What’s important to remember about gas?

  • Everyone has gas in the digestive tract.
  • People often believe normal passage of gas to be excessive.
  • Gas comes from two main sources: swallowed air and normal breakdown of certain foods by harmless bacteria naturally present in the large intestine.
  • Many foods with carbohydrates can cause gas. Fats and proteins cause little gas.
  • Foods that may cause gas include the following:
    • Beans
    • Vegetables, such as broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, onions, artichokes, and asparagus
    • Fruits, such as pears, apples, and peaches
    • Whole grains, such as whole wheat and bran
    • Soft drinks and fruit drinks
    • Milk and milk products, such as cheese and ice cream, and packaged foods prepared with lactose, such as bread, cereal, and salad dressing
    • Foods containing sorbitol, such as dietetic foods and sugar-free candies and gum
  • The most common symptoms of gas are belching, flatulence, bloating, and abdominal pain. However, some of these symptoms are often caused by an intestinal motility disorder, such as irritable bowel syndrome, rather than too much gas.
  • The most common ways to reduce the discomfort of gas are changing diet, taking nonprescription or prescription medicines, and reducing the amount of air swallowed.
  • Digestive enzymes, such as lactase supplements, actually help digest carbohydrates and may allow people to eat foods that normally cause gas in specific individuals with lactose intolerance.