Dietary Changes to Improve Flatulence

Patient

Q: I am a 52 year old woman with an extreme amount of flatulence. It builds up in my body cavities (ribs, upper shoulder, etc) and hurts until I pass it which occurs when I walk, run or sleep. I do not eat very many gaseous foods but I have always felt my body is connected to 220 vs. 110. I am a 4 year newly-wed and I have had to move out of our bedroom because of the horrific odor for my husband. I have recently stopped smoking and have added exercise, water and vitamins to my regimen. I take at least 4 Mytabs daily and I drink 1 teaspoon of Benefiber in my coffee daily. I was recently diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis which is the only medical condition I have. Thank you for any assistance you can give – I am soooo embarrassed.

Doctor

A:   Intestinal gas is composed of air that is ingested through the nose and mouth and gas produced within the digestive tract. I suggest augmenting your diet to try to counteract this problem. Flatulence-producing foods include beans, lentils, dairy products, onions, garlic, scallions, leeks, turnips, rutabagas, radishes, sweet potatoes, potatoes, cashews, Jerusalem artichokes, oats, wheat, and yeast in breads. Cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts; therefore I suggest limiting your intake of these. Certain spices have been reported to counteract the production of intestinal gas, most notably cumin, coriander, caraway. Most starches, including potatoes, corn, noodles, and wheat, produce gas as they are broken down in the large intestine. Rice is the only starch that does not cause gas, and could prove a useful substitute. Probiotics (live yogurt, kefir, etc.) may reduce flatulence when used to restore balance to the normal intestinal flora. Medicinal activated charcoal tablets have may also be effective in reducing both odour and quantity of flatus when taken immediately before food that is likely to cause flatulence later. If no improvement in symptoms following diet augmentation, I suggest you attend your family doctor or gastroenterologist.

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