Intestinal gas can result from swallowed air, but it also forms when bacteria break down undigested food. Having excessive intestinal gas can cause pain and even lead to embarrassment. Fortunately, including some foods in your diet – and excluding common culprits – could help control the problem.
Probiotics found in yogurt and other fermented products, such as miso, are considered healthy bacteria, because they can help reduce effects of harmful bacteria in your gut, notes the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. As a result, probiotics might help treat conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, which is marked by symptoms that include gas and bloating, constipation and diarrhea. Research published in 2005 in “Gastroenterology” found that the probiotic strain B. infantis helped alleviate such symptoms in people with irritable bowel syndrome. Probiotics also could help reduce gas caused by problems such as food intolerances and stomach inflammation.
Rice and Insoluble Fiber
Most starchy foods, such as potatoes and corn, produce gas as your intestines break them down. However, rice is the exception, according to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. Insoluble fiber is another nutrient that produces little gas as it passes through your digestive tract, as it remains relatively intact. Foods that are rich in insoluble fiber include wheat bran, green beans, lettuce, tomatoes, grapes and cherries.
Another major factor in curbing gas production is avoiding the foods that cause it. Foods that commonly cause gas issues include beans, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, prunes, whole wheat bread and dairy products, except yogurt. Fatty and fried foods also can cause excess gas. If you find that fiber-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables, cause gas problems, cut back on them, then gradually add them back to your diet over several weeks to give your intestines time to adjust. If dairy products are an issue, ask your doctor whether a digestive enzyme product or dairy substitute would be a better option for you.
In some cases, the food you eat may not be the main cause of your gas problems. Modify some of your daily habits to determine whether they could be causing excess gas. For instance, eating while upset, drinking from a straw, chewing gum and smoking can cause gas from swallowed air. Additionally, eating two or three large meals a day can contribute to gas, so spread out the same amount of food over five or six smaller meals. Taking a 10- to 15-minute walk after you eat also could help move food along in your digestive tract and reduce gas problems. If gas is persistent or accompanied by other symptoms, such as weight loss or blood in stool, consult your doctor immediately.
- National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse: Gas in the Digestive Tract
- National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse: Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- MedlinePlus: Gas
- National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine: An Introduction to Probiotics
- American Heart Association: Whole Grains and Fiber