Gas forms when bacteria in your colon ferment carbohydrates that aren't digested in your small intestine. Unfortunately, healthy, high-fiber foods are often the worst offenders. Fiber has many health benefits, including keeping your digestive tract in good working order and regulating blood sugar and cholesterol levels. But fiber can also lead to the formation of gas.
High-fiber foods that commonly cause gas and gas pains include:
- Whole grains
- Beans and peas (legumes)
Fiber supplements containing psyllium, such as Metamucil, may cause such problems, especially if added to your diet too quickly. Carbonated beverages, such as soda and beer, also cause gas.
Other causes of excess gas include:
May 02, 2014
- Swallowed air. You swallow air every time you eat or drink. You may also swallow air when you're nervous, eat too fast, chew gum, suck on candies or drink through a straw. Some of that air finds its way into your lower digestive tract.
- Another health condition. Excess gas may be a symptom of a more serious chronic condition. Examples include diverticulitis or an inflammatory bowel disease, such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease. Excess gas and bloating may also be a symptom of bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine from conditions such as diabetes.
- Food intolerances. If your gas and bloating occur mainly after eating dairy products, it may be because your body isn't able to break down the sugar (lactose) in dairy foods. Other food intolerances, especially to gluten — a protein found in wheat and some other grains — also can result in excess gas, diarrhea and even weight loss.
- Artificial additives. It's also possible that your system can't tolerate artificial sweeteners, such as sorbitol, mannitol and xylitol, found in some sugar-free foods, gums and candies. Many healthy people develop gas and diarrhea when they consume these sweeteners.
- Constipation. Constipation may make it difficult to pass gas, leading to bloating and discomfort.
- Abraczinskas D, et al. Intestinal gas and bloating. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Dec. 17, 2013.
- Gas in the digestive tract. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/gas. Accessed Dec. 17, 2013.
- Papadakis MA, et al. Current Medical Diagnosis & Treatment 2013. 52nd ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2013. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=1. Accessed Dec. 20, 2013.
- Living with gas in the digestive tract. American Gastroenterological Association. http://www.gastro.org/patient-center/digestive-conditions/gas-in-the-digestive-tract. Accessed Dec. 20, 2013.
- Gas-related complaints. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Health Care Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/gastrointestinal_disorders/symptoms_of_gi_disorders/gas-related_complaints.html. Accessed Dec. 20, 2013.
- Feldman M, et al. Sleisenger & Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease: Pathophysiology, Diagnosis, Management. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2010. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Jan. 9, 2014.
- Picco MF (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville, Fla. Jan. 20, 2014.