The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics sponsors National Nutrition Month each March. This year’s theme is “Put Your Best Fork Forward”, which acts as a reminder that each bite counts.” The Academy posts great info and recipes for the average consumer, but gas sufferers have special needs. We’ll review the best info available for those who frequently experience excessive intestinal gas.
Prebiotics and Probiotics
What they are
Prebiotics promote healthy bacteria growth and control the growth of harmful bacteria in your gut. “Prebiotics may improve gastrointestinal health as well as potentially enhance calcium absorption.”
Dietary sources include “bananas, onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus, artichokes, soybeans and whole-wheat foods.” Dr. Axe advises that if you don’t consume enough prebiotics, you may risk indigestion “higher levels of inflammation, lower immune function, higher likelihood of weight gain and a raised risk for various chronic diseases.”
Remember that not all prebiotics are a wise choice for gas sufferers. Bananas are loaded with naturally occurring sugars (see below: Meal planning for families or groups).
Which source is best?
“Probiotics are live bacteria in yogurt, other dairy products, and pills. In short, the prebiotic is a specialized plant fiber that beneficially nourishes the good bacteria already in the large bowel or colon. This helps your good bacteria grow, improving the good-to-bad bacteria ratio. This ratio has been shown to have a direct correlation to your health and overall wellbeing, from your stomach to your brain.”
Digestive acids and heat can kill probiotics, so be aware that they need to be handled with a bit more care than prebiotics.
If you’re bored with that daily cup of yogurt, click here for Eat This, Not That‘s list of yogurt-free probiotics. Additional sources include sourdough bread and aged cheese (cheddar, Gouda, or Parmesan).
The takeaway: incorporate this “dynamic duo” into your daily diet for best results. EatRight.org advises: “Ultimately, prebiotics, or “good” bacteria promoters, and probiotics, or “good” bacteria, work together synergistically. … Products that combine these together are called synbiotics [emphasis added]. On the menu, that means enjoying [a small serving of] bananas atop yogurt or stir-frying asparagus with tempeh is a win-win.”
“For specific advice on obtaining prebiotics and probiotics for your own specific health needs, especially if you have GI issues or a weakened immune system, contact a registered dietitian nutritionist.”
Why they’re particularly useful for gas sufferers
If you’re not eating adequate portions, don’t consume a varied diet, and often skip the recommended five daily servings of dark, leafy greens and brightly colored vegetables, your doctor and nutritionist may advise you to take dietary supplements.
EatRight.org counsels: “In addition, if you are eating less than 1,600 calories each day because you are trying to lose weight, you have a poor appetite or you have trouble eating because you have been using alcohol or drugs, discuss the need for supplements with your doctor or registered dietitian nutritionist.”
Gas sufferers often eat fewer servings and/or smaller portions of foods that promote healthy gut bacteria (onions, fermented foods, fermented beverages).
Cooking and Shopping Made Easy
The What’s Cooking? USDA Mixing Bowl makes “healthy meal planning, cooking, and grocery shopping” a breeze. It features nutritional info (calories, carbohydrates, fat, etc.), the total estimated cost per recipe and per serving, a shopping list tool, and social media links. You’ll find everything you’ll need whether you’re cooking for one, two, or a large family.
It’s a good idea to check with a registered dietitian (R.D.) – ideally, one who consults with your physician – to determine your individual needs. You and a friend might be the same age, height, and weight, but have very different required daily values.
The dietitian will draft a set of guidelines that are tailored to your goals (weight loss, muscle-building, etc.). Use these guidelines to decide which recipes to prepare and/or when to make ingredient substitutions. For example, those on a low-carb diet should either avoid eating bananas or limit portion sizes.
Vegetarians rejoice: this is your month! The Meatless Mondays campaign has expanded and offers 30 days of plant-based protein alternatives. Even hardcore carnivores will find great recipe ideas.
“Good Nutrition” reading list
Free handouts and tip sheets for families, individuals (Las publicaciones son gratuitas están disponibles en español)
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Facebook page
We hope National Nutrition month will inspire you to “Put Your Best Fork Forward” throughout 2017 and beyond! Be sure to check back each week for more healthy eating tips and recipes.
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*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.