Saturday, September 19, 2009

Surprising Causes of Gas

Surprising foods that cause gas.

Along with being a potassium powerhouse, they also contain gas-inducing fructose and soluble fiber.

They may be a popular choice during cold and flu season since just one contains a full day's supply of vitamin C, but when bacteria in the intestine break down the fructose and soluble fiber in them, gas is released.

Talk about prickly -- pears are loaded with sorbitol, a sugar found naturally in some fruits (including prunes) that can ferment in the intestine and cause gas

Green Peppers
Raffinose, the carbohydrate in green peppers, gives gas a green light. Skip them on pizza and fajitas to help curb gassy symptoms like abdominal pain and bloating, belching and flatus.

Along with cabbage and brussels sprouts, potatoes contain raffinose, a carbohydrate that can be difficult for the intestine to break down. Sweet potatoes are high in fructose, which can also contribute to intestinal gas.

It's not just beer (especially the darkest brews) that can leave you feeling bloated: Wine contains fructose, a sugar naturally found in grapes, that can cause gas as your intestines tries to digest it.

Fruit Juice
Many fruit juices (chiefly apple, cherry, peach and pear) contain sorbitol, a nondigestible form of sugar, and some contain carbonation, both of which can lead to gas or bloating.

Many hard candies contain sorbitol, a sugar commonly added to improve softness, taste and texture. It's also a natural laxative.

Artificial Sweeteners
Sugar substitutes may have fewer calories, but many contain sorbitol, which has been found to cause intestinal problems and contribute to gas.

Beans and dairy are the obvious suspects when it comes to foods that give you gas. But many other healthy foods can leave you feeling bloated and gassy, too.

The trick is finding which particular ones are problems for you, says Carla H. Ginsburg, M.D., assistant clinical professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, gastroenterologist at Newton-Wellesley Hospital in Newton, MA, and spokesperson for the American Gastroenterological Association. “After you’ve identified the particular food, try to limit the amount you consume or avoid it if you can,” she says.

Diet is the major culprit when it comes to intestinal gas -- when foods containing soluble fiber and/or certain sugars such as lactose, fructose, sorbitol or raffinose reach the intestine, bacteria there breaks down those substances and gas is released, says Ginsburg.

In addition to altering what you eat, you can also reduce gas by chewing foods slowly, eating smaller meals, taking a walk -- rather than a nap -- after eating, steering clear of chewing gum, avoiding talking while eating, and skipping chocolate or mints, which can relax the lower esophageal sphincter and contribute to belching, says Ginsburg. For excessive flatulence, try an over the counter treatment formulated to aid in digesting food (sugar) and help break up gas bubbles.

Finally, if you’re not able to alleviate your symptoms by changing your diet or taking an over-the-counter medication, or if you feel excessive gas is interfering with your normal lifestyle, seek medical advice. Persistent pelvic bloating or an uncomfortable lower abdominal sensation could be a sign of ovarian cancer, says Ginsberg. Continuous symptoms could also be a sign of lactose intolerance, infection, delayed gastric emptying, irritable bowel syndrome, constipation or other conditions. “While none of these [latter] conditions are life threatening, they can be treated,” she says.

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