I heard from an older man this evening who is contemplating marriage, and he's concerned because he experiences a lot of intestinal gas, every day, and he knows it can only disrupt the marital bliss. I informed him that, according to Medicine, the average person passes gas about 14 times a day, and he informed me that he thinks he's passing gas about 50 times a day. I agreed that that's excessive. He also informed me that he's trying to eat healthily, with lots of fruits, vegetables, and green salads, and also nuts and beans. I agreed that it's very healthy food, but it's also more gas-forming than the usual fare that most people eat.
So, what is the solution? We certainly don't want to start living on hamburger and white bread just to avoid getting gas. But, I know very well that we can eat heartily of whole, natural plant foods without getting an inordinate amount of gas.
I realize that is a qualified statement. I wish I could tell you that I know how you can avoid getting gas completely. But, that would be a lie because I'm human too, and I experience some gas myself. But, not an inordinate amount. Not an amount that interferes with my social life or my love life. And that's what we are aiming for.
First, I want to suggest tried and true eating rules to help control gas.
1. Don't overeat. It is the single biggest cause of excess gas. Don't eat until you are stuffed. The goal is not to feel "full" but rather to feel "smug" which means content and satisfied. Remember also that when you finish eating that it takes time for your stomach to release all the digestive juices that are involved in processing the meal. So, if you feel physically full when you put your fork down, imagine how you are going to feel a half hour later when your stomach has added more secretions. So, leave room for that. DON"T OVEREAT.
2. Don't eat between meals. People are surprised when I tell them that I never snack. They think I must have some kind of iron will. But, it has nothing to do with that. I simply respect my stomach, and I understand how it works. When you consume a meal, you have given your stomach an assignment, and it tackles it. But then, if you start eating again while it's still digesting the previous meal, it's like throwing a monkeywrench into the machinery. It also triggers what is known as a "gastro-colic" reflex. If the body thinks another meal is coming, it may try to quickly pass the previous meal to make room for the new one, and so it rushes undigested or partially digested food into the lower intestine. Well, that is definitely going to cause gas. Bacteria are going to have a field day with that. So, the idea is that we should give our digestive system a job, a project, and then leave it alone for several hours. Don't disturb it. Don't give it anything else to do. Let it do its work unencumbered. Think of the intervals between meals as your fasting periods. Remember, we're not cows, and we're not gorillas (both of whom are grazers). We're human beings, and we eat at distinct times called "meals." Don't eat between meals.
3. What about food combining rules? I know all about the food combining rules, but I am not a staunch proponent of food combining. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with eating different kinds of food at the same meal. Individual foods are very complex as it is. The problem is that "Variety is the spice of gluttony." We tend to eat more food when there are a lot of choices on the table. And that brings us back to our first axiom, DON'T OVEREAT. But, although I am not in favor of rigid, universal food combining rules, it doesn't mean that you can't go by your own experience and limit certain combinations that you know tend to cause you trouble.
4. Eat slowly and chew your food well. If you tend to gulp your food down quickly, it's a bad habit, and you just have to break it.
5. Avoid eating late at night. I think we all know from experience that late night eating invites digestive trouble, sour stomach, gas, etc.
6. It shouldn't be necessary to drink during meals. If you tend to get thirsty during a meal, it means one of two things: either you were dehydrated before you started eating OR you're not including enough water-sufficient foods (fruits and vegetables) at the meal. Another possibility is that you are consuming too much salt at the meal, but that's a subject in itself.
7. What about excluding certain gas-forming foods, such as pears, broccoli, onions, etc.? You can play around with that, but don't get carried away with it. The truth is that all fruits and vegetables, and all high-fiber foods like whole grains and legumes, can be gas-forming. If you were going to eliminate everything that could potentially cause gas, you would wind up steering your diet in a most unhealthful direction. So, don't go too far down that road. Focus instead on the tactics listed above.
Applying the above ideas should help mitigate your gas problem. Again, I'm not suggesting that you are never going to pass gas again, but it should be much less. But, is there anything you can do?
Yes, you could try taking probiotics and digestive enzymes. Probiotics, of course, are the beneficial bacteria, and they actually help us digest our food, and they also help crowd out harmful yeast and Candida, etc. which can cause gas. So, it wouldn't hurt a thing, and it might help a lot for a person with a major gas problem to take Probiotics, at least for a while. There are a lot of good ones. We offer two: BioPRO, which is an excellent proprietary formula made by Vitamin Research Products. And we offer Culturelle, which is a leading probiotic made by another company. It has a patented strain of Lactobacilli with years of clinical research behind it.
Digestive Enzymes (and we actually have a product by that name) consists of the various enzymes such as amylase for starch, lipase for fat, and protease for protein. Most people are familiar with the product Beano, which contains the enzyme: alpha-galactosidase, which aids carbohydrate digestion. But, I think it's better to take a comprehensive enzyme product if you're going to do it at all.
Finally, I want to point out that in the most severe cases, I will recommend our Gastric Aid formula, which contains a form of hydrochloric acid: Betaine Hydrochloride. In a world in which millions of people take acid-blocking drugs every day, it may seem crazy to try to increase the amount of stomach acid. But, believe me, it often works wonders. There are more people suffering from too little stomach acid than too much. The stomach is supposed to be acid: very acid. And, destroying a person's stomach acid is a form of medical malpractice- in my opinion. It certainly does not restore the person to health, and it only invites other problems. Even when it seems to work symptomatically, I still think it's a bad idea.