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Gas can occur without warning and at the most inconvenient time, often causing embarrassment and discomfort. While the average person releases half a liter of gas each day, certain foods can cause the body to produce even more gas. Beano® is an over-the-counter medication that helps prevent sudden bouts of gas.
To understand how Beano® works, one must understand why the body produces gas in the first place. During the digestion process, the small intestine is hard at work, slowly breaking down any food consumed throughout the day. Despite its best efforts, however, the small intestine does not contain the enzymes needed to break down certain foods—particularly those containing complex carbohydrates, such as beans, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts. After passing through the small intestine, that undigested food is broken down by bacteria found in the large intestine. Unfortunately, this process can cause the body to produce gas, which in turn leads to flatulence, discomfort, and bloating.
Beano® uses natural enzymes to help the body break down all those hard-to-digest foods. To do this, the supplement converts the complex carbohydrates into simple sugars. Since the body can easily digest these sugars, one is less like to have gas afterward.
In the United States, Beano® is readily available. The supplement can usually be found in the antacid section of local grocery stores, pharmacies, or health food markets. The product may not be available in some areas of the world.
As a preventative medication, Beano® must be taken prior to eating or with the first bite of food—it will not relieve gas once after the fact. Therefore, adults and children 12 years or older should take two to three chewable tablets at mealtime.
In addition to standard chewable tablets, Beano® also comes in a dissolvable form. Called “Meltaways,” this product works exactly like the regular tablets, but instead of chewing a tablet, the flavored strip quickly dissolves on the user’s tongue. In addition, the Meltaways have a lower recommended dose, with just one Meltaway providing the same effect as two of the chewable tablets.
With less than 5 mg of sodium in each dose, Beano® is a low-sodium dietary supplement with no known side effects. For some patients, however, its safety is still unclear. As a result, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should check with a doctor before using the product.