Let’s be real. A normal adult farts about 14 times a day. That’s 0.5 to 2 liters of gas leaving the body every 24 hours. Stomach gas is an important part of any healthy, fully functioning digestive ecosystem.
A quick rundown on the process
After we eat, food gets broken down into usable fuel for the body. As this happens, the gut slowly releases gas, usually at night. But what if the food we eat doesn’t get digested properly?
Well, that’s what happens with fizzy drinks, fried foods or anything containing lactose or sulfur. These foods are harder for our bodies to break down, so they stay with us, hanging out in the gut for too long. During their stay, they become a food source for the trillions of bacteria that live in the human gut. As these bacteria feast, guess what they let off… Gas! Mainly hydrogen, carbon dioxide, and methane.
Symptoms of excess gas: bloating, burping, flatulence and stomach cramps. These symptoms can impact quality of life and are a real source of embarrassment for millions of Americans.
What can you do about it?
- One thing you can do is know common triggers. Generally speaking, the worst gas-producing foods are beans, dairy, broccoli, cabbage, carbonated drinks, and fruits like apples, peaches and pears. This isn’t the case for everyone, though.
- To really understand your trigger foods, track symptoms and make a note of what you’ve eaten recently. Try to find correlations. (Yeah, we know it sounds easier than it is. That’s why our GIThrive app has handy symptom and food logging features.)
- Chew your food, and eat slower. When we eat fast, we take in too much air, which has to get out somehow. Also, larger bites are harder to digest, meaning they hang around too long in the gut, which, as we mentioned above, can also cause excess gas.
- There’s another interesting way to figure out just how much gas you’re producing and why. In 2019, we’re releasing a consumer-friendly breath test device called GIMate. It’s the same kind doctors use to calculate the amount of gas produced after eating. It can be used to determine how specific foods or food groups impact your unique system. When you know how your body responds to certain things, you can make practical adjustments.
When to talk to your doctor
As we covered, gas is usually related to how and what we eat. If your gas is completely uncontrollable, persistent, or comes with vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, unintentional weight loss, blood in your stool or heartburn, then it’s time to seek medical help.