It happens to us at least ten times each day, but you would rather go on a hunger strike than admit that you do it: passing gas. It always seems to occur at the worst times, and there’s nothing you dread more than being bloated during the hot date you’ve been looking forward to all week. While you might not be able to fully prevent your body from doing what it’s supposed to do, there are some ways to control it so you can plan your social schedule accordingly.
Gas is a natural byproduct of the digestive process, comprised of nitrogen, hydrogen, carbon dioxide, methane and oxygen. It is often a result of bacteria in the colon breaking down food that wasn’t absorbed by the small intestines. Unfortunately, it’s hard to pinpoint just one correlation since each of us has a unique gastrointestinal system - what causes gas in one person may not cause gas in another. However, here are some reasons you may experience flatulence:
- Poor food combinations. Eating starches (wheat, potatoes, corn, oats, barley) and proteins (nuts, beans, produce, grains) together can result in impaired digestion - food will decompose in the stomach, which leads to gas, bloating, and constipation.
- Food preparation methods. Cooked food is easiest for our bodies to digest. However, avoid frying food and choose to roast, bake, broil, or steam instead. Though beans are often associated with flatulence, soaking them before cooking removes their natural, hard-to-digest coating, and you can also cook them with a piece of kombu, a sea vegetable known to prevent gas.
- Change in diet. When we introduce new foods too fast or in excess, our bodies can have trouble adjusting to the change. This often happens when we consume a high fiber cuisine - too much too soon can cause bloating and gas.
- Lack of necessary enzymes (complex proteins) that our bodies need to absorb and digest foods. Learn more about enzymes in this Organic Authority video (Digestive Enzymes - Episode 24)
- Dehydration. Adequate amounts of water are necessary to help food pass through our guts - without it, food will sit and ferment in our digestive tract.
- Swallowing too much air. Chewing gum, eating too fast without chewing, and gulping beverages can bring extra air into our bodies, which will find its way out again in the form of burping or flatulence.
- Allergies. People who are lactose intolerant or sensitive to ingredients like gluten can experience gas as a side effect of eating those foods.
- Stress. Emotional tension or anxiety effects our bodies in many different ways, including gas and bloating.
While it may seem like everything you do on a daily basis can result in gas, don’t worry - sometimes it’s hard to prevent. Add the following to your diet if all else fails:
- Dietary supplements/enzymes. A well-known example is Beano, but there are many more wholesome and organic options available at natural markets and websites.
- Yogurt, kefir, probiotics, or acidophilus capsules.
- Papaya, peppermint, and fennel seeds. After you finish eating, have these in their whole form or in special products like tea.
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