Everyone gets gas. Research suggests the average person releases digestive gases 13 to 21 times a day. There are two main sources of gas: the air you swallow and the food you eat. Some foods, specifically those with lots of carbohydrates, are broken down by millions of harmless bacteria in your large intestine; the more bacteria, the more gas. Some foods have fats and protein that produce very little gas. Eating a low-flatulence diet can decrease excess gas and other gastrointestinal issues.
The number one producer of gas is beans. Kidney beans, lentils, butter beans, chickpeas, Lima beans, pinto beans, and fava beans all contain oligosaccharide sugars, which the body finds particularly difficult to digest due to the lack of a necessary enzyme. Because these sugars are not broken down until they reach the large intestine, the gas they produce there has no choice but to exit through the rectum.
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Many liquids can increase digestive gases, and this includes most alcohol, especially dark beer and wine. Some of the worst-smelling gas are generated by these beverages, though garlic and onions are other prime culprits. Decreasing or eliminating alcohol consumption is a major part of the low-flatulence diet.
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Besides alcoholic drinks, dairy products can also increase bacterial work in your intestines, greatly intensifying gas production. Milk contains the complex sugar lactose, and the body must produce the enzyme lactase to digest it. As people age, their enzyme levels decrease, which is why older people can develop lactose intolerance or find themselves more bothered by flatulence after consuming dairy products.
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All you have to do is look at a glass of a freshly poured soda to see the problem. Those tiny bubbles travel down to your intestine and create a tsunami of gas. If you must consume carbonated drinks, here is a tip: open the drink and let it sit for a few hours. This allows the carbonated gases to escape into the air rather than your digestive system.
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Some vegetables have significant amounts of raffinose and fructose, two complex sugars responsible for high gas production. Raffinose is found in excess in beans, but veggies such as cabbage, Brussel sprouts, broccoli, cucumbers, radishes, celery, and asparagus also contain this difficult-to-digest sugar. Onions and artichokes are high in fructose. Limit these veggies, or pair them with non-gassy foods such as rice or seafood, to decrease the amount of gas your body produces.
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An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but this tart fruit can cause large pockets of gas to form in your digestive tract. Sorbitol is a sugar in fruits such as apples, bananas, pears, peaches, raisins, and prunes. Bacteria ferment this sugar into a foul-smelling gas. Many artificially sweetened foods also have sorbitol, so sugar-free candies and gum can cause the same problems.
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Rice is the only starchy food that does not cause gas. All other starches produce great volumes of gas as the bacteria break them down in the intestines. Starchy foods include potatoes, corn, noodles, and wheat. Fructose is prominent in wheat, and lactose is in packaged foods such as bread, cereal, and salad dressing. If you must include whole grains and bran in your diet, add them slowly to help reduce their gas-forming potential.
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Many foods are much less likely to produce unwanted gas, including red meat, poultry, fish, and eggs. Vegetables such as lettuce, tomatoes, zucchini, and okra are also non-gaseous. Sweet fruits such as cantaloupe, grapes, berries, avocado, and even olives are also considered safe. Gluten-free bread also tends to lack gas-causing sugars, as long as it is not artificially sweetened.
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When you consume carbohydrates in the form of dietary fiber, it reaches the colon relatively intact because it is indigestible. In the colon, the process of fermentation creates gas, and our GI tracts vary in the speed and efficiency with which they can break down the fibers. The more bacteria or effort required to digest the fibers and sugars, the higher chance the process will lead to flatulence.
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Eating too quickly increases the amount of air you swallow with food. This air is trapped in your intestines and must come out through belching, flatulence, or it may cause bloating or severe abdominal pain. Dentures that do not fit well, postnasal drip, and chewing gum can cause also increase flatulence; you to swallow more saliva with these activities, which carries more air bubbles to your GI tract. Smoking tobacco can actually irritate the digestive tract and lead to gas and bloating.
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