Emitting gas 20 times a day is perfectly normal. But if you produce more gas, there could be a problem, such as gluten intolerance.
Your intestinal flora is unbalanced
Think of your digestive system as a long muscular tube: food enters it from the top and the muscle contracts to pass it down. “Normally, the strong contractions of the small intestine force food out into the colon,” says Dr. Gross. But sometimes medications, infection, illnesses like diabetes or neuromuscular disorders, or surgical complications can interfere with transit, says Dr. Gross. The bacteria then invade the small intestine and multiply, producing even more gas.
You always order a side of broccoli …
..or you eat a lot of beans, all kinds of cabbage, or a lot of fiber. Fiber is great for your health because it facilitates bowel movements, regulates blood sugar and cholesterol, and keeps your weight under control. Their somewhat annoying and inevitable side effect is the “farts” that come after meals.
In fact, our stomachs and small intestines cannot absorb all of the carbohydrates – sugars, starches, and fiber – from our food. Broccoli and beans, which cause a lot of gas, contain raffinose, a carbohydrate substance. “When nondigestible sugars like raffinose reach the colon, the bacteria that inhabit part of our digestive system feed on them by releasing gases,” says Rebeka Gross, MD, a gastroenterologist at the Joan H. Tisch Women’s Health Center at NYU Langone Medical Center. Often after releasing a fart you feel better.
You eat too fast
It doesn’t matter if you take in air while eating broccoli or a bowl of blueberries – the inhalation of the air is the problem. You swallow air every time you eat or drink, and the faster you eat, the more you swallow.
Burping pushes the air out of your stomach, but the unexhausted air continues to flow through the digestive tract and … emerges at the other end. You can also swallow air if you chew gum, suck on candy, or drink through a straw.
You have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
Also called irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), it is a chronic disease of the large intestine. Muscle contractions, which allow food to travel from the stomach to the rectum, are stronger, or last longer, causing gas, bloating and diarrhea. Or, the contractions are weaker than normal, and they slow down transit causing constipation.
The nerves in the gut can also become very sensitive to the stretching and distension caused by gas, adds Dr. Gross. You will then experience pain or discomfort. Often relief will come from diet and lifestyle changes: “Exercise, for example, is essential for people with IBS because it helps expel gas,” says Dr. Gross. Adopting a diet that limits gas production is also a good thing.
Milk is not for you
And so are yogurt, cheese and all other dairy products. The culprit is lactase, an enzyme made in the small intestine. Its role is to break down lactose – a sugar found in milk – into simpler forms that the body can absorb.
In the presence of low levels of lactase, lactose enters the colon undigested. It then comes under the onslaught of bacteria and triggers gas problems. Very common, according to Dr. Gross, lactose intolerance usually begins in adulthood, when lactase production drops sharply.
You are sensitive to gluten
No one can digest this protein found in wheat, barley and rye, says Dr. Gross. But if you have celiac disease, gluten triggers an immune response in the small intestine. This reaction can cause a breakdown of the intestinal lining, affecting its ability to absorb nutrients. It is accompanied by gas, diarrhea, and even weight loss. “The small intestines of people who don’t have celiac disease don’t have these same changes, but these people can experience gas and bloating in response to gluten that they aren’t able to break down,” adds Dr. Gross.
According to the Mayo Clinic, researchers estimate that only 20% of people with celiac disease are diagnosed with it. If you suspect gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, talk to your doctor.
Let go of the fake sugar
Of course, you will take in fewer calories, but sometimes our bodies just cannot tolerate artificial sweeteners: sorbitol, mannitol, and xylitol. In addition, they contain sugar alcohols which can cause gas and bloating.
Your rectum is narrow
Sphincter, rectum or anus, we are talking about the same thing. Its tightness, along with the speed at which gas passes through, determines the volume and tone of your farts. Also, if your last fart smells like a rotten egg, it is because you ate something that contained sulfur.
Usually, the gases we release are an odorless mixture of carbon dioxide, oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen, and sometimes methane. But when bacteria break down beans, cabbage, meats, and other sulfurous foods, a small amount of sulfur is released, and therefore odor is released!
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