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You can't buy good health but you can buy good health information. Check out these newly released Special Health Reports from Harvard Medical School:

Preventing gas and flatulence

Flatulence isn’t much fun for the person having it—or those nearby. The October 2007 issue of the Harvard Health Letter lists tips for dealing with intestinal gas. For example:

Slow down your eating: A little bit of air goes down with everything you swallow. To reduce the amount of air, eat and drink slowly and chew food thoroughly.

Avoid airy drinks and foods: Air also gets into the gut if it’s incorporated into food and drinks like beer, soda, or sponge cake.

Don’t smoke: Some air gets swallowed when people smoke. Perhaps flatulence should be added to the list of ill consequences of smoking.

Shun sulfur: The bad smell of flatus comes from gases that contain sulfur. Putting less sulfur into your system can reduce the amount that comes out. Avoid sulfur-rich foods like eggs, meat, and cauliflower.

Cook those beans: When colon bacteria feed on the sugars in beans, they produce a gas by-product. You can reduce beans’ gas potential by boiling them briefly, letting them sit, and then cooking them again in fresh water—or just by cooking them longer.

Consider Beano: A study found that high doses of the over-the-counter product Beano reduced flatulence, but a normal dose did not produce statistically significant results.

Go low on high-fructose corn syrup: Foods containing this sweetener can cause bloating and flatulence in people whose small intestines can’t absorb large amounts of fructose.

Adjust the ecosystem: Too few or too much of particular bacterial species in the intestines can produce excessive flatulence. Talk to your doctor about probiotics; in certain cases, an antibiotic might be worth considering.

Also in this issue of the Harvard Health Letter

  • Prescriptions for confusion
  • How you can limit your gas production
  • Radon revisited
  • In Brief: Cranberry juice and warfarin: Okay together?
  • In Brief: Selenium: Maybe this mineral isn't such a gem after all
  • In Brief: Something to sink your teeth into: Sugarless gum
  • In Brief: Seat belts: A crash course in staying healthy
  • By the way, doctor: What can I do about my snoring?

More Harvard Health News »


About Harvard Health Publications

Harvard Health Publications publishes four monthly newsletters--Harvard Health Letter, Harvard Women's Health Watch, Harvard Men's Health Watch, and Harvard Heart Letter--as well as more than 50 special health reports and books drawing on the expertise of the 8,000 faculty physicians at Harvard Medical School and its world-famous affiliated hospitals.