Stomach Soothers

Stomach Soothers

- Beans are a leading cause of gas buildup. Minocha recommends soaking beans overnight and draining the water before you cook them; this helps to get rid of hard-to-digest carbohydrates. Or take a remedy such as Beano, which contains alpha-galactosidase, the enzyme that helps you digest them without sound effects.

- Dairy can also be a problem. As many as 50 million Americans are lactose-intolerant or lactose-sensitive, according to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse; Native Americans, African Americans and Asian Americans are at the highest risk. If you suspect that you have trouble digesting dairy products, remove them from your diet for a week to see if your symptoms improve. If they do, see your doctor, who may recommend that you take lactase, the enzyme that makes lactose digestible. In mild cases, you may be able to eat some cheese, ice cream or yogurt; otherwise, stick to calcium-fortified soy milk and other lactose-free products.

- Watch those "low-carb" foods. Many of today's sugar-free or carbohydrate-reduced products are sweetened with sugar alcohols that aren't well absorbed by the body; that's one of the reasons they don't raise your insulin levels the way sugar does. But when the undigested carbohydrates reach your colon, they can react with your natural bacteria, resulting in bloating, cramping or gas.

- Plant a red flag by certain foods. Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, onions, radishes and fruit can all produce excess gas. However, they're also among the most nutritious items you can eat, so don't cut them out entirely-just eat smaller portions at any one meal, and eat them slowly. And remember that thoroughly cooked veggies can be easier to digest than raw ones, Gitnick says.

- To ease gas pressure, gently massage your abdomen. Or use your fingertips on the acupressure point three finger-widths below your navel. (If you may be pregnant, don't do either of these without consulting a doctor.)

- If your gas problem causes embarassment but no physical discomfort, you can always sit on a GasBGon cushion. This device, manufactured in North Carolina, uses acoustical foam and a charcoal filter to dampen both smell and sound.

Heartburn
Otherwise known as GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease, heartburn occurs when acid from your stomach rises into your esophagus, causing a burning sensation. According to the UCLA Center for Neurovisceral Sciences and Women's Health, up to 44 percent of the U.S. adult population experiences heartburn at least once a month, 14 percent weekly, and 7 percent daily. While a single episode is just a mild annoyance to most people, frequent acid exposure can damage the esophagus.