All Things Gas, Explained
Gas Explained, Let’s Talk About It
Embarrassed because your flatulence could clear a room? You might have gas. Symptoms of gas are far more than the occasional fart. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), you might notice:
- You’re bloated
- You experience abdominal pain and discomfort
- You’re burping more often, beyond the occasional post-meal belch
- And yes, you’re farting way more than the normal 13 to 21 times per day.
Causes of Gas
There are several reasons why you might experience gas, from habits that cause you to gulp air to specific foods, and common digestive conditions.
Do you rush through your meal? Forget to chew your food fully before swallowing? These are common habits that cause you to swallow more air with each bite, and this air buildup in your intestines can leave you feeling bloated and gassy.
Chronically chomping gum during the day also encourages air swallowing. Same with drinking carbonated beverages (we’re looking at you, yummy flavored bubbly waters). Sipping through a straw? Yep, you’re probably some sipping air, too.
Bravo for a healthy, veggie-packed diet. But some of the healthiest vegetables for you—cruciferous veggies like broccoli, Brussel’s sprouts, and cauliflower, as well as beans—contain fibers that your body doesn’t break down in digestion. Those are foods that dietitians encourage you to eat more of, but eating a large amount in one sitting or ramping up overall fiber intake too quickly can leave you with gas.
Dipping into a pint of high-protein, low-sugar ice cream at night? Breaking off a piece of “diet” chocolate after lunch? Chomping on sugar-free gum (a fart-producing double whammy)? These foods often contain sugar alcohols like xylitol or sorbitol, which provide a super sweet taste for zero calories, but are associated with gas, bloating, and diarrhea, according to the Encyclopedia of Food and Health.
If you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), you may notice bloating, stomach distention, flatulence, and a change in BMs (like constipation or diarrhea). Essentially those with IBS have a sensitive gut that may be trigged, in part, by eating certain foods containing carbohydrates called FODMAPs, fermentable sugars that aren’t absorbed well in the gut and form gas. Examples of these foods include wheat, onions, dairy, honey, apples, and artificial sweeteners, according to Monash University.
In addition, lactose intolerance (also known as a milk or dairy intolerance), can also cause gas, if your body cannot digest foods that contain the milk sugar called lactose, notes the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
How to Treat Gas and Flatulence
Take Gas Medication
After meals or at bedtime, you’ll want to take a medication that contains simethicone, which is found in Gas Relief. This ingredient is a cornerstone in fighting flatulence because it pops gas bubbles in your intestines and colon. (Picture a needle popping a bubble.) The result? Less gas, more comfort. Another plus: You can continue to eat all the foods that you know are super healthy for you, like that vegetarian black bean chili with the assistance of simethicone.
Learn Your Triggers
Do you feel farty after eating artificially sweetened ice cream? Or know that a large salad will bring on the bloat? Make stomach-soothing swaps that are specific to you. For instance, stick to a half cup of broccoli at dinner instead of a whole cup. Go for berries and cantaloupe instead of apples and bananas, which are less likely to cause gas, says the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD).
Change Your Habits
Slow down how fast you eat dinner, putting your fork down in between bites. This mindful eating habit can also help you enjoy your food more and tune into your hunger and fullness cutes to feel more satisfied.
Talk to a Healthcare Professional
If you suspect that something more is going on or are concerned about your bowel habits for any reason, talk to your PCP or a GI doc. While you might be embarrassed bringing up gas, you can feel reassured that they’ve heard it all and are here to help. Connecting with a registered dietitian can also help you pinpoint trigger foods and develop healthy habits that reduce gas and bloating. See ya later, gas.