrated to help avoid constipation.

Ah! Sweet silence.
Philip E. Tanner, MD
Gastroenterology
Typically, flatulence is caused by the foods and drinks we consume. Eating or drinking quickly can cause air to be swallowed which causes flatulence. Another cause is too much fiber or foods that are hard to digest, such as beans. Artificial sweeteners and fructose (found in fruits) can cause flatulence, and in some people, foods that contain lactose (such as milk, cheese, or ice cream) can be the culprit.
First line therapy for reducing flatulence is to avoid eating and drinking quickly and avoid foods that produce gas. Over the counter products are helpful, such as simethicone (gas-x) or products that contain an enzyme to aid in breaking down food (beano, lactaid). If flatulence continues to be a problem, please consult one of our physicians!
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Although gas is natural, it simply doesn't go over well in the office elevator. You can help suppress it by taking an over-the-counter medication containing simethicone, which helps break down gas bubbles to reduce gas. You can also soak beans in water overnight; that breaks down some of the compounds that cause gas. Be sure to use fresh water when cooking them.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.