The truth is, I'm gassy. I have gas and lots of it. I'm pretty sure there are days I could fuel a car for a cross-country trip with the amounts of gas my body produces. For as long as I can remember, my family and friends would poke fun of me for always complaining about how my tummy hurt and how I was always "pooting" to relieve myself of the crampy pain. I even received a bottle of Beano one Christmas in my stocking as a practical joke. Real funny, guys!
This subject matter is something that most people are uncomfortable with and even poke fun at, but I'm sharing this personal information in the hopes that I'll help others who suffer from the same condition. I've been on a long, uncomfortable search for a better way of life—being cramped up is not only confining and painful; it can also put a real damper on your everyday existence, not to mention your social life. I don't even want to talk about the intimate side of things; that's an entirely different story, and not a fun one.
I've decided to address this subject matter because I wanted to share with you that after years of struggling with this issue, (that is usually chalked up to Irritable Bowel Syndrome or some other incurable, undiagnosible situation), I decided to work toward correcting it in order to make my life more comfortable.
So, several months ago I visited the Mayo Clinic for a consultative physical, which is a very thorough exam. They didn't take anything for granted when I explained some of the symptoms I'd been living with for the past fifteen-plus years. As part of the physical, I was given several tests to rule out wheat, gluten and lactose allergies (all very commonly diagnosed allergies). I also did a lower and upper endoscopy — something I do not recommend to anyone in a youthful age bracket. It was by far one of the most unpleasant experiences I've ever had.
In the end, I discovered something important about my body; that is, I learned that I have a negative response to lactose, a disaccharide sugar that is found most notably in milk and is formed from galactose and glucose.
Although I didn't discover anything remarkable (thankfully), it was equally as frustrating not having any answers. However, the doctors were great and gave me a lot of lifestyle and diet advice I'm incorporating into my daily routines. Below are a list of potential solutions with which I'm experimenting. Every day is different, and some are better than others. Since all humans are not created equal, I won't try to tell you how you should experiment with these suggestions, but rather thought I would share my advice on the things I've tried for my fellow gassy girls.
Products that Promise to Better Align Your System:
Greek Yogurt: I love Chobani. Although I do have an issue with lactose, greek yogurt doesn't seem to hurt; if anything, it helps keep things flowing and more "regular," if you know what I mean.
Kefir: Kefir products are easy to find and come in a variety of of flavors and forms. Kefir is helpful if used on a regular basis, which is often difficult at times with the amount of traveling I do. The good news about Kefir is that it's been confirmed that those with lactose intolerance can actually improve lactose digestion by introducing a Kefir product into their diets. Due to Kefir's small curd size and the fact that its probiotic properties help break down the sugars in milk that cause irritation, it's perfect for those who do not tolerate milk products well.
Align: For a long time I took Acidophilus, a probiotic supplement, that provided somewhat favorable results. Someone at the Mayo Clinic suggested I try Align, another probiotic supplement. Since then, I've been taking Align and it seems to regulate my digestive system in a more productive way than Acidophilus did. It's pricey but can be found at most major drug stores.
Fiber Agent: This was not something I took before my visit to Mayo. Now, when I remember to (which is usually half of the battle), I take Benefiber once a day. It dissolves easily in water and is easy to ingest.
Peppermint & Ginger Tea: The soothing taste of peppermint or ginger teas not only helps bring a busy day to a calming end, but it can have a positive impact on your digestion. In the colder months, I drink more hot teas and most nights before turning in, and you'll often find me reading a book and sipping one of these soothing nightcaps. Yogi is my tea brand of choice.
Beano, Tums & Lactaid Supplements: You can usually find all three hiding in my purse and in my travel carry-on bag. Gals with tummy troubles like mine don't wander far without these little lifesavers.
Other useful tips include trying to reduce both the amounts of alcohol you drink and the amount of stress in your life. I'll leave it up to you to decide to incorporate those in your life, but I will say these factors are definitely big ones for me. Stress makes a fussy stomach that much worse!
Signing Off Gastronomically Correct,