The release of gases in a healthy person occurs on average 5-15 times a day. But it happens that the number of such episodes increases or the gases acquire a sharp, unpleasant odor.
Excessive gas formation is most often associated with nutrition.
Knowing the foods that cause such an effect helps to correct the situation. When the undigested particles of some of them enter the intestines, bacteria try to break them down and, in the process, release gases. When gas accumulates, it is released.
Some intestinal bacteria, such as Desulfovibrio and Desulfobulbus, produce hydrogen sulfide from the amino acids found in food. For this reason, gases can smell like rotten eggs or cabbage.
The cause of increased gas formation can also be diseases of the gastrointestinal tract and some conditions, such as lactose and gluten intolerance that cause irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Foods high in dietary fiber, such as vegetables and legumes, feed good gut bacteria. In turn, these microorganisms process fibers into useful substances – vitamins and butyric acid. But at the same time, as a side effect, some bacteria emit gases. These foods are healthy, but if you have an overgrowth of good or bad bacteria in your small intestine, you may experience bloating and gas.
- Milk and dairy products
- Gluten-containing foods
- Products with inulin
- High protein diet
- Artificial sugar substitutes
This article is published for educational and informational purposes only and should not be used for diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for professional advice.
Beans, lentils, chickpeas, peas, and other legumes contain galactooligosaccharides (GOS) and fructans, which are dietary fibers that the human body cannot break down. But intestinal bacteria do an excellent job with this task and love these products very much, but in the process of splitting them, they release gases.
The intensity of gas formation depends on bacteria present in the small intestine. If many vegetable fibers, including legumes, are abruptly added to the diet, gas formation increases, but with the regular use of these products, this side effect is reduced. Because of this, the transition to veganism or vegetarianism is associated with increased gas production.
People with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are more susceptible to discomfort caused by gas, so I do recommend a diet low in GOS and fructans, including legumes. This diet is called the Low-FODMAP diet. It helps a lot to decrease gas and bloating while you are working on getting to the true cause of these symptoms.
If legumes are almost non-existent in your diet, they should be introduced gradually. You can add some lentils or a few beans to a salad or spread some hummus on a sandwich. This way you can avoid increased gas formation.
2. Cruciferous Vegetables
Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower are common foods associated with bloating and gas. During cooking and chewing, these plants release glucosinolates, sulfur-containing organic compounds.
Research shows that many gut bacteria convert glucosinolates into sulfates and ferrous ions during fermentation. In the future, these substances can turn into hydrogen sulfide, which has a specific smell of rotten eggs.
On one hand, glucosinolates feed the probiotic bacteria that naturally live in the human gut. These bacteria include Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. On the other hand, a gut with too many sulfate-reducing bacteria like Desulfovibrio can increase its’ production of hydrogen sulfide, which causes awful breath.
3. Milk and Dairy Products
With lactose intolerance, milk and dairy products cause increased flatulence with an unpleasant odor. Lactose is a sugar found in milk and is broken down by the enzyme lactase.
When the body does not produce enough lactase, dairy products can cause diarrhea, abdominal pain, and severe flatulence within 30 minutes to two hours of eating dairy.
Flatulence – bloating of the abdomen due to the accumulation of gases.
Probiotic gut bacteria like Lactobacillus can process and absorb lactose. Their high content in the microbiota may reduce the symptoms of intolerance, especially in people whose diets are high in galactooligosaccharides (GOS).
4. Gluten-Containing Products
Wheat, barley, rye, and their products contain gluten. This protein causes increased gas production in people with celiac disease – gluten intolerance. If you are diagnosed with celiac, consuming gluten by a person with celiac disease causes an autoimmune reaction that is accompanied by bloating and abdominal pain, as well as diarrhea.
Gluten sensitivity without celiac disease is another gluten-related condition in which the protein causes increased gas production without damaging the gut. Research shows that certain gut bacteria break down gluten into particles that cause an immune system response, which may be one reason for these side effects.
The only way to reduce your immune system’s response to foods with gluten is to eliminate them from your diet. But despite the popularity of gluten-free diets, you should be very careful with them. The symptoms of celiac disease are similar to those of other diseases and inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract.
5. High Protein Diets
High-protein diets such as keto and meat diets are dominated by beef, eggs, pork, fish, and poultry. These products contain a lot of sulfur which turns into hydrogen sulfide.
Protein Supplements – Protein powders and bars may also contain ingredients that cause excessive gas and bloating. For example, many protein shakes are made with whey from milk, which can cause an unpleasant gastrointestinal reaction in people with lactose intolerance.
Protein bars and shakes also typically contain low-calorie sweeteners such as sorbitol, mannitol, lactitol, xylitol, and food additives that cause flatulence. Also, many protein bars use inulin as a source of fiber, which bacteria produce a lot of gases during the fermentation.
6. Products Containing Inulin
Inulin, a plant fiber indigestible by the human body, is one of the favorite treats of good gut bacteria. But, as we wrote earlier, the joy of bacteria is often accompanied by the release of lots of gases.
Inulin is prebiotic that boosts good bacteria like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria. Intestinal bacteria then convert it to butyrate, a fatty acid that maintains the health of the intestinal mucosa.
Inulin improves the absorption of magnesium and calcium, micronutrients that support bone health, and nerve and muscle function.
Studies show that it also lowers blood sugar levels and helps control appetite. However, during the fermentation of inulin, microorganisms also release gases, which can cause bloating and cramps, especially if you overeat this fiber. According to studies, the daily intake of inulin for healthy people is a minimum of 10 grams.
The sudden addition of large amounts of fiber, including inulin, is likely to cause bloating and gas. Therefore, any dietary fiber should be introduced into the diet gradually, and over time, side effects in the form of bloating and gas will decrease.
Foods containing inulin:
|Product (100 gr)
|Inulin content (g)
Remember, fiber should be taken with plenty of water to avoid constipation.
7. Artificial Sugar Substitutes
Many processed foods, especially low-calorie, low-carbohydrate foods, can cause bloating and gas when they contain plant-based polyol sweeteners:
|chewing gums, some sweets, desserts, ice cream, diabetic products
|baked goods, chocolate, confectionery, desserts, chewing gum
|sweets, jams and jellies, puddings and powdered drink mixes, chewing gum
|chewable multivitamins, lozenges, sugar-free gum, and some pharmaceuticals (cough syrups)
Polyols are sugar alcohols that are not absorbed by the human body. Instead, they are fermented by bacteria in the large intestine, releasing gases in the process.
If you experience bloating or gas from time to time, it’s nothing to worry about and it’s most likely related to what you’ve eaten. However, you should see your doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- frequent release of gases with a pungent odor;
- persistent bloating and pain in the abdomen;
- recurring episodes of diarrhea or constipation;
- fecal incontinence;
- blood in the stool;
- fever, nausea, chills, muscle and joint pain.
This does not constitute medical advice, always seek the direct advice of your Doctor or Medical Provider for your specific health care or needs.
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