Gas is air in your digestive tract. It's totally normal, but having too much gas can be embarrassing when it's released by burping or by passing gas as flatus. Gas can be caused by eating too fast and swallowing air, chewing gum or sucking on hard candy. Or it can be produced when friendly bacteria that live in your large intestine break down sugars and starches that come from some of foods you eat. The bacteria create the gas as a byproduct.
So carbohydrate-rich foods tend to cause gas, but foods that contain mostly fats and proteins do not. That doesn't mean carbs are bad for you -- in fact lots of healthy foods cause gas because they're the foods that are high in fiber.
Most of the time, having a little gas doesn't qualify as a medical problem, so you don't need to change your diet. But, if you have a medical condition like Celiac disease, lactose intolerance or if your symptoms are severe, then you will need to avoid foods that cause the problem.
Foods That May Cause Gas
If you add more fruits and vegetables to your diet, you might notice more gas production. Doesn't seem fair, since you're actually improving your diet. But, take heart -- not all plant foods cause gas in everyone -- with a little trial and error, you can determine which foods are the culprits.
- Beans such as navy beans, chickpeas, pinto beans and white beans
- Asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, onions, and mushrooms
- Apples, peaches and pears
- Potatoes, corn, pasta and wheat and any foods made with these ingredients
- Sugary soft drinks, and apple juice
- Carbonated beverages such as soda and beer
- Dairy products such as milk, cream and ice cream
- Sugar alcohols such as sorbitol, mannitol and xylitol
Preventing Excess Gas
Everybody produces some gas every day, but excess production can lead to bloating -- which can be very uncomfortable.
Keep track of the foods you eat to see if you can find any correlations between specific foods and gas production (use a food diary). You should also speak to your health care provider, especially if you have any other health issues or digestive symptoms. He or she can do some tests to rule out any serious health problems.
Digestive aids that contain digestive enzymes are available in over-the-counter form. The enzymes help break down the carbohydrates, which can lessen gas production. If your gas is due to lactose intolerance, you can take products that contain lactase, the enzyme that digests milk sugar.
Probiotics might also help and can be found in foods like yogurt and sauerkraut or they can be taken as dietary supplements.
Low FODMAP Diet and Irritable Bowel Syndrome
FODMAP is short for Fermentable Oligo-, Di- and Mono-saccharides, and Polyols. Many of the foods on that gas-causing list are high in these types of sugars and sugar alcohols. Reducing consumption of the high FODMAP foods may help reduce gas production if you have IBS.
About.com Experts Talk About Relief for Gas and Bloating
- How to Deal With Bloating And Gas
- How to Ease Gas Pains Fast
- Gas and Bloating Treatment Guide
- Natural Remedies for Bloating, Gas and Flatulence
- Foods on the FODMAP Diet
- Five Simple Rules for Adding Fiber to Your Diet
Gastroenterology and Hepatology. "The Low FODMAP Diet for Treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Other Gastrointestinal Disorders." Accessed January 5 2014. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3736783/
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC). "Gas in teh Digestive Tract." Accessed January 5, 2014. http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/gas.