Although simple actions such as swallowing air when you are nervous, chewing gum or eating too fast can produce lower intestinal gas, many healthy foods can have the same effects. Foods high in fibre can lead to the overproduction of gas, even though these foods also help keep your digestive system in good shape and aid in regulating blood sugar and cholesterol levels. High-fibre foods include fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes.
Of course, nutritionists point out that these foods are healthy ways to aid the digestive system and should not be avoided. They can be consumed at opportune times when you do not plan to be around other people, if you are concerned about flatulent episodes. But most people realise that gas is just something that is part of our lives.
More specifically, foods high in fibre that can cause common flatulence include apricots, dried and cooked beans, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, asparagus, carrots, bananas, cauliflower, eggplant, nuts, onions, peas, popcorn, raisins and soybeans. Other flatulent-causing foods may include sauerkraut, deep fried foods, rich creamy sauces and gravies and tuna fish. But these foods may produce flatulence in some people and not in others. It also depends on the amount and type of bacteria each person has in the large intestine. Bacteria in the colon ferment carbohydrates that are not digested in the small intestine, producing gas.
People who are fructose intolerant may experience flatulence from prunes, pears, apples and bran. Those who are lactose intolerant are subject to intestinal distress when consuming dairy products. Lactose intolerance has long been known to cause excessive flatulence. Many lactose intolerant people can have small amounts of dairy products without suffering the displeasing effects. Others with serious forms of lactose intolerance should avoid milk, ice cream and other dairy products to avoid cramps and other ill effects that may accompany severe flatulence. However, the lactose intolerant can usually replace dairy products with yoghurt, which can help digest lactose. Some lactose intolerant people say adding chocolate to milk helps in the digestion process.
Carbonated beverages, including soda and beer, can cause gas. Artificial sweeteners, such as sorbitol and mannitol, may result in excessive gas in some people. Avoid consumption of too much oily and spicy foods.
It may not necessarily be the foods we eat, but the way we eat that promotes flatulence. Before you rule out any possibly offending foods, chew your food adequately by eating every morsel. Try to avoid talking while eating, because that will bring more air into the digestive tract. Don't eat too much in one sitting.