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Probiotic Fibers And Flatulence; My N=1

Way back in the beginning of experimenting with resistant starch via supplemental potato starch the most common side effect by far was rather impressive amounts of gas, or “fartage,” for most people.

Some couldn’t tolerate it while others, like myself couldn’t help but laugh uproariously. Unless you’ve experienced it yourself, it’s tough to describe the volume and frequency it can induce—and often for a solid day or more. A couple of times, for myself, it was also accompanied by more than mild intestinal discomfort.

But I persisted and over time, it just went away, even with large doses of potato starch. Later, I even added things to my “cocktail” like inulin and fructo-oligo-saccharidesglucomannanbanana flourplantain flour, and took them with my go-to, dirt-based probiotics (Prescript-AssistAOR Probiotic-3, and Primal Defense Ultra). And everything was pretty cool, as relayed here.

A while back, I relayed my experience of being in moving upheaval and eating crappy for about a month. That was in conjunction with taking absolutely no supplements at all, including any of the aforementioned.

Yesterday I got curious. If I supplement the probiotic fibers again, will I be back to fartage square one?

Went and got some raw milk, fresh squeezed orange juice, and some organic apple cider vinegar from a local whole-food co-op here in Placerville, CA. First, I took a shot of the vinegar and chased it with the OJ.

Then I made a cocktail with raw milk as the base and a handy stick blender:

  • 4 TBS Potato Starch
  • 2 TBS Banana Flour
  • 1/2 tsp Inulin/FOS Powder
  • 3 1g-caps Glucomannan

I took it with 1 capsule each of the three probiotics and waited for the fog to roll in. But it didn’t. In fact, it never did at all. No foghorn required. I felt fine, clear, and it seemed that I was breathing easier from my nose. The only “negative” I experienced is that I guess I must have been unwittingly retaining water, because from about 9PM, and for the next 12 hours, I must have pissed out a gallon of water. So, here I am, having detailed, lucid dreams (as has been widely reported by others with PS supplementation) about having to take a piss, trying to find a place, having to stand in line, etc. Luckily I managed to wake up (about 10 times) before my turn came up. Incidentally, this was accompanied by absolutely no thirst at all.

So, bottom line is that the bugs that co-feed on the various gases produced by the ones eating all those fibers seem to have taken up long-term residency in my gut. Very interesting indeed, though somewhat disappointing on the entertainment front.

Anyone have similar or different experiences?

Update: Supplemental reading: Does Dirt Make You Happy?

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More

42 Comments

  1. Jim on August 31, 2014 at 12:42

    Just started supplementing potato starch again after probably a month or better of not having any at all, and very likely messing up my gut with large amounts of beer. Also supplementing with two of the three probiotics you mentioned.

    Results? It took about 12 hours after the first big dose, and I’ll just say that for the sake of my coworkers, it’s probably good that we work outside.

    Next step is to really cut back on the beer/booze and see what that does. I’ve done it before and it’s really amazing what the liver can do when it’s not distracted.

  2. Lanie on August 31, 2014 at 13:27

    Are you saying that there are bugs that feed on the gasses produced by other bugs? Is that a real thing?

    • Richard Nikoley on August 31, 2014 at 13:37

      Yep, and Tim dug a lot of that up for the chapter on flatulence in the book. Generally, there are bugs that thrive off hydrogen, methane, sulphur, etc. there’s one that converts hydrogen to methane, M. Samii, I think. These are co-feeders. Basically they eat other bacteria’s “shit.”

      Very wonderfully complex ecosystem. If you would ever get into marine aquariums (I’ve had many), this is all well established. This is how poop in water gets gradually broken down from ammonia to harmless.

    • pooping on August 31, 2014 at 13:46

      First time I’ve seen harmless used as a noun…

    • Richard Nikoley on August 31, 2014 at 13:55

      And you saw that where?

    • doGnuts on September 1, 2014 at 16:54

      “ammonia to harmless” should be something like “ammonia to a harmless substance”. Ammonia cannot transform into an adjective.

    • eddie on September 2, 2014 at 06:44

      Richard ,

      The funny thing…. I use bacteria cyanobacteria “spirulina” in a rotation—- as I build up my gut mix..
      I get some foul gas — using it spirulina” is like the marine aquarium equal…. and it smells like it if you do the powder/glass of water

  3. Tiziano Solignani on August 31, 2014 at 15:06

    This is my day third on PS but I had no flatulence at all. I am just fine. I wonder if that means my critters are good or the other way around totally missing… I am on Paleo since march 2013. Maybe it’s too early for any effect?

    Thank you for everything you do, I follow the blog via RSS feed and it’s always interesting.

    Greetings from ITA.

  4. Steve on August 31, 2014 at 16:31

    Anyone else always get wet mucusy farts when they eat PS or oats etc?

    • eddie on September 3, 2014 at 07:29

      Steve ,

      Im no expert on RS— (PS) but my argument at times is people who are screwed up- can have yeast over growth.. and it may be that those screwed up— the yeast eat it over the bacteria– untill the balance is shifted–(just my opinion 🙂 NOT saying this is FACT

      An answer for Richard or anyone else…..I would suspect if your working right,,,your stool should be good size and formed NOT mucusy

      If your getting more mucus– I would suspect a problem -intolerance or maybe yeast chowing on the RS….if your over producing mucus –you may have s slight problem

  5. Lesley on August 31, 2014 at 17:28

    I just recently went through this myself, Richard. I built up my gut flora for a couple of months in the late spring using resistant starches and the suggested probiotics. I then stopped taking probiotics or RS supplements for over a month. I was consuming rice and a few legumes during this time, but no supplementation whatsoever.

    After a few weeks I decided to go back to RS supplementation to see if the bugs had in fact taken up residence in my gut. Indeed they had! I went right back to my previous dose of RS and only farted a couple of times that first day. The next day, once. After that, nothing. I guess it’s n=2 now…

  6. Questioning on August 31, 2014 at 20:03

    I took a ts of potato starch in water and got no gas (decided to start slow). But my BM was dry and hard, not my nice regular texture at all (sorry for the TMI, I hope you are all desensitized by now :). Does it mean anything? I’m not sure if I should continue with this…

    • Wilbur on September 1, 2014 at 09:50

      I suggest drinking more water. When I first started this, I’d have the same problem if I did not keep up my water intake.

    • Questioning on September 1, 2014 at 14:15

      Thank you! Good idea, I will give it a try 🙂

  7. Resurgent on August 31, 2014 at 20:07

    I have had another experience.
    I need to travel, long distances, 4 to 5 times a year.
    Every time I go to, say, Asia, The first and second day upon arrival is like feeling full of hot air. It releases as a super-fart once or twice in the day and then life gets back to normal. I say super-fart because the gas release is literally like one is deflating a large balloon – it goes on and on, painlessly.
    Not sure if it has something to do with the gut bugs not enjoying the low pressure in the Airplane for over 20 hours or the newly acquired gut bugs upon landing in a new land, but this is a consistent phenomenon and also occurs, mildly, upon returning to the United States.
    I must add that I freely consume local fermented foods wherever I am.

  8. Jonathan on August 31, 2014 at 22:01

    Richard, a little of topic here, but wouldn’t it make more sense to take probiotics as a suppository?

    • Richard Nikoley on September 1, 2014 at 09:12

      “Richard, a little of topic here, but wouldn’t it make more sense to take probiotics as a suppository?”

      No, for the simple reason that it’s not how we got them throughout history where they have to brave stomach acid, the small intestine, enzymes and other warrior bacteria and phages to get home.

      Ingesting would be the more preferred way in my book. Only if that doesn’t work to correct disbyosis would I consider up the butt hole. But, even in that case, I would do it as a fecal transplant, not “raw” organisms that haven’t gone through the aforementioned gauntlet of digestion.

  9. Bo on August 31, 2014 at 23:53

    Hi!

    Thanks for a great blog, has been an enjoyable ride following you for the last couple of months!

    I’ve seen that you and others (Tim Steele, Dr BG, Dr Avery) recommend AOR Probiotic 3. I’ve been taking this for a while now and haven’t noticed any negative symptoms. However, when researching the enterococcus faecelis, the most abundant ingredient in the probiotic, I got scared. It seems this bacteria is generally perceived as pathogenic, can cause UTI, cancer and ulcers. Also, it is apparently a common problem bug in hospitals as it often becomes very resistant to antibiotics. I was wondering if you (or any other readers) have had a closer look at this to make sure it’s safe? Many thanks!

    • Energy! on September 2, 2014 at 04:22

      I have a bottle of AOR Probiotic-3 and the critters listed are Streptococcus faecalis, Clostridium butyricum, and Bacillus mesentericus, not the one you mentioned.

    • Energy! on September 2, 2014 at 04:26

      Ahh, I see what you mean, it has been renamed according to one source online. Will have to look further.

    • Bo on September 3, 2014 at 02:29

      Ah yes, I should have mentioned that Streptococcus faecelis has been renamed. The label still has the old name though. Please post if you find anything out! Thanks

    • Richard Nikoley on September 3, 2014 at 07:09

      Bo

      As with many organisms in the gut, they can be both beneficial or pathogenic. It’s the diversity that keeps things in check.

      So, for example, with great diversity and lots of food, even bacteria that we tend to think of as pathogenic can be beneficial, because they are competing with others for the food, everybody keeping everybody else in check. A beautiful anarchy.

      Lots of articles like this is you Google ‘is enterococcus faecelis beneficial’

      http://www.livestrong.com/article/244675-beneficial-uses-of-enterococcus-faecalis/

    • Bo on September 4, 2014 at 00:45

      Thanks for the replies, appreciate it. Diversity and symbiosis seems to be key. Hopefully adding these to a dysbiotic gut flora won’t cause issues.

    • cobalt on September 4, 2014 at 18:02

      Bo, Grace at Animal Pharm did a post on it a couple of weeks or so back. It was about her daughter’s exzema. Check out the comments as she answered similar questions re its safety.

  10. kayumochi on September 1, 2014 at 02:07

    After well more than a year first starting with straight PS then moving into the recommended soil-based probiotics and other probiotic fibers and eating copious amounts of tiger nuts I am now a shit-producing machine. The volume and frequency are incredible, so much so I have developed a bleeding hemorrhoid and so reduced the amount of all I was taking … and it has seemed to help.

    • joe on September 3, 2014 at 22:32

      sounds like Phil Hartman and the “Colon Blow” ad.

  11. kayumochi on September 1, 2014 at 02:09

    And yes, the farts are largely a thing of the past.

    • LaFrite on September 1, 2014 at 02:36

      If you miss them, take a large does of inulin powder 😉

      I was also not farting on PS sup (I don’t take it any longer by the way, makes no diff – i eat a lot of green bananas, cooked and cooled tubers, legumes, etc) but when I started inulin, the whole concerto started again. Inulin has to be taken with moderation … I tolerate it quite well now, I use it in my yogurt but I use maybe 2tsp only, not more. And that’s on days when I don’t eat inulin rich foods.

    • kayumochi on September 1, 2014 at 02:49

      The inulin powder doesn’t seem to cause farting … I take it several times a week and haven’t noticed any difference.

  12. Janet on September 1, 2014 at 06:00

    I am spending a month in Ireland with my sister who lives there. I have been supplementing with PS, eating some resistant starch in potatoes and rice and using probiotics along with this since the first part of the year. Just added a bit of psyllium husk powder now since I have some around. I don’t think I will be doing PS or probiotics or probably any of my other supplements when I am there this fall so I will keep track of what I feel. I will be trying the fantastic bread there again, but probably not in the amounts I used to scarf when visiting in the past! Will do my N-1 and then resume my current regime when I get back. Hoping I won’t feel rotten when there. But I can always get my “stuff” there at the chemists.

  13. tc on September 1, 2014 at 07:41

    Mine is an odd situation. When on PS I fart nearly constantly. But there is no detectable odor. I work very closely with a lot of people and no one notices. I’ve farted incessantly around friends who’d tell me the truth and they couldn’t smell a thing. What is going on with the gut bugs? Constant flatulence with zero odor?

    • kayumochi on September 1, 2014 at 08:52

      I recall going through that phase of lots of odorless farts … count your blessings. Your coworkers should too.

  14. Honora Carroll on September 1, 2014 at 11:06

    I have been baking potatoes and then putting them in the refrigerator. For breakfast I saute some cut up potatoes and have them with my eggs. I just cut them up with the skin and all. I like the taste of the skin on the potatoes, but should I be removing the skin? Does it matter?

    • LaFrite on September 3, 2014 at 02:33

      If you see some green on the skin and under, remove it, same with potato “eyes”. Otherwise it should be fine for most people.

  15. Allan Folz on September 1, 2014 at 14:07

    Hey Richard, funny you’re writing this because I’ve been wondering the same thing myself.

    We experienced a lot of fartage during the 6 weeks of PS experiment.

    After the experiment ended my wife and kids largely quit PS, and I stopped for a couple weeks before going to 2 TBSP/day mixed with yogurt. Since restarting, no fartage. It seemed like the bacteria needed a break to get a new pecking order established and since then, all is fine. I even tried the old 4 TBSP in water, which was dose during the experiment and it had only a slight effect. Couple farts in the evening (I take it at lunch), and that was it. Like you, I’m mildly disappointed by the turn of events. 🙂

    One other thing, I’ve taken to sauerkraut something fierce this summer. Practically every day my lunch has been re-heated black-eyed peas, 2 eggs, ~1/4c sauerkraut, and sriracha sauce. Then, yogurt w/ a little granola for desert. Zero fartage. It really had me wondering. Originally the quip was fermentation makes gas. Well, not always apparently. Go figure. It’s like there’s more that we don’t know than what we do know. 😉

  16. Jon McRae on September 2, 2014 at 11:19

    I would say that I had the same experience got off of taking a pro-biotic and 4tbsp of RS, a month later I notices that I was starting to not sleep as well, i was not having lucid dreams. I also started to notice that i was feeling more and more depressed emotionally as this past month went along. Well I started taking the Primal defense and 4tbsp of RS and no intestinal discomfort and also my mode changed almost over night along with sleeping better again. N=3

  17. LaFrite on September 3, 2014 at 02:35

    I stopped raw PS supplement for a long time now but yesterday, my food was poor in RS or prebiotic (was mostly eggs, fish, millet couscous, steamed veggies with olive oil, etc, you see what I mean). So I took a prebiotic cocktail in the evening (3 Tbsp of PS, 1Tbsp of inulin, some hydrolized gelatin). No fart at all.

  18. Andy on September 4, 2014 at 11:04

    Richard,

    I have UC and have seen some radically beneficial effects from potato starch supplementation. Prior to the potato starch, I was taking the AOR probiotic. There was not much (or any) overlap between the two. A post of yours helped me connect the dots and I took 2 AOR capsules with a huge helping of potato starch. The next day, I felt terrible – my gut was a wreck. Tons of bloating and the urge to poop, but not much was produced aside from blood and mucus. I was expecting the opposite, naturally, so I’m wondering if you think this recent bout of massive gastric distress was related to combining the probiotic with the RS. Thoughts? Thanks!

    • Richard Nikoley on September 4, 2014 at 12:45

      Andy:

      Honestly? I think it way too complicated and there is zero way i can really know about outliers far from the fat part of the Bell Curve, either way.

      I suppose I’m fortunate to be, myself, in the fat part and I’m willing to endure the criticism that’s a natural result of me focussing on the 80% who do well, instead of spending all my time on the others.

      Sorry, no idea.

    • eddie on September 4, 2014 at 13:06

      Andy,

      Maybe you having colitis , since you took DOUBLE of below and what ever massive amount of RS you took… you didnt fare so well…………
      many with colitis have c diff clostridium adding in so much and FOOD for it , it may have started to digest higher in your tract…you may be more sensitive to anything Clostridium, since many with Colitis have imbalances with Clostridium. your system may have reacted to having it higher in your GI tract. wanting it OUT……….

      Streptococcus faecalis T-110 45‚000‚000
      Clostridium butyricum TO-A 1‚500‚000
      Bacillus mesentericus TO-A 1‚500‚000

  19. akimbo on September 5, 2014 at 14:05

    Similar experience on my end… When I first started eating foods with resistant starch (several months ago) I was pretty sure it was the beans causing horrible gas, though I was supplementing with potato starch also. I ended up quitting the beans after a week or two, but continued with Primal Defense probiotic, resistant starch in 1-2 meals per day, and a tablespoon of potato starch some days. I rarely have gas, so I assume it was mostly the beans, but now I’m curious about whether eating them again would cause that horrible gas if my gut bugs are now plentiful.

  20. Karl88 on September 12, 2014 at 16:39

    Hi Richard, I’ve been on low carb for some time–not too long though (few months). Reason being is due my dislike of my glucose readings. FBG in morning is usually 100mg/dL. I know FBG isn’t the best marker, but this forced me to try a low carb diet. Values still remain at 100mg/dL. At present, I’m trying potato starch. Last two days I’ve tried 2tbsp daily. No side effects so far, no gas/flatulence neither. I’m going to try 3tbsp and keep it there. Why am I not experiencing gas, but so many other people are? No change in stool consistency neither. I’m using Bob’s Red Mill. Prior to this, I don’t think I was getting any RS. Regarding fiber, well, I was eating lots of onions (prebiotic), avocados, broccoli, and greens; occasionally I would eat coconut and nuts, too. Maybe it’s possible that I’m not low carb, because I eat a lot of vegetables. I eat mostly veggies, meat, and dairy. After finishing a bag of starch, I’m going to measure my FBG. I’m not feeling optimistic though.

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