The Lactose Intolerance Clearinghouse Has Moved.

My old website can be found at I am no longer updating the site, so there will be dead links. The static information provided by me is still sound.

For quick offline reference, you can purchase Planet Lactose: The Best of the Blog as an ebook on or or or a whole lot of other places that Smashwords is suppose to distribute the book to. Almost 100,000 words on LI, allergies, milk products, milk-free products, and the genetics of intolerance, along with large helpings of the weirdness that is the Net.

I suffer the universal malady of spam and adbots, so I moderate comments here. That may mean you'll see a long lag before I remember to check the site and approve them. Despite the gap, you'll always get your say. I read every single one, and every legitimate one gets posted.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Gas Guzzlers Unite

Flatulence. That's the medical term for farting, to be used in polite company and newspaper articles.

There's no good polite way to talk about farting, but the science of it is important.

The Canadian Press interviewed Dr. Michael Levitt, the world's foremost expert on gas. (Levitt is probably better known as the father as Steven Levitt, the "Freakonomics" guru.)

So what wisdom can Levitt impart? Here are some pearls.

Studies in which volunteers tracked their gas passage suggest people fart 10 to 20 times a day, with some hitting the 30, 40, even 50 mark...

In the main, flatulence is made up of five gases -- nitrogen and oxygen, which are swallowed while talking, chewing or drinking fizzy beverages, and carbon dioxide, hydrogen and methane, which are produced in the gastrointestinal tract during digestion of food.

Gas produced or trapped in the intestine only has three possible routes it can follow. Some will be absorbed into the body. Some will be burped out. And some will pass as flatulence.

People who lack bacteria that break down certain food components -- say lactose, the sugar in milk or some of the sugars in carbohydrates -- may produce more gas when they consume those foods.

That explains the potency of beans. They contain sugars humans can't break down. "So it's automatic that they're delivered to your large intestine, these sugars, where they churn out and make gas," Levitt says.

Levitt noted that there's really nothing you can do to cut down your normal production of gas. Swallowing less air would help, but swallowers generally don't know that they're doing so. Extremely low carbohydrate diets produce little gas, but those can be extremely unhealthy.

Of course, those with lactose intolerance can take lactase pills. And its chemical analog, Beano, will help reduce flatulence from beans.

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