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BellaOnline's Nutrition Editor

The Gas We Pass

Gas can be a social liability, But (so to speak), itís natural to pass gas. We all do it.

The average number, for both men and women, is around 10 to 15 times a day Ė give or take a few toots. However, according to Dr. Michael Levitt, the worldís leading scientist in the field of flatulence (what a gas), female gas contains more hydrogen sulfide and can therefore be smellier. (Excuse me!)

Fortunately, since not all gas is offensive, our family and friends donít usually notice the gas we pass. However, people with severe flatulence might pass gas as often as 150 times a day. This can become a serious social problem.

Intestinal gas has two basic causes: 1) swallowed air and 2) bacterial fermentation of food. Most swallowed air comes back up in a belch and is fairly easy to manage by slowing down when eating and by avoiding carbonated drinks.

The main problem with gas caused by fermented food is that many foods which ferment in the body, like whole grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables, are also some of the best foods for you. So what can you do?

People have different digestive systems and not all the same foods will affect everyone in the same way. By trial and error, you can usually identify and manage your personal perpetrators. Foods sweetened with sorbitol, for example, are notoriously gas producing for most people. So, stay away from them.

Beans are another universal producer of gas. As are onions, raisins, prunes and, for some people, milk products. But, most people can eat these and other nutritious gas producing foods in moderation.

As you get used to eating whole grains, fruits and vegetables your body starts making the necessary digestive enzymes. So, donít just suddenly add large quantities of these foods to your diet. Beginning gradually and going slowly allows your digestive system to adjust. For most people, itíll only take a few weeks to gradually build up to full size servings.

To curb excess flatulence, you can consider adding natural digestive aids to your daily supplement program. And, when you eat beans, Beano can help. If your problem is dairy based, because of lactose intolerance, add lactase enzymes to milk products or switch to eating yogurt which produces less gas than milk.

Exercise has many benefits, including speeding up the passage of gas in healthy people. And, if youíre committed to your health, you can manage eating nutritious gas producing foods at times when itís okay to let go of a few good toots.

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Note: The information contained on this website is not intended to be prescriptive. Any attempt to diagnose or treat an illness should come under the direction of a physician who is familiar with nutritional therapy.

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