Consisting of oxygen, carbon dioxide and other substances, gas is air that moves through your digestive tract, allowing your body to release enzymes to digest food. While foods affect people differently, limiting or avoiding common dietary gas culprits and emphasizing alternatives can help minimize discomfort. If your symptoms are severe or long-lasting, seek guidance from your doctor.
Nongaseous Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are important components of a healthy diet. If you're prone to gassiness, however, cruciferous vegetables, such as cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli, and certain fruits, such as bananas and raisins, could worsen your symptoms. The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends that people with irritable bowel syndrome, a condition that causes gassiness, bloating and other symptoms in 10 to 20 percent of the population, limit these fruits and vegetables and emphasize less gaseous whole foods. Less gaseous fruits and vegetables include berries, cantaloupe, bell peppers, asparagus and avocado.
Nearly all carbohydrates stimulate some amount of gas during digestion, but that doesn't mean you should avoid them as they're your body's prime energy source. Consuming sufficient amounts daily -- 45 to 65 percent of your total calories, according to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans -- is important. Rice is the only starchy food that does not produce gas as it's broken down. For the most nutritional benefits, choose whole-grain rice varieties such as brown and wild rice over instant and white rice. You can also swap out refined pastas in your diet with brown rice noodles.
Yogurt and Dairy Alternatives
Lactose intolerance becomes more common in adulthood, according to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, and is particularly common in non-Caucasian individuals. If you're intolerant to lactose, the naturally occurring sugar in cow's milk dairy products can cause or worsen gassiness. Nondairy milks, such as almond, soy and rice milks, provide useful alternatives. Because of the healthy bacteria called probiotics yogurt contains, it may not cause similar gas symptoms. Probiotics may also help relieve gassiness and other symptoms of IBS.
Fat in your diet doesn't cause gas, but it can increase bloating and gas pains by delaying stomach emptying. The NDDIC recommends limiting fatty foods and emphasizing lean protein sources for reduced gassiness because protein doesn't stimulate gas during digestion. Instead of fatty steaks, pastries or fried appetizers, choose baked or broiled fish, skinless white-meat chicken kabobs or sauteed tofu. Snack on edamame, steamed soybean pods, instead of nachos, and season protein-rich entrees with herbs and spices instead of heavy sauces or butter.
- National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse; Gas in the Digestive Tract
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans
- National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse: Lactose Intolerance
- National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse: Gas in the Digestive Tract
- University of Michigan Health System; Helpful Hints for Controlling Gas (flatus)
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Yogurt Mania: Low-fat, Greek or Organic: An Explosion of Culture