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Gas & Bloating

It's thought that on average,  a person has anywhere from 0.5 to 1.5 liters of gas just sitting in their digestive tract, and they may pass gas up to 20 times in a 24-hour period.  And if this doesn't sound accurate, remember a good portion of this is happening while you're asleep too!

Also, sorry ladies but there's no difference between the sexes in the amount of gas one or the other produces. (There are studies on this!).  We all do it, some of us more than others. 

But Why?

There’s a whole list of reasons why people fart as much as they do.   The most common cause of gas and bloating are foods. Certain foods are just tough to digest and because of this, the gut struggles to break them down completely.  A ‘side effect’ of this is the production of gas.

Sugars

There’s a certain class of sugars known as sugar-alcohols that are notorious for their gas-producing effects in the GI tract. These types of sugars are found in low calorie, processed foods, candies and gums because while they’re sweet like regular sugar they contain half the calories. Some common ones are xylitol, erythritol and sorbitol. Many are naturally occurring but some are also man-made. 

Regular sugars can lead to excess gas as well. Fructose is one of these sugars that not everyone is great at digesting.  And lastly, just too much plain ol’ sugar in the diet can lead to gas and bloating as the bacteria in our guts have a party feeding off this stuff!

Dairy

Or more properly, lactose intolerance is a common cause of gas and bloating. Technically, lactose is a sugar too, but we’ll put it under dairy because that’s the only food group it’s found in.  Lactose intolerance just means that a person doesn’t produce the enzyme responsible for breaking this sugar down…and when it sits in the gut, boom!  Lactose can be found in varying levels in different foods - so while maybe you can tolerate a bit of cheese, a yogurt will do you in.  And, watch out because lactose intolerance can worsen over time or strike at any age!

Fiber

natural remedies for gas and bloating

Fiber is the stuff that holds the plants we eat together, so to speak. It's a type of carbohydrate (that’s good for our health) but it’s tough to digest.  When we eat it, we can only partial break it down from chewing and digestion - what’s left sits in the gut and well, begins to rot if not completely digested.  A by-product of the decomposition of fiber is gas, and lots of it.  Some veggies are worse than others - look out for broccoli, cauliflower and the like.  Oh yea, we can’t forget beans as part of this group too. Beans contain a particular type of carbohydrate that’s especially tough to breakdown!

Bacterial Imbalance

We have about 50 trillion bacterial cells in our guts.  Yep, trillions! There are good guys, bad guys and guys who just create imbalance. When this happens, the gas can get out of control. In fact, we can really blame all the gas we get from foods on the actions of bacteria - it’s just what it does. And when we have an imbalance of bacteria types, there will be gas.

This is why it’s so important to supplement with a probiotic - probiotics help restore the healthy bacteria that can get wiped out from a number of causes.  Also, healthy types of fiber can help feed the good-guy bacteria, along with eating healthy fiber containing foods.

Weak Digestion

When the digestive process is weak, foods aren’t completely broken down the way they should be. These partially digested foods are attacked by the bacteria in the gut and the result is gas.  Weak digestion can occur for a number of reasons; digestive enzymes are extremely helpful in boosting our own so that foods are more completely digested.

Other causes include:

Stress: your mind is wired to your gut (literally) and when your mind is troubled so will your gut.

Constipation - the poo that sits in your gut waiting to go releases its own special blend of gases…

Chewing gum and drinking from straws causes us to swallow more air than we would otherwise; down it goes through the entire GI tract and out the other end.

Carbonated beverages (fizzy water, soda) have the same effect - you’re drinking down the gases in them that make them ‘fizz’ hence the belching and if you don’t get those out it’ll keep on moving down... and out.

Last but not least, if you've removed offending foods, strengthened your digestion and are no longer constipated one last place to look is at food sensitivities.  Food sensitivities are different from food allergies and can cause several different reactions - bloating and gas among them.  Getting a food sensitivity test is simple, can be done at home and covers 96 different foods. 

So there you have it.  Not an exhaustive list of why we get gas and bloating but these reasons are 99% of it.   Remember, some gas is normal.  Feeling a bit bloated after a large meal is normal, but it really shouldn't last.  If you're experiencing excess gas and bloating, look above for the causes.  Digestive enzymes and probiotics can work wonders in a lot of situations!


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