Foods That Reduce Flatulence (Intestinal Gas)
Learn all about foods that help reduce flatulence or excessive intestinal gas. The following list includes some age-old remedies for flatulence – such as peppermint, fennel seeds, and ginger – but also a number of less common anti-flatulence foods such as pineapple and basil.
Peppermint is found today all over the world, but it was first cultivated in Europe, where it has been enjoyed for centuries, both in culinary and medicinal applications. It has become well known for its beneficial effects on the digestive tract, and it is commonly recommended to people who suffer from flatulence. Naturopaths also recommend it to people with an irritable bowel syndrome, a common digestive syndrome characterized by flatulence and trapped wind. One study conducted in Italy found that 75% of the test subjects with an irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) had a significant reduction in their IBS symptoms after taking peppermint oil capsules for four weeks.
The tiny seeds of this ancient grain were a staple food of the Aztecs and the Incas. The Aztecs also used amaranth in their brutal religious ceremonies, which is why the early Christian missionaries declared amaranth evil and banned its cultivation. Today, we know that amaranth is everything but evil: it is highly nutritious, and due to its high digestibility score, it is one of the least gas-forming grains there is. Amaranth seeds can be cooked and used much in the same way as rice, or they can be popped, roasted, or flaked and used in numerous dishes.
Ginger, one of the oldest spices in the world, is known to have been used in China as early as 400 B.C. Although probably best known for its cold treating powers, ginger is also well known for its ability to alleviate symptoms of gastrointestinal distress and is commonly used for eliminating intestinal gas. Ginger contains zingibain, a protein digestive enzyme, and is therefore particularly effective at preventing gas caused by protein rich foods. Fresh ginger, which is considered the most effective form of ginger, is available in the produce section of your local supermarket throughout the year.
#4: Fennel Seeds
Fennel seeds have been used for centuries to stimulate digestion and reduce flatulence and bloating. The key active constituent in fennel seeds is the terpenoid anethole which has been shown to inhibit spasms in smooth muscles, including those in the intestinal tract. With their mild, anise-like flavor, fennel seeds are used in many different types of dishes around the world. In northern and central Europe, they are used in baking, particularly in breads. In Italy, fennel seeds are often added to sausages and meat dishes. In India, fennel seeds are one of the ingredients of panch poran, a spice blend which is used to flavor curries. Note: Pregnant women are advised to avoid consuming fennel seeds in larger quantities.
Turbo-charge your anti-flatulence diet by regularly eating pineapple. Pineapple contains bromelain, an enzyme that aids in the digestion of proteins. Be aware, however, that most of the bromelain in pineapple is in the stem which is not as tasty as the flesh but which is nevertheless edible.
Originally from Central America, the papaya plant is today cultivated in most tropical countries. Termed as the "fruit of the angels" by Christopher Columbus, papaya is a true nutritional powerhouse. It is also a great food to add to your diet if you suffer from excess gas. Papaya contains papain, a protein-digesting enzyme, as well as a number of other active compounds that can fight flatulence and bloating. Papain is more concentrated in green unripe papaya than in ripe papaya. Green papaya, which is often more readily available in Asian food stores, makes a nice addition to salads.
Aside from being downright delicious, basil is an effective remedy for a variety of digestive and gastrointestinal problems, including flatulence. It is a common ingredient in many Italian dishes, but it is also prominently featured in Southeast Asian cuisine. When buying basil, opt for fresh basil rather than dried leaves — fresh basil is clearly superior in flavor. The leaves of fresh basil should have an intense green color and be free from dark brown spots. If fresh basil is not available in your local supermarket, considering growing basil microgreens indoors at home.
#8: Natural Yoghurt
Natural yoghurt that contains probiotic bacteria such as Lactobacillus acidophilus or Bifidobacterium bifidum may help reduce flatulence. These probiotic bacteria live in the gastrointestinal tract where they aid digestion and fight the overgrowth of harmful bacteria, thereby preventing accumulation of excess gas. Increasing your intake of probiotic bacteria may be particularly helpful if you have recently been taking an antibiotic medication as antibiotics are known to destroy the healthy flora in the intestines.