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Many foods can cause gasiness, including beans (legumes), broccoli, cabbage, onions, and whole grains. This occurs because these foods contain complex carbohydrates that are not entirely broken down in the digestive tract, and these left-over carbs then serve as "food" for intestinal bacteria. These bacteria then produce hydrogen and carbon dioxide gas as they digest the carbohydrates. While everyone develops intestinal gas to some extent, certain people have an intolerance of complex carbohydrates and develop relatively more severe symptoms.1 The enzyme alpha-galactosidase has been advocated as a treatment for both complex carbohydrate intolerance and ordinary gassiness. Beano contains this enzyme, which helps break down the complex carbohydrates. When taken as a supplement, it may...
Although alpha-galactosidase is widely marketed as an over-the-counter treatment to prevent intestinal gas , there is only limited evidence that it really works. In two preliminary double-blind, controlled trials enrolling a total of 39 people, use of alpha-galactosidase along with a meal of beans significantly reduced symptoms of excess gas. 1 Two other relevant trials were also small, and suffered from significant design flaws. 2 Larger and more strictly designed studies will be necessary to determine whether alpha-galactosidase is truly an effective treatment for reducing intestinal gas.
Although alpha-glucosidase appears to be safe for people in good health, there are potential concerns involving people with diabetes as well as those with a rare condition named galactosemia.
Alpha-glucosidase breaks down complex carbohydrates into easily absorbed sugars. This may raise blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. Drugs that block alpha-glucosidase (alpha-glucosidase inhibitors) have proven benefit for people with diabetes. One study found that use of alpha-glucosidase supplements reduced the effectiveness of the diabetes drug acarbose, an alpha-glucosidase inhibitor drug. 3 For this reason, people with diabetes who are using alpha-glucosidase inhibitors should avoid alpha-glucosidase supplements. In addition, it is...