Most lower intestinal gas is produced when bacteria in your colon ferment carbohydrates that aren’t digested in your small intestine.

Unfortunately, healthy foods – such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes (beans and peas) – are often the worst offenders. That’s because these foods are high in fiber. Fiber has many health benefits, including keeping your digestive tract in good working order and regulating blood sugar and cholesterol levels. But fiber can also lead to the formation of gas. Fiber supplements containing psyllium may cause such problems, especially if added to your diet too quickly. Carbonated beverages, such as soda and beer, also are important causes of gas.

Causes of excess gas include:

  • Another health condition. Excess gas may be one of several signs and symptoms of a more serious chronic condition. Examples include diverticulitis or an inflammatory bowel disease, such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease.
  • Antibiotics. In some cases of excess gas, antibiotic use may be a factor because antibiotics disrupt the normal bacterial flora in your bowel.
  • Laxatives. Excessive use of laxatives or constipating drugs also may contribute to the problems with excess gas.
  • Constipation. Constipation may make it difficult to pass gas, leading to bloating and discomfort.
  • Food intolerances. If your gas and bloating occur mainly after eating dairy products, it may be because your body isn’t able to break down the sugar (lactose) in dairy foods. Many people aren’t able to process lactose efficiently after age 6, and even infants are sometimes lactose intolerant. Other food intolerances, especially to gluten – a protein found in wheat and some other grains – also can result in excess gas, diarrhea and even weight loss.
  • Artificial additives. It’s also possible that your system can’t tolerate the artificial sweeteners sorbitol and mannitol found in some sugar-free foods, gums and candies. Many healthy people develop gas and diarrhea when they consume these sweeteners.

Anything that causes intestinal gas or is associated with constipation or diarrhea can lead to gas pains. These pains generally occur when gas builds up in your intestines and you’re not able to expel it. Gas pains are usually intense but brief. Once the gas is gone, your pain often disappears too. The gas you pass is a combination of oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen, carbon dioxide and methane.

What are some symptoms and problems of gas?

The most common symptoms of gas are flatulence, abdominal bloating, abdominal pain, and belching. However, not everyone experiences these symptoms. The determining factors probably are how much gas the body produces, how many fatty acids the body absorbs, and a person’s sensitivity to gas in the large intestine.

Abdominal bloating

Many people believe that too much gas causes abdominal bloating. However, people who complain of bloating from gas often have normal amounts and distribution of gas. They actually may be unusually aware of gas in the digestive tract.

Doctors believe that bloating is usually the result of an intestinal disorder, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The cause of IBS is unknown, but may involve abnormal movements and contractions of intestinal muscles and increased pain sensitivity in the intestine. These disorders may give a sensation of bloating because of increased sensitivity to gas.

Any disease that causes intestinal inflammation or obstruction may also cause abdominal bloating. In addition, people who have had many operations, adhesions, or internal hernias may experience bloating or pain. Finally, eating a lot of fatty food can delay stomach emptying and cause bloating and discomfort, but not necessarily too much gas.

Abdominal Pain and Discomfort

Some people have pain when gas is present in the intestine. When pain is on the left side of the colon, it can be confused with heart disease. When the pain is on the right side of the colon, it may mimic appendicitis.


Gas and Flatulence After High-Fat Meals

Eating a high-fat meal can generate a large amount of carbon dioxide, some of which is released as gas. That’s because carbon dioxide is produced in the small intestine when bicarbonate is released to neutralize stomach acid and fat during meals.

Odorous Flatulence and Gas

Gas that has a strong odor usually results from the metabolism of sulfur-containing proteins and amino acids in the intestines.

Foods that Produce Gas

Certain foods are inherently gas-producing. Gas-producing foods include beans, cabbage, onions, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, fluffy wheat products such as bread, apples, peaches, pears, prunes, corn, oats, potatoes, milk, ice cream, and soft cheese.

Foods that produce minimal gas include rice, bananas, citrus, grapes, hard cheese, meat, eggs, peanut butter, non-carbonated beverages, and yogurt made with live bacteria.

Other Conditions

When someone has persisting bloating and flatulence, lab tests and x-rays are first conducted to exclude the presence of medical disease. Colorectal cancer often presents with the symptoms of abdomen discomfort and bloating. Celiac disease and inflammatory bowel disease may have similar symptoms.

It’s important to remember that gas and bloating are vague symptoms that can be associated with many medical diseases, so consultation with your primary care provider should always be the first step.

Treatment Strategies

  1. Eat smaller, more frequent meals instead of three large meals.
  2. Avoid high-fat meals.
  3. Consult your primary care provider to rule out the possibility of fat malabsorption. Signs of fat malabsorption include loose and light-colored stools.

Sources: Alt Medicine, Mamas Health

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