Excessive flatulence can be distressing. Instead of dashing to another room to avoid embarrassment, help is at hand with the following flatulence cures.


Foods that cause flatulence

If you get flatulence after eating, avoid all the notorious gas-producing foods including beans, cabbage, bran, cauliflower, broccoli, onions, prunes, raisins and brussels sprouts. The sulphur in egg yolk also contributes to smelly gas.

Avoid sugar-free sweets and chewing gum that contain the sweeteners sorbitol, xylitol and mannitol. Your body has trouble digesting them and, when they reach the colon, the resident bacteria there feed on them and produce gas.

Cut down on fructose, a sugar found in honey, fruit and fruit juices which is also difficult to digest. Don't cut whole fruit from your diet but reduce your intake of fruit juice and honey.

If you're adding more fibre to your diet, do it gradually. Fibre is terrific for overall good health, but adding a lot to your diet all at once can increase wind.

Before you cook beans or pulses, soak them overnight. The next day, pour off the old water, then replenish with fresh water for boiling. Even better than boiling for removing gas is to cook beans in a pressure cooker.

Could you be lactose intolerant? Try giving up dairy foods for a few days and see if it makes a difference–although you may still be able to eat hard cheeses, yoghurt and buttermilk. If you are lactose intolerant, you have a low intestinal level of lactase, the enzyme needed to digest lactose, which is a type of sugar found in dairy foods.


Foods that prevent excessive flatulence

Each day, eat 2-3 small tubs of bio-yogurt that contains either of the probiotic bacteria acidophilus or biphidus, to introduce beneficial bacteria into the digestive tract. Miso is another source of probiotics. Miso soup is available in handy single-use sachets from Asian food shops and the Asian food section of most supermarkets. Alternatively take probiotics capsules, as directed on the label–usually 3 times a day on an empty stomach. These will replenish the ‘friendly’ bacteria that inhabit the large intestine and keep gas-producing bacteria in check.


Other cures for flatulence

If you have painful abdominal cramps, find a private place where you can lie down for a few minutes. Lie on your back and pull your knees up towards your chest.

Alternatively, kneel on the bed with your head down and your bottom in the air. Either of these positions allows wind to escape more easily.

Walking is a great way to encourage wind dispersal. In hospitals, it's the first thing that doctors recommend to post-operative patients to help get their bowels working again.
 

Herbal remedies

Ginger is available in various forms; experiment to find out which works best for you. Take tablets or capsules according to manufacturer's instructions, or 30 drops of tincture before your meals. Or eat a chunk of fresh root ginger (it's hot, so you may find it a challenge).

Make ginger tea by grating a teaspoon of fresh root ginger, pouring a cup of boiling water over it and steeping for 5 minutes. Strain and allow to cool before drinking. It will stimulate digestion so food won't linger in your intestines. Ginger tea is also available as tea bags from supermarkets.

Peppermint tea is also effective, make your own by adding a teaspoon or 2 of the dried leaves to a cup of freshly boiled water and steep for 5 minutes before straining. You can use this remedy 3 or 4 times a day. (Caution: Do not use peppermint remedies if you have gastro-oesophageal reflux or heartburn.)

Fennel seeds have been used for hundreds of years to reduce wind and improve digestion. Caraway, anise or celery seeds have a similar effect. Chewing half a teaspoon of seeds after a meal will help to prevent after-dinner burping and expel gas from the intestinal tract. All these seeds are available from the spice section of most supermarkets.

Herbal bitters improve the production of stomach acid and speed digestion as well as reducing bloating and flatulence. Take 1 teaspoonful in a glass of warm water before each meal.

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