Intestinal Gas Self Help

Everyone has gas. It’s normal. In fact, we “pass gas” an average of ten to fifteen times a day. Most of our gas comes from swallowed air. Chewing gum, drinking carbonated drinks, and eating whipped foods such as egg whites and whipped cream all contribute to swallowed air.

The gas we pass is mainly nitrogen (up to 90 percent), carbon dioxide, and oxygen, which are odorless. Gas and bloating are also a product of the fermentation of small pieces of undigested foods by the bacteria in our intestines. Fermentation produces stinky gases like methane and hydrogen sulfide, which has the odor of rotten eggs.

Other substances, like butyric acid, cadaverine, and putrescine are present in tiny amounts, but they are noted for the mighty fragrance they give to gas. Some of us experience excessive amounts of gas, which can be not only embarrassing but also an uncomfortable sign that something is out of balance.

Millions of people have bloating and discomfort associated with gas. If you’ve ever made wine, you’ll recall putting a balloon on the top during the fermentation process that allowed for expansion of the gasses produced. Our bellies act like a balloon, expanding to contain the gas produced by fermentation.

Foods from the cabbage family, dried and sulfured fruits, and beans all contain sulfur that gives gas a rotten-egg odor, but sulfur also has critical use throughout our bodies. Cucumbers, celery, apples, carrots, onions, and garlic are all commonly known to cause gas. People with lactose intolerance often experience gas when they eat dairy products.

Eating a high-fiber diet is healthful, but can cause gas until your intestinal flora adjust. You may have insufficient levels of hydrochloric acid, intestinal flora, pancreatic enzymes, or a dysbiosis that is causing your problems. Food sensitivities, especially to wheat and grains, can also cause excessive gas.

Healing Options

  • Chew your food well and eat slowly. These simple activities can have far-reaching effects on healthy digestive processes and gas reduction.
  • Increase fiber gradually. Most of us need to dramatically increase the amount of dietary fiber we eat, but raising these levels too quickly can cause a lot of gas and discomfort. Our flora go wild with sudden increases in dietary fiber, and the fermentation causes gas. Increasing your fiber intake more slowly will solve this problem. High-fiber foods include whole grains, beans, and many fruits and vegetables.
  • Consider possible lactose intolerance. The inability to digest lactose, the sugar in milk, is a frequent cause of gas. Eliminate all dairy products for at least two weeks and see if there is improvement. Make sure to eliminate all hidden dairy products found in foods. Products such as Lactaid and Digestive Advantage LI really help for the times you do eat dairy products.
  • Supplement with acidophilus and bifidobacteria. Use of a supplement probiotic bacteria can make a tremendous difference in your ability to digest foods. Beneficial flora can help reestablish the normal microbial balance in your intestinal tract. Take 1 to 2 capsules or ¼ to 1½ teaspoons powder two to three times daily on an empty stomach. Mix powdered supplement with a cool or cold beverage; hot drinks kill the flora.
  • Try digestive enzyme supplementation. Many people find that supplementation with digestive enzymes at meals, either vegetable, bromelain, papaya, or pancreatic enzymes, really help prevent gas. Take 1 to 2 digestive enzymes with meals.
  • De-gas your beans. Beans are an excellent source of vegetarian protein, containing both soluble and insoluble fibers, and sitosterols that help normalize cholesterol levels. However, beans are notorious for their gas-producing effects. They contain substances that are difficult for us to digest.

For instance, beans, grains, and seeds hold their nutrients with phytic acid. Soaking or sprouting releases the nutrients so that we can absorb more of them. First, soak the beans for four to twelve hours, then drain off the water, replace with new water, and simmer for several hours until they are soft.

Some people find that putting a pinch or two of baking soda in the water helps reduce gas. Others add kombu, a Japanese sea vegetable, or ginger. Beano is an enzyme product that contains the enzymes necessary for digestion of beans. Place a drop or two on your food; it helps reduce flatulence for most people.

Beano is sold widely in drugstores and health-food stores. We produce digestive enzymes for foods we commonly eat. If you eat beans rarely, start by eating a tablespoon or two of beans each day. Your body may begin to produce the enzymes necessary for their digestion.

  • Explore food sensitivities. Although lactose intolerance is the most common food sensitivity, people can be sensitive to nearly any other food. The most likely culprits are sugars and grains. Careful charting of your foods and flatulence levels can help you detect which foods are giving you the most trouble. Food sensitivities don’t usually exist by themselves. If you have a number of food sensitivities, check for candida infection and dysbiosis.
  • Check for fermentation dysbiosis. An imbalance of intestinal flora often causes excessive gas. Candida fungi cause fermentation of sugars, fruits, and starches that we feel as gas and bloating. A comprehensive digestive and stool analysis, or small bowel bacterial overgrowth test, can determine whether or not you have a candida infection or other dysbiotic imbalance.
  • Avoid sorbitol and xylitol. Sorbitol and xylitol are indigestible sugars found in most sugarless candy and gum. They are used by diabetics and dieters because these sugars are sweet but don’t affect blood sugar levels. Large amounts of sorbitol and xylitol cause gas, but even small amounts can cause a problem for those who are sensitive.
  • Check for parasites. Parasites often cause gas and bloating. If you have explored more obvious causes, you may want to have a stool test for parasites.
  • Take chlorophyll. Chlorophyll liquid or tablets can help prevent gas. Take 1 tablet two to three times daily with meals.
  • Use ginger, fennel, and anise. Most of us have at least one of these spices in our kitchen, and they are valuable tools for reducing gas. Put a few slices of fresh ginger or ½ teaspoon of dried ginger in a cup of boiling water and steep until cool enough to drink.

It will soon begin to dispel your gas from both ends, and you’ll be much more comfortable. Fennel and anise can be used in tea or you can simply chew on the seeds to relieve gas. In Indian restaurants, you find small bowls of these seeds. They also cleanse the palate with their sweet pungency.

  • Use herbs and drink herbal teas. Traditionally herbs and spices were added to foods to aid digestion. Nearly all our common kitchen herbs and spices have a beneficial effect, including basil, oregano, marjoram, parsley, thyme, celery seed, peppermint, spearmint, fennel, bayberries, caraway seed, cardamom seed, catnip, cloves, coriander, lemon balm, and sarsaparilla. You can find many digestive herbal tea blends in health-food stores.
  • Try activated charcoal tablets. Charcoal absorbs toxins and gases and can be found in nearly any pharmacy or health-food store. Your stools will turn black—that’s the charcoal leaving your body. It has been rated “safe and effective” by the FDA for acute poisoning. It’s inexpensive and very helpful. Take 1 to 4 tablets as needed, with a meal or immediately if you are having gas problems.