Passing wind, having gas, farting – these are all terms commonly associated with flatulence. The entire digestive tract normally contains intestinal gas, and one way or another it’s going to escape either through belching but most likely through flatulence. Do you think that you pass gas too much? Maybe you find yourself clearing rooms while your significant other never so much as lets out a sound. You might be right. You could be a gassy person. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Usually.
Unfortunately, many people who pass gas to excess – the normal range for passing gas is anywhere from 10 to 20 times a day usually at the lower end of the spectrum – may have any number of intestinal disorders from irritable bowel syndrome to lactose intolerance or a sugar or food intolerance that has gone undiagnosed. If you find that gas is getting in the way of living your life, then visit a gastroenterologist to help you discover what’s wrong.
There are four basic reasons that one person may be gassier than others, according to Dr. Michael D. Levitt, a gastroenterologist and associate chief of staff at the Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Medical Center and an expert in flatulence.
- You eat a lot of carbohydrates.
- You swallow air when you eat.
- The bacteria in your gut is really good at turning carbs into gas.
- The bacteria in your gut are inefficient, so you’re not processing carbs, causing gas.
If you’re of the opinion that men pass wind more than women, you’re probably right. But that doesn’t mean that women don’t fart at all. Usually, women pass gas less than men because they are smaller and so are their intestinal tracts.
Foods that cause gas aren’t unique to individuals. Just think of the magical fruit, beans. Beans cause gas for everyone. The difference isn’t always the food; it’s how each body processes it. Every person’s body contains a unique combination of bacteria. Some people’s bacteria are just better at processing gassy foods, resulting in less gas.
You know that funny-sounding dark brown bread, pumpernickel? It translates to “goblin that breaks wind” in Old German. So you know that some foods are just going to cause gas. Vegetables are known for being healthy and causing gas, so passing gas isn’t unhealthy. And even if you don’t eat a lot of vegetables, you may pass a lot of gas because you consume other gas-causing foods.
Foods that can cause gas include beans and lentils; certain vegetables like asparagus and broccoli; foods like bran that are high in soluble fiber, which gets digested in your large intestine; foods rich in starch; and Sorbitol, the artificial sweetener. Carbonated beverages don’t just release as burps, they can also come out as gas because they also contain fructose. Fructose is a form of sugar that isn’t well absorbed by the intestines, resulting in gas.
Other things you do that can cause gas include using a straw to sip a drink. Although some people find using a straw genteel, drinking a beverage through a straw results in gas because you are sipping air and that air has to find its way out of you somehow.
Eating too quickly makes you swallow air as you gulp, causing the colon to bloat. The air trapped inside the colon is then released as noxious fumes. Chewing gum also produces gas because you swallow air.
Lack of exercise can cause gas because movement helps the colon to absorb gas, instead of releasing it.
Hey, not all gas is bad. It can just be – well – just a little embarrassing.