The Gallivanting Gourmand
Greg Duncan
Greg Duncan
is a freelance writer based in the Montreal region. He is particularly keen about good food. In his day job, Greg is the executive director of the Quebec Community Newspapers Association.

His previous columns are archived HERE.

Posted 01.17.07


Nobody wants to talk about farts, butů

After posting a recipe for 7-day cabbage diet soup last week, a couple of readers e-mailed to let me know that their spouses are not pleased and I feel I must respond. I'll spare you the intimate details but warn that if you are uncomfortable with discussion about bodily functions, you should read no further.

For some readers the cabbage soup recipe produced an unpleasant side effect. (Not me, I swear.)

Truth be told, there are some foods that are most likely to produce gas than others and cabbage is one of them. There is also the reality that some people produce more gas than others. (You know who you are).

Women, in my experience, tell me that it is impossible that they should be responsible for olfactory unpleasantness. According to them, everything smells like roses and kittens and sunshine. Nothing could be further from the truth and all available research points to the fact that females are equal when it comes to contribution to global warming.

Here are some facts:

    Everyone has gas. It may be uncomfortable and embarrassing, but it is not life threatening. Most people produce about 1 to 3 pints of gas a day and pass gas about 14 times a day.

    Most gas is made up of odorless vapors -- carbon dioxide, oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen, and (sometimes) methane. Gases that contain sulfur produce the unpleasant odor of flatulence.

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), most foods that contain carbohydrates can cause gas, and fats and proteins cause little gas.

Foods that cause gas include the following:

  • Raffinose - a complex sugar found in beans, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, asparagus, other vegetables, and whole grains.

  • Lactose - a natural sugar found in milk and milk products, such as cheese and ice cream, and in processed foods, such as bread, cereal, and salad dressing.

  • Fructose - a sugar found in onions, artichokes, pears, and wheat, and is also used as a sweetener in some soft drinks and fruit drinks.

  • Sorbitol - a sugar found naturally in fruits, including apples, pears, peaches, and prunes, and is also used as an artificial sweetener in many dietetic foods and sugar-free candies and gums.

  • Starches - most starches, including potatoes, corn, noodles, and wheat produce gas as they are broken down in the large intestine. (Rice is the only starch that does not cause gas.)
What to do?

Some research shows that eating yogurt that contains live pro-biotic cultures may help reduce the incidence of unpleasant gasses. Grocery shelves are so full of these items that purchasing one of the many brands available can be a daunting task.

Make sure that you read the label carefully to see if the yogurt does indeed contain these live cultures and has not been heat-treated. Next week we will wade through the confusing world of yogurt and, yes, there will be a recipe provided.

Have a pleasantly fragrant week.