Gas enters our digestive system in several ways. For instance, air can be swallowed while eating. Other gases are naturally produced by gut bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract. When such gases become excessive, you are likely to feel symptoms such as:
- Feeling overly full and bloated on a regular basis
- Continual gas pains
- Frequent, extended bouts of burping, belching, and flatulence
To get rid of gas and relieve these symptoms, it is important to determine the specific cause of the excessive gas and address that issue. The answer is not to reach for an antacid or some other prescription or over-the-counter solution.
What Can Cause Excess Gas?
We've been brainwashed the last several decades into thinking that the digestive acids produced by the stomach are the root of all digestive problems. Consequently, acid blockers are commonly prescribed as the quick fix for all forms of indigestion, making them one of the best-selling OTC categories in history.
But acid-blocking drugs, some of which claim to stop the secretion of stomach acid for up to 12 hours, are most likely contributing to the excessive gas and stomach bloat millions of people deal with on an ongoing basis.
To avoid the uncomfortable and often embarrassing symptoms of excessive gas and stomach bloat, it is important to identify what can cause excess gas in the first place. Here are four common factors that can contribute to stomach bloat and excessive gas problems:
Incomplete Protein Digestion
Excessive intestinal gas is most often due to inadequate protein digestion. Protein requires a lot of stomach acid to be broken down properly. If your intestinal tract is too alkaline, protein won’t be broken down completely. It will then ferment and putrefy, causing stomach bloat and excessive gas after eating, fullness, heartburn, and sometimes vomiting.
Inability to Break Down Sugars
Another main reason particular foods cause intestinal gas is your body’s inability to digest certain complex sugar compounds. (Humans don’t produce the alpha glactosidase enzymes necessary to digest the complex sugars called oligosaccharides.) When these undigested compounds reach the intestines, they begin to ferment and release gas.
Gut Bacteria Imbalance
Every day, there is a constant battle going on in your bowels as healthy and unhealthy bacteria compete to establish dominance. Your gastrointestinal tract is vulnerable to a massive number of undesirable bacteria that can enter your body through food and water. And if these bacteria are left to multiply unchecked, they can create a bacterial imbalance that can lead to belching, stomach bloat, and excessive gas.
Your gallbladder is like a small sack that stores and regulates bile. Bile is a fluid made in the liver that is essential to the digestion of fat. As fat from your food passes into the small intestine, the gallbladder dumps in the proper amount of bile to aid in fat digestion. But if the gallbladder becomes clogged with stones or the bile becomes thick and sluggish, you may experience extremely uncomfortable bloating 5 to 20 minutes after eating, along with other symptoms of a bad gallbladder.
Natural Gas Relief Remedies
Whether you've just started experiencing a gas problem or you've been dealing with excessive gas and stomach bloat for years, it’s time to put an end to the uncomfortable—and often embarrassing—symptoms. Following are the natural gas relief remedies I recommend.
Here are three easy ways to help ensure proper protein digestion:
- Eat protein foods at the beginning of a meal. Unlike Europeans, Americans eat salad before a meal. You should always eat salads along with or after protein foods, but never before. The carbohydrates in salads require no hydrochloric acid, but the stomach dumps all the hydrochloric acid in to begin with. Then, when the protein food (meat, fish, beans, cheese, etc.) needs acid, there is none left.
- Take some hydrochloric acid if changing the order of your meal isn’t enough to stop your excessive gas. I always recommend betaine hydrochloride, which you can get at health food stores. Take one or two tablets after you eat, not before or during your meal. You want your stomach to produce and secrete as much acid as it can before adding the extra acid.
- Digestive enzymes. In addition to hydrochloric acid, there are dozens of digestive enzymes on the market that can help re-acidify your intestinal tract and improve your overall digestive capabilities, while helping rid you of excessive gas. A good product will include enzymes to help you digest the three main types of nutrients: proteases (for proteins), lipases (for fats), and amylases (for carbohydrates).
Beano contains an enzyme that helps break down complex sugars before they reach the intestines and perform their unsociable deeds. By adding a few drops of Beano to your first bite of food, you can help prevent gas formation.
The enzyme in Beano is taken from the food grade mold Aspergillus niger. This may cause an allergic reaction in some individuals, especially those sensitive to molds (or mold derived products like penicillin). People who have the hereditary condition called galactosemia (the inability to convert galactose to glucose) should also avoid Beano.
Restore and Balance Your Gut Bacteria
If you want to stop your excessive gas and stomach bloat—as well as achieve optimal health—it's imperative to have a robust and healthy colonization of "good" probiotic bacteria in your gut. And a great, all-natural way to help grow friendly intestinal bacteria is to include more cultured and fermented foods in your diet.
Naturally fermented, "live" foods have been around since the beginning of humankind. Fermented vegetables, fermented milk products (clabber, yogurt, cheese, buttermilk), kefir, fermented soy products (natto, miso, tempeh, soy sauce, fermented tofu), and even naturally fermented, unpasteurized beers are some of the most complete probiotics available. My favorite fermented food (besides unpasteurized beer, of course) is homemade sauerkraut. I keep a fresh batch going almost constantly, and some already made in the fridge at all times. It provides one of the widest varieties of probiotic bacteria that are known to protect against all kinds of digestive problems including excessive gas and stomach bloat.
During those times when you're not home or don't have access to homemade sauerkraut or other fermented foods, I recommend taking a quality probiotic supplement.