Many of us feel that gas is embarrassing and uncomfortable, and as a result, we want to know how we can have less of it. For people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
, gas and bloating
during flare-ups are a common problem, and cutting back on foods that cause gas may help relieve some discomfort.
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Most people know that beans tend to cause gas. The reason why is that beans contain raffinose, a sugar that cannot be broken down or digested in the small intestine. This sugar then passes undigested into the colon, where it is fermented by "good" bacteria, with gas as a byproduct. You can avoid gas from beans by taking an enzyme supplement, such as Beano, that breaks down the raffinose in beans.
Photo © Steve Woods
If you're one of the many adults who are lactose intolerant
, dairy products can cause a significant amount of gas and bloating. People who are lactose intolerant lack the enzyme lactase, which is necessary to break down lactose (milk sugar). This results in gas and bloating, among other symptoms. If you avoid dairy completely, you will want to find other food sources for your daily calcium intake
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Wheat is not often thought of as a food that causes gas. However, the starch in wheat creates gas when it is broken down in the large intestine by good bacteria. Wheat also contains fructose, a natural sugar that is can be found in fruit (see below). Any undigested fructose from the wheat may ferment in the large intestine and cause gas.
Photo © Monika Henkel
Potatoes are another food that aren't often implicated as a cause of gas and bloating. However, potatoes are a starch, and starches can produce gas in the large intestine. Many people eat potatoes on a regular basis without issue, but for some they can cause troublesome gas.
Photo © Antonella Falbo
Apples, apricots, cherries, peaches, pears, plums, and prunes are especially well-known for causing excess gas. The reason is that fruit (like wheat) contains fructose, and if you ingest more than your body can digest, the remaining fructose is broken down by fermentation. A byproduct of fermentation in the large intestine is gas.
Photo © Dirk Ziegener
Mushrooms, like beans, contain the sugar raffinose, and eating them can result in the same process that causes gas.
Photo © Colin Higgins
Broccoli is a healthy food, but it is also notorious for causing gas. The fiber in broccoli is not completely digested in the small intestine, so when the good bacteria in the large intestine goes to work digesting it, gas is created as a result.
Eating large amounts of broccoli will cause more gas. Some people find that eating small amounts of broccoli, and increasing the amount slowly over time, may help reduce the amount of gas. However, others will find that the amount of gas caused by broccoli never abates.
8. Sweeteners (Xylitol, Maltitol, Sorbitol, Erythritol)
Photo © Sanja Gjenero
Many foods labeled as "sugar-free" or "diet" often contain sweeteners such as xylitol, maltitol, sorbitol, or erythritol. These are naturally-occurring sugars that are added to foods and drinks to make them sweeter. When these sugars are broken down by bacteria in the large intestine, gas results. If you're trying to avoid these sugars, it's important to read food labels closely.