For gas and bloating

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Gas: Beat The Bloat

Natalie Egan, MS, RD, LDN
Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Previously published on Intelihealth.com

We all have gas. Yet, we’re embarrassed to mention it to health-care providers and friends in social conversation. Ten percent to 20 percent of adults have the digestive complaints of belching or flatulence. Here’s the good news: bloating or gas doesn’t necessarily mean there is something wrong with digestion. But to minimize gas and its embarrassment, the first areas to focus on are diet and eating habits.

The Passing Of Gas

The three most common ways of expelling gas are burping, abdominal bloating, and flatus. Swallowed air, which may stay in the stomach for a period of time, is released by belching. Bloating typically occurs with air that is trapped in the colon or small bowel. Air passed through the bowel is typically passed as flatus. A normal individual emits flatus from 12 to 25 times per day, with more gas in the intestine later in the day than earlier.

Intestinal gas is made up of oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, hydrogen and methane. The composition varies depending on the type of intestinal gas. Gas is caused by various factors, the most common of which are eating behaviors and the bacterial fermentation of certain foods.

Bacterial Fermentation

The colon is filled with bacteria, yeasts and fungi, which break down the foods not digested by the small intestine, mostly different forms of carbohydrates. These bacteria particularly enjoy undigested carbohydrates, and the fermentation leads to gas production, hydrogen and methane expelled as flatus. Lactose is one of the most common sources of gas-causing carbohydrate, affecting people who are “lactose intolerant,” meaning they do not have the enzyme lactase needed to digest the carbohydrate. Typically, lactose is found in dairy products. Beans are the second most common carbohydrate implicated in gas production. The indigestible carbohydrate in beans that typically causes flatus is raffinose.

Behaviors, Food Choices And Activity

Eating behaviors and other habits such as gum chewing, gulping foods and drinking with eating can cause us to swallow air. Bulky foods such as lettuce, cabbage, and dense breads not chewed into small enough pieces increase swallowed air.

Typically, swallowed air contains oxygen, nitrogen and carbon dioxide. It tends to not have a foul smell, but it does contribute to the discomfort associated with gas.

People vary widely in how sensitive they are to gas production. Keeping a food record to document incidences of gas in relation to foods eaten can shed light on whether food or behavior may be aggravating the situation.

Behaviors And Food Choices That Can Lead To Gas

  • Behaviors
    • Talking while eating
    • Eating when upset
    • Smoking or chewing tobacco
    • Using a straw or sports bottle
    • Overloading your stomach
    • Deep sighing
    • Drinking very hot or cold beverages
    • Chewing gum or eating hard candy
    • Drinking from a water fountain
    • Tight-fitting garments
    • Long-term use of medications for relief of cold symptoms
  • Foods
    • Carbonated beverages
    • Spicy, fried or fatty foods
    • Broccoli, cabbage, onions
    • Beans
    • Apple or prune juice
    • Dried fruits
    • Anything containing sorbitol, mannitol or maltitol, found in many low-carb or sugar-free foods

Beat The Bloat

Bloating is a sensation that makes the abdomen feel larger than normal. The abdomen doesn’t get physically bigger until its volume increases by one quart, so the bloated feeling may occur, but the abdomen is not distended. Intestinal gas may cause the feeling of bloating.

Here are additional suggestions to decrease bloating:

  • Eat slowly, and consume smaller, more frequent meals
  • Chew your foods well
  • Drink beverages at room temperature
  • Have your dentures checked for a good fit
  • Increase physical activity during the day
  • Sit up straight after eating
  • Take a stroll after eating

It is important not to completely omit foods from the diet that may cause gas. As we know, a high-fiber diet is important for bowel regularity and colon health, so it is well worth the patience it may take to slowly build up tolerance to these types of carbohydrates. Start by adding the offending high-fiber food in smaller quantities, such as a half cup or less. Be sure that fluid intake and activity levels are adequate, as they help to move foods through the digestive tract.

Natural And Other Remedies For Gas

Many advertisements tout medications or remedies that reduce gas and bloating. Some have been shown to be of value in clinical studies, others have not yet been proven scientifically but are anecdotally helpful. Before trying anything, you may want to consult with your physician.

Two products on the market can help with food-related gas and bloating. Both products are packaged forms of the enzymes needed to break down the problematic carbohydrates. Lactase, found in products such as Dairy Ease and Lactaid, can be taken with dairy foods to help break down lactose and lessen gas. Beano helps digest the indigestible carbohydrate in beans and other gas-producing vegetables.

Natural remedies for gas include:

  • Peppermint tea
  • Chamomile tea
  • Anise
  • Caraway
  • Coriander
  • Fennel
  • Turmeric

Over-the-counter gas remedies include:

  • Pepto-Bismol
  • Activated charcoal
  • Simethicone
  • Lactase enzyme (Lactaid or Dairy Ease)
  • Beano

When To Be Concerned

In most situations, occasional gas and abdominal discomfort does not require medical attention. Over- the-counter products, or a self-assessment of habits and changes in eating behaviors can help remedy the situation. However, you should seek medical attention when there is an increase in frequency, location or severity of the symptoms, or if they are accompanied by weight loss, diarrhea, vomiting or heartburn.

Intestinal gas builds up in the digestive tract of every human being. Gas is just one of the products of food being broken down and digested, often leading to burping, belching, and flatulence.

Gas pains are a very common problem and affect all of us at some point, while some people have this problem on a daily basis. Gas pains are often accompanied by uncomfortable bowel sounds emanating from the intestinal tract.

Having gas is usually not a point of concern for most people but can be an indication of other bowel health issues.

Related: Gas pain in chest: What causes pain in chest when stomach is bloated and how to get rid of it

How to get rid of gas immediately and naturally

Hot water

Drinking warm or hot water can help get rid of gas immediately. Your body uses less energy to break down food when warm water is consumed, which allows for improved digestion and less gas.

Yogurt

Eating yogurt can relieve gas pain immediately. Yogurt contains probiotics, which help promote a healthy gut. On the other hand, if you have a lactose intolerance, yogurt can cause the problems you’re trying to solve.

Eating ginger root or drinking it in a tea can help relieve bloating. Ginger is a natural carminative, which is an agent that relieves gas.

Lemon juice

Drinking lemon juice can be a great choice for getting rid of gas instantly. Citric acid found in lemons helps break down gas-causing foods when they enter the digestive tract.

You can drink a small glass of lemon juice mixed with some water to relieve gas. Or you can mix lime juice with baking powder in water to relieve gas. This mixture further helps to break down food and improve digestion.

Deep breaths

Deep breathing can help ease stomach pain when practiced on a regular basis. Deep breathing increases blood flow, which provides additional oxygen to the digestive tract. This is needed for healthy digestion along with eliminating bloating and gas.

Peppermint

Peppermint is known to settle the stomach and relieve gas quickly. Peppermint can help prevent spasms and cramping of the digestive organs. It also helps to stimulate the gallbladder to release more bile and improve digestion.

Antibiotics

While these drugs should be taken under the guidance of a trained medical professional, antibiotics can be an effective treatment option in cases of uncontrollable and unbearable gas pains. Antibiotics can clear out gas producing bacteria found in the gut, but can also clear out healthy bacteria needed to keep the gut working properly. Antibiotics used for the treatment of gas pains should be taken with extreme caution.

Pass wind

The simplest solution for treating gas pains, but often the one most of us try to avoid. Passing gas is a natural bodily occurrence, but one that is often shunned by society. It is best to find a place where you are alone and then pass your gas when nobody is looking.

Move your body

Participating in regular exercise helps to move the muscles of the abdomen and subsequently the muscles of the gastrointestinal tract. Exercise is a great way to help your body relieve gas faster and more quickly, reducing pain that is often associated with it.

Simethicone

An over the counter medication that goes under many different brand names such as Gas-X, Mylanta Gas, and Phazyme. It works by consolidating gas bubbles in the stomach, helping you expel them easily. It is advised to discuss the use of this type of medication with your doctor before incorporating them into your treatment plan.

Activated charcoal

Activated charcoal traps chemicals and prevents their absorption, which helps treat gas and bloating. Activated charcoal is made by heating charcoal in gas to create pores to trap chemicals. Other uses for activated charcoal include lowering cholesterol, preventing hangovers, and treating bile flow problems.

Black pepper

Black pepper is a carminative, which means it prevents gas and bloating from occurring.

To effectively treat gastric irritation, take powdered black pepper with jaggery. Black pepper can also be used in combination with buttermilk for synergistic effects.

Caraway seeds

Caraway seeds relieve bloating and gas and promote healthy digestion. Pour one to two teaspoons of crushed caraway seeds in a cup of boiling water and steep for 10 to 15 minutes. Consume this beverage a few times a day between meals to promote healthy digestion.

Buttermilk

Helps to heal gastric problems as well as keeping the gastrointestinal track fit and healthy. Freshly churned buttermilk is one of the best remedies for curing indigestion.

Cloves

Eating a few raw pieces can help relieve gas pain almost immediately. Cloves increase saliva production, peristalsis, boosts digestion, and can relieve heartburn. You can chew on cloves to obtain relief.

Clove oil is also effective at relieving gas, bloating, and other digestive issues.

Apple cider vinegar

Adding a few teaspoons of apple cider vinegar to water can help relieve gas and bloating. Drinking apple cider vinegar when experiencing heartburn symptoms can halt heartburn too.

Cardamom

Cardamom helps accelerate the digestive process to help reduce gas. You can add cardamom to your favorite dishes or chew on it for gas and bloating relief.

Cinnamon

Adding cinnamon to tea can help treat gas. Large consumption of cinnamon can have a laxative effect.

Coconut water

A great source of electrolytes including protein, coconut water can provide relief for gas pain as well. You can drink coconut water on a regular basis to help reap its beneficial effects.

Celery leaves

Chewing on this vegetable stock raw can help relieve gastric pain and irritation. The chemicals in celery can prevent fluid retention, which contributes to bloating. Celery can help regulate bowels along with control gas.

Onion

Onions contain fiber, which regulates bowels and prevents gas and bloating. The fiber in onions promotes good bacteria in the gut. The extracted juice from an onion can give you relief from gastric problems.

Papayas help prevent gas in the stomach. They are also high in fiber, which relieves bloating and regulates digestion.

Yoga and sleeping positions

Yoga can stretch the stomach and digestive tract to release trapped gas and relieve bloating. Yoga poses that relieve gas include wind-removing pose, supine twist, cat-cow pose, and happy baby.

The best sleeping positions to relieve gas include keeping your head elevated, sleeping on your left side, and lying face down.

Read more: Yoga and sleeping positions to relieve gas and bloating

How to prevent gas

Gas pain can just be a nuisance or be due to a medical condition such as celiac disease or irritable bowel syndrome, possibly requiring the aid of a medical professional. But in general, preventing gas pain is something that can be prevented by altering lifestyle habits and diet. The following are some tips you can start doing today to prevent stomach pain:

  • Stop chewing gum, as you tend to swallow more air doing so
  • Avoid smoking
  • Chew with your mouth closed to avoid swallowing excess air
  • Cut out gas triggering foods from your diet
  • Avoid straws, as they are sucking a lot of air in as well
  • Incorporate more exercise into your daily routine
  • Avoid the consumption of carbonated beverages and food known to cause stomach upset
  • Eat fewer fatty foods
  • Read labels
  • Temporarily cut back on high-fiber foods

These 23 natural remedies can help you finally get relief from embarrassing gas and painful bloating.

Related: Gastritis diet: Foods to eat and avoid, dietary plan and recommendations

How to Get Rid of Gas, Pains, and Bloating

If changing your diet doesn’t completely do the trick, you have several options to try.

Studies have shown that peppermint tea or supplements may reduce symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, including gas. Talk to your doctor before you start using supplements. Peppermint can interfere with iron absorption and certain medications. It may also cause heartburn in some people.

Supplements will have directions about how much you should take on the bottle. For peppermint tea, drink one cup before each meal for best results.

Chamomile tea

Chamomile tea can also help reduce indigestion, trapped gas, and bloating. Drinking chamomile tea before meals and at bedtime may reduce symptoms for some people.

Simethicone is an over-the-counter medication that is available under several different brand names. These include:

  • Gas-X
  • Mylanta Gas
  • Phazyme

Simethicone works by consolidating gas bubbles in your stomach, allowing you to expel them more easily. Follow dosing instructions, and make sure to discuss this medication with your doctor, if you’re taking other medications or pregnant.

Activated charcoal

Activated charcoal is another type of over-the-counter medication that helps eliminate gas trapped in your colon. You take tablets right before and one hour after meals.

Dilute a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a beverage, like water or tea. Drink right before meals or up to three times daily as long as needed to reduce symptoms.

Physical activity

Exercise can help release trapped gas and gas pain. Try walking after meals as a way to avoid gas. If you have gas pain, jumping rope, running, or walking may help you expel it.

Lactase supplements

Lactose is a sugar in milk. People with lactose intolerance can’t digest this sugar. Lactase is the enzyme the body uses to break down lactose. Lactase supplements are available over the counter and can help your body digest lactose.

Cloves are an herb used in cooking. Clove oil may help reduce bloating and gas by producing digestive enzymes. Add two to five drops to an 8-ounce glass of water and drink after meals.

Home Remedies for Gas and Bloating

Other herbs and spices that may provide gas relief include:

  • Chamomile
  • Dill
  • Fennel
  • Basil
  • Caraway
  • Cumin
  • Parsley
  • Peppermint
  • Spearmint

A combination of caraway and peppermint oils is the active ingredient in FDgard, a nonprescription formulation designed to help manage functional dyspepsia; some doctors recommend it for gas and bloating.

Lemond notes that you should always get approval from your doctor before taking an herbal supplement. She suggests trying to gain the benefit of carminatives from the food you eat rather than by taking supplements, which she says should be taken with caution. “Some people think of herbal supplements as natural or straight from the earth, so they may be taken at will, but a lot of them have pharmaceutical effects and could interact with medication.”

Probiotics for Gas and Bloating

Probiotics may also help aid digestion and reduce excessive gas. Probiotics are live microorganisms, mostly “good” bacteria, similar to the bacteria found in the human gut. They’re available as dietary supplements, but Lemond notes that a number of foods also have natural probiotics, including:

  • Yogurt
  • Kefir
  • Tempeh
  • Kimchi
  • Sauerkraut

Research published in December 2016 in the World Journal of Gastroenterology found that the probiotic Lactobacillus acidophilus decreased abdominal pain among participants with irritable bowel syndrome after 12 weeks.

And according to a review published in March 2015 in the World Journal of Gastroenterology, patients with irritable bowel syndrome have experienced improvement in bloating and flatulence when taking probiotics.

The Link Between Gas, Stress, and Probiotics

Gas can be worsened by stress. “There are nerves up and down the GI tract,” Lemond says. “People who have a tendency to be nervous can develop gas, diarrhea, or constipation.” When dietary changes aren’t effective, other treatments, such as relaxation therapy, may help.

Life stress can cause spasms in the colon and abdominal discomfort, according to a review published in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Reviewers noted that progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, yoga, counseling, or changes to daily stressful situations can help reduce stress and have a positive effect on digestive health.

Researchers are devoting more and more time to exploring the direct connections between the gut, brain, and probiotics, what’s called the gut-brain axis. For instance, a report published in April 2015 in the journal Annals of Gastroenterology looked at the way that microbiota, the bacteria in the gut, interact with the central nervous system, by “regulating brain chemistry and influencing neuroendocrine systems associated with stress response, anxiety, and memory function.”

More studies are beginning to explore the role of stress and psychological factors, and their impact on irritable bowel syndrome, according to a review of studies published in January 2015 in the journal Gastroenterology Research and Practices. Reviewers noted that hypnotherapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and mind-body therapy may improve IBS symptoms. They added these therapies could provide a more cost-effective alternative with fewer side effects than pharmaceuticals.

Over-the-Counter Gas Remedies That May Help

If gas doesn’t move quickly enough through the digestive system, it can cause bloating and discomfort. A few changes to your daily routine and habits can bring relief from gas and bloating. The Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston suggests these behaviors to help decrease bloating:

  • Eating slowly, and chewing your food thoroughly
  • Eating smaller meals, more frequently
  • Sitting up straight after a meal
  • Walking after a meal
  • Drinking room temperature beverages

Products you can buy at your local pharmacy to reduce gas and bloating generally contain simethicone, activated charcoal, or a food enzyme known as alpha-galactosidase (the active ingredient in Beano) to help break down hard-to-digest foods, like beans and certain vegetables. Although some people find these drugs to be effective, others don’t.

Alpha-galactosidase contains the enzyme that the body lacks to digest certain carbohydrates in beans and certain vegetables, but the enzyme has no effect on gas caused by fiber or lactose. But lactase tablets or drops may provide gas relief for those with lactose intolerance. The tablets are taken right before consuming milk or milk products.

“Occasional excessive gas is normal,” Lemond says. But when gas continues to be a problem despite dietary adjustments and home or over-the-counter gas remedies, it’s a good idea to see your doctor.

7 Super Fast and Effective Ways to Reduce Gas in Stomach

Did you know that it’s normal to pass gas around 13 to 21 times a day? There are lots of funny jokes about belching, bloating and farting – but it’s not so funny when you’re suffering from a bloated, gassy stomach on a regular basis.

Feeling gassy and bloated isn’t just uncomfortable – it’s downright embarrassing! If you work in an office environment or you’re often in the company of others, gas can make everyday life quite unpleasant.

If your belly often feels tight and swollen after eating, it could be due to gas in your stomach. This is usually caused by excessive gas production – often from your diet – or a sluggish digestive system. Bloating can be painful and make you feel full when you haven’t eaten much.

What Causes Excessive Gas in the Stomach?

The most common way for gas to enter your digestive tract is through swallowing air. We all swallow air when we’re eating or drinking, but we tend to swallow even more when we chew gum, drink fizzy drinks or eat too fast. If you don’t burp this gas out, it will move into your intestines and through to your bowels.

Another serious cause is bacteria and yeast in your large intestine. Your large intestine is where carbohydrates such as sugars, starches and fiber are broken down. It’s also where microorganisms like bacteria and yeast reside – both good and bad. The good bacteria work to break down those undigested carbohydrates in a process called fermentation. However, some types of bacteria may lead excess gas and bloating.

When you have excess bacteria in the gut, the gas they produce can build up and lead to small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). These bacteria also convert foods like sugars and carbohydrates in large amounts that are irritating or toxic to cells of the intestinal tract.

Dysbiosis can also be caused by Candida yeast overgrowth in the gut. Although a small amount of Candida yeast is normal, it can grow out of control and prevent your healthy bacteria from doing their job properly.

How to Reduce Gas in Stomach?

If you find that you regularly suffer from gas, it’s important to examine what you’re eating.

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However, there can be other causes, such as gastrointestinal infection, dysbiosis and even psychological influences such as stress. In other cases, it may simply be that you haven’t been active enough for the gas to move through your body as it normally would. This can occur with long-distance travel or sitting at a desk all day.

Fortunately, there are lots of ways to reduce that gas – naturally.

Here’re 7 home remedies to help you get rid of gas in stomach:

1. Change Your Diet

This may seem obvious, but avoiding foods that cause gas could be the easiest remedy of all. Unfortunately, many people don’t make the connection between certain foods and their symptoms.

The most common culprits are vegetables such as broccoli, Brussel’s sprouts, cabbage and onions. Fruits such as apples and pears also tend to cause gas, as do legumes.

Wholegrain foods such as bran and most dairy products – especially milk and cream – are also difficult to break down in the gut, so they can cause more gas.

Take note of the foods that cause you gas and try to reduce your intake. This may be the easiest way to reduce that bloating!

2. Chew Your Food Properly

Taking your time to eat your food slowly and drink slowly will help to reduce the amount of air you swallow. An easy way to do this is to put your fork down between mouthfuls.

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Some people even like to count the number of times they chew each mouthful: around 32 times is recommended for breaking down food so that it loses texture.

If that’s too bothersome, simply focus on chewing your food to a mush before swallowing. Allow plenty of time for each meal, and don’t eat on the run.

And, most importantly, close your mouth while eating!

3. Try Natural Digestive Aids

There are many kinds of natural digestive aids available now in the form of over-the-counter supplements. These contain digestive enzymes which work with your body’s own enzymes, helping to make digestion faster and more efficient.

Certain types of supplements may contain the specific enzymes useful for breaking down complex carbohydrates in beans and other ‘gas-producing’ foods. Talk to a naturopath or health practitioner about a quality supplement that contains the right blend of enzymes to suit your diet.

4. Take Activated Charcoal

Activated charcoal is a safe, natural remedy for treating excess gas and bloating. This special type of charcoal has been manufactured in a way that makes it suitable for human consumption.

When you swallow the charcoal, it works by drawing toxins and fluid into itself so that they can be flushed out of your body. This helps to reduce gas and bloating, and also help move any irritants out of your gut.

Be sure to take activated charcoal with plenty of water and only use under the guidance of a health practitioner.

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5. Take a Probiotic

Probiotic supplements are an effective means of supplying the ‘good’ bacteria that your gut needs to break down food efficiently.

Probiotics can also help to rebalance the bacteria in your gut if you are suffering from Candida or SIBO.

In fact, clinical studies have shown that certain probiotic supplements can help reduce the symptoms of gastrointestinal dysbiosis, such as excess gas and bloating. However, this can often depend on the type of probiotic strains in the supplement.

Look for a high-quality probiotic supplement that contains multiple strains of bacteria (including Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium) and a high CFU count. It may also be best to choose a dairy-free probiotic, as some people can be sensitive to dairy-derived strains of bacteria.

When shopping for a probiotic, also be sure to choose one that uses delayed-release capsules or time-release tablets to deliver its bacteria past your stomach acid. Most probiotics use vegetable capsules that are quickly destroyed in your stomach, negating most of their positive impact.

It’s also worth noting that you may experience higher levels of gas during the first few days of taking the probiotic: this is caused by the new bacteria being introduced to your gut. But this will reduce as you continue taking it.

Learn more about probiotics in my other articles:

  • 7 Best Probiotic Supplements (Recommendation & Reviews)
  • Possible Side Effects of Probiotics (And Why They Usually Pass)

6. Quit Artificial Sweeteners

Many diet products – especially those labelled ‘sugar-free’ – will contain high amounts of artificial sweeteners such as sorbitol or aspartame.

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These can cause more gas in the gut because your body is unable to break down the structures. Sorbitol is also known to cause cramping and diarrhoea if taken in large doses. It’s also a major ingredient in sugar-free gum and diet sodas, both of which also cause you to swallow air and make the gas even worse!

‘Sugar-free’ products tend to contain very few nutritional benefits and can in fact harm your health long-term – so they’re best avoided altogether.

7. Try Herbs

There are many wonderful herbs that help to soothe a bloated stomach and allow trapped gas to move out of the digestive tract.

One of the best is fennel seeds. Fennel seeds contain a compound that relaxes spasms in the smooth muscle of the gut, helping gas to pass. You can chew on the seeds directly or sip on a fennel tea after eating.

Peppermint and chamomile are two very helpful carminatives, which mean they ‘calm’ the gut. Peppermint and chamomile tea are widely available and can be drunk at any time to reduce bloating.

So there you go, 7 effective home remedies you can try at home to reduce gas in stomach!

Featured photo credit: Frank Flores via unsplash.com

Reference

^ Clin Transl Gastroenterol.:
^ The Candida Diet: 11 Candida Symptoms & How to Eliminate Them
^ International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders: Tips on Controlling Gas
^ H S Gill, F Guarner: Probiotics and human health: a clinical perspective
^ Balance One: 5 Red Flags to Watch out for When Buying Probiotics
^ Gastroenterology: Sorbitol intolerance: an unappreciated cause of functional gastrointestinal complaints.

We all pass gas (and burp)—it’s natural and it has nothing to do with air and bacteria. “The GI tract doesn’t absorb air and gas well, so almost all of it eventually comes out northbound or southbound,” says Patricia Raymond, M.D., a gastroenterologist in Norfolk, VA. As gut bugs ferment carbohydrates from food, they produce gas, which then exits through your backside. And the air you swallow while eating, talking, and breathing rises back up to be expelled via your mouth. When gas passes too slowly or too much builds up, that can make your belly bloat.

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Gas usually isn’t harmful, but if bloating persists, see a doctor, especially if it’s accompanied by abdominal pain more severe than the “pop an antiacid” kind, diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, weight loss, or frequent heartburn—all signs that an issue like irritable bowel syndrome or celiac disease may be involved.

How to Prevent Gas, Pain, and Bloating

Limit “problem” foods.

If the small intestine lacks specific enzymes, certain foods can make it to the colon without being broken down, providing a feast to gas-generating bacteria. If you often battle gas, limit problem foods like high-fiber beans, peas, cabbage, onions, broccoli, cauliflower, and prunes as well as milk. Eat more slowly too—you’ll swallow less air than when you shovel it in. “This reduces burps and prevents large amounts of food from reaching the intestines all at once and causing gas,” says Aasma Shaukat, M.D., spokesperson for the American Gastroenterological Association.

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Breathe deeply.

Practicing meditation or mindful breathing trains the body to draw out air deeply into the lungs instead of taking short breaths that direct air into the esophagus. It also reduces stress and anxiety, both linked to increased sensitivity to gas. “There’s a brain-gut axis, so calming the brain helps regulate the autonomic nervous system in the GI tract, which can lead to less gas,” Dr. Shaukat says.

Get moving.

Exercise pushes foods through the GI tract faster, reducing constipation, bloating, and gas, says Dr. Raymond. It also releases endorphins that relieve stress and help the nervous system regulate the gut. Aim to get 30 minutes of physical activity three to five times a week.

Reduce gluten.

Too much gluten in your diet can cause digestion issues for many people. “Even if you don’t have celiac disease, ingesting less wheat often improves gas symptoms if you have an intolerance to gluten in wheat, rye, and barley,” Dr. Raymond says.

Do kegels.

Strong pelvic floor muscles can help keep gas from escaping at socially unacceptable times, Dr. Shaukat says. Practice tense up as if holding in urine for three seconds, then relax for three seconds and repeat.

13 to 21: The number of times people usually fart every day, most often after meals. Women’s farts tend to be stinkier than men’s due to higher concentration of odoriferous chemical hydrogen sulfide.

Keep a food journal.

While there are a host of foods that commonly cause people problems, everyone has different sensitivities. So it’s best to observe and note when you are feeling particularly bloaty so you can rule things out.

“If you run into a hard, puffy stomach quite often, it may be due to certain food intolerances,” says Taz Bhatia, M.D., an integrative health expert and founder of CentreSpring MD. “I always recommend keeping a food journal in these cases. Being able to go back and see which foods seem to cause these types of symptoms can keep a bloated belly at bay.”

The Best Treatments for Gas and Bloating

BEST SOFTGELS Gas-X Extra Strength Softgels amazon.com $12.74

The coating on these soft gels makes them easy to swallow, which is helpful if you’re not the best at taking down pills. (They come in chewables too.) The active ingredient, simethicone, encourages tiny gas bubbles to merge together so you can expel them easier and relieve some of that painful pressure.

BEST LIQUID Mylanta Antacid and Gas Relief amazon.com $6.97

This minty liquid medicine coats the stomach, helping to relieve gas, bloating, and any acid indigestion right away—thanks to a combination of active ingredients (simethicone, aluminum hydroxide, and magnesium hydroxide).

BEST CHEWABLES Lactaid Fast Act Lactose Intolerance Chewables amazon.com $12.74

If dairy is your downfall, chowing down on these tablets before you indulge in a scoop of ice cream or a fresh mozzarella panini should help a lot. They contain a natural enzyme, lactase, which helps break down the lactose in milk products that you’d otherwise have trouble digesting.

NATURAL PICK Taylors of Harrogate Lemon & Ginger Herbal Tea amazon.com $4.19

Did you know that lemon is a natural detoxifier? It acts as a cleansing agent, which, Taz explains, helps to eliminate unwanted bloat from the body. She recommends sipping on hot lemon water in the morning. Or try balancing your digestive system with this caffeine-free herbal tea.

Additional reporting by Amy Schlinger

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5 Home Remedies That Help You Combat Stomach Gas

Stomach gas is a natural by-product of digestion and everyone experiences it. However,an
excess of it can not only be embarrassing but extremely uncomfortable and painful as well.

It can be caused by intake of air while eating or drinking or released during the incomplete
breakdown of undigested food. An intolerance to certain foods or medical conditions of the
stomach can also lead to stomach gas.

Nonetheless, it is not a problem that always requires you to visit the pharmacist and a
simple trip to the kitchen coupled with a few lifestyle modifications can help deal with the
symptoms.

Listed here are 5 home remedies for stomach gas:

Ginger

Sipping on ginger1 tea is beneficial, as ginger is known to be useful in the breaking up and
expelling of intestinal gas.

Herbs

The herbs in your kitchen that add flavour to your the dishes can be of great help when you
are suffering from stomach gas. Many of the herbs are carminative in nature, i.e. they help in
the expulsion of gas and reduce bloating and distension. Some of the useful carminative
herbs are ginger, cinnamon, fennel, basil and cumin.

Consuming these herbs helps in the rapid movement of food from the stomach to the
intestine and causes gut contractions to relieve gas.

The use of cumin2 in the preparation of dishes and intake of a small quantity of fennel3 right
after meals can help you get rid of a bloated stomach.

Yogurt and Buttermilk

The use of probiotics like yogurt and buttermilk also helps in relieving gas and supports
digestion. Probiotics are substances that contain ‘good’ bacteria which are the natural
inhabitants of our gut and are responsible for maintenance of its health.

Yogurt and buttermilk are natural probiotics which contain Lactobacillus and
Bifidobacterium, the ‘good’ species of bacteria which fight the gas-producing harmful
bacteria and prevent them from sticking to the walls of your stomach.

Whole fat milk can lead to the accumulation of gas, especially in people who suffer from
lactose intolerance. Yogurt and buttermilk are healthy alternatives that can be easily
digested.

Aloe Vera Juice

The benefits of aloe vera for the skin are widely known but there are not many people who
know that aloe vera juice is a great home remedy for treating gas. It has been proven in a
trial5 conducted on patients that aloe vera juice indeed helps you get rid of gas and
associated pain significantly.

Papaya

One of the beneficial effects of this fruit is relief from stomach gas. Papaya6 is not only rich in
anti-oxidants but also papain, an enzyme that aids the digestion of dietary proteins and
prevents the formation of excessive gas in the stomach. Papain supplements are available in
the market but the whole fruit itself has several benefits.

Although the aforementioned are quite reliable home remedies for stomach gas, it pays, in
the long run, to incorporate some changes into your daily lifestyle as well to avoid this. They
involve physical activity, die7 changes like eating small and frequent meals, avoiding fried
and spicy foods and drinking warm water with meals.

Managing stress with the help of meditation8 and yoga is also beneficial in not only avoiding
stomach gas but also contributes towards your general well being.

1 The Amazing and Mighty Ginger
Read More “

2 Cumin Extract for Symptom Control in Patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A Case SeriesRead More “

3 Foeniculum vulgare Mill: A Review of Its Botany, Phytochemistry, Pharmacology, Contemporary Application, and ToxicologyRead More “

4 Use of probiotics in gastrointestinal disorders: what to recommend?
Read More “

5 Aloe vera in treatment of refractory irritable bowel syndrome: Trial on Iranian patientsRead More “

6 Papaya preparation (Caricol®) in digestive disorders.Read More “

7 Bloating and functional gastro-intestinal disorders: Where are we and where are we going?Read More “

8The effects of relaxation response meditation on the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome: results of a controlled treatment study.Read More “

Treatment for Gas in the Digestive Tract

How can I reduce or prevent excess gas?

To reduce or prevent excess gas and gas symptoms, your doctor may suggest the following:

Swallow less air

Your doctor may suggest that you take steps to swallow less air. For example, eat more slowly, avoid gum and hard candies, and don’t use a straw. If you wear dentures, check with your dentist to make sure they fit correctly. Swallowing less air may help ease gas symptoms, especially if you burp a lot.

Quit smoking

If you smoke, quit smoking. Your doctor can help you find ways to quit smoking. Studies show that people who get help quitting have a better chance of succeeding.

If you smoke, quit.

Change your diet

To reduce gas, your doctor may suggest you eat smaller, more frequent meals and eat less of the foods that give you gas. Learn more about changing your diet to reduce gas.

Take medicines

Some over-the-counter medicines may reduce gas or gas symptoms:

  • Alpha-galactosidase (Beano, Gas-Zyme 3x) contains the enzyme the body lacks to digest sugars in beans, grains, and many vegetables. You can take this enzyme just before eating to break down gas-producing sugars. Doctors recommend the enzyme for adults and for children ages 12 and older.
  • Simethicone (Gas-X, Mylanta Gas) can relieve gas-related bloating and pain or discomfort in your abdomen by helping gas pass through your digestive tract. Doctors may recommend simethicone for infants and children.
  • Lactase tablets and drops are available for people with lactose intolerance. The lactase enzyme digests the lactose in the food or drink and reduces the chances of developing symptoms such as bloating, gas, or diarrhea. Lactose-free and lactose-reduced milk and milk products are available at most supermarkets and are identical nutritionally to regular milk and milk products. Check with your doctor before using lactase products. Some people, such as children younger than age 3 and pregnant and breastfeeding women, may not be able to take these products.

For safety reasons, talk with your doctor before using supplements or any complementary or alternative medicines or medical practices.

Your doctor may prescribe medicines to help reduce gas or gas symptoms, especially if you have small intestinal bacterial overgrowth or irritable bowel syndrome.

US Pharm. 2009;34(12):16-22.

Patients often consider pharmacists as professionals to whom they can confide embarrassing medical problems in the hope that the pharmacist will provide some assistance. One such problem is abdominal bloating, often thought to be due to excess intestinal gas. However, patients may also experience abdominal discomfort they attribute to gas, but can be caused by several serious medical conditions.

Prevalence of Bloating and Gas

The prevalence of intestinal gas and bloating is unknown, as reliable large-scale studies do not exist. However, bloating and flatulence (defined as excessive air or other gas in the stomach and/or intestines) are two of the most common complaints for which patients seek medical care.1

Manifestations of Bloating and Gas

Bloating and gas can cause several complaints or coexist with them. Patients complain of excessive belching (eructation).2 Belching is a normal response during or after a meal, especially one that was eaten so rapidly that the patient also swallowed air. However, some patients swallow air intentionally to facilitate belching, a practice that can develop into an unconscious habit. Thus, if people burp excessively, they may be chronic air swallowers. Patients may deny that they swallow air as a nervous habit, forcing physicians to give them a mirror to observe the episodes themselves.

Flatulence is a common and logical consequence of intestinal gas. Average patients with no pathology or underlying medical condition produce 1 to 4 pints of intestinal gas per day and flatulate 14 to 23 times daily.2,3

Abdominal distention is an increase in abdominal girth that is frequently ascribed to excessive intestinal gas.2,4 This perception is often incorrect, as many such patients have normal amounts of gas. Rather, investigators believe that these patients have a heightened awareness of intestinal gas. Thus, even normal volumes of gas cause troublesome symptoms.

Abdominal pain is another complaint often thought to be due to gas.2,3 It may arise from either side of the colon, mimicking such conditions as heart disease, gallstones, and appendicitis.

Possible Causes of Bloating and Gas

Various sources of excess gas have been identified, including air swallowing, diet, lactose intolerance, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Aerophagia: Aerophagia, or air swallowing, has long been thought to be responsible for bloating and gas, as previously described.5,6 But there had been little evidence to support the hypothesis, as logical as it sounds. However, in 2009, investigators confirmed the hypothesis by assessing swallowing frequency in general and air swallowing frequency in particular in patients with suspected aerophagia.5 They identified a group of patients with typical complaints of bloating, abdominal distention, flatulence, and/or excessive belching. Abdominal x-rays confirmed the presence of excessive abdominal gas, the presumed source of the complaints. The researchers carried out 24-hour pH-impedance monitoring on subjects, discovering that swallowing frequency for the 24-hour period was normal (741 +/- 71 episodes), but the number of air swallows and gastric belches was excessive (521 +/- 63 and 126 +/-37, respectively). Thus, the advice presented in this month’s Patient Information section regarding air swallowing may be beneficial for these patients.

Diet: Diet is a major cause of bloating and gas. One of the most common dietary issues is eating foods that cannot be digested in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract due to a lack of the necessary enzymes.1,2

If certain food residues (mostly carbohydrates) reach the large intestine, normal bacterial residents utilize them as food sources, producing carbon dioxide, hydrogen, and sometimes methane as by-products.1,2 Exactly which foods cause gas varies from person to person. Some patients’ bowel microorganisms destroy hydrogen, lessening their intestinal gas burden.2 Nevertheless, some foods are universally identified as gas producers.

Carbohydrate-containing foods are among the most common culprits in causing intestinal gas, whereas fatty foods and proteins are seldom responsible.1,2,7Raffinose is one such complex sugar, being found in the indigestible seed coatings of beans, cabbage, brussels sprouts, broccoli, asparagus, other vegetables, and whole grains.2 Fructose is another offender, found in onions, artichokes, pears, and wheat; it is also used as an artificial sweetener. Sorbitol is also an artificial sweetener, but it is a naturally occurring component of apples, pears, peaches, and prunes. Sorbitol is a cause of “Halloween diarrhea,” a phenomenon experienced by many children who consume large amounts of candy on Halloween night. Numerous patients also report that psyllium ingested to ensure regularity causes gas (e.g., Metamucil, Konsyl). These patients may benefit by switching to methylcellulose, an FDA-approved fiber supplement that is not fermented by colonic bacteria (e.g., Citrucel).

Lactose Intolerance: Lactose intolerance (LI) is another type of carbohydrate malabsorption, discussed separately because of its different etiologies.1 Lactase found in the brush border cells of the small intestine is essential for breaking lactose down into its component sugars for absorption. Lactase deficiency is the underlying defect behind LI.

There are two major types of LI. They share the same consequences, in that undigested lactose reaches the intestinal tract, where the colonic microbiota digest it, producing gas, diarrhea, bloating, borborygmus, and a host of other complaints, beginning as early as 30 minutes after ingestion.8,9 The more common type of LI is the primary form, experienced by most of the world’s peoples, including those of African, Native American, and Asian heritage. In primary LI, lactase activity drops sharply after weaning from breast milk, until it is virtually absent. Drinking milk or ingesting dairy products causes the symptoms to begin.

Some people also suffer from secondary LI. They normally produce lactase as adults, but an environmental insult or surgical procedure compromises their ability to do so. Possible causes of secondary LI include chemotherapy, diarrheal diseases, small intestine resection, or celiac disease.1 Pharmacists can direct patients with suspected LI to lactase-containing supplements (e.g., Lactaid) or lactose-free dairy products.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome: IBS causes abdominal pain, cramping, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea.10-12 About 20% of Americans suffer from IBS, perhaps due to colonic hypersensitivity to specific foods or in response to stressful situations.11 Pharmacists should refer patients with suspected IBS to a physician for a full evaluation, but they can also advise patients to keep a food diary to help identify dietary causes of IBS. Elimination of certain foods and drinks (e.g., chocolate, alcohol, caffeine, cola, tea, peppers, onions) may be all that is needed to provide relief.

Nonprescription Products

Pharmacists can recommend two types of nonprescription products other than lactose-intolerance products. One group of products contains simethicone, a nontoxic and hypoallergenic ingredient that is FDA approved as safe and effective in breaking down bubbles or froth in the GI tract, although the total amount of gas remains the same.1 Simethicone’s usefulness may be due to several factors. Some patients may experience abdominal discomfort as normal amounts of intestinal gas move through them. Reducing froth may allow the gas to pass through more readily. Further, patients using simethicone may be able to eliminate gas in several larger episodes, reducing the perception of excessive gas. Products with simethicone include Mylanta Gas, Phazyme, and Gas-X. The dosage is typically 1 or 2 units as needed after meals and at bedtime.

Alpha-galactosidase is another means to prevent bloating and gas.1,13 This is an enzyme derived from Aspergillus niger, and it has the ability to break down the oligosaccharide linkages that humans cannot digest. The patient is then able to absorb the single-component sugar residues. In research exploring the enzyme’s efficacy, subjects ingested two meals of meatless chili composed of several types of beans, cabbage, cauliflower, and onions.14 They were given either a placebo or the commercially available alpha-galactosidase product, known as Beano. Beano reduced the number of flatulence events at all times except for 2 hours postingestion. The effect was most pronounced 5 hours after the meal.14

To use Beano solution, the patient places approximately 5 drops on the first bite of troublesome food, such as beans, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, grains, cereals, nuts, seeds, and whole-grain breads.13 That amount usually covers a half-cup serving of food. If the meal consists of two or three servings of the food, the patient should place 10 to 15 drops on the meal. However, if the patient still experiences flatulence, the amount can be adjusted upward until an effective dose is reached. The patient may also swallow or chew a Beano tablet with the first bite of food or crumble it onto the first bite. One tablet usually digests a half-cup serving; more tablets can be used for larger portions. Patients cannot cook with Beano because of heat-induced enzyme degradation. Patients with galactosemia should consult a physician prior to use since enzymatic degradation of oligosaccharides produces galactose. Beano is labeled only for patients aged 12 years and above. While it appears to be safe during pregnancy and breastfeeding, there are no studies to confirm that observation. At one time, the manufacturer recommended that patients allergic to molds not use Beano, but the present view is that the caution is not supported by medical literature.13

Addition Diets

Pharmacists can also advise patients to undergo an addition diet.15 With this method, the patient eliminates all foods and drinks that are thought to produce symptoms. If symptoms improve, the patient continues the diet for several days until reaching a perceived normal level, a state known as normoflatulence.15Then one new food or drink is added, and the patient records the results in a diary, paying particular attention to the intensity of the symptoms. Patients should discontinue any troublesome food for the duration of the addition diet and add another suspected food or drink after 48 hours. After several weeks of following this simple procedure, the patient begins to build a profile of difficult foods. Eventually all suspected foods will be identified, and the patient will have a much better idea of how to choose foods and drinks, even when visiting a restaurant.

PATIENT INFORMATION

Swallowing Air

When you swallow air, it must either be burped up or expelled as gas. Several problems can cause one to swallow air. Dentures that do not fit well cause you to swallow more saliva, which is mixed with air bubbles. If this is a possible cause, you should see the dental professional who fitted your dentures to have them adjusted. If you have postnasal discharge, you tend to swallow more than normal, allowing more air to enter your stomach. Judicious use of a nasal decongestant (e.g., Sudafed, Afrin) may help. Smoking cigarettes, cigars, or pipes and using chewing tobacco can increase salivation and contribute to excessive bloating, as can talking too much.

Some people belch excessively, either as a nervous habit or perhaps as a source of humor. To accomplish intentional belching, the person often first swallows air, followed by the belching. However, he or she seldom releases all of the swallowed air, and it becomes flatulence.

Dietary Issues

Eating too rapidly causes you to swallow extra air. You should slow your eating and chew the food thoroughly before swallowing it. Chewing gum and sucking on hard candy also increase the amount of swallowed air, so these practices should be reduced.

An easy way to help minimize bloating and gas is to focus on carbonated beverages (e.g., Coke, Pepsi). Manufacturers intentionally add carbonation to all of these sodas to give the products their “fizz.” When the bottle or can is agitated before being opened, everyone knows what the result will be—a great deal of bubbly drink on the floor. As a person drinks the beverage, the carbonation bubbles enter the stomach. If they are not belched out, they become excess flatulence. Many people could reduce gas problems dramatically by simply eliminating all carbonated beverages. If a person refuses to take this simple step, perhaps he or she can be convinced to allow the drinks to sit out on the counter at room temperature for several hours, which allows them to go flat and thus reduces the amount of swallowed gas.

The same advice can be given to beer drinkers. Beer contains gas, as indicated by the frothy head that develops when it is poured. You should completely eliminate it from your diet to see if your symptoms improve.

A major dietary cause of gas is beans, as well as other foods with indigestible components, such as cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli. Your intestinal bacteria use these components as foods, producing gas as a by-product.

Lactose intolerance also contributes to gas and bloating. It is best to avoid dairy products or to take supplements that contain lactase, such as Lactaid.

Consult Your Pharmacist

There are several OTC products you can take to help relieve symptoms. Your pharmacist can assist you by advising on the use of simethicone (e.g., Gas-X, Mylanta Gas, Phazyme), which eases elimination of gas. Beano, a product that reduces the amount of gas, is a liquid solution that can be applied directly to food or taken as a tablet prior to eating

Remember, if you have questions, Consult Your Pharmacist.

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