Some people don’t want to admit it- but everybody farts! Some of you might be more expressive than others in your delivery, but we all have to release gas, either by belching from the top of the gastrointestinal tract, or flatulence, which comes out of the bottom of the tract. Bloating is caused by excess stomach gas that has not been released.
Some gas after eating — and releasing it through burping and farting — is normal. Most people produce as many as one to four pints of gas a day, which they pass, on average, about 14 times a day.
However, if you’re experiencing painful gas and the embarrassment of chronic and foul smelling flatulence, you might want to figure out why.
Excessive Gas: Foods to Avoid
Beans, beans, the musical fruit. The more you eat, the more you toot! But it isn’t just beans that will make you gassy.
Foods such as dairy products and certain vegetables cause some people to have excessive gas. Foods like these contain fiber, sugars, and starches that don’t get digested and absorbed, eventually causing intestinal gas when they are finally broken down in the large intestine.
One way to manage flatulence and belching is to eat fewer of the well-known gassy foods. Everyone reacts differently, but common gassy foods are fruits, such as apples and pears, certain vegetables including broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and onions, whole grains like bran, and dairy products, from milk to cheese to ice cream.
Foods containing sorbitol, a naturally occurring sugar found in fruits, are on some people’s gassy-foods list. Others are bothered by carbonated soft drinks and fruit drinks. If you discover that these foods are causing you excess gas, you don’t have to stop eating them- just use some moderation.
Other ways to avoid gassiness:
- Drink before meals, not during. If you drink liquids with your meals, you lose stomach acids and can’t break down the foods as well. Try drinking about 30 minutes before a meal, not during, to help your stomach better digest food.
- Eat and drink slowly. When you eat or drink quickly, you can swallow a lot of air, which can cause gas, Slow down when you eat — you will swallow less air and be less gassy. Bonus- you will proably eat less!
- Take over-the-counter digestive aids. Digestive enzymes are available as over-the-counter supplements. You can find these at a health food store or in the natural aisle at the grocery store. Take one or two each day, you will know within a few weeks if it helps. FYI- antacids do nothing to help with excess gas.
- Be a Beano counter. Another over-the-counter digestive aid, Beano, contains an enzyme that can allow the body to digest the sugar in beans and many vegetables. Add five drops of the liquid form or swallow one Beano tablet per half-cup serving of food before eating. Heating degrades the enzyme in Beano, so don’t add it to foods while cooking. Beano will not help if excessive gas is caused by fiber or lactose.
- Don’t fill up on air. Habits like smoking, chewing gum, and drinking through a straw may cause your stomach to fill with air, leading to gas.
- Avoid artificial sweeteners. Sorbitol and related sugar alcohols used in many sugar-free versions of foods can also aggravate gas as they are digested by gut bacteria which ferment and release gas and have a laxative effect. Chewing gum that contains Sorbitol is similar to eating a prune. However, the sugar substitutes that you use in coffe or in soda are not the kind that cause gas. The various packet sweeteners — yellow (sucralose), pink (saccharine), and blue (aspartame) — are not associated with gas or laxative effects.
Related Conditions That Could Be to Blame
If the problem of excessive body gas is persistent or severe, consult your doctor — it could be a sign of a more serious digestive condition. Don’t simply ignore the problem or blame it on indigestion.
These conditions might seem extreme, but see your doctor if you have concerns.
- Lactose intolerance. People who are lactose intolerant are unable to digest lactose, the sugar that is found in milk and milk products. Try eliminating dairy milk from your diet and see if it helps.
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). This type of pain is usually in the lower bowel area.
- Colon cancer. Excess gas is rarely the presenting symptom for patients with colon cancer, but it does remind you to get checked.
- Upper gastrointestinal disorders. Occasional belching is normal, but frequent belching may be a sign of an upper gastrointestinal disorder. These include peptic ulcers, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or gastroparesis, also called delayed gastric emptying.
As annoying as it might be, some gas is a natural by-product of the body’s digestive system. But if your gas is excessive, painful, or chronic, talk to your doctor about possible causes and remedies.
Now that you have the facts, start counting your burps and farts to see if you are normal!
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