Causes of intestinal gas and how to reduce it

Causes of intestinal gas and how to reduce it

01 Mar 2022

Gas and bloating, how to tackle these commonplace situations.

When we think of intestinal gas, we usually imagine the socially awkward situations we could find ourselves in if we were to do something such as burp out loud or pass gas, in front of people. However, it’s important to understand that intestinal gas is normal and often can indicate a healthy digestive system.

Just like almost everything in life, an excess amount of something isn’t always a good thing - this goes for intestinal gas as well. If you find yourself burping or flatulating more than 20 times a day, it could mean that you have a digestive disorder such as lactose intolerance, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, or diabetes (3).

Read on to learn of the causes of intestinal gas and how to go about reducing it.

What is intestinal gas?

Intestinal gas is basically when our digestive tract has gas in it, and our bodies naturally expel this gas through burping or by passing it through our rectum (flatulence) (1). We actually produce around 1 to 4 pints of gas a day and pass gas about 14 times a day (1) - this is completely normal and it actually shows that we’re healthy!

Most gas is made up of odorless vapors -- carbon dioxide, oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen, and sometimes methane. If you’re wondering about the gas with the unpleasant odors, well, these are caused by bacteria in the large intestine that release gases that contain sulfur (2).    

Causes of intestinal gas

There are many causes of intestinal gas. Some of the main ways gas enters our digestive tract is when we swallow air and when bacteria in our large intestine break down undigested carbohydrates (2).

We all swallow a small amount of air whenever we eat or drink. We also swallow air when we:

  • Drink carbonated or fizzy drinks
  • Chew gum
  • Smoke
  • Eat or drink too fast3

Bacteria in your large intestine could cause intestinal gas as well. Our large intestine actually contains a large amount of bacteria and some fungi and viruses that help with digestion. These bacteria, fungi, and viruses are called microbes and together, they make up our microbiome to assist digestion (3).

Carbohydrates from food such as sugar, starches, and fibre that aren’t fully digested by our small intestine will make their way to the large intestine, where the microbes will break them down and create gas (3).

Foods that cause intestinal gas

Aside from swallowing air and our microbiome breaking down of undigested carbohydrates, intestinal gas can be caused by certain foods as well. Here are some common foods that are causes of intestinal gas:

  • Beans and lentils
  • Brussel sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower
  • Dairy products with lactose
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Fructose (4)

If  you’re looking to lessen the chances of having undigested carbohydrates being broken down to gas by your microbiome - resulting in flatulence - then you know some of the foods to avoid. But given the important nutrients that these foods have, you could always eat them in small amounts throughout the day.

Causes of intestinal gas

What you could do for intestinal gas reduction

If you find yourself being annoyed by intestinal gas, here are some ways that you could help reduce it:

  • Eat slowly
  • Increase physical activity
  • Manage your lactose intake (if lactose intolerant)
  • Gradually increase fiber in your diet

Also you should make an effort to avoid or limit the following:

  • Talking while eating
  • Using a straw to drink
  • Drinking from a bottle
  • Smoking or chewing tobacco
  • Drinking carbonated drinks (3)

By practicing some of these tips, you could find some fruitful results in trying to reduce intestinal gas.

Take care of your gut to reduce intestinal gas

Given how intestinal gas is basically built up in our digestive tract, it makes sense that we should take care of our gut if we want to reduce it. Besides avoiding or minimizing foods that are causes of intestinal gas, a great way to take care of our gut is by incorporating fiber-rich foods in our diet. These include garlic, yogurt, ginger, and bananas.

Another effective way to take care of our gut health is through supplementation. The following supplements could be a great addition to your personalised vitamin stack, especially if you’re looking to reduce intestinal gas and improve gut health:

Zinc

Zinc plays a key role in maintaining a healthy immune system, supporting the integrity of your gastrointestinal system and as a bonus it also contributes to healthy hair, vibrant skin, and eye health (5).

Curcumin

Curcumin is the most active constituent in turmeric and is known for its powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Strong evidence confirms the anti-inflammatory activity of curcumin and its potency to target inflammatory diseases that may be found in our digestive tract (6).

Probiotics

Studies show that specific probiotics are beneficial in reducing gastrointestinal problems like intestinal gas. If you’re looking for a probiotics supplement for your gut health, Vitable’s probiotic is a blend of L. rhamnosus, B. lactis, and Saccharomyces boulardii, to support a healthy digestive system and assist with the management of digestive disturbances in addition to supporting immune system function (7).

Whether it is to take care of your gut health, reduce complications with your digestive tract, or just to reduce the chances of having an embarrassing moment in public because of intestinal gas - it’s important to understand that intestinal gas is normal and more of an annoyance than a medical concern for most people.

But if you still want to reduce your intestinal gas or keep it under control, then you could always change your diet or include supplements that could help you with it.

With Vitable Australia’s vitamin and supplement subscription service, you’ll be able to add Zinc, probiotics, and curcumin to your personalised vitamin packs to help reduce intestinal gas and to help boost your gut health!

*Always read the label. Follow the directions for use. If symptoms persist, talk to your health professional. Vitamin and/or mineral supplements should not replace a balanced diet.

References:

1. Mayo Clinic Staff. “Symptoms Intestinal Gas”. Nutra News. Published (n.d.) on https://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/intestinal-gas/basics/definition/sym-20050922#:~:text=Intestinal%20gas%2C%20a%20buildup%20of,result%20of%20swallowing%20and%20digestion. Accessed December 19, 2021.

2. John Hopkins Medicine. “Gas in the Digestive Tract”.John Hopkins Medicine. Published (n.d.) on https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/gas-in-the-digestive-tract. Accessed December 19, 2021.

3. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. “Symptoms & Causes of Gas in the Digestive Tract''. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Published (n.d.) on https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/gas-digestive-tract/symptoms-causes. Accessed December 19, 2021.

4. Mayo Clinic Staff. “Symptoms Intestinal Gas Causes”. Nutra News. Published (n.d.) on https://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/intestinal-gas/basics/causes/sym-20050922. Accessed December 19, 2021.

5. Vitable. “Zinc”. Vitable. Published (n.d.) on https://research.vitable.com.au/zinc. Accessed December 19, 2021.

6. Vitable. “Curcumin”. Vitable. Published (n.d.) on https://research.vitable.com.au/curcumin. Accessed December 19, 2021.

7. Vitable. “Probiotics”. Vitable. Published (n.d.) on https://research.vitable.com.au/probiotics. Accessed December 19, 2021.