Certain people may find that eating particular foods -- such as dairy, cabbage or wheat -- causes gas, while other people are unaffected. The same goes for behaviors that cause gas, such as eating too much or too quickly, talking while eating, drinking from a straw or smoking. If you experience frequent gas, talk to your doctor about making dietary and lifestyle changes that can reduce the frequency; certain foods may also help relieve gas or improve your digestive health to prevent it.
Gas often results from constipation, which occurs when you have fewer than three bowel movements a week. People who don't eat enough fiber -- which includes most Americans -- are at risk for constipation because fiber aids digestive function and waste removal. If you're constipated and experience gas, try increasing your fiber intake. The best sources of fiber are fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Just be sure to increase your intake slowly; eating too much fiber at once can actually cause gas.
Probiotics and Prebiotics
Your gut is home to a host of friendly bacteria called probiotics, which help fight the harmful bacteria in your body and can prevent illnesses and improve digestive health. According to Marcelle Pick, OB/GYN nurse practitioner, healthy intestinal flora help keep digestion regular, and prevent bloating and gas by regulating intestinal pH level. Probiotics feed on prebiotics, indigestible foods that stimulate the growth of your gut's bacteria, so by including both in your diet you can ensure a healthy balance. Probiotic-rich foods include yogurt with live and active cultures and fermented foods like sauerkraut, miso and brewer's yeast. Prebiotic foods include artichokes, dandelion greens, asparagus and onion.
Herbs have been used for thousands of years to treat digestive ailments, including gas in the digestive tract. The University of Maryland Medical Center cites ginger, turmeric, peppermint and chamomile as effective in reducing intestinal gas. Flavor your foods with turmeric and ginger, or drink a tea made with chamomile or peppermint after your meal. Avoid drinking very hot tea, as registered dietitian Natalie Egan reports that very hot liquids can cause gas.
Other Useful Tips
Increasing your fluid intake can help prevent constipation and gas. If you eat more fiber, you also need more fluids because fiber absorbs water in the digestive tract. Registered dietitian Kristy King told Huffpost Healthy Living that quitting smoking, eating more slowly and forgoing drinking through a straw can all help reduce the amount of air you swallow to prevent gas. Also, since gas-causing foods can be different for everyone, keep a food journal and record any symptoms you may encounter after meals and what you ate. This may help you identify your trigger foods and avoid them.
- National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse: Constipation
- Harvard School of Public Health: Fiber
- Body Ecology: Too Much Fiber? The Symptoms and What to Do About Them!
- Women to Women: Probiotics — For Life!
- Mark's Daily Apple: A Primal Primer: Prebiotics
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Turmeric
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Peppermint
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Ginger
- University of Maryland Medical Center: German Chamomile
- Brigham and Women's Hospital: Gas: Beat the Bloat