We’ve all experienced it, and probably at inopportune times. It’s embarrassing and uncomfortable. So, what’s the deal with gas? Are some of us doomed to be gassy forever? The answer is no. Let’s take a look at some of the major causes of gas and how to treat them.
Of the many common food sensitivities, gluten perhaps is most prevalent. Even if your doctor tells you that your tests for gluten antibodies or celiac are normal, you can still have a severe reaction. Dairy, which contains proteins like casein and whey that can irritate and inflame your gut, is another common culprit. And there are others, including soy, corn and eggs. Reactions to these foods can cause more than just gut problems. They can also create obesity, depression and acne. A Functional Medicine doctor can run tests to assess food sensitivities and gluten reactions.
Bad Bugs and Bacterial Overgrowth
Did you know that humans don’t actually make gas? Truth is the bugs in your gut produce gas. Stop and think about this for a minute: You’ve got about three pounds of bacteria — 500 species — in your gut. In fact, there is more bacterial DNA in your body than there is human DNA! Among all that gut bacteria, there are good guys, bad guys, and VERY bad guys. If the bad guys are allowed to take over, or if they move into areas that they shouldn’t be (like the small intestine which is normally sterile), they can start fermenting the food you digest, particularly sugary or starchy foods. This produces an imbalance in your gut ecosystem that can trigger or exacerbate irritable bowel syndrome – including leaky gut, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), and yeast overgrowth. While the approach to fixing these and other gut issues usually involves treating each issue, the key to reversing them and achieve long-term gut health is to reboot your gut by getting rid of the bad stuff and putting in the good stuff.
Too Many Starchy and Sugary Foods
When you eat starchy foods — bread, cereal, pasta, rice or sugary foods — the bacteria in your gut ferment the sugars in the food. It’s like what happens when apple cider goes bad or ferments. The fermentation process emits gas and everything expands. That’s what happens in your gut. The bacteria ferment the sugars in the food you eat, and then your gut expands from all the gas that is emitted. That’s why you get bloating right after meals. We call that postprandial bloating or as one of my patients calls it – a “food baby.” For some patients, I recommend trying a diet that is low in FODMAP. FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols. Foods high in these types of sugars are readily fermented and can contribute to excess gas for many. Often, doing a gut healing protocol works wonders for many patients and they do not have to go on a FODMAP diet or take other radical measures.
If your symptoms don’t get better, then I recommend seeing a Functional Medicine doctor because excess gas is not normal, and it typically means that something deeper is going on that needs to be treated with the help of a professional.
If you would like more information regarding any of the treatments, therapies, or services offered at The Institute of Natural Health, please contact us at (314) 293-8123 or visit us at the theinstituteofnaturalhealth.com. Dr. TJ Williams is the Clinic Director for the Institute of Natural Health and the host of the radio program Wellness 101, which provides common-sense, science-based strategies for a healthy life. Wellness 101 airs Sundays at 3:00pm on FM NewsTalk 97.1.