“It’s a gas,” means that something is enjoyable, but the irony is that actual gas is not so enjoyable. In fact, it can be downright awful, especially when it causes painful bloating. It may be a fact of life, but there are things you can do to minimize the discomfort.
What Goes In ...
Gas and bloating are normal, routine parts of the digestive process. Actually, most people produce around four pints of gas a day and release it through belching and flatulence more than twenty times a day. Belching happens when air is swallowed during food or drink intake and needs to be released from the stomach. Drinking carbonated beverages, chewing gum, and sucking on hard candy can cause excess air in the stomach. Eating too quickly and drinking through a straw can also increase the amount of air you swallow. Flatulence happens because certain foods aren’t completely broken down by the time they reach the large intestines, and the bacteria produce gasses to aid in digestion, which then get released from the body. Sugars, artificial sweeteners, and starches can be more difficult for your body to break down, leading to gas. Bloating happens when the gasses or air bubbles accumulate instead of releasing and cause discomfort or even a distended abdomen.
Controlling What Comes Out
Gas and bloating are largely caused by what and how you eat, and while passing gas is necessary for the digestive process, there are things you can do to minimize how frequently it happens. Diet is the biggest thing. Eating smaller portions of gas-producing foods like dairy, fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains can help limit gas. Sugar and starch are more difficult to digest, so reducing the amount you eat will reduce the amount of gas produced. Getting in the habit of sitting down to eat will help in multiple ways—you tend to eat more slowly, lessening the intake of air; you’ll also notice when you are full and avoid overeating, which could lead to bloating. Other ways to limit gas and bloating are to exercise regularly and do stretches. Blood pumping through the body and muscles contracting and expanding are great ways to ensure the digestive system works properly. If you regularly feel bloated, you may want to try wearing looser clothing since fitted clothes can put additional pressure on the abdomen and make a little gas feel like a lot. Ginger is an anti-inflammatory and will also help reduce the bloating.
If you are having excessive gas or bloating on a regular basis, or if you notice an increase in abdominal pain or changes in bowel habits, contact GI Associates today. We can answer any general questions you have about gas or bloating and help determine if what you’re experiencing falls outside the norm.