bran flakes, fight constipation

Many of us struggle with smelly gas, known more technically (and perhaps more politely) as flatulence. Sometimes the culprit is a medication that is causing the trouble. But people trying to control flatulence should also consider dietary factors, possibly keeping a diary. One reader suggests that probiotics cut gas caused by dairy products.

Will Probiotics Cut Gas If You Drink Milk?

Q. My husband’s gas decreased when I added probiotics to the vitamins I give him in the mornings. He also has less gas when he avoids milk and milk products, but he won’t do that! He likes having a glass of milk with his cereal in the morning, even though it makes him stink for the rest of the day. Any ideas?

Lactose Intolerance May Cause Gas:

A. It is possible that your husband is lactose intolerant. When people cannot digest milk sugar, they often experience gas and digestive upset. There are dairy products such as Lactaid that are low in lactose. That should reduce his gas production. Pills containing the lactase enzyme that breaks down lactose might also help.

Other Ways to Reduce Smelly Gas:

Bismuth, found in Pepto-Bismol and Devrom, can reduce the unpleasant aroma from flatulence. He should follow the dosing instructions to avoid overdosing on bismuth.

Do Probiotics Cut Gas for People with Lactose Intolerance?

The surest way for lactose-intolerant people to avoid excessive gas is to refrain from drinking milk. Since your husband prefers not to do that, however, we looked for studies on probiotics that might help. There are many different bacterial strains available in probiotic products. (These are pills or beverages that contain live bacteria shown to have benefits for human health.) They differ in their activity against flatulence.

One probiotic strain that has been tested in a double-blind trial significantly reduced symptoms following lactose consumption (Pakdaman et al, Nutrition Journal, May 20, 2016). The DDS-1 strain of Lactobacillus acidophilus was used in this trial showing a reduction in symptoms, although it did not show that these probiotics cut gas.

Other research shows that fermented milk products such as kefir or yogurt contain probiotic organisms that seem to help with symptom control (Corgneau et al, Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, Oct. 13, 2017). Some scientists have suggested that yogurt might have multiple benefits for gastrointestinal health (Pei et al, Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, May 24, 2017).

Non-dairy Milk?

Perhaps the most obvious solution, however, would be for your husband to try one of the non-dairy “milk” products that have become popular. Based on soy, rice, almonds, coconut, cashews or even hemp, some of these milk substitutes can be tasty and might satisfy his desire for milk without causing excess flatulence.

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  1. sherry

    I am very lactose intolerant and have been since a teenager. I found the best way to deal with it is to just totally drop the idea that I can use cow’s milk and its products. Substitutes never taste like the real thing, so why bother with the disappointment.

    According to information I have seen, only descendants of the European dairying culture have the genetic mutation to allow them to digest milk after childhood. This excludes many people. Personally, I think the dairy people have a vested interest in making everyone think they need a cup or more of milk a day and that it causes people many health issues in their adult years when they continue to use a product they can’t digest properly.

  2. Alex

    I recently read an article about milk that said many people who think they are lactose intolerant may not be. It said that cows have substances called A1 and A2. At one time cows we’re all A2. Then cows were raised differently and became A1. The article didn’t explain what those changes were. Some cows are also A1 and A2.

    The upshot is that a lot of people can’t digest milk from A1 cows. Milk from A2 cows do not cause any digestive problems. Might be something for People’s Pharmacy to research.

  3. Patty

    I suspect the woman’s husband feels that there is no perfect tasting substitute for milk, and I agree. I don’t think I’m lactose intolerant exactly, because though milk does make me gassy, lactaid does not help at all. I do take PB8, a probiotic that does not require refrigeration, at least two caps twice per day, sometimes more. I also switched to organic milk (Mootopia) and togther, the two treatmenst have significantly not only cut the amount of gas, it has little to no odor. Beans, however, are another matter entirely! And no, Beano does not work for me.

    The best tasting substitute for cow’s milk is almond milk, by my personal taste tests, and in studies done by independant researchers. Yet, more soy milk is sold because that’s the substitute many people were first familiar with. When I did use a subsuitute, I preferred unsweetened vanilla almond milk and added a liquid sugar substitute.

  4. Carol Kroll

    Coconut milk (especially vanilla flavored) is delicious on oatmeal and other cereals.

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