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Passing gas, farting, breaking wind—whatever you call it, gas can be embarrassing, painful, and annoying.
And before you think you’re the only one who might have a gas problem, know this: Most people produce about 1 to 4 pints of gas a day and pass gas about 14 times a day, either by farting or burping. Or they experience gas through a feeling of bloating that doesn’t necessarily result in either.
And while you may feel that you get more gassy with age, the real culprit is diet, which may change as you get older.
Gas occurs in the body two ways: Either by swallowing air or from the fermentation of food in the colon by bacteria. “Substances that don’t get absorbed in the intestines go into the colon, where they are acted upon by bacteria, releasing gas,” says Douglas A. Drossman, MD, a gastroenterologist and President at the Center for Education and Practice of Biopsychosocial Care.
People with gastro-intestinal problems also have an increased sensitivity to gas. So how do you treat the problem? Read on.
- Over-the-counter remedies
- Do Yoga
- Change your diet
- See a doctor
- Curbing the burps
- Anxiety and gas
- The Best Sleeping Position to Aid Digestion
- Sleep on Your Left Side
- How To Sleep for Proper Digestion
- POPULAR POSTS LIKE THIS:
- What causes excessive gas?
- Can sleep apnea make flatulence worse?
- How to limit gas buildup
- 7 Easy Ways to Tame Excessive Gas
- 1. Avoid Foods Known to Cause Gas
- 2. Drink Before Meals
- 3. Eat and Drink Slowly
- 4. Take Over-the-Counter Digestive Aids
- 5. Try Activated Charcoal
- 6. Don’t Fill Up on Air
- 7. Avoid Artificial Sweeteners
- When Gas Is a Symptom of Something Else
- Signs Your Baby Has Gas and How to Treat It
- Why Do Babies Produce Gas?
- Gassy Newborns: What to Look For
- Dealing with a Gassy Baby
- Gas Prevention Methods
- Baby Gas FAQs
- 3. You’re swallowing too much air…like literally.
- 4. You’re eating large meals too quickly.
- 5. You don’t go for that post-meal walk or stretch.
- 6. You might have a gastrointestinal condition.
- Surprising Causes of Excessive Gas
- 7 Safe Home Remedies for Gas During Pregnancy
- Why Does Pregnancy Make You Gassy?
- 7 Ways to Ease Your Gas
- When to Call Your Doctor
- Healthy Pregnant Women Fart: Doctors on Why Pregnancy Gas Is Good
- Here’s Why You Have So Much Gas at Night
Charcoal tablets and simethicone (Gas-X) work in mild cases by breaking up the surface area of big gas bubbles. The gas still needs to get out, but the pills make it easier and less uncomfortable.
Bean-o helps break down big vegetable offenders (broccoli, brussels sprout, cabbage, collard greens, kale, cauliflower).
Lactaid tablets help with gas caused by lactose intolerance, if taken before eating dairy products. (Lactaid also makes food-products that are lactose-free.
If you are fructose intolerant(have a sensitivity to foods with table sugar or corn syrup such as soda, applesauce, and fruit juices), sorry, abstinence is the only solution.
For a natural way to relieve gas, try this “wind relieving position,” aka The Pavanamuktasana Pose, says Carol Shwidock, owner of Harmony Yoga in Stamford, CT. “Always start with your right side, as this targets the ascending colon, which will push the gas to your descending colon. Then when you do the left side, you push all the gas out.”
• Lie flat on your back.
• Inhale and bring your right knee to your chest. Wrap your arms around your knee. Exhale and bring your chin forward toward your knee.
• Hold for four breaths, then release your arms and knee, bringing your head back to the ground.
• Repeat on the left side.
Change your diet
Common foods to avoid: fiber, cellulose (an additive found in many reduced-fat and added-fiber processed foods), wheat bran, cruciferous vegetables (such as broccoli and cauliflower), foods such as beans that contain the sugars raffinose, stachiose, and verbascose, and if you are lactose or fructose intolerant, dairy or processed foods.
There now are diets such as FODMAP, developed by Australian dietitian and nutritionist Sue Shepherd, that help people who have a lot of gas and food sensitivity. You can try a process of elimination by substituting a gassy food for a non-gassy one, and see which one is giving you the most trouble. A few basic substitutions:
• Rice milk for cow’s milk
• Bananas, blueberries and melon for apples, peaches and plums
• Gluten-free and spelt cereals and bread for wheat and rye products
• Garlic-infused oil for garlic
See a doctor
If you regularly experience a lot of discomfort, bloating, or cramping after a meal, with or without passing gas, it’s time to check in with your doctor. You might have bacterial overgrowth syndrome, IBS, Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, an eating disorder, or lactose or fructose intolerance. Note: “Some people, women especially, can experience a heart attack as gas or indigestion. If you have any concerns, contact your health care provider immediately or seek emergency care,” says Dr. Drossman.
Curbing the burps
Burping, an upward release of stomach gas, happens after you swallow air. To keep the noise down, avoid carbonated drinks, and don’t eat too fast, gulp down drinks, smoke, or chew gum.
See a doctor if…you feel you burp too much. This can be a sign of an ulcer, gallbladder problem, hiatal hernia, weakened lower esophageal sphincter, or erosion of the esophagus.
Anxiety and gas
Anxiety can also cause burping and passing gas. When you are nervous, you tend to swallow more and breathe in a rapid, shallow manner, all causing more air intake. When that happens, try square breathing: Inhale for four seconds, filling up your abdomen, then rib cage. Hold for four seconds, exhale for four and then hold for four again. Repeat.
Pretty much no one is happy to have gas (with the exception of the elementary school set, who of course finds it hilarious). Gas is a normal part of having a body, but it can also be straight-up painful sometimes.
Since you probably don’t feel comfortable calling out sick from work with gas or otherwise letting it disrupt your life, you likely want to get things sorted out ASAP. As it turns out, the key to fixing painful gas is knowing why it happens in the first place.
There are a few reasons gas can develop, and, well, it has to go somewhere.
Gas often happens as a normal part of your digestive process. Your stomach and small intestine don’t entirely break down certain carbohydrates you eat, so they end up getting to your large intestine intact, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. There, bacteria make gas as they process these undigested sugars, fibers, and starches. Certain foods, like dairy products and cruciferous vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, are more likely to cause gas than others, but everyone’s triggers are different.
You can also get gas if you swallow a lot of air. While it’s unlikely that you’re actually trying to suck down a bunch of oxygen, certain habits like regularly using a straw, drinking carbonated beverages, eating too quickly, and chewing gum can cause you to take in more air than normal. When this causes gas, it’s typically via burping, since the air comes back up before it can go all the way to your stomach.
Beyond those causes, gas can happen if you have health conditions that affect your digestive system, like irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, or Crohn’s disease, or bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine, according to the Mayo Clinic.
OK, but why does gas sometimes hurt so bad that you want to cry and check yourself into the ER?
Good question. Painful gas and other bothersome symptoms like bloating can happen if gas builds up in your system because you can’t expel it (like if you’re purposely holding it in), if you eat something that really doesn’t agree with you, or if you have an underlying condition that prevents gas from moving through your system normally. All of this can cause spasms and distension in your large intestine during the digestive process, which can be pretty painful, Jamile Wakim-Fleming, M.D., a gastroenterologist at the Cleveland Clinic, tells SELF.
Unfortunately, there isn’t one magic pill that will immediately get rid of any painful gas you may be experiencing. The drug simethicone, which is an anti-foaming agent present in medicines like Gas-X, is designed to reduce bloating and pain from gas and may help, but it’s not a guarantee, Kyle Staller, M.D., M.P.H., a gastroenterologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, tells SELF.
There are, however, a few tricks you can try to either make the gas go away or, at the very least, make you feel better.
1. Sip a glass of water slowly.
Drinking water does two things, says Dr. Wakim-Fleming: It can help move any gas-causing foods in your system through the digestive process, and it makes it harder for your intestines to contract in a way that gasses you up. See, your intestines contract to move food, and if they contract too strongly or for too long, that can lead to or exacerbate gas.
2. Try to stop swallowing so much air—seriously.
Downing some water can be counterproductive if you’re doing it in a way that will only lead to more gas. Until the pain abates, avoid habits that can lead to swallowing a ton of air, like taking big gulps of water at a time, using straws, drinking fizzy beverages, sucking your food down too quickly, talking a lot while eating, and chewing gum, Dr. Wakim-Fleming says.
3. Try getting up and walking around.
Exercise isn’t just great for your overall health—it can also help clear up painful gas and bloating. While a five-mile run probably isn’t first on your to-do list when you’re doubled over in pain, if you can manage a quick walk or other gentle movement, that can make a big difference.
The Best Sleeping Position to Aid Digestion
Digestion problems are a pain to deal with. Who’d want to wake up to constipation, heartburn, or even acid reflux?
There’s a simpler remedy to try if you really want to improve irregular sleeping patterns due to indigestion – adjust your sleeping position!
Sleep on Your Left Side
To the left, to the left! Did you know that sleeping on your left side can promote better coordination between your digestive system and GRAVITY?
That’s correct – the small intestine moves waste to your right side to make its way to the large intestine and then to the lower colon on the left side. This increases the likelihood of having your bowel movement first thing in the morning.
How To Sleep for Proper Digestion
1. Elevate your head
Elevating your head while sleeping on your left side can improve nighttime digestion. Studies show that this position helps ease heartburn as the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) – the muscle ring/flap valve that controls the stomach’s intake of food from the oesophagus – is kept above the level of gastric acid. In the event of reflux, the acid should go back quickly to the stomach because of gravity’s pull.
Remember that whatever the case may be, it’s a must to keep your neck and spine in a neutral position. Ideally, you’d want a plush and supportive pillow that can give you comfort and support simultaneously.
IMAGE: Proper spine alignment on a supportive pillow
2. Add a pillow in between the knees to prevent your midsection from sinking
If #1 still doesn’t do the trick, try sandwiching a pillow with your knees. Any discomfort felt may be coming from a misaligned spine or a strained neck when you bend your knees in this position. Placing a pillow in between them could prevent discomfort and keep the spine in a neutral position.
IMAGE: Placing a pillow in between the knees for better spine alignment
3. Don’t eat large meals THREE hours before sleeping
Familiarise yourself with the three-hour rule. This allows your body to digest the food with ample time, so you don’t wake up to a rumbling and painful stomach. We’re also certain no one wants to feel nauseous late at night anyway. Give your digestive system time to do its job of absorbing nutrients and eliminating waste.
So when it’s time to get some snooze, go on and try facing left – it might just make your sleep a little more special tonight.
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Whether you call it farting, passing wind, having gas, or flatulence (the official medical term), the release of excess air through the intestinal tract is both normal and natural.
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Why, then, are farts the butt of so many adolescent boys’ jokes? Perhaps, because of those awkward moments when the body’s internal horn section suddenly plays a little too loudly — becoming noticeable to all in the vicinity.
Truth be told, passing gas happens a lot, likely between 14 and 23 times throughout your day, often without attracting much notice. For most people, it’s not a major problem. But what if it’s a problem for you?
“If you have an amount of gas that makes you uncomfortable, you should consult your local GI physician for evaluation and recommendations,” says gastroenterologist Christine Lee, MD. “If you aren’t able to take care of it in a socially acceptable manner, and it’s bothering your lifestyle, you should have it checked out.”
If you’re so gassy it’s affecting your daily activities or causing you pain or embarrassment, you can take steps to minimize the problem, she says.
What causes excessive gas?
Gas can accumulate in your digestive tract simply because you swallow air while drinking, eating or even laughing. But some foods produce excess gas as well. This can make the need to control its passing more challenging.
If your intestines are sluggish, moving food through your gut too slowly (slow motility), excess gas can collect. The longer food sits in your system, the more gas-producing bacteria build up, causing abdominal discomfort.
You also produce more gas as you age due to slowing down of your metabolism and slowing down of the movement of food through the colon. Yes, even the intestinal tract naturally slows down over time.
Excess gas buildup is also likely more of a problem if you have medical conditions such as diabetes, scleroderma, thyroid dysfunction, small bowel bacterial overgrowth, irritable bowel syndrome, diverticulosis, or if you have a sedentary lifestyle, Dr. Lee says.
Can sleep apnea make flatulence worse?
In some cases, the way you sleep can contribute to excessive gas buildup in your system.
About 25 percent of men and nearly 10 percent of women have sleep apnea, causing them to snore with their mouths open.
“People with sleep apnea are mostly mouth-breathers, and they inhale a lot of air when they’re snoring and swallowing,” Dr. Lee says. “So, they wake up with gas pain because they’ve been swallowing air all night.”
Talk to your doctor if you suspect you have sleep apnea.
How to limit gas buildup
Dr. Lee suggests these tips to help lessen the impact of excess gas in your system:
- Exercise. The more active you are, the more frequently and discreetly you’ll eliminate gas from your intestinal tract. Focus on abdominal-strengthening exercises to help keep the digestive tract moving. Aim to work out for at least 30 minutes three or four days each week.
- Limit cruciferous vegetables. Cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and asparagus produce more gas than other vegetables. (But they’re also nutritious, so don’t avoid them altogether!)
- Avoid dairy products if you’re lactose intolerant. If you do eat milk, cheese or yogurt, consider taking Lactaid® beforehand to help ease your digestion, Dr. Lee says.
- Avoid constipation. Having a bowel movement anywhere from three times daily to once every other day is normal. This helps limit a buildup from gas-producing bacteria. Hydration and exercise can help keep things moving in this department.
- Review your medications. Narcotics, decongestants, allergy medications, and some blood pressure drugs can slow your intestinal processes. Talk to your doctor if you think you need to make a change.
- Limit carbonated beverages, fermented foods and drinks containing high fructose corn syrup. These products just add more gas or feed the bacteria in your digestive tract.
Ultimately, Dr. Lee’s tips should help relieve your gas problem — and perhaps make you less anxious in social situations.
It’s also important to talk to your doctor about any changes in your health. “Consult your physician if you’ve had a change in bowel movements (especially if they are sudden) or if you feel that something isn’t right,” she says.
7 Easy Ways to Tame Excessive Gas
1. Avoid Foods Known to Cause Gas
One way to manage flatulence and belching is to eat fewer of the well-known gassy foods. Common culprits include: certain fruits, like apples and pears; specific vegetables, such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and onions; whole grains like bran; and dairy products, including milk, cheese, and ice cream. These items contain fiber, sugars, and starches that don’t digest or absorb easily, eventually causing intestinal gas.
Foods containing sorbitol, a naturally occurring sugar found in fruit, are on some people’s gassy foods list. Other people are bothered by carbonated soft drinks and fruit drinks. If you discover that these foods are causing you excess gas, eliminate them from your diet or eat them in small portions. When it comes to foods to avoid, moderation is key, says Stephen Bickston, MD, professor of internal medicine and director of the inflammatory bowel disease program at the Center for Digestive Health at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.
Keep in mind that almost any food or combination of foods can cause gas. “Certain foods don’t get along well in certain people,” says Donald Novey, MD, an integrative medicine physician in Poulsbo, Washington. “Some people find they are gassy if they eat fruits with proteins, or if they eat starches and proteins together. It’s personal and requires a little experimentation to find out what the culprits are.” Dr. Novey suggests keeping a food diary and noting when you feel gassy. “If you find you’re gassy after eating a certain food, eliminate it from your diet and see if it helps,” he says.
Cooking may help break down some of the offending ingredients, Dr. Bickston says. “But the style of cooking can also decrease healthy chemicals found in vegetables. Boiling seems to break down chlorophyll and other desirable ingredients.” Look for recipes that call for steaming, as that seems to be a better cooking method for gassy foods.
2. Drink Before Meals
If you drink liquids with your meals, you lose stomach acids and can’t break down food as well, Novey says. Try drinking about 30 minutes before a meal to help your stomach digest better.
3. Eat and Drink Slowly
When you eat or drink fast, you can swallow a lot of air, which can cause gas, says Bickston. The simple solution? Slow down when you eat. If you have dentures, check with your dentist to be sure they fit properly so you’re not gasping air while eating.
4. Take Over-the-Counter Digestive Aids
Digestive enzymes are available as over-the-counter supplements. “I recommend going to the health food store and getting a digestive enzyme,” says Novey. “You can take one or two. You will know very rapidly — within a few weeks — if it makes a difference.” But antacids won’t do much for excessive gas, says Bickston.
Another over-the-counter digestive aid, Beano, contains an enzyme that breaks down the complex carbohydrates in beans and many vegetables into more easily digestible sugars. Take two to three Beano tablets or one Beano Meltaway (a dissolving tablet) before each meal. Note that Beano won’t help if excessive gas is caused by fiber or lactose.
5. Try Activated Charcoal
Activated charcoal may help reduce and treat excess gas and bloating. Unlike the charcoal you find in your grill or fireplace, activated charcoal undergoes a special treatment that makes it safe for human consumption. Once you take activated charcoal (via liquid or pill), it attaches to fluid in your gut, potentially reducing gas and bloating and creating firmer stools.
6. Don’t Fill Up on Air
Habits like smoking, chewing gum, and drinking through a straw may cause your stomach to fill with air, leading to gas.
7. Avoid Artificial Sweeteners
Sorbitol and related sugar alcohols used in many sugar-free versions of foods can also aggravate gas. “Sorbitol is often the first ingredient in any brand of sugar-free gum I’ve found at local grocery stores,” says Bickston. “One to two sticks is akin to eating a prune.” But the sugar substitutes that are found at a typical coffee stand or in popular soft drinks are not the kind that cause gas. The various packet sweeteners — yellow (sucralose), pink (saccharine), and blue (aspartame) — are not associated with gas or laxative effects.
When Gas Is a Symptom of Something Else
If excessive gas is persistent or severe, consult your doctor — it could be a sign of a more serious digestive condition, such as:
- Lactose Intolerance This is the inability to digest lactose, the sugar found in milk and milk products. “I test with a milk challenge,” says Bickston. “The patient drinks a pint or two of milk — it can be any percent fat. What follows tells the patients whether they should limit their milk intake.” If avoiding milk reduces your symptoms you may be lactose intolerant.
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) “Patients who meet the diagnostic checklist for irritable bowel syndrome suffer more pain at the lower levels of the abdominal cavity,” he says.
- Colon Cancer “Excess gas is rarely the main symptom of patients with colon cancer,” Bickston notes. “But it does trigger my reflex to remind patients to get screened for colorectal cancer.”
- Upper Gastrointestinal Disorders Occasional belching is normal, but frequent belching may be a sign of an upper gastrointestinal disorder. These include peptic ulcers, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or gastroparesis, also called delayed gastric emptying.
Also, warns Bickston, if you’ve had abdominal surgery, a hernia, or significant weight loss or weight gain, never dismiss your gas-like symptoms as normal. Get them checked out.
As annoying as it might be, some gas is a natural byproduct of the body’s digestive system. But if your gas is excessive, painful, or chronic, talk to your doctor about possible causes and remedies.
Signs Your Baby Has Gas and How to Treat It
New parents are often surprised at the big noises that come out of a small baby. Newborns can be quite the audible orchestra, and gas is often part of the repertoire. “Gas is a normal part of the digestive process, but it’s also involved in most intestinal complaints,” says Jeremiah Levine, M.D., director of pediatric gastroenterology at NYU Langone Health. “Too much gas is usually a symptom that something else is going on.” Here’s how to spot a baby with gas and help her pass it.
Why Do Babies Produce Gas?
You’ve no doubt figured out by now that every person on the planet produces and expels gas. As food moves through the GI tract, the small intestine absorbs the usable ingredients, and bacteria in the large intestine break down the leftovers, releasing hydrogen and carbon dioxide and producing bubbles of gas in the process. Burping allows some gas to escape from the stomach early on, and the rest travels from the colon to the rectum, where it’s ejected primarily via bowel movements or farts, poofs, or whatever you call them in your house.
But when gas doesn’t pass easily, it collects in the digestive tract and causes bloating and discomfort. Babies are especially prone to this. “Newborn digestive systems are immature, so they produce a lot of gas, and this is normal. Infants also take in a lot of air while feeding and crying, which produces more gas,” says Samira Armin, M.D., a pediatrician at Texas Children’s Pediatrics in Houston. Bottle-fed babies have it the worst, but breastfeeding doesn’t make a baby immune. Ultimately, a newborn baby may pass more gas than a grown man.
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Frequency of gas is generally not a cause for concern, and a fussy baby might be perfectly normal, too. Unlike adults, babies pass gas with a little less decorum and a lot more enthusiasm. “She may seem uncomfortable or just downright fussy when she’s got some gas that needs to come out,” says Ari Brown, M.D., an Austin-based pediatrician and the author of Baby 411. “But it’s rare that a baby will actually have discomfort due to gas.”
Gassy Newborns: What to Look For
If you suspect that your fussy baby is genuinely uncomfortable, and she keeps squirming and pulling up her legs, she might have some gas that refuses to pass. The best way to confirm your suspicions is to try some gas-relieving techniques. “If your baby seems much better after passing gas, then that’s a telltale sign that the problem was gas,” says Jennifer Shu, M.D., an Atlanta-based pediatrician and coauthor of Food Fights: Winning The Nutritional Challenges of Parenthood Armed with Insight, Humor, and A Bottle of Ketchup.
For some children, even normal amounts of gas can cause abnormal discomfort. That is because they have an increased sensitivity to distension (the stretching of the intestines), says John Rosen, M.D., a pediatric gastroenterologist at Children’s Mercy, in Kansas City, Missouri. Kids (and adults) experience sensations from intestinal pain fibers in different ways and have individual pain thresholds.
Dealing with a Gassy Baby
If you have a gassy baby on your hands, there are several things you can do to help coax the gas out. Start by placing your baby on a flat surface, belly down. Lifting her up slightly on her stomach, gently massage her belly. Or place her on her back and “try moving her legs and hips around as if she riding a bike,” Dr. Brown says. Often these kinds of motions break up bubbles and give gas that little extra push it needs to work its way out. “You can also try a nice, warm bath to relieve the discomfort,” Dr. Brown adds.
- RELATED: The Best Remedies for Gas & Reflux
If you’re still faced with an unhappy infant, you might want to consult with your pediatrician about trying some gas drops. “Some babies are said to respond well to over-the-counter anti-gas drops containing simethicone,” Dr. Shu says. Products with this ingredient include Gerber Gas Relief Drops, Mylicon, and Phazyme. Another option is to consider what might be causing the excess gas and see if you can reduce the bubble intake from the get-go.
Image zoom Priscilla Gragg
Gas Prevention Methods
Bring on the Burps. Feeding time can come with a lot of crying, gulping, guzzling, and suckling – in other words, a lot of air, which eventually manifests itself in the form of a burp or gas. “And while relief from a burp might be more immediate, air that exits as gas has a longer journey through the intestinal tract first,” Dr. Shu says. Try being a little extra vigilant about burping your baby during and after a feeding to see if you can keep some of the gas at bay.
Settle Down. Bottle-fed babies can ingest a lot of bubbles. To combat this, tilt the bottle at an angle that fills the entire nipple with milk. “Otherwise your baby will suck in air,” Dr. Shu says. “More swallowed air means potentially more gas.” If you feed your baby a powdered formula, try to let the bottle settle first before giving it to your baby. There’s a whole lot of shaking going on and the bottle is often piled high with bubbles on top of the actual formula. Ready-made formula and specially vented bottles may also help reduce the amount of bubbles in the bottle.
Adjust the Angle. “When you’re feeding your baby, make sure her head is higher than her stomach,” Dr. Shu advises. You want to hold your baby in a position that allows the liquid to slowly sink to the bottom while the bubbles rise to the top. If you keep the bubbles closer to the surface, the natural – and easiest – means of exit is a burp. Bubbles that are trapped will likely pass in the form of gas.
Examine the Menu. Certain kinds of foods – those that are harder to digest– are known to cause excess gas, and the introduction of solid foods can be a definite game changer in the world of infant gas. So if you’re contending with a particularly fussy or constantly gassy baby, it might be worth taking a look at her diet – and yours. The gas-causing food you eat (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, beans) turns up in your breast milk, which might mean extra gas for your baby.
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Baby Gas FAQs
Should I WorryAbout Smell?
The stink of hot wind can be so strong you have to hold your breath, or it can be almost imperceptible. Scientifically speaking, the odor depends on the concentration of the gas, the foods your child ate recently (warning: scrambled eggs lead to sulfur farts), and the concentration and types of bacteria in your child’s colon. You need to worry about a particularly putrid scent only if it consistently bothers your child, elicits teasing from others, or is associated with fever, incontinence, diarrhea, severe abdominal pain, poor growth, blood in the stool, or other sudden symptoms. In these cases, consult your doctor.
Does Baby Gas Cause Colic?
It’s easy to point a finger when you see the symptoms of colic—inconsolable crying, a hard-as-a-rock tummy, a red face, an arched back, clenched fists, pulled-up legs—but gas is just one part of the overall constellation of colic, not the underlying cause. Colic probably has origins in the nervous system, says Barry Lester, Ph.D., founder and director of the Women & Infants Hospital’s Center for Children and Families, in Providence, home to the only colic clinic in the U.S. When children undergo significant reorganizations of their nervous system, their behavior often changes too. The first big change like this occurs between 3 and 4 weeks of age, when they’re gaining more control of their vocal cords, he explains.
What’s the deal with constipation?
Gas pain goes hand in hand with constipation, the most common issue that pediatric gastroenterologists see in their offices. But the connection isn’t always easy for parents to notice at home. Hard, painful-to-pass stool that’s produced only once a week is an obvious symptom, but many kids have a daily bowel movement and still don’t get it all out, says Dr. Rosen. Carrying around all that extra stool is uncomfortable, to say the least.
“Often kids want to get out just enough poop to make them feel better, and then they immediately get up from the toilet so they can return to playing,” says Dr. Rosen. “If you notice this happening, encourage your child to sit for an additional two or three minutes to see if more stool and gas come out.”You can tell your child that his poop is a train car, and even though the engine came out of the tunnel (success!), there may be some more cars trailing close behind that should be let out as well.
- RELATED: 4 Digestion Afflictions Not Associated With Gas
Can Gas Signal Food Allergies?
When fussiness, squirming, and other gassy behaviors persist beyond your baby’s first few months, it’s reasonable to wonder if she has a food allergy or intolerance. The big clue that she does: She’s dealing with other significant health problems too. “A baby or child with a food allergy will also probably have skin rashes, vomiting, diarrhea or blood in her stool, and she may not be gaining enough weight,” says Jean Molleston, M.D., a pediatric gastroenterologist with Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health, in Indianapolis.
Gas pain is also a symptom of celiac disease, a serious intolerance to gluten. Children aren’t born with this autoimmune disorder; it can develop at any point when something in their environment “turns on” the genes that cause it. Ask your doctor to test your child for celiac disease if she’s also experiencing growth issues, abdominal discomfort, vomiting, chronic diarrhea, or constipation, or if celiac or any other autoimmune diseases run in your family.
- By Anita K. Henry and Stephanie Wood
The best way to combat gas related to a food sensitivity is to pay attention to your body, possibly with the guidance of a medical professional. Your doctor will probably ask you to start keeping a food diary to help find patterns between what you’re eating and what you’re feeling. This way, you can take note of what foods might be causing issues for you so you can decide whether you want to eat them only once in a while or avoid them altogether.
3. You’re swallowing too much air…like literally.
One commonly overlooked cause of gas is actually ingesting air, which causes it to accumulate in the esophagus, according to the Mayo Clinic. It happens when you do anything that causes you to swallow an excessive amount of air, such as “drinking carbonated beverages, smoking, eating or drinking too fast, talking while eating,” Dr. Balzora explains.
It can also be caused by chewing gum, sucking on candies all day, or breathing through your mouth while you sleep. If you have gas in the morning or wake up feeling completely full, it might be because of the way you’re breathing as you sleep. It also turns out that swallowing air can be a symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which is a condition where stomach acid travels up the esophagus (instead of staying where it belongs), but we’ll get into that a bit later.
If swallowing air is simply something you do when you’re nervous, this situation is called “aerophagia,” and it can contribute to excessive gas. So if you think swallowing air might be at the root of your gas issues, Dr. Schnoll-Sussman suggests taking a look at your daily habits and seeing where that extra air might be coming from. For instance, you might be able to minimize the amount of air you ingest by opting for non-carbonated beverages (sorry, seltzer fans!), trying not to talk while you eat, and avoiding chewing gum.
4. You’re eating large meals too quickly.
It’s simply a fact that large, fatty meals take a long time to digest and, therefore, hang out longer in your gut and build up more gas than smaller, less fatty meals. That lengthy digestion can lead to the classic post-burger-and-fries feeling of bloat and gassiness. On top of that, eating quickly increases the chance that you’ll inhale some air along the way, just adding even more gassiness.
That doesn’t mean you can’t eat large meals (please, by all means, enjoy your burger!), but it does mean that you might just have to accept some (totally normal) discomfort along the way.
If you’d rather skip that feeling, you can stick with more frequent smaller meals rather than less frequent larger meals. And no matter what you’re eating, you can do your best to eat mindfully, paying attention to every bite and how it affects your body without rushing.
5. You don’t go for that post-meal walk or stretch.
After eating a deliciously satisfying meal it’s tempting to just sit back and relax. Or, more likely, you’re eating your lunch at your desk and just staying there is the easiest thing to do.
On the other hand, one of the best things you can do for your digestive tract is keep up some form of regular physical activity. We’re not saying you need to do burpees after every meal (that would be ill-advised), but if you’re dealing with gas right this second, you can try going for a quick walk or doing some stretches designed to move digestion along and ease your gassiness. Experts aren’t totally sure why it helps, but it does.
6. You might have a gastrointestinal condition.
Gas can be a symptom of many gastrointestinal disorders. If it’s isolated, it’s most likely your diet or excessive air-swallowing. But if you’re experiencing other symptoms like belly pain, heartburn, changes in your weight, or frequent bouts of diarrhea, that could mean your gas is a sign of a more serious issue. For instance, GERD, celiac disease, and even intestinal blockages can all be causes of excessive gas. Additionally, your excessive gas coupled with other ailments like abdominal pain could be a symptom of gastritis or peptic ulcer disease, according to Hopkins Medicine. So if your gas doesn’t resolve itself (one way or another) or if it’s causing any other concerning symptoms, it’s important to talk to your doctor.
Finally, know that gassiness is a normal part of life. It’s a good time to remind you that passing gas (even sulfuric gas) is healthy, so if your belches and farts aren’t excessive, this might not be something you need to worry about. It’s normal to expel about 1 to 4 pints of gas, per day! So try to think of any lingering awkwardness as a sign that your digestive processes are humming along. “It’s important to understand that farting is normal,” Dr. Balzora reiterates. “But it shouldn’t be ignored if you’re having other symptoms.”
If you feel like your gas is excessive, you’ve noticed an overall change in your gastrointestinal habits, your flatulence comes with other symptoms (abdominal pain, for instance), or you’re anxious about whether or not something is normal, it’s always worth checking in with a doctor who can help put your mind—and your gut—at ease.
For how much we struggle to hold them in, and apologize with a beet red face when they dare sneak out, farts are normal. Everyone farts, every day. Even if you deny it.
In fact, we all pass gas an average of 15 to 20 times each day.
“We all have bacteria in our gut, which produces gas. And it has to go somewhere,” explained Dr. Sophie Balzora, gastroenterologist and an assistant professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center.
Whether farts or burps, that gas comes out of your body in one form or another.
But as natural as it is to let one rip periodically throughout the day, no one wants to be excessively gassy. Especially when it’s uncomfortable. And when you work in an office surrounded by other people.
If you feel like you’re desperately holding back your gas more often than you should be, here are some things that may be to blame.
1. You’re eating a lot of fiber.
Usually, the food you’re eating can be to blame for any excessive gas you’re having. A food that causes gas in one person may not in another, but there are some common culprits.
“The classic food groups are high fiber foods such as whole wheat and grains, fresh fruits and cruciferous vegetables (such as broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale, etc.),” explained Dr. Felice Schnoll-Sussman, gastroenterologist and director of research at The Jay Monahan Center for Gastrointestinal Health at Weill Cornell Medical Center.
Fiber is usually recommended to combat constipation, but it can cause gas if it’s eaten in excess.
“It must be slowly incorporated into the diet,” Schnoll-Sussman explained. “If you binge on kale for its obvious nutritional value, you will most likely feel it with gas and bloating.”
Related: 4 Things Men Hide From Their Wives
2. You’re eating a food you’re sensitive to.
“Many people as they get older have difficulty digesting milk products,” Schnoll-Sussman said.
So even if you’re not full-on intolerant, your body’s levels of lactase (the enzyme that breaks down lactose) may be lower than it used to be, making dairy a problem food.
“Someone who is very lactose intolerant experience bloating, cramps and flatulence as soon as they ingest milk or other dairy products.” But your level of gassiness will vary depending on how sensitive you are.
For some people, certain carbs (sugars and starches) can cause gas, Balzora added. If it seems that you’re sensitive to carbs, your doctor may suggest following a low FODMAP diet. The acronym stands for Fermentable Oligo-Di-Monosaccharides and Polyols—which, in English, are specific types of sugars that may be difficult to digest and then left in the digestive tract for bacteria to feed on. “If having gas is interfering with your daily life, I’ll prescribe this for 6-8 weeks, and then reincorporate foods back into the diet slowly.”
Bottom line: if you’re having crazy gas, start keeping a food diary. This way, you can take note of what might be a problem food that you should stay away from.
3. You’re swallowing too much air…but actually.
The formal term for it is aerophagia.
“Drinking carbonated beverages, smoking, eating or drinking too fast, talking while eating—with all those things you’re swallowing more air,” Balzora explained.
Chewing gum or sucking on candies all day can cause the same effects, as can breathing out of your mouth while you sleep, called “mouth breathing.” “If you have gas in the morning, or wake up feeling completely full, it might be because of the way you’re breathing as you sleep.
Schnoll-Sussman suggested drinking (non-carbonated drinks) through a straw, eating slowly, and no talking while eating, to minimize how much air you ingest.
Related: 4 Myths About Detoxing That Are Totally False
4. Your gut bacteria needs some help.
Since the root cause of gas is bacteria, giving your gut bacteria a boost can help reign in some of the gas-producing bacteria in your stomach.
“Probiotics will help with that,” Balzora said. “They’re full of microorganisms that can house the gut with more hospitable bacteria.” If you’ve tried an elimination diet and didn’t get conclusive results, Balzora recommended trying to treat with probiotics. You can eat foods high in probiotics like Greek yogurt or kefir, or simply add a supplement if that’s easier.
5. You have a gastrointestinal disorder.
Gas can be a symptom of many gastrointestinal disorders. If it’s isolated, it’s most likely your diet or excessive air-swallowing. But if you’re experiencing other symptoms like belly pain, heartburn, or changes in your weight, your gas may be part of a bigger issue.
“It’s important to understand that farting is normal,” Balzora reiterated. “But it shouldn’t be ignored if you’re having other symptoms.”
See your doctor if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms in addition to flatulence. And don’t forget to bring along that food diary.
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Surprising Causes of Excessive Gas
Lower Intestinal Gas
The other way that gas gets into your digestive system is through the breakdown of undigested foods in your large intestine by bacteria that normally live there. This gas, made up of hydrogen, carbon dioxide, and in some people, methane, has nowhere to go but out through the anus. The technical term for this gas is flatus.
We are all familiar with flatus caused by beans or cabbage, but here are some less known flatus producers:
- Starches like potatoes, corn, and pasta
- Fruits like apples, peaches, and pears
- Vegetables like onions, artichokes, and asparagus
- Spicy, fried, and fatty foods
A bit of trivia: The only starch that produces no gas is rice.
Stomach and Intestinal Problems
From stomach problems to colon problems, anything that interferes with the normal digestion of food can lead to excess gas in the system. Here are some common issues that can interfere with digestion:
- Gastritis. This condition refers to anything that cases the lining of your stomach to get swollen and irritated. It could be an ulcer caused by bacteria, a reaction to medication, or too much stomach acid. Symptoms of this upper intestinal gas situation include bloating, belching, nausea and vomiting.
- Lactose intolerance. Lactose is a natural sugar found in dairy products. In order to digest this sugar you need an enzyme called lactase, and some people don’t have enough. Low levels of lactase are common in people of African, Asian, and Native American descent. Symptoms of lactose intolerance include excessive gas and bloating.
- Celiac disease. This is an inherited disorder in which people cannot tolerate the protein found in wheat products (gluten). The disease affects digestion in the upper part of the intestine and leads to intestinal gas, bloating, and pain.
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). What causes IBS is not known, but it’s frequently the reason for complaints of bloating. The bloating may be due to abnormal movements of the digestive muscles or it may be due to an oversensitivity that causes normal amounts of intestinal gas to feel uncomfortable or painful.
When gas symptoms are accompanied by other symptoms like pain, vomiting, constipation, cramps, heartburn, bleeding, or weight loss, you need to see your doctor right away.
Intestinal gas and occasional bloating are usually a normal part of the digestive process. In most cases, excess gas is caused by swallowing too much air or eating gas-producing foods. This kind of gas can usually be controlled by being more careful about how and what you eat. Talk to your doctor if you think your gas symptoms are excessive. There are medications that can help.
7 Safe Home Remedies for Gas During Pregnancy
Got gas while pregnant? You’re not alone. Gas is a common (and potentially embarrassing) symptom of pregnancy. You’re likely paying special attention to what you eat and the medications you ingest right now, which often means that typical gas remedies should be shelved for the time being.
Fortunately, there are several home remedies that can help ease any gas troubles you’re having, and some are as easy as reaching for a tall glass of water.
Why Does Pregnancy Make You Gassy?
Your body goes through many changes during pregnancy, and unfortunately gas is an uncomfortable result of some very normal body processes, says Sheryl Ross, M.D., an OB/GYN and women’s health expert at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California.
The hormone progesterone is one of the main causes of excess gas during pregnancy. As your body produces more progesterone to support your pregnancy, progesterone relaxes muscles in your body. This includes the muscles of your intestine. Slower moving intestine muscles mean that your digestion slows down. This allows gas to build up, which in turn leads to bloating, burping, and flatulence.
Bodily Changes During Pregnancy
Once you get further along in your pregnancy, the increased pressure from your growing uterus on your abdominal cavity can slow down digestion, leading to more gas. Some foods can also contribute to gas, and your prenatal vitamins (especially the iron component) can cause constipation, leading, you guessed it, to even more gas.
7 Ways to Ease Your Gas
This uncomfortable, and sometimes painful, gas is generally due to constipation, and it can get worse as your pregnancy progresses. Thankfully, there are various things you can do to combat the gas. The more consistent you are with these lifestyle changes, the better results you are likely to see.
1. Drink Plenty of Fluids
Water is your best bet. Aim for eight to 10 8-ounce glasses every day, but other fluids count too. If your gas is causing pain or extreme bloating, you may be suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), in which case make sure any juice you drink is low in certain types of gas and bloating-promoting sugars called FODMAPs. Cranberry, grape, pineapple, and orange juice are all considered low-FODMAP juices.
2. Get Moving
Physical activity and exercise should be a part of your daily routine. If you can’t make it to a gym, add a daily walk to your routine. Aim to walk or exercise for at least 30 minutes. Not only can exercise help keep you physically and emotionally fit, it can also help prevent constipation and speed up digestion. Be sure to consult your obstetrician first before starting any exercise regimen during pregnancy.
How to Safely Exercise in the Third Trimester of Pregnancy
3. Test Out Your Diet
Try removing potential food triggers from your diet one at a time, until your gas symptoms improve, recommends Brett Worly, M.D., an assistant professor in the OB/GYN department at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. That way, you’re only eliminating foods that are contributing to the problem. Brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, wheat, and potatoes are common gas culprits, says Worly.
Some women experience IBS during pregnancy, but talk to your doctor and dietitian before starting a low-FODMAP diet. This diet can be very restrictive and put you and your baby at risk for not getting adequate nutrition.
4. Fill Up on Fiber
Many foods that make gas worse in the short term can actually help control constipation. Why? “Fiber brings water into the intestines, softening the stool and allowing it ,” explains Ross.
Try fitting 25 to 30 grams of high-fiber foods into your diet to help ease gas concerns. Many fruits, such as prunes, figs, and bananas, and vegetables, as well as whole grains like oats and flax meal are all good fiber boosters to consider.
5. Ask About Fiber Supplements
If you’re not a fan of high-fiber foods, or you’re looking for a quick and easy alternative, ask your doctor about whether a fiber supplement, such as psyllium (Metamucil), methylcellulose (Citrucel), or polyethylene glycol 3350 (MiraLAX), might benefit you.
Buy Metamucil, Citrucel, or MiraLAX now.
6. …And Stool Softeners
Docusate (Colace), a gentle stool softener, moistens the stool, allowing easier and regular passage. Ross encourages women to take 50 to 100 mg of docusate two times a day throughout the duration of their pregnancy. Just avoid any stimulant laxatives, such as sennosides (Ex-Lax, Senokot), as these can cause complications during pregnancy.
7. When in Doubt, Just Breathe
Anxiety and stress can increase the amount of air you swallow, which may increase upper abdominal gas, bloating, and belching, says Michael R. Berman, M.D., medical director of labor and delivery at Mount Sinai Beth Israel Medical Center. Eliminate as much stress from your life as possible. Pass off chores to someone else, or just accept that they aren’t going to get done. Find some quiet time during the day to take some deep breaths and relax, or look into a prenatal spa day. Do whatever you need to do to stay calm.
When to Call Your Doctor
Gas isn’t always a laughing matter. To ensure something more serious isn’t going on, seek immediate medical attention if you have severe pain without improvement for more than 30 minutes, or constipation for more than one week.
Otherwise, choose the remedies that work best for your lifestyle. Then stick with them because consistency is key.
“Pregnancy is not a sprint, it’s a marathon,” says Ross. “So pace yourself and keep a healthy and positive attitude as it relates to your diet and exercise.”
Healthy Pregnant Women Fart: Doctors on Why Pregnancy Gas Is Good
Scientists with unusual research priorities have demonstrated that couples who fart together tend to stay together. That’s good news. The better, stinkier news for expecting parents is that pregnancy is a real gas — and no, you can’t blame the baby kicking. Along with weird cravings, constipation, and roughly a suitcase a piece worth of prenatal vitamins, pregnant women get gas. Thanks to hormonal and physiological changes, women wind up farting for two.
“A number of factors contribute to flatulence during pregnancy,” Dr. Michael Cackovic, an obstetrician-gynecologist at The Ohio State University, explains. “Increased progesterone concentration plays a major role in decreasing the activity of colonic smooth muscle.”
The average person farts up to 20 times a day, passing anywhere from 500 to 1500 milliliters of gas, but for women this number inflates when they get pregnant because their bodies produce more progesterone. Progesterone causes intestine muscles to relax to make room for a growing baby. However, these relaxed muscles make it much easier for farts to slip out. As the fetus grows it puts extra pressure on the abdomen. This contributes to pregnant women not just farting more, but farting more often on accident in inopportune places like at work, with the in-laws, or during an exam from an obstetrician.
Relaxation also makes is harder to push waste through the GI tract, slowing digestion. Prenatal vitamins contribute to further constipation creating a perfect gas storm. Bloating, burping, and farting inevitably follow.
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“Pregnant women often complain of abdominal bloating and constipation likely caused by hormonal changes that affect small bowel and colonic motility,” Cackovic says. “Additionally, the pregnant uterus can cause a mechanical slowing of bowel transit and this certainly could worsen as pregnancy advances into the third trimester.”
Finally, pregnant women’s diets can further contribute to excessive farts, but it’s not necessarily strange cravings for pickles and ice cream that do it. Rather, healthy dietary changes brought on by having a baby, such as eating more fruits and vegetables, can increase gas — especially if women were eating carelessly prior to pregnancy.
Gas is not, in and of itself, a bad thing. Farts just are. But, for pregnant women, build up can become harmful. If women are experiencing abdominal pain or constipation for over a week, they should contact their doctors. Still, excessive gas passing is nothing to worry about and poses no danger to a growing baby. That said, moms-to-be can reduce some of their discomfort by drinking plenty of water, getting enough exercise and sleep, and limiting dairy, pork, and processed foods, which can make flatulence worse.
As powerful and plentiful as pregnancy farts are, they’re ultimately a symptom that pregnancy is progressing in a healthy way. So they should be welcomed with plugged noses and open arms. Small adjustments might offer relief, but nothing helps more than having a supportive partner farting by their side, Cackovic adds.
“Reassurance over the temporary inconvenience and support are the keys to getting through this.”
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Here’s Why You Have So Much Gas at Night
Photo: Burak Karademir/Getty Images
Let’s be real: Gas is always super embarrassing-and uncomfortable. And maybe you’ve noticed that it gets really bad when you finally lie down for bed at night, which can keep you from falling asleep (or you know, engaging in other sexy pre-bed activities).
Rest assured: It’s totally normal and more common to happen at the end of your day, according to gastroenterologists and dietitians.
Keep reading to find out why-and what you can do to keep your nighttime gas under control.
Your body is actually built to be super gassy at night.
First, you should understand how your body’s digestive tract works to digest food. “The healthy bacteria that live along our intestinal tract (to help us digest food) create gas all day and throughout the night, even during our sleep,” says Christine Lee, M.D., a gastroenterologist at the Cleveland Clinic. Unsurprisingly, the largest volumes of gas are produced after meals. So if dinner is your largest meal of your day, it could also be the reason your gas is worse.
But even if you eat a super-light dinner, there’s another reason your gas may be worse at night. “At night, the bacteria in the gut has had all day to ferment what you’ve eaten,” says Libby Mills, a registered dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. From ingestion to gas formation, the digestion process may take approximately six hours in a normal gut. Thus, you’re likely to experience more gas later in the day because your lunch (and anything else you’ve eaten in the last six hours) is finishing being digested.
In other words, “It has more to do with the accumulation of gas rather than the actual rate of gas production,” says Dr. Lee.
There’s yet another reason that your gas might seem out of control at night, that doesn’t have to do with what you’ve eaten. “Our autonomic nervous system maintains closure of the anal sphincter, especially during the daytime, when we are very active and engulfed in daily activities,” Dr. Lee explains. “This causes more gas to accumulate and become ready for release at night when our autonomic nervous system is less active and we (along with our anal sphincter) become more relaxed,” says Dr. Lee. Plus, after your responsibilities for the day have concluded, you’re also simply more aware of your body, she adds.
Your gassiness also depends on your diet.
Of course, the foods you’re putting into your body at night and throughout the day also play a major role. There are tons of foods that can make your gas worse, especially foods high in fiber. There are two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble. While the insoluble kind stays close to its original form throughout digestion, it’s the soluble kind that’s more fermentable, and thus more likely to cause gas.
“Sources of soluble fiber include beans, lentils, and legumes, as well as fruits especially apples and blueberries, and grains such as oats and barley,” says Mills. And sources of insoluble fiber include whole-wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts, and vegetables like cauliflower, green beans, and potatoes.
“Since the human body does not break down fiber, we rely on the bacteria in our gut to do the job. The amount of gas produced from fermentation (of food in the gut) will depend on how developed a colony of bacteria is, based on how often we eat fibery foods to feed them,” says Mills. So the more often you’re eating those foods high in fiber, the healthier your gut microbiome is and the easier it will be able to digest.
But it may not just be the fiber itself that’s making you gassier. “Foods high in soluble fiber are also high in fructans and galactooligosaccharides, sugars that can’t be digested by our guts (but rather rely on gut bacteria to do the digesting, making you more gassy and bloated),” says Melissa Majumdar, a registered dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Foods high in fructans include artichokes, onion, garlic, leeks, peas, soybeans, kidney beans, ripe banana, currants, dates, dried figs, grapefruit, plums, prunes, persimmons, white peaches, watermelon, rye, wheat, barley, cashews, pistachios, black beans, and fava beans.
In recent years, the low-FODMAP diet has gained popularity as a remedy to fight GI discomfort (like gas and bloating) from a diet low in foods containing FODMAPs. FODMAP is an acronym that stand for the poorly digested and fermentable sugars: Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols. This also includes the added fiber inulin, a fiber from chicory root, that is often added to processed foods like granola, cereals or meal replacement bars to give them an extra fiber boost.
You can also improve the bacteria in your gut by eating more probiotics regularly. Probiotics promote regularity in the gut when it comes to digestion and should leave you feeling less gassy, says Dr. Lee.
The timing of your eating plays a role, too.
Besides food choice, how gassy you are may also be a result of how much you ate at different times.
“I see people have trouble with evening digestion if they go long periods of time without eating and/or backload (if someone skips breakfast, eats a light lunch, and doesn’t have any balanced snacks, dinner is going to be the majority of calories) and makes digestion more difficult,” says Majumdar.
“If you don’t eat or drink consistently throughout the day, the stomach can end up crampy and angry when a load of food hits it”-so finding a consistent eating and drinking schedule is key, she says.
Even if you tend to eat your meals later or earlier than average (Dr. Lee suggests breakfast around 7 or 8 a.m., lunch around noon to 1 p.m., and dinner at 6 or 7 p.m.), being consistent is the most important part. When you’re irregular and inconsistent with your eating schedule, the body can’t set a circadian rhythm, she adds.
And, unsurprisingly, your gut will really hate you if you cram in a ton of fiber-filled foods at dinner. “If the body is not used to large amounts of raw fruits and vegetables (and other food sources of fiber), it will have a hard time adapting,” says Majumdar.
While women need a lot of fiber (25 grams per day, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, if you suddenly increase the amount of fiber you’re getting every day too quickly, your gut will be sure to let you know. (Related: These Benefits of Fiber Make It the Most Important Nutrient In Your Diet)
Working out and hydrating can help.
“Exercise, exercise, exercise,” says Dr. Lee. “Being physically active and physically fit is single-handedly the most effective way to keep your GI motility moving, as people with slower GI motility tend to suffer from constipation and or inefficient/incomplete defecation, which produces methane gas, resulting in excessive flatulence.” (And FYI, whether you’re a fan of morning workouts or an evening sweat sesh probably doesn’t make a difference when it comes to nighttime gas, says Dr. Lee.)
Drinking lots of water also helps. Why? “Water is a magnet to fiber,” says Majumdar. As fiber is digested, it absorbs water, which helps it pass through your digestive tract more easily. This also helps prevent constipation. (Related: What Happened When I Drank Twice As Much Water As I Usually Do for a Week)
Bottom line: While gas is a totally normal part of being human, if you’re concerned about the amount of gas you have, consider talking to a pro. “No one knows your body better than yourself. If the amount of gas is concerning to you (i.e., new, more than your baseline, or escalating over time), then you should see a physician for evaluation,” says Dr. Lee. “Once cleared by a physician, then seeing a dietitian for healthy diet options and choices is always a great idea.”
- By By Emily Shiffer