It is natural to experience flatulence or gas after a meal. Your body is releasing it as a byproduct of undigested foods. However, painful or excessive gas can occur and chances are the culprit could be your diet. How does it happen? The digestive system breaks down food into usable energy for the body’s many functions and processes. But there are certain foods that your gut may find it too difficult or hard to break down. When portions of those foods cannot be digested and travel to the colon, which is full of bacteria. The foods sit in the colon and get fermented by the bacteria, resulting in burping, gas and flatulence. Gas may also be caused by foods which contain lactose due to the lack of enzyme in the small intestine.
Everyone’s body differs and reacts in a different way to different foods. Pay attention to the foods you eat and keep a record to link symptoms of flatulence to figure out what is triggering the condition. Instead of completely eliminating them from your diet, you can reduce your intake of the offending foods.
Common foods that are most often linked to produce intestinal gas include:
Beans and lentils – They contain a lot of raffinose, a complex sugar that may be difficult for the body to digest.
Fruits – Peaches, apples and pears for example, contain sorbitol, the natural sugar alcohol which that body has trouble digesting. Fruits also contain soluble fiber and natural sugar fructose, which contribute to gas when it is broken down by bacteria in the intestines.
Vegetables – Broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower and asparagus are known to cause excess gas production as they also contain raffinose, like beans.
Starches – Except for rice, most starches like noodles, corn, potatoes and wheat produce gas when broken down in the large intestine.
Foods with artificial sweeteners – Carbonated drinks, soda, hard candy and gum are sweetened with sugar alcohols like mannitol, sorbitol and xylitol. They are harder to digest and can contribute to extra gas.
Whole grains – Whole wheat and oatmeal are some whole grain foods that are high in fiber, starch and raffinose. They are broken down by bacteria in the large intestine, causing gas.
Milk and dairy products – Lactose is a natural sugar that is found in milk and most dairy products, such as ice cream and cheese. People who do not produce enough of the enzyme lactase, which helps to break down lactose, have difficulty in digesting lactose. This is known as lactose intolerance, which produces symptoms of flatulence and gas. You can try non-dairy replacements like almond milk or soy products.
Not all of these foods may cause flatulence, so analysing your diet and timing of symptoms can help to identify a particular food that is leading to excess gas. If you’re not able to pinpoint the source of gas, it is time to see a gastroenterology doctor who is qualified in gut care. Excessive gas might need further investigation and having an endoscopy in Singapore can be recommended to help diagnose the problem.