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All Gassed Up

How To Reduce Your Flatulence

Farts or flatulence, also known as passing gas, are highly entertaining to children and highly embarrassing for everyone else. Passing gas in public is unpleasant, awkward and embarrassing. Gas is a normal function of the body. Adults on average pass gas 15-20 times per day.  For those with digestion or intestinal issues the number (and embarrassment) can be significantly higher.


Gas can be found throughout your digestive tract, including your stomach, small intestine, colon, and rectum. The buildup of gas in the upper intestinal tract is a byproduct of our dietary and lifestyle habits. Often when eating we swallow air (especially when eating fast, drinking fast, gulping or talking while eating). Overeating, drinking carbonated or alcoholic beverages, smoking or chewing gum all contribute to gas buildup. Excess lower intestinal gas can be caused by eating too much of specific foods (beans, broccoli, fermented foods, etc.), carbohydrates that are not fully digested, an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine or a change in your gut microflora.


Conditions such as type 2 diabetes, celiac disease, liver disease, and inflammatory bowel disease can increase the number of bacteria in the small intestine. Changes in your diet and other factors (stress, genetics, conditions such as Crohn’s, obesity, and geography etc.) can modulate the composition and metabolic activity of your gut microflora. Production of gases such as methane, hydrogen, hydrogen sulfide and carbon dioxide are associated with digestion and fermentation within the GI tract. The production of small amounts of sulfur (natural to digestion) is responsible for the foul smell of flatulence.


Now that we have digested the background information we can explore what we can we do to reduce the problem (and odour).


Common culprits known for producing gas:

  • Beans and lentils are rich in polysaccharides which are easily fermented by bacteria once they enter your gut.

    • Presoaking reduces the gas-producing potential of beans if you discard the soaking water and cook using fresh water.

  • Cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, kale, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts cause more gas than other vegetables because of their fibre content, types of carbohydrates and sulfur.

    • They cause greater gas production when eaten raw vs cooked.

  • Dairy products (contain high concentrations of lactose which can be tough to break down). 

  • Food high in fibre such as whole grains and bran.

    • Can increase intestinal gas due to the fibre fermenting in your digestive system. Add them to your diet gradually so your body can get used to them.

  • Fructose is a sugar abundant in most fruits (apples, pears, mangoes etc.), vegetables (onions, garlic, asparagus etc.), and sweets (corn syrup, maple syrup, jams, jellies, etc.).

    • For some people fructose is not able to be absorbed in the small intestine. In the colon it is fermented by bacteria causing the release of hydrogen and methane gases, which cause pain, bloating, flatulence, and diarrhea.

  • Sugar-free foods such as candies, gum, sweeteners are often made with the sugar-alcohols sorbitol, mannitol and xylitol that can cause discomfort and gas.

    • These sugars are not digested in the small intestine and become fermented in the large intestine.

  • Carbonated beverages such as pop, sparkling water or beer.


The acronym FODMAPs was created for people with IBS to describe poorly absorbed, short-chain carbohydrates that can lead to excessive fluid and gas accumulation, resulting in bloating, abdominal pain, and distention. The following site offers more information (http://fodmapliving.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Stanford-University-Low-FODMAP-Diet-Handout.pdf)


You can reduce intestinal gas by:

  • Eliminating some of the foods that are triggering your gas production. Remember to write which foods cause you discomfort.

  • Activated Charcoal absorbs gas in the digestive system helping reduce digestive disturbances, bloating and flatulence.

  • Take digestive enzymes, for example lactase, or a mixture of digestive enzymes (amylase, protease, lipase, cellulase, and lactase) to help you better digest foods that would normally make you gassy.

  • Beano (the enzyme α-GAL). This enzyme helps your body digest complex sugars found in foods such as legumes and cruciferous vegetables making them easier for your body to digest.

  • Adding a squeeze of lemon or lime to your water, instead of sugary fruit juice, flavorings, or artificial sweeteners.

  • Sip some herbal tea after a meal. Mint, chamomile or ginger tea can help digestion.

  • The power of Probiotics…they mainly work by stimulating the intestinal immune system and by displacing harmful bacteria that can potentially cause disease and digestive issues.

  • Try soluble fibre. It can slow digestion enabling foods to be more fully broken down. It also slows the rate at which carbohydrates and other nutrients are absorbed into the bloodstream.

  • Add some Chlorophyll with mint and activated charcoal such as Pure-le Natural Liquid Greens to your water; it will help keep you hydrated but also help with digestion and body odor.


The next time you want to indulge in big festive meals, remind yourself that your gut microbes will be working overtime breaking down the overload of rich food, alcohol. It will be stressed, working hard breaking down your meal. Here’s where training your system by gradually adding fibre and fibre-rich foods pays off. With high fibre, your system will work better and you will feel better. Without, starved of the high-fibre foods that they need to properly work, your system will be going full tilt.


We are all human and all of us will indulge from time to time. This will result in excess digestive gas. This gas will escape sooner or later, no matter if we try to hold it in. There are only two exits available (either you will belch or fart);  you can only postpone the inevitable for so long.


Joel Thuna, MH, is a master herbalist with over 30 years of experience. Dr. Claude Gallant holds a PhD in Microbiology.