Flatulence primary prevention

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [2]

Primary Prevention


Certain spices have been reported to counteract the production of intestinal gas, most notably cumin, coriander, caraway and the closely related ajwain,turmeric, asafoetida (hing), epazote, and kombu kelp (a Japanese seaweed). 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.[1] The amount of water-soluble oligosaccharide in beans that may contribute to production of intestinal gas is reputed to be reduced by a long period of soaking followed by boiling, but at a cost of also leaching out other water-soluble nutrients. Also, intestinal gas can be reduced by fermenting the beans, and making them less gas-inducing, and/or by cooking them in the liquor from a previous batch. Lactobacillus casei and Lactobacillus plantarum have recently been hypothesized as being responsible for this effect.[2]Some legumes also stand up to prolonged cooking, which can help break down the oligosaccharides into simple sugars. Fermentation also breaks down oligosaccharides, which is why fermented bean products such as miso and tofu are less likely to produce as much intestinal gas.

Probiotics (yogurt, kefir, etc.) are reputed to reduce flatulence when used to restore balance to the normal intestinal flora.[3] Yogurt contains Lactobacillus acidophilus which may be useful in reducing flatulence. L. acidophilus may make the intestines more acidic, thus maintaining the natural balance of fermentation processes. L. acidophilus is available in supplements (non-dairy is reputedly best. Prebiotics, which generally are non-digestible oligosaccharides, such as fructooligosaccharide, generally increase flatulence in a similar way as described for lactose intolerance.

Medicinal activated charcoal tablets have also been reported as effective in reducing both odor and quantity of flatus when taken immediately before food that is likely to cause flatulence later.


  1. Gas in the Digestive Tract a publication of National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, part of the US National Institute of Health
  2. "Study shows secret to gas-free beans". 2006-04-26. Retrieved 2007-09-10.
  3. Rubin J. and J. Brasco,Restoring Your Digestive Health (2003).

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