Gas or flatulence is a normal and natural body function. However passing excessive gas might be a situation of concern and embarrassing for most of the people, especially in public. Gas is formed in the stomach as well as intestines as a part of the food getting converted into energy. Passing gas 5 to 15 times a day is pretty normal but some people can produce more gas than the average.
Gas is generated by the fermentation of carbohydrates in the colon through bacterial intervention, especially when the carbohydrates remain undigested in the small intestine. A common notion is that fiber is extremely good for digestion but unfortunately they are also responsible for the problems associated with digestion. Fiber rich food items can undoubtedly help with a good digestive system and controlling cholesterol but at the same time it leads to excessive production of gas.
Ill health condition in terms of digestion such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may be an important cause of excessive flatulence. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can also be seen in the same light. Usually a person’s diet is associated with the digestive health but in case problems occur even when the diet is proper and healthy then one must seek medical help.
Common causes of excessive gas
- Swallowing air: The air we swallow directly or indirectly needs to be burped or else it releases through the digestive tract and the anus as flatulence. Too much air swallowing can also cause hiccups.
- Eating habits: The most important cause is what we eat and how we eat and not forgetting how much we eat. Most of the times we aren’t aware of the foods that cause gas.
- Intolerance toward lactose: There are a lot of people who have difficulty in digesting lactose. Lactose is a kind of natural form of sugar that is found in milk, milk products and dairy items and can cause gas as well as bloating.
- Constipation: Having a good digestion system is extremely important for avoiding excessive gas. Constipation slows down the process of breaking the food and makes the person very uncomfortable. People who remain constipated tend to produce more gas.
- Medication: Different types of medicines have different effects as well as side effects. It is a common phenomenon to have more gas while a person is on medication. Antibiotics as well as dietary supplements are largely responsible for upset stomach and other problems as well such as obstruction of the bowel or even Crohn’s disease.
- Hormonal changes: Fluctuating hormones is a very common cause of flatulence, especially among women before their periods as the body has fluids.
- Sometimes people ignore other conditions that could occur because of digestion issues. In this case excessive gas can also signify conditions like diverticulitis, or ulcerative colitis, diabetes and excess of bacteria in the smaller intestines.
- Too much consumption of tobacco and alcohol.
Foods that can cause excessive gas expulsion are as follows:
- Whole grains, kidney beans, chickpeas, legumes.
- Fizzy drinks such as aerated drinks, sodas, beer and drinks those are rich in sugar.
- Food supplements rich in fiber like Metamucil when added to the diet routine can also give gas.
- Vegetables like cauliflower, potatoes, broccoli, radish, turnip.
- Artificial sweeteners like xylitol and sorbitol are easily found in processed foods especially in sugar free food items like candies and chewing gums. This not only causes flatulence but also diarrhea in some cases.
- Constipation, bloating, and a general discomfort after meals.
- Too much belching.
- Sharp cramps in the abdomen that can also change locations.
- Sour belches.
- Abdominal bloating and knotting.
- Loss of appetite.
Treating flatulence can be very simple if one makes certain changes in everyday life. Some of them are mentioned below:
- It is very important to have physical exercise in order to avoid problems not only related to stomach but for overall health. One can choose from small brisk walks to playing sports or going to a gym or a dance class depending upon the available time.
- Apart from exercising maintaining a healthy diet pattern is also very essential. Avoid foods that cause gas and have fiber in moderation. Start with a heavy breakfast and finish your day with a very light dinner.
- Regular water intake is must. Water helps to flush out all the toxins and relieves one of constipation which is also a cause of excessive gas.
- Smoking is also responsible for bad digestion and bad overall health. It not only plays with the digestion but also makes the smokers swallow more air than average. Smoking therefore must be avoided.
- Consumption of too many vegetables, especially the ones that are gaseous, milk products, red meat and too much protein and carbohydrates, Aerated drinks, beer and too much alcohol should also be avoided.