The Third Third

Fear of Farting

As a mother, I insisted my children could learn the bodily control necessary to stop farting – at least in my presence. I had no tolerance for bathroom humor. But now, for reasons which are probably obvious given that I’m writing about flatulence, I wish I did. On a website titled, the following statistic provided graphic detail I can no longer ignore: Most people produce about 1-3 pints of intestinal gas and pass gas about 14 times a day! Flatulence itself, although not life threatening, can definitely cause social embarrassment. This embarrassment is often the reason why you might seek medical help for excessive gas. (Or, if female and “of a certain age,” simply excuse yourself from the room with a sudden onset of “the vapors.”) As we age, diseases, prescription drugs, diet changes and loss of muscle tone can be blamed for the excess. But medical sources contend that older people do not necessarily have more flatulence than younger people; they simply pay more attention to it (as do teen-aged boys); and often the medical aids (fiber, laxatives, stool softeners) they might use to address other intestinal issues, such as constipation, will themselves yield more gas. Foods that the intestines can\'t completely absorb – which then ferment in the colon -- are the biggest producers of intestinal gas. Among these are: apples, bananas, beans, peas, lentils, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carbonated beverages, cauliflower, corn, cucumbers, grapes, milk and other dairy products, nuts, oats and other high fiber foods, onions, raisin, Sorbitol, turnips and wine. Here’s the good news, though: the worst odors, related to strong smelling sulfurs, make up just 1 percent of flatulence. So – can you do anything about the embarrassment that comes with realizing you are – or seem to be – passing gas more often and even in public? Watch what you eat. Cut back on carbohydrates, sweets, fiber, and alcohol. Exercise regularly. Check with your physician about prescription drugs for which there may be less gas-inducing alternatives. And let us know, here at, if you’ve found any other sure-fire cures. Bean-o anyone?
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