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October 14, 2007 1:04 PM   Subscribe

DigestiveEnzyme filter (or maybe FartFilter): Beano is the best! But is is just a band-aid solution for something more serious?

OK, so here is weird behaviour that is my stomach - I seem to be able to handle one carbohydrate-laden meal per day (for example bagels, oatmeal, toast, etc).

After that, every time I have anything with carbohydrates (bread, rice, veggies, fruit), gas starts to build up inside me and I start farting like a cow!

I am making a semi-educated guess that my body is using up whatever digestive enzymes it has for the first carbohydrate-laden meal, but then has nothing left for the other meals, hence the buildup of bacteria and the subsequent gas that they produce.

Beano has been a Godsend (and it works on all kinds of carbs, not just beans!), so I have finally found some relief, but now I am wondering:

- Can too much Beano be bad for me? (FYI its active component is alpha-galactosidase, derived from the fungus Aspergillus niger)
- Should I should be worried about something more serious, like some chronic enzyme deficiency?
posted by bitteroldman to Health & Fitness (15 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
well, enzymes aren't just "used up," as you put it. Enzymes keep doing their thing for as long as they have substrate and energy (until they denature, at least).
perhaps you meant something more along the lines of "busy"?
posted by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew at 1:08 PM on October 14, 2007

Is it just carbs in general or can you pin it down to something more specific?

I was on South Beach for two weeks and then, after adding it back in, realized that wheat was possibly the source of my life-long mild GI nuisances. (Rice wasn't a problem, and I haven't really tried others.) My doc wanted me to get a celiac workup right before I lost my insurance, so I never did, but now I suspect she might have been on to something.
posted by cobaltnine at 1:25 PM on October 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: to Dr. Honeydew: Meep Meep Meep! (You are probably right; the enzymes are probably busy - the point is, they are not available to digest my carbs)

to Cobaltnine: it is any type of carb: complex (bread, rice, pasta), simple (fruits, vegetables and sugars)
posted by bitteroldman at 2:00 PM on October 14, 2007

Funny, I was going to be asking a similar question soon. I got a Celiac workup myself via endoscopy/biopsy and don't have it, apparently, so that's nice. The doctor thinks it's probably irritable bowel syndrome. Seems to me, though, that it's gluten specifically that's doing it. If I lay off all, and I mean all gluten, no problems. IBS seems to have many more triggers, and those don't seem to bother me like you'd think they would.

Doc's got me on Xifaxan (rifaximin) which is a new-ish antibiotic that only fights bacteria in the intestines. She thinks that my intestinal flora got messed up somehow, not sure how, and that this will wipe them out. I'll then repopulate with yogurt and probiotics and stuff. Check back in a few months and see.

Maybe talk to your doctor about these things. I had to get a referral to a GI clinic, myself. Regular doctor wasn't much help.

As for being able to handle one carbo meal per day, could it just be a time delay thing? Could it be that the food just needs time to get digested and well into the intestines before the fart parade begins? Put another way, if you have that one carb meal and feel fine for the next several hours, are you counting that a victory? Might it not be still starting later in the day (and therefore still be tied to those original carbs)? Or are you saying that if you have a one carb meal day, but none after that, you're fine the whole day and night? That's what it sounds like you're saying. If that's the case, I have no guesses.
posted by Bravely Anonymous at 2:02 PM on October 14, 2007

Sounds like you've got a hostile gut microfloral environment.

Probiotic dietary supplements might help, but you may have to play around to see which one works for you.
posted by porpoise at 5:31 PM on October 14, 2007

I have had similar problems with gas and bloating after eating high fiber meals. Beano doesn't work for me at all, however I doubt it affects your body's ability to produce it's own digestive enzymes (if it did, I would think there would be a warning on the label somewhere. For instance, occasional laxative use can turn into dependence, which can cause your bowels stop working correctly; there is a warning about this on the label of every otc laxative).

If you're worried about long term beano use, I've found that taking an acidophilus tablet before a fiber-heavy meal helps me tremendously (no bloating or gas here!). It aids digestion and all sorts of magical things. I get mine from Trader Joe's.
posted by zippity at 5:39 PM on October 14, 2007

or what porpoise said.
posted by zippity at 5:39 PM on October 14, 2007

If you're worried about long term beano use, I've found that taking an acidophilus tablet before a fiber-heavy meal helps me tremendously (no bloating or gas here!). It aids digestion and all sorts of magical things.

I know people that this has worked for as well, even more so when it comes to milk though.
posted by caddis at 6:05 PM on October 14, 2007

if you have problems with carbs, have you been checked out for celiac disease? it's an intolerance to gluten, which is in a lot of wheat-based products.
posted by thinkingwoman at 6:38 PM on October 14, 2007

Slight derail: I looove the probiotics I get from TJ's. I've only been taking them for 2 months, but they seem to help my digestion immensely. Are there negative effects to taking probiotics on a daily basis over a long time period? The label doesn't have any warnings...
posted by Bella Sebastian at 7:45 PM on October 14, 2007

Probiotics shouldn't need to be taken chronically.

It's living bacteria!

Sometimes a less-than helpful bacterial strain can take over (outgrow the other strains) because you ate some, or were on antibiotics for a while, or were sick and had a different immune response in your gut.

Probiotics re-seeds your gut with a strain of bacteria that are benign/helpful for most people. If they manage to settle in, they can then outcompete the "bad" gut bacteria.

There should be no need to chronically introduce these unless they're failing to colonize - in which case you'll have to change your gut environment somehow else (ie., different diet).
posted by porpoise at 8:10 PM on October 14, 2007

Florestore is available OTC but might be behind the counter in your area. The pharmacist told me the doctors like it the best of the available probiotics, possibly because it's 10$ for 10 pills. I thought it started working on the first pill. (Based on a recent ugly experience with a lot of high tech antibiotic.) The good news is, they claim one bottle will fix it, assuming that is actually the problem.
(On preview, see porpoise.)

I've had times in my life when I swore I had lost the "right" bacteria, whatever that was, and been overrun by something I did not usually harbor in such quantities, causing similar syptoms. I wasn't on antibiotics at the time, I just lost them. (I have IBS which I suspect is related.)

I use simethicone for that. It's sort of like edible PhotoFlo. It never leaves the gut; it doesn't go into the bloodstream, it just sits there doing surfactant kinds of things. The gas doesn't make smaller bubbles which is what it sounds like, it just disappears. I have no idea what happens to it, it just vanishes.

/ Your gut may vary.
/ I have no experience with celiac issues, other than I could have them for all I know.
posted by unrepentanthippie at 8:55 PM on October 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

I have this problem, but it seems to have gotten better lately. Florestor worked, but now I just use Kefir because it is cheaper and it also works to help digest lactose...and it's a good breakfast.

Re: colonizing. No, most probiotic bacteria will not colonize successfully. Some will, but most probably won't. That is why studies showing x effect from them usually show that the effect goes away when you stop taking them.

There is a lot of work being done about how different groups of people (typically ethnic groups) have differences in food digestion genes. Most recently scientists found that some people have more genes that produce starch digesting enzymes than others. I got tested for celiac and it was negative, so I just figure it's a mild intolerance. Most of the time I just avoid the bad foods, but probiotics can help.
posted by melissam at 10:55 PM on October 14, 2007

Adding a couple tablespoons of vinegar to bean dishes, in the last 15 to 30 minutes of cooking works about as well as Beano, for many people. Cooking legumes (beans) with fennel, cumin or the Mexican herb epazote helps prevent flatulence. Lemon juice added prior to serving improves any bean dish and prevents forming of gas. In a similar way, adding acids, at or just before serving time, such as vinegar, lime or lemon juice to raw fruits and vegetables high in cellulose fiber such as cucumbers, cabbage, apples, and various squash, can vastly reduce formation of gas, while adding interesting flavors.

Spend some time in the grocery aisles where interesting vinegars are sold, if you're not a regular user of vinegar. Beyond the basic white, cider, and wine vinegars, are various delicious balsamic, herbal and fruit vinegars that can vastly encourage your use of a little interesting acetic acid, in situations you barely consider it, now.

Your GI tract, and your neighbors will thank you.
posted by paulsc at 1:08 AM on October 15, 2007 [6 favorites]

paulsc reminds me, my mother used to swear by adding a small slug of sugar to beans for that. I don't know the proportions, but it wasn't enough to taste.
posted by unrepentanthippie at 4:44 AM on October 15, 2007

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