Farts … they’re at the center of hundreds of jokes, but flatulence isn’t so funny when you’re the butt of the joke. Unwelcome, unexpected flatulence isn’t just unpleasant and embarrassing – it can be downright revolting. Sneaking out a little gas during the day is one thing (we’ve all been there), but if you are troubled by recurring flatulence – passing gas more than 20 times a day – that always seems to creep up in the worst situations, and at the worst times, you aren’t alone.
It is estimated that approximately 15-30% of Americans suffer from flatulence, and while symptoms vary from person to person, it is common in both men and women.1 Excessive flatulence can be a major source of anxiety, understandably. Let’s get to the root of what’s behind this normal bodily function, what it means for your overall health, and how you can potentially prevent gas.
What is Causing My Flatulence?
Common causes of recurring gas include swallowing air during meals, constipation, acid reflux, over-the-counter medicines, prescription drugs, dietary supplements, hormonal changes, and genetics.
Some amount of intestinal gas is normal, but excessive amounts can cause physical and emotional distress for a number of reasons. Follow
these nine simple, effective tips for stopping gas before it starts:
1. Change Your Diet
You may not realize that the foods you are eating can cause your flatulence. Stop bad gas in its tracks by cutting out these gas-causing foods: beans, legumes, apricots, bananas, melons, peaches, pears, wheat bran, eggs, milk, sugar, fried foods, carbonated beverages, and most packaged foods like bread, cereal, and salad dressing. The amount of gas that these foods produce as you eat them will vary from day to day and person to person. As a general rule, they usually produce gas with odor.
Note: Any foods that contain sulfur will cause gas. These include cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, cabbage, garden cress, bok choy, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts.
2. Chew Slowly
Being in a hurry is part of regular life, but don’t be in a rush when you eat, if you can help it. Seek out healthy foods, and eat them as slowly as possible. Studies have shown there are many benefits to chewing slowly – you burn more calories, and you feel more full. While there is no clinical evidence that slowing down your chewing can help to reduce gas, it might help cut back on how much air you’re swallowing as you chew. Swallowing excess air is a leading cause of flatulence.
3. Address Irregularity
If you struggle to maintain optimal digestive health, you probably are quite familiar with excessive flatulence. Check with your doctor to see if common stomach upsets like acid reflux, bloating, or irregularity could be causing your recurrent flatulence. Oftentimes, additional GI problems are associated with extra-smelly gas.
4. Check Your Meds
When you are sick, you probably head out to the local pharmacy and pick up what you need to feel better. This may include any type of OTC (over-the-counter) medicine, or even a prescription from your doctor. However, what you may not realize is that both OTC and prescription medicines can cause gas, bloating, and other unpleasant side-effects to your digestive tract. Always read the indications on your medications carefully. Some medicines should be taken with food, in order to prevent a gassy stomach.
5. Feeling Hormonal?
Changes in your hormone levels happen for a variety of reasons. These can include everyday stress, poor sleep, weight gain, adolescence, menstruation, pregnancy, and perimenopause. Your body contains many different hormones produced by the endocrine system which includes your thyroid and pituitary gland, ovaries, adrenals, testicles and pancreas.
During times when your hormone levels are high, you may want to consider consuming more foods that support proper endocrine system function.
These include lignans, flaxseed, coconut oil, sesame oil, avocado, ashwagandha, and whole grains, as they provide natural hormone-mimicking compounds which may help rebalance your hormone levels and reduce flatulence.
6. Try Charcoal
One of the best cleansers on the planet, this substance has been used for centuries as a water filter. Today, you can use charcoal to reduce the smell and frequency of your flatulence. One study revealed that taking activated charcoal was effective in reducing both gas and accompanying symptoms, including bloating and abdominal cramps.2
Other studies have shown that using external devices containing charcoal, including briefs made from carbon fiber, helped to reduce the odor associated with flatulence.3, 4
Activated charcoal can be taken as a dietary supplement in a capsule, as a powder, or in pre-measured, water-cleansing tablets.
7. Take Probiotics
Many of the most common causes of digestive problems, including gas, bloating, diarrhea, and other issues, can be reduced by getting more probiotics into your diet. While you may not realize it, your gastrointestinal tract contains over 100 trillion living microbacteria. In order to keep those little buggers happy, you must consume a good amount of probiotics. Also known as the “good” type of gut bacteria, you can find these beneficial strains of microbacteria in foods like apples, bananas, yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, microalgae (spirulina), miso soup, and kimchi.
Studies have confirmed that adding more probiotic bacteria to your gut plays an important part in the pathophysiology of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, and, for this reason, it may help with bloating and flatulence.5
8. Give Yoga a Whirl
It may sound a little hippy-dippy, but you can do yoga to help reduce flatulence. It’s true! And there’s no need to venture into a funny-smelling yoga studio to practice with a guru, either. Just try a few simple asanas (poses) at home, in your most comfortable spot.
Here’s one for you to start with – the Virasana pose:
- Kneel down on the yoga mat with your thighs perpendicular to the floor.
- Be sure that the top of your feet are flat on the ground.
- Bring your inner knees together, and slide your feet away from each other – slightly further than hip-width apart. Point your feet in line with your shin bones.
- Pull your calf muscles back, and rest your buttocks between your feet.
- Check that your pelvis is at a 90-degree angle with your thighs.
- Sit back with your spine straight.
- Stay in Virasana pose for 2-3 minutes, and allow your breathing to deepen. Inhale through your nose into your belly, and then exhale through your mouth until the pose becomes comfortable to sit in.
Performing this, and other yoga poses, is a simple, at-home way to release trapped gas and reduce bloating. So, sneak in an asana when you can, at the workplace or even at home, so you can breathe easier.
You can stop flatulence from holding you back with that uncomfortable, embarrassing blast that always seems to happen at the wrong time. Just follow these nine tips. Everyone has a certain amount of gas, but this will help you stay within the norm!
For more health related news and helpful tips, keep reading:
1. Bagher Larijani, Mohammad Medhi Esfahani. Prevention and Treatment of Flatulence From a Traditional Persian Medicine Perspective. Iran Red Crescent Med J. 2016 Apr; 18(4): e23664.
2. Jain NK, Patel VP. Efficacy of activated charcoal in reducing intestinal gas: a double-blind clinical trial. Am J Gastroenterol. 1986 Jul;81(7):532-5.
3. Effective Management of Flatulence. Am Fam Physician. 2009 Jun 15;79(12):1098-1100.
4. Ohge H, Furne JK, Springfield J, Ringwala S, Levitt MD. Effectiveness of devices purported to reduce flatus odor. Am J Gastroenterol. 2005;100(2):397–400.
5. Elizabeth C. Verna. Use of probiotics in gastrointestinal disorders: what to recommend? Therap Adv Gastroenterol. 2010 Sep; 3(5): 307–319.