Today we are going to be talking about farts. Hey, you in the back, stop snickering. This is a serious business. People who suffer from gas pains aren’t amused by your shenanigans. We know that it can be debilitating and distracting. It can be quite painful and disorienting as well, to the point of nausea.
Sometimes it seems to come out of nowhere, but it almost always can be traced to something you ate—something that might cause a blockage and inspire gut fermentation. Say for instance you ate an extra-large meat lover’s pizza by yourself in one sitting. That would probably do it. So too would eating a really big bowl of oatmeal or any fiber-rich food that you aren’t accustomed to.
There are also illnesses and allergies that can cause extraordinary flatulence accompanied by gas pains. If the condition continues unabated, even when you start to adjust your diet, you should really talk to a doctor.
Gas Pain Symptoms & Causes
The pain is caused by a buildup of gas that has been blocked from taking its normal path out of your body. It could be constipation and it could just be the way you’re sitting. Think about what you can do to encourage normal bowel health: More water, more exercise, more regular fiber, less red meat, and fewer trips to the drive-through would all be a good start. And remember, if you feel one coming on, just let ‘er rip—if it’s not socially awkward, that is.
One of the big causes of gas is sugars, such as lactose, that move beyond the stomach without being broken down by enzymes. Once in the gut, they start to ferment and create all kinds of gas. Yogurt with active cultures can help to repopulate our systems with good flora and fauna, especially those of us who are lactose intolerant.
Gas Pain Relief
Exercise more. Everyone should know by now that exercise can help to improve many facets of your life. Standing upright helps to keep your guts oriented properly and up-and-down motions can help work out some of those gas pains. This is especially true if you spend most of your day sitting. Get up and go for a 30-minute walk. Things will work themselves out.
Peppermint. You will very often see peppermint (Mentha piperita) recommended as a natural cure for gas problems. There have been studies that showed an effectiveness rate of 75 percent in treating people with gas pains and other intestinal distress. In that case they were using peppermint oil inside of slow-release tablets. But a cuppa peppermint tea might be just the thing you need.
Monitoring your diet can help to deduce the cause of your gas pains. It’s elementary: eliminate all other factors and the one that remains must be the truth. I don’t mean to go all Sherlock Holmes on you, but really, you should know by now what kinds of food inspire gas in your body. The way to do it properly is to keep a food diary and make notes on your gas pains. Some common gas-causing foods include: legumes (such as beans), crucifers (such as cabbage), alliums (such as onion), grains (like oats), and dairy products. However, it isn’t always the variety of food that causes gas. It can also be the quantity of food, how greasy it is, how quickly you eat it, and how much air you swallow as you eat.
Fiber is an important part of our diets and balancing fiber intake can help get rid of gas. When I was first working on improving my diet I had heard about the cholesterol lowering abilities of oatmeal. So naturally I wanted to incorporate more oatmeal into my diet. I made a mistake in assuming more was better. Just so you know, overloading on oatmeal will cause you to swell up like a balloon (or at least it did me), and it was extremely painful. The problem of course was that I was overloading my system with more fiber and carbs than it could digest. This means they moved into my guts and were literally fermented, like some evil witch’s brew. Finding a balance of fiber that promotes regularity, but doesn’t overload things, is something you will have to do through trial and error.
Lactose intolerance is a common cause of gas pains. As many as three-quarters of all adults develop some kind of intolerance to dairy products as they age. Some of us can never tolerate it. I never really liked milk and in high school I worked at a dairy farm and decided never to drink milk again. I still enjoy milk products like butter and cheese, but they plug me up and give me gas pains. I am fairly certain that I have a certain level of lactose intolerance. It is pretty rare for Northern European types, like myself, to be this way. Whereas in geographical areas where dairy wasn’t as commonly consumed, such as Africa and Asia, the levels are almost 100 percent. There are options that make life more bearable: lactose-free milk, lactase milk, and active culture yogurt.
Wheat allergies can also cause intestinal discomfort. This is a widespread problem that I didn’t know about until quite recently. In the late nineties, I started working in kitchens and bakeries and discovered that a lot of people cannot eat wheat gluten and other grains in general. When you start looking into it, wheat is in a lot of things. This makes controlling symptoms brought on by consuming grain (like gas pains) a real challenge. I learned how to make gluten-free bread from tapioca flour, and I was always conscious of how I thickened my sauces. If you suspect that you have this problem, talk to your physician about testing your intolerance. Look online for gluten-free recipes and products. It’s a growing industry trying to accommodate a growing problem.
Gas-related medications and supplements might be a good option for reducing gas pains. There are a couple of common over-the-counter medications out there that can help to cut down gas problems. Bean-O is probably the most well-known. It contains an enzyme called alpha-glactosidase, which when taken with foods that cause gas, like legumes and cabbage, can help to break down the carbohydrates. Another common medication is called Gas-X. It contains an anti-foaming agent called simethicone, which helps to reduce the surface tension of gas bubbles within our intestinal tract. By reducing the surface tension, the gas is less likely to collect in one area and become painful. Both of these medications have limitations and adjusting your diet is still a good idea.
Gas Pains & Medical Intervention
As with any common malady that has become chronic or has worsened with time, there is always a possibility that gas pains are a sign or symptom of a larger condition, like irritable bowel syndrome or celiac disease. You shouldn’t have to just grin and bear it. If your problem hasn’t started to improve after dietary changes, then it is very possible that there is more going on than meets the eye. A doctor will have the tools necessary to diagnose any larger problem and tell you how to treat it properly.
Image source: Medical news today