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Fennel for flatulence has long history

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Q. In the past six years, I’ve had an embarrassing problem: Anything I ate gave me gas. I tried everything from Pepto-Bismol to Gas-X Extra Strength without results.

About six months ago, my mom told me that the husband of her friend used fennel seed for flatulence. When I got back to the United States, I Googled fennel.

The capsules I ordered arrived yesterday, and I’ve seen a huge difference already. The capsules aren’t expensive, so I’m taking them with every meal.

A. Fennel seeds have been used to flavor foods such as bread, cheese and sausage. The ancient Egyptians were using it medicinally in 1500 B.C.

Today, this culinary spice has a reputation for fighting flatulence. Fennel has broad antimicrobial activity and may even be good for memory (BioMed Research International online, Aug. 3, 2014). You’ll find a recipe for fennel seed tea along with other remedies for gas in our book “Quick and Handy Home Remedies” (available at www.

Q. My daughter eats several bananas a day. Can this be considered a deadly amount?

A. There is a persistent rumor that eating more than six bananas a day could be hazardous because of excess potassium. While bananas indeed contain this essential mineral (about 450 mg per banana), it would be extremely difficult to eat enough bananas to cause potassium overload. The daily recommended intake of potassium is more than 10 times that much.

While bananas are rich in potassium, other foods also supply this mineral. An avocado has more than 1,000 mg.

There haven’t been any documented reports of hyperkalemia (potassium overdose) from eating food, though some people using salt substitutes made of potassium chloride have gotten into trouble. People with kidney failure and those taking drugs that increase potassium levels might need to watch their intake.

Q. I was diagnosed with osteopenia after a bone-density scan. I started taking magnesium citrate when I learned that most Americans are deficient in this mineral. Magnesium helps the body use the calcium you get in foods. I took it every day. Two years later, I had a normal scan.

A. When it comes to healthy bones, calcium has hogged all the attention. Magnesium also is crucial to bone integrity and must be kept within its proper range. Either too little or too much magnesium can harm bone strength (Nutrients, August 2013).

Studies have shown that most Americans get less magnesium from their diets than is recommended. That may be due to a reliance on processed food. Foods that are rich in magnesium include nuts (almonds, cashews, peanuts), produce (spinach, avocado, potato, banana, broccoli and many others), whole-grain cereals (shredded wheat, oatmeal, brown rice) and beans (black beans, edamame, kidney beans and others).

Recommended dietary intakes range from 320 mg/day for women over 30 to 420 mg/day for men over 30. Pregnant women need more.

In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of this newspaper or email them via their Web site:

2016 King Features Syndicate Inc.