Although they’re just little puffs of air, passing gas is one of the last things anyone wants to talk about. We find it disgusting, insulting, and just plain stinky. But you know what? Everyone does it. Yes, they do. And on average, most of us are putting out one to four pints of gas a day. That’s a whole lot of hot air. Where the heck does it all come from?
What Causes Gas?
In humans, gas is typically caused in one of two ways. It’s a normal byproduct of the food digestion process—a mixture of hydrogen, methane, and carbon dioxide that forms in the gut and intestines. Second, as people eat and drink, they swallow tiny amounts of air. Eventually, oxygen and nitrogen collect in the digestive tract, leading to gas. Things like drinking out of a straw and smoking cigarettes can add to this type of gas.
Foods that Cause Gas
Just because a food gives you a little bit of gas doesn’t mean it’s unhealthy. Some of the most common gas culprits are some of the healthiest foods and include the following: onions, leeks, cabbage, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, beans, peas, lentils, whole grains, peppers, and cucumbers.
For some, it could be food sensitivities that lead to gas, especially if gas is accompanied by bloating and stomach pain. Things like dairy, gluten, and chocolate are known to impact certain people this way.
Then there are the unhealthy, high-fat foods. Things cooked in heavy grease and loaded with saturated fats cause gas and bloating even in the strongest of stomachs. Artificial sweeteners, like sorbitol, are also known to cause gas and are commonly found in sugar-free gum and over the counter cough medications.
Is It Something More?
If you commonly have gas and it doesn’t seem to matter what you eat, especially if it’s accompanied by abdominal discomfort, it could be something more. Excess gas could be a sign of gastrointestinal reflux disorder (GERD), ulcers, or issues with the gallbladder or liver. Talk to your doctor if symptoms don’t improve.
At Ask Dr. Nandi, we don’t want you to be embarrassed by what your body naturally does, so be your own health hero and know what’s normal.
- Chew your food thoroughly to help the digestion process.
- Take probiotics and digestive enzymes to keep balanced.
- Eat slow and in a calm environment, and limit water intake during meals.
- Exercise regularly to keep your digestion system flowing.
- Fight gas naturally with dill, fennel, mint, or ginger.