Passing gas. Breaking wind. Cutting the cheese. We all have our own terms for passing gas because it's something we all do. While it's perfectly natural, it's often slightly embarrassing to discuss the act in great detail.
Even though farting is a natural part of being human, the average person doesn't understand what flatulence could be telling them about their health.
Much of it has to do with your diet. Bacteria in your gastrointestinal (GI) tract emit gases while they assist with the digestion of the food and beverages you drink.
So, what factors influence the volume, intensity, and frequency of your gas and how does it relate to your health? Let's take a look!
Flatulence is a combination of swallowed air and the byproducts of digestion, which is why your diet plays a significant part in your gas. Here are the most common factors that influence flatulence:
Complex carbohydrates, also known as oligosaccharides, are chains of simple sugars that are commonly found in plant fibers. You've likely heard the "beans, beans, the musical fruit" rhyme, and there's a good reason for it. Legumes are very rich in oligosaccharides, though the same can be said about most green vegetables.
That's why having a large salad for lunch can lead to built-up gas and bloating by the time the workday is complete. Humans lack an important enzyme that is necessary to digest these complex carbs, meaning they remain in the digestive tract and can cause discomfort.
Some common examples of oligosaccharides are broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower which are also known as cruciferous vegetables. In addition to being packed with oligosaccharides, these veggies also contain glucosinolates, which create that familiar sulfur smell.
Bran products are also common sources of undigested carbs. They slow the passage of gas throughout the intestines, which promotes bloating.
We all know stressing out can have all sorts of negative effects on the body, but it still may be surprising to see it on this list. What does stress have to do with gas? Well, when you are stressing over something, your nervous system automatically redirects blood meant for your intestines and sends it to your muscles instead.
Reduced blood flow in your intestines can diminish the absorption of nutrients and secretion of enzymes. It also slows down the digestion process and causes more contractions in your colon.
All of this directly leads to more gas. So, if you’re someone who notices an increase in gas when you’re feeling stressed out, now you know why.
If stress is something you frequently experience, check out our blog on reducing stress and improving self-care: 4 Self-Care Practices that Help Your Stress and Immunity Problems
Did you know that about 25% of Caucasians, 75% of African Americans, and up to 90% of Asian Americans are lactose intolerant?
Lactose, which you can find in dairy products, is a very common source of gas. How can lactose and other foods cause so many problems with gas?
When you have a food intolerance, certain foods or ingredients get passed through your digestive system without actually getting digested. This results in the food passing into your large intestine much more intact than it should be at that stage. Bacteria in your large intestine will do their best to digest it, which results in quite a lot of gas.
Certain medications have a propensity for disrupting your body's gut microbiome. Common medications to watch out for include steroids and birth control, which contain similar hormones. These medications can increase the production of bad or unhealthy bacteria in your gut. The end result is more (and oftentimes more pungent) gas.
If the bacteria in your small intestine is thrown off or shifts to largely bad bacteria, you can develop a condition called small intestine bacterial overgrowth or SIBO for short.
This shift is known to cause excessive bloating and may significantly impact your gas and bowels. This condition can also hamper your small intestine's ability to absorb nutrients, potentially causing malnutrition.
SIBO is much more common than you'd think, with experts believing up to 25% of healthy people experience it.
Those who battle eating disorders that significantly restrict or modify food intake can experience excessive gas. When the human body enters starvation mode, muscles in the intestines atrophy and slow the digestive process. The slower food moves through the gastrointestinal tract, the more time bacteria spend on it.
This greatly increases the production of gas. Eating disorders also lead to a shortage of enzymes and hormones that assist with digestion, which obviously hurts digestion even more.
So, how much gas is too much? It truly depends on the individual. If you're experiencing frequent discomfort and other issues, it's best to make a dietary change. Here are a few great ways to curb your flatulence issues:
A simple over-the-counter remedy might be exactly what your body needs. A popular choice is something that includes simethicone, which groups gas bubbles in your GI tract to eliminate gas more quickly.
Another popular over-the-counter solution is alpha-galactosidase supplements, which help your body break down and absorb complex carbs (oligosaccharides). With complex carbs getting broken down, your body will produce much less gas.
There are plenty of options on the market; you just need to know what will help you out the most.
Since your body does a poor job of breaking down and absorbing complex carbs like oligosaccharides, try following a low-carb diet. Cutting out specific sources of carbs can help you easily identify which foods are giving you trouble. However, these foods can often be healthy, so try to identify the issue quickly so you're not avoiding these foods long-term.
Our bodies aren't able to digest artificial sugars or naturally-occurring sugar alcohols, so both are known for promoting gas and bloating. They build up in your GI tract and keep feeding the bacteria that produce gases, and they also offer no nutritional value.
Instead of rounding out your diet with processed foods full of artificial ingredients, it’s much healthier to build your diet around whole foods.
Always check the ingredient labels before you add items to your cart. Or, better yet, let Smart Pressed Juice ensure you get the nutrients your body needs!
Our Organic Pressed Greens, for example, are perfect for anyone who struggles to digest a wide variety of vegetables on a daily basis. This triple award-winning greens juice is like an organic farmer's market featuring over 20 superfoods and ingredients to optimize your health.
Alternatively, Pineapple Chia Cleanse is our unique blend of 15 superfood fibers that work to combat bloating, keep cravings under control, and gently assist with digestion.