Perhaps it is all this talk about the Greens Challenge coming up next weekend, but I’ve had more than one person approach me this week with digestive struggles around healthy foods like cruciferous veggies and beans. “What do I do? How can I eat my broccoli and kale without pain?” Indeed, increasing your green veg consumption can be problematic if the cruciferous family causes a bout of gas.
Remedies for gas go back as far as humans have been cooking foods rich in fibers that aren’t always the easiest to process. Beans and broccoli are notoriously gas producing, and each culture that adopted beans as a mainstay has a remedy to combat gassiness. Here are some I know about:
- Soak beans overnight, drain the soaking water and use fresh water while cooking. Skim the foam off the top – these are reportedly some of the starches which cause problems and are cooked into canned beans. Canned beans are the worst offenders due to lack of soaking.
- Add traditional herbal remedies such as epazote (Latin America) and kombu (Asia) to the cooking liquid to reduce gas.
- Ginger, fennel, fenugreek and mint can be added to both beans and cruciferous veggies to reduce gassiness.
If you aren’t one to cook beans the old-fashioned way or you eat out often there are many remedies available to purchase which can also be of help:
Peppermint Soothe by Enzymatic Therapy is an enteric coated peppermint oil that relieves cramping, bloating and gas in the intestines. If you choose a peppermint oil, make sure it is enteric coated so it is not dissolved in the stomach. Available through Fullscript and through healthcare practitioners…however, if you have a Pharmaca near you they likely carry it.
Atrantil works to dissolve gas in the GI tract and reduce bacteria species that produce gas. They claim their herbal formula targets both gas production and the environment required to keep gas-producing bacteria happy. My colleagues swear by it. Their website has ordering information.
Beano is an enzyme-based supplement taken with meals and has survived the test of time simply because it works. It helps break down the foods before they reach the gut so they are not as problematic. Available pretty much everywhere.
Probiotic supplements can also help with gas by crowding out gas-producing bacteria in favor of more amenable strains. The following probiotics have demonstrated efficacy in research or in clinical practice for reducing gas:
VSL#3 has been shown in studies to reduce gas as well as be helpful for managing IBS symptoms. Studies show promise for Ulcerative Colitis sufferers as well. In addition to alleviating several digestive diseases, VSL #3 may enhance the microbial composition of breastmilk, reduce the likelihood of antibiotic associated diarrhea, reduce systemic inflammation by calming the GI tract, and more. It’s been very well studied and is a fabulous product. Costco carries it and reportedly is the least expensive place to get VSL#3. It can also be found at your local pharmacy and is available without a prescription.
L. plantarum 299v is found in Jarrow’s Ideal Bowel Support or Metagenics UltraFlora Intensive Care, both of which can be found online if unavailable in your local supplement store.