Managing embarrassing symptoms -- burping, intestinal gas, and the growling stomach --- may be as simple as changing your diet.
Although lactose intolerance
may be the best known, there are other types of known food intolerances. For
instance, fructose intolerance is an inability to digest a different sugar
that's in some vegetables and fruits and also used as an artificial
But the individual reactions
that people have to various foods are so diverse that they can't be
categorized. For instance, one person may notice that peppers give her terrible
intestinal gas, while another can't eat onions for the same reason.
Some of your digestive
symptoms -- such as flatulence, bloating, and cramping -- may depend on what
particular strains of bacteria have or have not set up shop in your large
intestine. But that's probably not the whole story.
"We just don't have scientific
and physiological explanations for some of these reactions," says
Wilcox agrees. "It all just
depends on your make-up and what you eat," he says, "and you learn what to
avoid by trial and error."
How Can I Reduce my Gas?
Ultimately, there's only so
much one can do to reduce the amount of gas you have. Everyone has to contend
with some belching and intestinal gas every day.
But if it's really bothering
you, or if you feel that the amount of gas you're producing is excessive, there
are some steps you can take. All three experts agree that the most important
steps are making changes to your diet by:
Avoiding anything that might increase your
chances of swallowing air, such as smoking, drinking through straws, and eating
Avoiding or cutting down on problematic
foods, such as carbonated drinks, beans, and some raw vegetables
Considering a food diary. If you can't
figure out what may be causing your increased gas, try keeping a journal of
what you eat. You may find one or two foods that seem to increase your
There are countless products
sold in drugstores that may give you some relief, including antacids and
digestive aids. But Wilcox and Edmundowicz caution that they may not help
"Antacids have very limited
effects," says Edmundowicz. While simethicone, an ingredient in many antacids,
seems to help some people with heartburn, it won't help with intestinal