are three major sources of gas in your gut:
your body makes
made by the "friendly" bacteria normally found in your
Gas your Body Makes
Though most people produce about 10 liters of gas each day,
most of this gas is reabsorbed through the bowel wall and
doesn't see the light of day.
Air You Swallow
People swallow some air while eating, drinking, chewing
gum, and even talking. We usually don't even realize
we've swallowed air. The most common ways air enters
you gut is when you gulp down food, have carbonated drinks
(e.g., soda and seltzer), or chew with your mouth open.
Sometimes, swallowing air can be a nervous habit.
swallowed air will inflate your stomach and make you uncomfortable.
A belch or burp will usually relieve this feeling.
If this air is not belched or burped back out, it will eventually
pass into the lower part of the gut. Some of it will
be absorbed by your gut, and some will be passed down and
through your anus as flatulence. In the meantime,
you will feel bloated and uncomfortable.
"Friendly" bacteria normally live in your gut and aid in
some digestive processes. If you remember from the previous
section, they also compose a large part of your stool.
These bacteria break down carbohydrates found in some foods
like beans, legumes, and certain fruits and vegetables.
A by-product of this process is gas, specifically methane,
which is released through your rectum. Methane, like
propane, is a highly flammable gas. You may have once
known (or even been) one of those people who liked to light
their farts on fire. It is the high concentration
of methane that allows this spectacular sight (though there
is a real risk of catching your clothes or pubic hair on
fire, so don't try it).
common causes of excess gas in certain people include the
sugars, LACTOSE (found in milk and dairy products),
FRUCTOSE (found in fruit and which is used to sweeten other
foods), SORBITOL and MANNITOL (used as artificial sweeteners).
think certain foods give me gas. What do I do?
two bodies are exactly alike - the foods that give you gas
may leave your friends in peace. Also, two servings
of a specific food may cause gas (such as diary due to lactose
intolerance), whereas a half-serving may not. A good
way to determine what foods are increasing your gas level
is by keeping a food diary. Write down exactly what
you had to eat during each meal, and when gas occurred.
You should soon be able to identify the culprits. Eliminate
one food at a time, so you can be sure it's that particular
food. After you're sure a certain food causes gas,
play around with the amount of that food you eat. You may
be able to eat a certain amount of it without suffering
solution are over-the-counter medications that contain enzymes
to help break down the underlying cause in some cases of
increased flatulence. A common cause of bloating and
increased gas, lactose intolerance, occurs when your gut
is unable to break down lactose (a sugar found in milk and
diary products). Lactase is an enzyme that breaks
lactose into smaller sugars that the body can then digest
without producing as much gas. Lactase can be purchased
in pill form and can be taken whenever eating a meal that
contains diary products. Likewise, Lactaid milk contains
lactase and hence has a much decreased content of lactose.
common cause of gas are the carbohydrates (e.g., a form
of sugar) found in beans. The over-the-counter medication,
Beanco, contains an enzyme that breaks down gas-causing
carbohydrates. Adding a few drops to your first spoonful
of bean-containing food can prevent the problem. These
medications are found in the antacid section of your local
common cause of gas is due to the ingestion of a high sugar
load. Even if your body is normally able to digest
sugars, if you take a large amount at one time (e.g., too
much hard candy at Halloween, a whole pack of gum at one
sitting, etc.), the sugars pass through your small intestine
without being sufficiently absorbed. The bacteria
in your gut then essentially are overfeed, producing a lot
exercise may also help reduce flatulence.
you have kept a food log, and it seems that food is not
the cause of your gas, chances are your problem is from
swallowed air. Do you belch or burp often as well
as pass gas? Pay attention to how you actually eat.
Chew with your mouth closed, and try to talk less while
you eat. This will help reduce the air you swallow during
meals. Cut down on carbonated drinks which contain
quite a bit of carbon dioxide (as well as a lot of sugar).
if you're already in agony, an over-the-counter drug containing
simethicone (Gas-X, Mylicon, etc.) can bring great relief
by reducing troublesome trapped gas. These products usually
work within a short period of time.
you find, however, that none of the above sufficiently treats
your problem, or if you ever have serious abdominal pain,
you should alert your family physician. You might
have a serious medical condition that needs to be diagnosed
does the gas I pass smell the way it does?
you are what you eat, and so is the gas you pass.
As noted, in addition to methane, your gas contains sulfur.
Sulfur is a common byproduct of the bacterial metabolization
of food, and this stinks like rotten eggs. In addition,
very small particles of feces are aerosolized in the gas
your flatulence smells particularly bad, please see the
section on stool. Are your stools greasy, bulky and
prone to floating? You may have problems digesting
or absorbing fats, and should seek medical attention if