Sometimes it takes the National Institutes of Health to remind us that everyone experiences gas throughout their lives. While gas is a near-universal human experience, there are times when it becomes a medical concern. Excessive gas can be a sign of dietary problems and medical conditions. Thankfully, this condition is easy to treat at home.
What Treats Gas?
Treating gas is all about treating the root cause of the problem. Some people with excessive gas might find that they can treat this problem with dietary changes while others might need to try over-the-counter medications. In certain cases, it might even be necessary to see your doctor. Letâ€™s take a closer look at some of the most common remedies...
12. Changing Your Diet
Your diet is one of the most likely factors when it comes to excessive gas. Depending on what you are eating, you can be inadvertently setting yourself up for an unpleasant experience. This varies from individual to individual, so understanding and keeping track of your own diet is key to making these changes.
Why Changing Your Diet Helps Gas
Certain foods contain hard-to-digest compounds that can create gas problems. We all probably know the old adage about beans, but did you know that beans are common gas culprits because they are high-fiber foods? Other foods include fruits that contain sorbitol (glucitol) like apples and blackberries, carbonated beverages, and dairy products.
You can avoid these foods to mitigate gas problems. However, the issue might not be what you eat (and itâ€™s never wise to stray from otherwise healthy foods unless your doctor specifically says so), but how much you eat...
11. Smaller Portions
Your gas problem might have more to do with the quantities of those common gas-causing foods than the foods themselves. Each of our bodies is different, and we can handle certain foods better than others.
Why Smaller Portions Help Gas
Because of these individual differences, it might be that one serving of beans causes no problems, but two pushes your body over the edge. Rather than getting rid of gaseous foods entirely, you can experiment with smaller portion sizes and different preparations to lower the amount of gas you are experiencing.
Another dietary change you can make to fend off gas troubles? Hydrating before you eat...
10. Drink Before Meals
The next time youâ€™re getting ready for a meal, drink some water before you chow down. Many of us eat and rehydrate at the same time, but this process can cause problems for people prone to excessive gas.
Why Drinking Before Meals Helps Gas
When we drink and eat at the same time, we run the risk of swallowing too much air. This event can cause trouble for people with gas issues. By drinking beforehand, you reduce the likelihood of consuming as much air in one sitting. Hydrating before a meal also preps our digestive system to handle the incoming food. This preparation gives our bodies more buffer time to digest food, which helps reduce gas.
If these dietary changes donâ€™t do the trick, it might be time to try an over-the-counter remedy...
Alpha-galactosidase might sound a little intimidating, but it is just the technical name for a variety of over-the-counter gas medicines. Each of these remedies works to combat a specific cause of gas. So, which one works best for you depends on the specific cause of your gas problems.
Why Alpha-galactosidase Helps Gas
Alpha-galactosidase helps the body to break down carbohydrates. These carbs can be found in bread and vegetables like beans (of course). Taking alpha-galactosidase before a meal thereby helps the body to digest these compounds and consequently reduces gas.
Sometimes when you need to relieve gas symptoms, itâ€™s best to try and combat the gas itself...
While this term might sound like another scary term, itâ€™s also simply the over-the-counter name for a variety of gas-relief medicines. While the other medicines on our list help to fight common causes, this one goes after the gas itself.
Why Simethicone Helps Gas
Simethicone is an anti-foaming agent. On a technical level, it allows gas bubbles in the digestive tract to come together more easily. This process allows the gas to pass through your system before it causes a problem. Simethicone is commonly advertised as an anti-gas medicine that also helps with bloating.
There are some medical conditions that can cause gas. Luckily, those conditions also have over-the-counter treatments...
7. Lactase Supplements
Did you know that around 65% of the population has some level of lactose intolerance? That means that lactose intolerance is a significant source of gas issues, as eating dairy products can become a significant source of gas for people with lactose intolerance. Lactase supplements help, since they assist people digesting sugars in dairy products.
Why Lactase Supplements Helps Gas
Lactase helps people break down the sugar lactose. People with lactose intolerance have trouble breaking down this dairy sugar on their own. When they eat dairy products, they can experience a variety of digestive problems, including gas. Lactase helps to reduce these symptoms.
If you are looking for other natural treatments, there are options for you...
6. Activated Charcoal
Activate charcoal is a fine carbon powder, usually made from charcoal, that has a greater surface area for absorbing chemical compounds. Proponents of activated charcoal cite its abilities to remove toxins from the body, but researchers are still working to verify these claims.
Why Activated Charcoal Helps Gas
Taken either before or after a meal, activated charcoal may help the digestive system calm down. This calming reduces the production of gas. Itâ€™s worth pointing out that activated charcoal can interfere with the absorption of other medications, though, so it is advised to discuss this supplement with your doctor first if you take other medications.
If taking medicine isnâ€™t right for you, there are lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your gas troubles...
5. Herbal Remedies
In some ways, modern science is still catching up to the folk remedies of yesteryear. The healing powers of herbs are becoming more and more well-known, after all. One such claimed healing power? They may help reduce excessive gas by helping with digestion.
Why Herbal Remedies Help Gas
There are several different herbs that can help with digestion. The most commonly known one is ginger, which speeds up the digestive process. This speed-up thereby reduces the chances of gas building up. Peppermint oil and chamomile tea are two other herbal sources of gas relief. (Note that chamomile should be avoided during pregnancy, as some species of chamomile may induce miscarriage.)
While many herbs are helpful, there is one you should definitely avoid...
4. Quit Smoking
The tobacco plant is a species of herb in the genus Nicotiana. Most people encounter this plant today through smoking cigarettes. Itâ€™s no secret that smoking is bad for our all-around health. One of the under-discussed problems that comes from smoking, though, is excessive gas.
Why Quitting Smoking Helps Gas
Smoking lowers our overall health, which in turn hinders our bodyâ€™s digestive powers. This event can make gas more likely. Smokers also have a much higher chance of inhaling air into their stomachs, which leads to discomfort and gas. Quitting smoking is not only one of the best things you can do for your health, it might also help you reduce your gas.
Another lifestyle change you can make is changing how fast you eat...
3. Eat Slowly
In the United States, we tend to eat quickly. Between the classic TV dinners, fast food, and quick lunch breaks, our eating habits are maybe a little too fast. Eating quickly can contribute to gas problems, after all.
Why Eating Slowly Helps Gas
When we eat too quickly, we run the risk of getting air into our stomachs as well as giving our digestive system a hard time. Slowing down our food intake helps give the digestive system more time to break down the meal. This fact means a better digested meal and a lower chance of gas forming.
Unlike eating slowly, though, sometimes we need to pick up the pace to combat gas...
You can think about exercise as the polar opposite of smoking. While everyone should work on quitting smoking for their health, everyone should find a way to incorporate healthy physical activity into their daily lives. This activity has wide-reaching health benefits, including reducing gas.
Why Exercise Helps Gas
When we start to exercise regularly, our bodies begin to digest better. One of the biggest ways this helps is by reducing constipation. This event frees up the digestive system to function smoothly. In other words, when food is able to pass through your digestive system at a healthy rate, it has less time to form uncomfortable gas along the way.
Another thing you can do combines lifestyle changes, diet, and supplements...
Our bodies are home to countless bacteria and many of those microbes are actually good for us. However, certain conditions like illness, poor diet, and certain medications can throw these good bacteria out of balance.
Why Probiotics Help Gas
Probiotics restore the balance of good bacteria in our digestive system. These are foods or supplements that are naturally cultured with helpful bacteria. When some people first start taking probiotics, they may experience increased gas for a few weeks, but this event usually subsides and leads to lower overall gas.
So, what should you do about excessive gas?
There are dozens of potential causes for your gas troubles. Everything from lactose intolerance to not getting enough exercise can cause these problems. The best thing you can do is to start tracking your experience. Take note of what you ate and your daily lifestyle when you experience gas. This can give you the information you need to start making changes.
When in doubt, your doctor can help rule out medical conditions such as health issues with the colon and lactose intolerance.