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Onions In Vegetarian Diet Cause Stomach Gas

I love onions & don't want to give them up. What to do?

I read what you said about beans and stomach gas. If I drain off the soaking water for beans I cook myself or rinse canned beans, I don't have any problems with them.

However, onions do cause me problems the next day. What can I do about that? I love the flavor onions give to food and don't want to give them up. - M. J.

Savvy Vegetarian Advice

Dear M. J.,

Apparently it's the fructose in onions that causes stomach gas. Try cooking onions in a little oil until they're soft before adding them to foods - that will partially break down the sugar. Or steam them first. Also, reduce the amount you eat. A little onion goes a long way in my experience.

You can also try cooking onions with stomach gas-alleviating spices like ginger, cumin, cardamom, caraway, turmeric, fennel, asefoetida (hing). Asefoetida is extremely strong, just use a small pinch, and heat it first in oil to reduce bitterness. It also can be an onion substitute for people who can't do onions (like me).

The Japanese sea vegetable kombu is also recommended for stomach gas - if you can figure out what to do with it. Mostly I've used it in soup stocks. You can also add it when cooking beans. Sprinkling toasted nori or dulse flakes on your food might help.

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Digestive probiotics like yogurt and kefir (acidophilus) in moderation may reduce stomach gas by restoring balance to the digestive flora. In India, yogurt is often eaten with meals in a drink called lassi, or in yogurt salads called raitas.

All these remedies are for cooked food. I guess for eating raw onions you'll have to pick your times for least exposure. Or eat your main meal, including onions at lunch time, when your digestion is strongest.

If your digestion is at it's best, you won't have as much of a problem with stomach gas from any foods, so work on that. Probiotic tablets or digestive enzyme supplements are helpful. Udo's Choice is a good brand, available at Vitacost.

Judith Kingsbury, Savvy Vegetarian

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