What are the main causes of gas and flatulence? Find out why those uncomfortable gases appear knowing what habits and foods influence their production.
It is quite likely – in fact it is almost totally certain – that at some point you have suffered its presence. That unpleasant feeling of having a swollen and full abdomen, with stitches that can sometimes be very painful. They are gases or flatulence, which can be of gastric origin (that is, they arise mainly in the stomach and are those that we eliminate by belching) or intestinal (what is medically known as intestinal gas, which tend to be expelled through the anal route).
In this sense, we must understand aerophobia as the mixture of intestinal gases that are expelled through the anus, and that produce both the characteristic sound and smell. They are commonly known as farts, and can also be called flatulence.
The symptoms caused by gases and flatulence tend to be extremely characteristic. In most cases they cause bloating, stomach or intestinal inflammation, stomach and/or abdominal pain, a feeling of heaviness and, on many occasions, painful stitches.
The main causes of gas and flatulence
Eat certain foods
Believe it or not, there are certain foods that cause the appearance of gas, which are characterized by being very rich in complex carbohydrates (especially oligosaccharides such as inulin).
Oligosaccharides are complex carbohydrates that are resistant to digestion, so that they pass into the small intestine practically unchanged. When they reach the large intestine, the bacteria present in it feed on them, producing an abundant amount of gases. It is the same that happens with lactose intolerance, as we will see in a next section.
Among the foods that usually cause gas we can mention the following:
- Foods rich in complex carbohydrates: beans, lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, corn, sweet potatoes and pasta.
- Vegetables: artichokes, cucumbers, radishes, cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, onion, asparagus, green pepper, and turnip greens.
- Fruits: pear, plums, apple and grapes.
- Mushrooms: mushrooms.
- Cereals: oatmeal.
- Nuts: chestnuts and raisins.
- Fruit juices: juices with a high sugar content, such as grape juice.
It is considered one of the most common and usual food intolerances. Lactose is a sugar that we find present in all mammalian milk, commonly known as milk sugar.
When there is lactose intolerance, there is not enough lactase (an enzyme produced in the small intestine) that is not able to break down all the lactose consumed, going to the large intestine partially digested or even undigested, where the bacteria present consume it and break it down, causing lots of gas.
Eat very quickly
Eating too quickly is another common cause of gas. Why? Mainly because when we eat fast we tend to swallow a greater amount of air.
In addition, when we eat this way, we not only overeat large amounts of food, but also do not chew food correctly, which suffers digestion.
Nervousness, stress and anxiety
Anxiety, stress and nerves also cause gas, especially when we eat nervously. Why? Very simple: when we eat with a certain amount of nervous tension, we not only eat quickly and don’t enjoy the food, we also eat poorly and lead to our digestive system not digesting well.
In addition, it is very common for these nerves to accumulate in the pit of the stomach, causing other related symptoms such as pain, heartburn, vomiting and nausea.
Some digestive and intestinal diseases
The truth is that not only our eating habits or, for example, suffering too much stress and anxiety influence the presence of gas in our stomach or in our intestines. Also certain digestive diseases and stomach disorders can greatly influence it.
For example, this is the case of irritable bowel, Cohn’s disease, and diverticulitis or pancreas problems. Likewise, they can arise in the presence of problems with the intestinal flora, either due to the lack of digestive enzymes or the lack of intestinal flora.