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Examining Your Diet: Food That Causes Gas Pains

By Daily Graphic

Passing gas is perfectly normal. Everyone passes gas, whether as belching or flatulence. From between 14 and 23 times a day, it's perfectly normal.

Gas is air trapped in the digestive tract and it is caused by swallowing too much air. Gas is also caused by the digestive breakdown of certain foods in the large intestine.

Carbohydrates are harder to break down and thus cause more gas. Fats and proteins are rarely gaseous. If it smells, this is due to bacteria that is being released with the gas. Gas is not harmful, but it can be uncomfortable or embarrassing.

As one ages, gas build-up increases as the digestive system slows down. Sometimes, however, one can seem to be releasing too much gas or worse, trapped gas may cause pain, bloating and other forms of discomfort.

This problem can be solved by not chewing gum or sucking on toffees.

Excessive gas can cause pain and aggravation. Altering one's diet to a certain extent may help most problems created by excessive flatulence, belching or bloating.

Learn what foods are best to avoid and which one can keep eating to diminish the likelihood of gas formation.

What foods should one avoid to decrease gas?

Sugars are the number one culprit, as found in beans, certain vegetables and fruits. Asparagus, broccoli, pears, apples and onions are several of these gas-creators.

Another one is foods containing Lactose. Many races, especially African or Asian, as well as older people, have very low levels of lactase, the enzyme required to digest milk and milk products. These include cheese, ice-cream and even cereal and bread.

Starches like potatoes and pasta encourage the formation of gas. Foods that contain soluble fibre like beans are particularly prone to creating gas.

Sugars

The sugars that cause gas are raffinose, lactose, fructose, and sorbitol.

Fructose

Fructose is naturally present in onions, artichokes, pears, and wheat. It is also used as a sweetener in some soft drinks and fruit drinks.

Raffinose

Beans contain large amounts of this complex sugar. Smaller amounts are found in cabbage, brussels sprouts, broccoli, asparagus, other vegetables, and whole grains.

Lactose

Lactose is the natural sugar in milk. It is also found in milk products, such as cheese and ice cream, and processed foods, such as bread, cereal, and salad dressing.

Also, as people age, their enzyme levels decrease. As a result, over time people may experience increasing amounts of gas after eating food containing lactose.

Eating any of these foods in large quantities, or before periods of inactivity, such as prior to sleep, are much more likely to cause gas, bloating and abdominal discomforts.

What foods cause less gas?

If one is suffering from either the physical or social side effects of excessive gas, trying to eat foods that lessen these effects is best. One should still maintain a healthy diet though.

Thus, foods like rice are highly beneficial in reducing gas. Drinking soy milk can help if one is lactose intolerant.

• Fruits like bananas and vegetables such as carrots cause less gas. Wheat bran versus wheat is also a better choice. If one still wants to eat the other, gas-producing foods for health, it might be suitable to purchase some over the counter digestive enzymes.

These encourage pain-free digestion.

• Most foods that contain carbohydrates can cause gas. By contrast, fats and proteins cause little gas.

Also check with a doctor if the symptoms persist, especially regarding the discomfort of bloating, as Irritable Bowel Syndrome rather than excess gas might be the cause.

Note the following:

Many carbohydrates cause gas, and the following items are common culprits:

• Baked beans

• Broccoli

• Carbonated drinks

• Cauliflower

• Chewing gum

• Fruits such as apples, peaches and pears

• Hard candy

• Lettuce




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