It’s a normal and yet our most embarrassing bodily process all of us do daily - pass gas. The medical term for it is flatulence and it often stems from intestinal gurgles, cramps and bloating to the actually passing of gas. Even though it is a natural function, when gas is excessive, it can affect your life with discomfort and can put you in very awkward social situations.
Our body naturally produces gas each day. Gas is made up of several different vapors – carbon dioxide, hydrogen, methane, nitrogen, and oxygen that pass on out of our body. The average person passes gas about 14-15 times a day. However, some people may feel considerably more gassy than usual. If a person is experiencing constant bloating, pain and is passing gas excessively more than average, then it may signal other factors involved for the increase in gassiness.
Here’s a look at some surprising and unexpected reasons why a person may be noticing an excessive buildup of this normal bodily function:
1. You’re getting older
Yes, age may bring wisdom but it can also bring excess gas which may bring misery. As we age, our digestive system slows down. This can result in more constipation which means being backed up that can lead to gassiness. Try to drink plenty of water each day, exercise, and eat a diet filled with fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
2. You’re not getting enough exercise
Having a regular workout routine will help get rid of any extra air in your system. One way to help reduce a bloated appearance in the belly area is to tighten your stomach muscles by imagining you’re pulling your belly button towards your spine. Do this each day and soon you will strengthen those muscles helping to disguise a gassy pooch.
3. You’re eating too many FODMAPs
What in the world is a FODMAP? FODMAPs are a group of carbohydrates that ferment quickly and are poorly absorbed in the intestinal tract creating gas in the process. The foods we eat are one of the biggest triggers for gas and FODMAP foods are foods containing fructose, sucrose, sugar alcohols, and lactose (the sugar found in dairy foods).
Many foods fall under the umbrella term as being a FODMAP food such as apples, pears, broccoli, cabbage, onions, garlic, cheese, breads, milk, and fruit juices. Anyone who notices excessive gas after consuming such foods may have a food intolerance or sensitivity and may need to follow a low-FODMAP diet.
4. You’re constipated
When bowel movements in the colon get backed up, your chances of excess gas will increase. Constipation can cause bloating in the lower gut along with gas pains. To avoid constipation as much as possible, stay hydrated, exercise, get ample sleep and try to eat at least 25 grams of fiber each day. When traveling, keep a fiber supplement or high-fiber bar on hand to promote regularity.
5. You swallow too much air
There can be several things we do each day causing us to take in too much air leading to excess gassiness – chewing gum, drinking through a straw, drinking carbonated beverages, eating too fast, smoking, or excessive talking. Take notice of which of these things you may be doing and cut back on them if they could be your gas causer.
6. Traveling by air
Believe it or not, flying may lead to gas buildup. The reason is due to the change in air pressure which not only affects our ears but also other areas of our body. To prevent any embarrassing situations on board a flight, watch what you eat before and during the time of travel. If there are known foods that cause you excess gas such as beans, avoid those foods until after your destination.
7. Your gut may need a health boost
Our colon is home to trillions of bacteria which is good. We need these little guys as they are vital to helping us digest our food that the stomach and small intestine were not able to, they help produce certain vitamins like vitamin K, and they help keep our immune system strong and functioning properly. These same bacteria also like to live in a relatively stable environment. But if the bacteria find their way into the small intestine, they break down nutrients into hydrogen and methane gases in a process called small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). And that means we suffer from the creation of these gases which can cause major boating and discomfort.
What can help with SIBO is to use antibiotics to eliminate excess bacteria in the small intestine or probiotics is another option that may help to promote gut health and bowel regularity.
8. You’re eating too many zero- or low-calorie sweeteners
Those zero and artificial sweeteners may taste similar to the real deal but they may leave you feeling not so sweet – many can lead to excess gas, cramping, and bloating. Our bodies can only break down one-third of sugar alcohols like maltitol, which causes tummy distress. It is advisable to stay away from sugar-free candies, chocolate or other foods containing these substances if you notice these symptoms.