Help me fart less.
June 13, 2008 5:59 PM   Subscribe

Help me fart less.

OK, so I fart a lot. A whole lot. I also poop at least five times a day. This curse started sometime in high school and has been tormenting me for around 7-8 years now. My eating habits seem to have little effect on it. I've tried eliminating various foods but the farts remain. Going from a sedentary lifestyle to excercising regularly hasn't improved things. I'm completely certain that my stress levels have nothing to do with it. The problem has lasted through periods where I don't have a care in the world. My questions are as follows:

1) Which foods should I try eliminating from my diet (or adding to it)? I've tried changing my eating habits with no success before but maybe you can give me an idea to try something I haven't thought about.
2) How can I release all the gas as soon as possible if I feel a storm brewing? I'd like to get all my farting done in the bathroom before an important meeting so I can focus on my clients instead of clenching my asshole.

Feel free to share if you have any other advice. Thanks!
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (26 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
More meat, bread and pasta? Five BMs a day seems excessive. You may want to mention that to your doctor sometime.
posted by rokusan at 6:09 PM on June 13, 2008

I will recommend just a few things. Have you tried cutting out white breads and junk food (namely, anything with lots of sugar). The bacteria in your gut needs less sugars to work with. Speaking of that, you may try to supplement with a Multi-Enzyme Formula that contains probiotics. Lastly, some people, namely Celiac's, have a hard time digesting the proteins in many grain sources.
posted by mcarthey at 6:18 PM on June 13, 2008

I had a similar situation, turns out I'm lactose intolerant. Try eliminating lactose for at least two weeks to see if that helps. It's easy to find substitutes such as lactose free milk (real milk without the lactose), or take those lactase pills before eating something with lactose in it.

Just some thoughts...
posted by bumper314 at 6:20 PM on June 13, 2008

Long standing five poops a day and lots of gas sounds like a malabsorption diarrhea or irritable bowel disease, but could be other things. Consider seeing, you know, a doctor. Your teens and twenties are right around the time for Crohn's to show up.

I'd ask lots of questions about your poop and bowel habits to find out more, but it's anon. If only you could be scoped over the internet.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 6:33 PM on June 13, 2008

I'd definitely cut out milk if you haven't tried that already. bumper314 is right on.
posted by desjardins at 6:36 PM on June 13, 2008

See A Doctor NOW.
Not because you've got some dread disease, but because you can SOLVE THIS together.
posted by Dizzy at 6:41 PM on June 13, 2008

Some possible gas sources:
Chewing gum (the air you swallow)
Pop, beer (carbonation)
Fake sugars (maltitol, etc.)
posted by peep at 6:44 PM on June 13, 2008

I get real farty when I eat too much processed food. Which is all the time, to the dismay of my girlfriend. Also when I eat too much. (about 4000 cal/day) See previous posts about farts by m girlfriend. (we share the handle wuzandfuzz)
posted by wuzandfuzz at 7:00 PM on June 13, 2008

OK. Do you have nervousness issues? Do you drink or take drugs? Do you have food allergies? This is such an open ended Q that no one can answer. I suggest you pay $5 for a throw away account to answer some of these and other questions so that you can get a better answer.
posted by caddis at 7:09 PM on June 13, 2008

Ditto the fake sugars especially Splenda. Here are some other foods consider as possible culprits:
oats (most breakfast cereals, granola bars, energy bars contain oats)
soy (again, in a lot of products)
beans and peas
cruciferous veggies (brocolli, cabbage, brussels sprouts)

Definitely eat fewer processed foods, chew better (a LOT better), take probiotics, eat more raw veggies for those enzymes, eat good yogurt (Fage...yum!) to get your intenstinal flora balanced and exercise more.
posted by kenzi23 at 7:16 PM on June 13, 2008

See a nutritionist, find out what you are allergic to. Soy products, milk, and grains tend to produce a lot of gas. Check out Bauman college for a nutrition person, they are awesome.
posted by healthyliving at 7:26 PM on June 13, 2008

I also had a very similar problem that turned out to be primarily lactose intolerance. A quick test you can try: fast for about 10 hours, drink a cup of milk, wait. If you get really gassy, then lactose intolerance is likely* the culprit. (If you're not of European descent, it's almost certainly true anyway, even if it's not your primary problem. If the problem started at around or soon after puberty, I'd put money on it.) The good news is that it's extremely easy to deal with. Lactose intolerance simply means you don't produce lactase anymore (not since childhood, anyway), the enzyme needed to digest lactose. Lactase supplements are easily available and you can take as much of it as you need.

*There's a small chance it's a milk allergy, but from what I understand, that's usually accompanied by other symptoms.
posted by ErWenn at 7:34 PM on June 13, 2008

Basically, carbs cause gas. You may also have an intolerance to fructose or sucrose, which aren't as well known as lactose intolerance.

Long story short, your symptoms sound a lot like mine before I was forced to watch carbs for other health reasons (prediabetes) - once the carbs came out of my diet, my gut was a whole lot happier.

I recommend following a fructose, sucrose, and starch (flour/grains/rice etc) restricted diet before seeing a doctor - most doctors will just write this one off as "IBS" and try to push meds on you, at least in my experience.
posted by chez shoes at 7:50 PM on June 13, 2008

Psyllium husk fiber (metamucil) in the morning, and eating lighter dinners (esp. lighter on the carbs in the evening) helps control this tendency for me.
posted by Manjusri at 9:23 PM on June 13, 2008

Ditto the fake sugars especially Splenda.

Wrong. Splenda does not cause this. Be careful what you read on the internets.

Malitol, Xylitol, etc. though are mild laxatives so in quantity can cause issues.
posted by caddis at 10:15 PM on June 13, 2008

Besides all the other great suggestions:

* A quality probiotic such as Culturelle, Reuteri, or Bio-K.
* Black tea (the tannins can slow things down)
* Calcium can calm intestine muscles too, best when balanced with magnesium.
* Some people use charcoal for intestinal gas but I've never tried. It can interfere with vitamin absorption.
* Beano (works for lots of foods not just beans)
* Try gently massaging your stomach, starting from the lower right, up across the stomach, and down the left, basically gently directing the gas through the direction of your colon.
posted by for_serious at 10:16 PM on June 13, 2008

I can't say for certain that it IS or ISN'T splenda, but I noticed a pretty direct correlation to that horrible new Pepsi One and long periods of high gas volume. Fortunately, Coke Zero has not produced or at least correlated to any such silliness.
posted by Doctor Suarez at 10:57 PM on June 13, 2008

1 serving of plain yogurt, every day, will resolve this issue for you so fast that you'll wonder why you had to spend an entire 7-8 years worrying about it.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 12:04 AM on June 14, 2008

1 serving of plain yogurt
If only! I eat yogurt by the gallon.
No soda.
Lots of green and black tea.
Very little sugar.
No fast food.
Minuscule amounts of processed foods.
80 % vegetarian diet
Scant bread and little pasta.
I've lived in China for a year and ate exactly what they did.
I've lived in the West Indies for a year and ate exactly what they did.
I've lived in several other countries, as a native, eating local.
I don't drink milk.
I 'de-gas' beans before cooking them.
I might chew gum ten minutes a week.
Lots of bananas
Quarts of water.
Doc visits.
Stress pills.
not as bad as OP but lord do I 'suffer'.
Is there simply no answer?
posted by dawson at 12:55 AM on June 14, 2008

See a doctor, mister!
That is the answer.
If you don't like the care you receive, then see another one.
posted by Dizzy at 5:36 AM on June 14, 2008

80% vegetarian diet : bingo. Regardless of whether or not this involves processed food, a vegetarian diet is going to be a high-carbohydrate diet. And a high-carbohydrate diet is likely to cause gastric distress. Bananas, for instance, are especially high in fructose, which more and more people are learning they have an intolerance to.
posted by chez shoes at 7:13 AM on June 14, 2008

I had a similar problem, starting in high school. Tried Imodium for a little while, then a stronger prescription anti-diarrheal drug. It got to the point where I was using Gas-X and anti-diarrheal drugs every day.

When I FINALLY went to a gastrointerologist, I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. I was prescribed this stuff called Asacol, which took care of the problem over the course of a few months.

From my gastrointerologist I learned that most people move their bowels one or two times a day. Five times a day is *not normal*. You need to see a doctor.
posted by JDHarper at 9:44 AM on June 14, 2008

chez shoes
well thanks, I just learned something re vegetables and fruits.
Docs have told me it's 'nerves' but I've never been referred to a specialist. I even fast for 3 day periods maybe once a month. And again, I'm not near as bad as OP. I suspect that might be a bit of hyperbole?
posted by dawson at 9:50 AM on June 14, 2008

A point about probiotics. Eating yogurt may be enough for some people, but not enough for others. Many commercial brands of yogurt are colonized with a single species called Lactobacillus acidophilus, but some yogurts and some other cultured products (such as kefir) are colonized with a larger number of species, including other Lactobacilli and species in the Bifidobacterium genus. These may be helpful when L. acidophilus is not.
posted by megatherium at 12:24 PM on June 14, 2008

I would say try cutting out 90% of the bread that you eat. I used to have the same problem and no longer do. Probably not a food allergy per se, but a food sensitivity to wheat.
posted by mintchip at 10:13 PM on June 14, 2008

Probiotic pills worked wonders for me, both for gassiness and IBS-D-like symptoms. I was never officially diagnosed with IBS, but my symptoms were clear. After my gall-bladder removal, I had classic post-cholecystectomy symptoms too.

When I was on a lengthy course of antibiotics for skin trouble, I realized the yogurt helped everything. Since I hate yucky yogurt (and it's all yucky, blech), I started taking probiotic pills instead. Before, I was severely limiting my activities and mapping bathrooms everywhere I traveled. I've quit doing that. Compared to constant issues before, I have maybe 1 episode a week, if that. I've been able to start drinking coffee again, yay! I am sensitive to dairy, beef, and coffee, but not nearly as much. I'm still careful about dairy, but certain brands make the difference.

I've personally experienced such a difference while drinking yogurt smoothies (with probiotics) and/or probiotic pills. I wouldn't have believed it would help, if I hadn't accidentally realized it myself. When I mentioned it to a friend whose wife suffers with IBS, he thinks I'm crazy. I'm OK with that, though. :)

If you speak with your doctor, try to keep at least a week or two journal first. Often, from that, you'll find some triggers and narrow down from there. That's what I had to do to figure out the dairy, beef, coffee, and most fruits/vegetables (on empty stomach) were triggering my symptoms.

Good luck.
posted by ick at 11:14 PM on December 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

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