OK…who cut the cheese?
Whether you’re in a crowded elevator or a quiet movie theater, the unmistakable scent of methane in the room can be a real social faux pas. Passing gas may not win you any popularity contests, but it is a healthy and normal part of the digestive process—it’s a natural response to the foods you eat and a sign that your body is doing what it’s supposed to do. In fact, studies suggest that the average person passes gas between 13 to 21 times a day.
But why do we do it? When we eat, the body breaks down these foods with the help of digestive enzymes and gut bacteria. This process creates gases like methane, hydrogen, and carbon dioxide that need to be released. Factors like gut bacteria, digestive enzymes, and overall gut health can all play a role in how our bodies break down and absorb different foods.
While we are all designed differently, and our bodies have varying levels of sensitivity to certain nutrients, some foods seem to be common offenders because they all contain non-digestible carbohydrates. Here are eight foods that are most likely to make you gassy.
Legumes: Beans, peas and lentils
While beans have the worst reputation for turning you into a human whoopee cushion, other legumes like lentils, peas, and chickpeas can also lead to bloating and gassiness.
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Legumes contain a type of carbohydrate called oligosaccharides, which our small intestine can’t break down on its own. So, these complex carbs make their way down to the large intestine, where they are consumed by bacteria that produce gas as a byproduct.
But don’t give up on that big bowl of chili just yet, because there are ways to reduce flatulence caused by legumes. Soaking legumes in water overnight before cooking can help to break down some of the oligosaccharides, making them easier to digest. Additionally, adding spices like cumin or ginger to legume dishes can help to reduce gas production.
Cruciferous vegetables: Cauliflower, broccoli and Brussels sprouts
Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts, are a nutrient powerhouse, but they are also notorious culprits for bloating and gas. These veggies are loaded with fiber and contain raffinose, a type of sugar that is hard to digest by the human body. This complex carb ends up in the large intestine, where your gut goes to town, using it for energy resulting in gas production.
However, instead of shunning these superfoods, you can take some easy steps to reduce the amount of bloating and gas. For example, you can cook them for a shorter duration and avoid eating them raw.
Got milk? Got gas as well? Many people experience bloating and flatulence after consuming dairy products. In fact, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, up to 65 percent of people have trouble digesting dairy as they grow older.
The reason for this is that some people lack the enzyme lactase, which is responsible for breaking down lactose, the sugar present in dairy. When there isn’t enough lactase present, the lactose is not broken down and instead passes through the large intestine, where certain bacteria feast on it, resulting in gas and bloating.
The good news is that there are simple steps you can take to reduce the amount of gas that dairy causes. One option is to switch your dairy products to low-fat varieties, as these can be easier for your body to digest. You can also try adding foods that contain enzymes that help break down complex carbohydrates, such as pineapple, papaya, and kiwi. Additionally, taking a probiotic supplement may assist in improving digestion and reducing gas.
Yes, fizzy drinks can make you gassy. A study published in the Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology journal found that drinking carbonated water can lead to significantly increased bloating and flatulence than when drinking regular water. Carbonated drinks contain carbon dioxide gas which expands in your belly, causing bloat and flatulence.
Those sugar-free products may seem like a sweet deal, but they could leave you feeling bloated and gassy. A study published in the journal Nutrients found that consuming artificial sweeteners like sucralose and aspartame can increase gas production in the gut, leading to bloating and discomfort.
So, while you may be saving on calories, you may be paying the price in digestive distress. It’s always best to stick with natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup, or even better, to train your taste buds to enjoy less sweet foods altogether.
Those crispy, salty, and oh-so-satisfying comfort foods are also known to give you that oh-so-unpleasant post-fry sizzle in your stomach. A study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology found that eating fried foods can increase gas production in the intestines, leading to bloating, discomfort, and even flatulence. Fried foods are usually packed with fat and are high in sodium, which, as you can guess, is not good news for your digestive system. Fat and sodium lead to water retention, which slows down digestion, making it harder for your body to break down the food and absorb nutrients.
Certain fruits: Apples, bananas, and peaches
Fruits like apples, bananas, and peaches are practically the poster children of healthy eating, but they can also be the silent culprits behind gassiness. According to a study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, these fruits are particularly high in fiber and contain high amounts of fructose, a type of sugar that can be difficult for the body to digest. This undigested fructose then travels to the large intestine, where it’s feasted on by gut bacteria, producing gas as a byproduct.
While that hearty bowl of oatmeal is a great way to start the day, it can also lead to a “chorus of toots” coming from the nether region. According to a study, the high fiber content in oats can ferment in the gut, producing gas as a natural byproduct.
How to reduce gassiness?
Ultimately, the foods that cause gas can vary widely from person to person, and it’s important to pay attention to how your body reacts to different foods and make adjustments accordingly.
If you are really bothered by excessive gassiness, there are certain steps you can take to reduce feeling ballooned up.
Eating slowly and chewing your food thoroughly can help your body digest the food more easily and reduce the amount of gas produced. You can also incorporate some gut-friendly foods into your diet, like yogurt, kefir, and kimchi, which contain probiotics that can help regulate your digestion.
Or you can just let it rip and blame it on your dog.