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Conserve Gas, Reduce Embarrassment!

Photo by suburbandollar via Flickr

Photo by suburbandollar via Flickr

You and your boss were riding a crowded elevator on the way back from an important meeting.  Suddenly you were seized by a desperate need to pass gas.  You gritted your teeth, glad that your boss wasn’t facing you. Twelve floors left to go.  Unable, to hold it much longer, you quickly hit the button for the next floor and made an excuse about needing to talk to Bonnie in accounting as you got out of the elevator.  After the door clunked shut behind you, it escaped.  You exhaled.  Lucky nobody was around.  That was a bad one!

Passing gas is natural.  On average a person will pass gas 14 or more times a day.  That amount might sound excessive to some, but it is actually perfectly normal and healthy.  Now while passing gas is not usually the result of a serious problem, excessive gas can cause some people undue discomfort or, if it occurs at an inopportune time, social embarrassment.  For those people, there are some simple measures than can help reduce it.

What causes gas?
When we think of gas we think of abdominal bloating, pain, belching and flatulence. Gas comes from two sources: swallowed air and the normal breakdown of certain foods in the large intestine.  Although most belching is due to swallowed air, most gas coming from the rectum is produced in the intestinal area.  The offending, smelly gases, that exit through the rectum, include hydrogen, carbon dioxide and methane and are produced when normal, harmless bacteria in the large intestine cause indigestible carbohydrates to ferment.

Most foods that contain carbohydrates can cause gas, especially high fiber healthy foods, such as legumes, fruits, vegetables and whole grains.  And rice is the only starch that doesn’t cause gas.  However, even though fiber can cause gas, it has many wonderful health benefits such as preventing constipation, decreasing the risk of digestive disorders, lowering cholesterol and controlling blood sugar levels and should be a major part of your diet.

How can I reduce gas?
If you are bothered by excessive gas, here are 6 changes that may reduce excess gas or relieve gas discomfort.

  1. Soak dried beans overnight prior to cooking: This will remove some of the carbohydrates that cause gas.  Make sure to discard the soaking water and boil the beans in fresh water.
  2. Chew food slowly and thoroughly: Do not gulp your food down.  When you swallow big pieces of hard to digest food they will stay longer in the intestine, giving it more time to ferment.
  3. Avoid or reduce foods that you are intolerant of: Gas is common in people with food intolerances, such as those who suffer from lactose intolerance or gluten allergies.  That doesn’t mean you have to give up those foods.  You just need to figure out how much of the offending food you can eat before developing gas.
  4. Avoid constipation: Eat high fiber foods and drink plenty of fluids. Constipation slows the passing of food through the gastrointestinal tract, giving more time for fermentation to occur, resulting in more gas.
  5. Swallow less air: That means limiting carbonated beverages, such as sodas and beer.  Also avoiding chewing gum, sucking on hard candy or drinking through a straw.  All those things will make you swallow more air, which can contribute to gas.
  6. Drink peppermint tea: A warm cup of peppermint tea can help relax the muscles of the digestive tract, allowing the body to get rid of painful digestive gas easier.  Just be aware that it can sometimes contribute to heartburn and acid reflux.

If you experience persistent and intense gas associated with other symptoms you should see your doctor to see if your gas is associated with an underlying disorder.

The bottom line:
Gas is a product of a normally functioning digestive system and is rarely a cause of concern.  So, don’t fret about passing gas once in a while.  It is normal after all. However, if excessive gas is causing you discomfort or embarrassment, then maybe it is time to make a few dietary changes.

Comments (4)

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  1. […] Original post:  Conserve Gas, Reduce Embarrassment! […]

  2. Maria Isabel says:

    This information is very good to know. Thanks

  3. […] 2008 ← Conserve Gas, Reduce Embarrassment! Cholesterol: Wage the War Without Meds! […]

  4. nice says:

    very nice

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