by Dr. Jesse Hanley, MD
While bloating, burping, and flatulence are normal bodily functions – a result of the breakdown process while digesting food, and/or swallowing air – if gas and bloating and gas pains are becoming embarrassing, or interfering with your peace of mind
and/or your daily activities, it’s time to explore solutions.
Gas, bloating and flatulence
may be a sign of something serious such as gluten intolerance, malabsorption or menopause. For many people, though, it’s simply the result of a combination of things such as the food they eat, a diminished supply of digestive enzymes due to the aging process, vitamin deficiency, and/or poor dietary habits.
There are numerous reasons for excessive gas, bloating and flatulence, but diet often plays a crucial role. If you’d like to “clear the air,” temporarily avoiding certain foods known to cause flatulence and bloating can help to identify any dietary causes of gassiness. Once flatulence/gas-producing food sources have been determined and/or eliminated, and an Anti-Flatulence Diet implemented, along with other treatments for gassiness – multi-vitamins, probiotic supplementation, digestive enzymes, and colon cleanings – may still need to be explored.
How To Reduce Gas, Bloating and Flatulence
The best place to begin is by tracking and, if necessary, altering your diet. For some, the results are satisfying, but often there
are underlying problems, as well as simple age-related issues, that cannot be completely resolved through dietary changes. Medicines, menopause, smoking, stress, the amount of air one swallows each day, vitamin deficiency, and gastrointestinal intolerances, conditions, and disease can all play a role in excess gas production.Part 1:
What Foods Cause Bloating, Flatulence and Gas?
Keep Track of What You Eat
Keep a food diary (yuck – but it works) with a record of what you’ve eaten and your body’s reaction to it. If you notice an increase in flatulence and bloating after eating specific foods, decrease or eliminate your intake of them. If you’re having
difficulty identifying flatulence and bloating-producing foods, make a list of foods you know are safe, and then add a new food every forty-eight hours to try to identify the problem food.
Keep in mind that everyone’s digestive system is different; some peoples’ systems struggle to break down certain foods while others can eat them without any problems.
Many carbohydrate-containing foods cause gas and bloating (vs. fats and proteins, which produce very little gas). Starch containing foods such as corn, noodles, pasta, potatoes, and wheat, also produce gas.
Carbohydrates are the biggest culprits when it comes to gas producers because they’re made up of polysaccharides, which have long chains of difficult-to-digest sugars.
The carbohydrates found in some vegetables can produce gas, bloating and flatulence:
- Brussel sprouts
- Cabbage and sauerkraut
- Green peppers
- Legumes (i.e. black-eyed peas, bog beans, broad beans, field beans, lima beans,
mung beans, pinto beans, red kidney beans, baked beans, bean salads, chickpeas,
chili, lentils, lentil soup, peanuts, peanut butter, peas, dried peas, split-pea
soup, soybeans, soy milk, tofu, and other soy products)
- Sweet peppers
Other gas/flatulence producing vegetables include,
Breads, grains, cereals, and nuts:
Some people can’t digest wheat properly which can lead to fermentation and gas build-up when eating wheat and wheat products such as,
- Breakfast cereals
- Whole grain breads
- Whole wheat flour
Other difficult to digest grains and nuts include,
- Oat bran
- Oat flour
- Rice bran
- Sesame flour
- Sunflower flour
- Wheat bran
See The Anti-Flatulence Diet for suggestions on alternatives and substitutes.
The sugar lactose in dairy foods is a common cause of gas, which can sometimes be an indication of lactose intolerance. This is a condition in which the lactose in milk and other dairy products can’t be properly digested. People with lactose intolerance have difficulty digesting dairy products such as,
- Chip dip
- Ice cream
- Salad dressings
Often, though, they can eat aged cheeses and/or yogurt without experiencing any digestive upset.
Eggs, while not technically a dairy product, cause gassiness for some people.
If you think you may be lactose intolerant, eliminate all dairy products from your diet for a ten- to fourteen-day period. Monitor your body’s response to see whether or not there is a reduction of flatulence. If there is, decrease or eliminate your dairy intake of dairy, or use lactase supplements prior to eating to help with digestion of dairy.
See The Anti-Flatulence Diet for dairy alternatives. It includes suggestions for people who love traditional comfort food such as baked goods and cereal with milk.
Fried food – such as anything pan- or deep-fried – along with fatty meats, gravies, pastries, rich creams, and some sauces are foods that can cause gas.
Apples, apricots, bananas, melons, peaches, pears, prunes, and raisins, as well as juices made from apples, grapes, and prunes can trigger gas and bloating.
See The Anti-Flatulence Diet for suggestions on fruit that tends to be “less gassy.”
Found in most fruits – as well as in beans, oat bran, and peas – soluble fiber doesn’t get broken down until it reaches the large intestine, which can result in gassiness. Insoluble fiber produces very little gas.
Other Food Products That Cause Gas
The sweeteners used in sugar-free candies and chocolate can cause digestive problems. Known as sugar alcohols, they’re found in an assortment of food products and beverages ranging from sugarless chewing gum and hardy candy, to sports, carbonated, and sparkling beverages.
Beware of labels that say “sugar-free” as there’s a high likelihood that sugar alcohols have been used to replace the sugar. Manufactured from cornstarch, erythritol, maltitol, mannitol, sorbitol, and xylitol are examples of common sugar alcohols.
Additionally, carbonated drinks can cause bloating because the carbon dioxide bubbles they contain foster the formation of gas.
Dark beer and red wine also contribute to excess gas production.
Further Gas / Flatulence Facts to Consider
Many facts need to be taken into consideration when trying to determine what’s behind excess gas. Foods are by no means the only cause; once diet has been explored, other common issues must be considered.
A lot of women say that their problems with digestion began during their peri-menopausal years…a transitional time prior to menopause that can begin as early as thirty-five. One of the primary causes of digestive problems in women forty-five to fifty-five
years of age is hormonal imbalance.1 Menopausal gas and indigestion are often brought on by the natural slow down of the gastrointestinal tract’s processes as a woman ages.
Vitamin Deficiency and Digestive Disorders
As we age, the various systems of our bodies often don’t function as well as they used to. Men and women experience digestive disorders in middle age because their digestive systems are no longer as efficient at absorbing vitamins and nutrients from the food they eat. This coupled with the poor diets that many Americans consume is a sure-fire recipe for gassiness.
Malabsorption of vitamins and nutrients can result in abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, flatulence, and gas. It’s important to give your digestive system a helping hand by taking a daily multi-vitamin. There is no other single thing you can do to improve your digestive health than to support your digestive system on a daily basis.
The probiotics in Puristat’s Advanced Supplementation will also help balance the good and bad bacteria in your gut, which can help to prevent bloating and gas. They also generate certain vitamins and nutrients, support the immune system, and help prevent disease. Puristat also has a new, stand-alone 35 Billion Probiotic.
Habits, Health, and Digestive Dysfunction
Medicines, stress, smoking, and even the amount of air one swallows each day contribute to gas production.
Some prescription – narcotic pain medicines for example – and non-prescription medicines can cause gas. Check with your health care provider for a list of what to avoid and possible substitutes.
Stress can lead to an excess of stomach acid, which may – in turn – result in a build-up of intestinal gas.
Gastrointestinal infections, blockages, and various other digestive problems and diseases can result in gassiness. For example, upper gastrointestinal (GI) disorders such as peptic ulcer disease, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and gastroparesis (also known as delayed gastric emptying) can lead to chronic belching. Ask your health care provider to rule out any GI disorders that may be the underlying cause of excessive gas production.
Swallowing too much air throughout the day can cause gas build-up. Reduce the amount of air you swallow:
- Eat and drink slowly
- Avoid talking while you eat, carbonated beverages, drinking through a straw, and/or
chewing gum and eating hard candy (part of what you are swallowing is air)
- Ensure dentures fit properly (poor-fitting dentures can cause excess air-swallowing
when eating and drinking)
- Avoid smoking (air is inhaled and swallowed when you smoke)
The Multi-pronged, Anti – Flatulence Action Plan
Reducing intake of gas-producing is helpful for some people; unfortunately, many foods that cause gas are also extremely nutritious, so while avoidance may be a great solution for some, others may not wish to stop eating foods they love that are also good for them.
And the odds are that gas problems will not completely disappear without additional interventions. An integrated, multi-pronged approach to gas, bloating, and flatulence includes diet and lifestyle changes, as well as multi-vitamin and probiotic supplementation, digestive enzymes, and colon cleansing.
This approach has proven to be the most effective and long-lasting way to reduce the volume of gas a person produces which, in turn, reduces bloating, flatulence, and discomfort.
Step 1 – Multi-Vitamins and Probiotics
A failure to absorb vitamins and nutrients, for whatever reason, can result in abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, flatulence, and gas. Yet digestive health is dependent upon receiving adequate nutrition every day. A daily multi-vitamin helps support both the digestive system’s needs as well as your overall health.
An abundance of certain types of bacteria in your GI tract can cause bloating and gas. Probiotics – taken as a separate supplement or as part of Puristat’s Advanced Supplementation formula – are helpful for maintaining a balance between the good and bad bacteria in your gut, alleviating gas, bloating, and flatulence.
Step 2 – Digestive Enzymes
Digestive enzymes prior to meals can greatly assist in the digestion of sugars/carbohydrates, allowing some people to eat foods that normally cause gas without the usual gassy side effects.
Step 3 – Colon Cleansing
A simple colon cleanse can do wonders for reducing gas, bloating, and flatulence. In returning the colon to a healthier state, it no longer takes several days for food to pass through the colon. A shorter transit time means less time for bacteria to hang around producing gas.
Excessive gas can be embarrassing and uncomfortable. It can also be an extremely challenging problem to solve, and there truly is no magical solution. Identifying the root cause is not always easy, and the odds are that even a thorough, knowledgeable,
compassionate, and attentive health care provider may not be able to provide a quick or easy solution to this all-too-common issue.
And it may sound as though every food out there has the potential to cause gas…and to some degree this is true. However, some foods are “gassier” than others, and our Anti-Flatulence Diet article suggests a variety of foods that tend not to be as gas producing.
Each person’s system is unique, so finding a solution that works to alleviate gas, bloating, and flatulence will require a bit of research and some trial and error. It will require a multi-pronged approach including making a determination as to whether or not dietary changes are necessary, considering other contributors such as one’s stage of life and habits, and the implementation of dietary supplements including multi-vitamins, probiotics, digestive enzymes and, possibly, regular colon cleansings.
Life can be tough, and tougher still with constant gas, bloating, and flatulence. But gassiness can be resolved! Just stick with
it, and remember that Puristat is here to help.