There are some very important situations in which the last thing you need to be dealing with is excessive intestinal gas. Fortunately, there are some foods that are less likely to cause gas. You can turn to these when you need to feel confident that you won’t experience the embarrassment of flatulence.
The average adult passes gas between 13 and 21 times a day. Gas is a normal part of the digestion process. But if gas builds up in your intestines and you’re unable to expel it, you may start to feel pain and discomfort.
There are a lot of ways to describe excessive gas: burping, belching, flatulence, and bloating. While what you call it might not seem to matter, being able to identify where the gas starts — and where it ends — can help you treat the painful and embarrassing symptoms.
For example, burping and belching usually refer to gas that escapes from the mouth, while flatulence, or farting, is intestinal gas that escapes from the rectum. Bloating is used to describe the sensation of excess stomach gas that has not yet been released.
Gas in the stomach is primarily caused by swallowing air while consuming food or beverages and is released from the mouth as a burp. Gas that is passed by flatulence is caused by the body’s inability to absorb or digest some carbohydrates in the small intestine. Once this undigested food passes into the small intestine, bacteria break it down, producing hydrogen, carbon dioxide, and sometimes methane. This doesn’t happen in everyone, though.
Although none of us wants to admit it, bloating and gas are issues we all deal with on a daily basis! Having the occasional digestive symptom is completely normal, however this doesn’t change the fact that passing gas in social situations can be embarrassing. And sometimes bloating and gas can become so severe that they cause discomfort or even pain. The good news is that what you eat has a HUGE effect on how much bloating and gas you experience, and there are many foods that can naturally get rid of gas and bloating.
Why Do You Get Gas?
Flatulence occurs when gas builds up in your colon. The Mayo Clinic explains that undigested food goes through a fermentation process in the colon, and gas is often released as a byproduct. Some gas is normal, but if you eat foods that your body has trouble digesting, you may find yourself with an uncomfortable amount of gas to pass.
While dietary choices are the most common reason for frequent gas, other factors may be at play, too. For instance, if you’re on antibiotics, the fluctuation of bacteria in your digestive tract can also lead to intestinal gas. Constipation can cause gas, as well.
List of foods that can cause flatulence
The main foods that can cause gas include:
- Leguminous plants: peas, lentils, chickpeas, beans;
- Green vegetables: cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts;
- Foods rich in fructose: artichokes, onions, pears, wheat and soft drinks;
- Lactose, which is milk’s natural sugar;
- Foods rich in starch: corn, pasta and potatoes;
- Foods rich in soluble fiber: oat bran and fruits;
- Whole grains: brown rice, oatmeal and whole wheat flour;
- Sorbitol and xylitol, which are natural sweeteners;
When Bloating and Gas is NOT Normal
In most cases, bloating and gas are just regular parts of the digestive process. Good bacteria in your gut ferment foods that are not fully digested in your small intestine.1 When you eat too many gas-producing foods—or too much fiber and not enough water—it’s normal to experience some abdominal pain, gas, and the distension that makes your tummy feel full and tight. Gas can also be caused by swallowing too much air, which can happen if you chew gum, eat too quickly, or drink through a straw.
If you’re curious about how to get rid of gas and bloating, start by drinking plenty of water, eating smaller meals slowly, and ditching straws and gum. As you’ll see, eating foods that reduce gas, and avoiding certain foods that cause it can also help. However, there are two underlying gut issues that you should get tested for if your digestive symptoms are extreme and don’t respond to these lifestyle measures.
How To Get Rid of Gas
Often, your gas is caused by what you eat. Food is digested primarily in your small intestine. What is left undigested is fermented in your colon with bacteria, fungi, and yeast, as part of digestion. This process produces methane and hydrogen, which are expelled as flatus.
For many people, changing dietary habits is enough to alleviate gas and its accompanying symptoms. One way to determine which foods are giving you gas is by keeping a food diary. Common culprits include:
- high-fiber food
- foods with high fat content
- fried or spicy food
- carbonated beverages
- artificial ingredients commonly found in low-carbohydrate and sugar-free products, such as sugar alcohol, sorbitol, and maltitol
- beans and lentils
- cruciferous vegetables, such as Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and broccoli
- prunes or prune juice
- foods containing lactose, such as milk, cheese, and other dairy products
- fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols (FODMAP) — molecules found in a wide range of foods, such as garlic and onion, that may be hard to digest
- over-the-counter fiber drinks and supplements
Celery has an extremely high water content—about 95%—and is also high in potassium, which can help control the water retention associated with bloating. Celery has long been used to provide gas and bloating relief, and can even help repair a leaky gut. The insoluble fiber in celery supports healthy bowel movements by regulating both constipation and diarrhea.4 When eating foods that get rid of gas such as celery, it’s best to cook it first to soften indigestible fibers that may lead to more bloating. I will often use celery in soups and stews!
When most people hear “potassium,” they think of bananas. Just one medium banana contains 422 mg of potassium, which is essential for fluid balance and maintaining a flat tummy. Bananas are also a good source of resistant starch, which can help combat constipation and relieve trapped gas that causes bloating. For optimal gas and bloating relief, stick with bananas that are still slightly green, which contain more resistant starch and less fermentable sugar. Due to the amount of sugar in bananas, it’s best to enjoy them in moderation. Once a week I’ll add a banana to my Double Chocolate Paleo Protein smoothie to make a rich, decadent yet healthy treat.
Ginger is another one of the many foods that get rid of gas. It has been used medicinally for thousands of years for all sorts of digestive issues. Ginger can give you gas and bloating relief by enhancing motility and accelerating stomach emptying.6 What’s more, compounds in ginger such as gingerols and shogaols support healthy digestion and limit the fermentable carbohydrates available to the microorganisms that ferment them and cause gas buildup.7 So the next time you’re feeling bloated, try sipping on ginger tea for some natural relief!
Spinach is one of the richest sources of magnesium, an essential nutrient in which many people are deficient. This makes it an excellent food that prevents gas. One cup of cooked spinach offers 39% of the recommended daily intake (RDI) for magnesium. Magnesium synthesizes protein and activates enzymes that aid in digestion by breaking down your food into smaller components.8 It also helps maintain bowel regularity by relaxing the muscles in your digestive tract and softening stools.9 For an easy way to get gas and bloating relief, add a scoop of Organic Greens to water or a smoothie, or simply take a magnesium supplement.
Intestinal inflammation due to autoimmune disease, food allergies, SIBO, or other gut imbalances could be the cause of bloating and fluid retention.10 Thankfully, cucumbers contain a flavonoid called quercetin, which supports a healthy inflammatory response, helps maintain upper respiratory health, especially during months when airborne particles are high, and supports a healthy immune response.11 Cucumbers can provide gas and bloating relief by reducing gastrointestinal swelling. Plus, they have one of the highest water contents of all vegetables at around 96%! Eating cucumbers or drinking cucumber-infused water can help balance your sodium levels, flush excess water from your system, and release trapped gas.
Foods like beans, prunes, and apples are known to cause excess gas because they contain lots of soluble fiber. If you want to get rid of gas, try to incorporate more insoluble fibers into your diet—the fiber found in whole wheats and brown rice is not fermented by the colon and therefore will not produce as much gas.
Peppermint or Chamomile Tea
Peppermint and chamomile are used to soothe many stomach woes, and they can help with gas, as well. Brigham and Women’s Hospital explains that teas made from these herbs are often helpful natural remedies for flatulence.
When all else fails, there are several over-the-counter supplements that can get rid of gas. These supplements contain digestive enzymes that help your body break down gas-causing foods more effectively.
If you’re struggling with persistent intestinal gas, you may want to consult a gastroenterologist. Gas may be a sign of a food allergy or a reaction to a medication you’re taking, so a specialist can help you diagnose and treat your flatulence.
Some behaviors cause a person to swallow air, and this can lead to gas.
- not chewing gum
- not eating hard candy
- taking your time when eating and drinking
- consume smaller meals more often
- avoiding drinking fizzy, or carbonated, beverages, which increase the amount of air in the stomach
- not eating foods with added artificial sweeteners
- making sure dentures are not too loose
- not smoking
- do some physical activity
If possible, take a walk after eating. The movement promotes the steady passage of gas through the gut, making episodes of flatulence less likely.
People who regularly experience bloating report that physical activity seems to help reduce the problem.