You’ve likely heard beans referred to as the “magical fruit” and know exactly what that means. While most of us don’t consider the consequences of consuming too many legumes all that magical, we all know that the “music” is a fact of life: every body toots.
If you’ve ever suffered from excess flatulence or bloating (and you likely have – everyone does), you know it can be extremely uncomfortable, unpleasant and embarrassing. While gas tends to strike in the worst situations (stress is a trigger, after all), there are a few things you can do to make sure you don’t sound your horn at the wrong time.
Gas and Bloat: Are they the Same?
Before we talk about how to stop toots in their tracks, it’s important to make the distinction between gas and bloat.
Gas is just what you think it is – extra air trapped in your body. We swallow air every time we eat, drink and chew gum. Daily movements (especially regular exercise) help move gas through your system and ward off build up. Belching and yes, even flatulence, are natural ways your body copes with excess gas.
Bloating is a symptom of excess gas and is typically defined by the feeling of tightness swelling in the abdomen. Stomach pains and constipation can accompany bloating, but generally it’s just really uncomfortable. Gas can occur without bloat, but bloat is almost always accompanied by gas.
What Causes Gas
Abdominal discomfort, whether bloating or gas, can be caused by a number of things, but is typically related to eating. Not just what you eat, but how much and how fast. Foods like beans, broccoli (cruciferous vegetables in general), whole grains, apples, potatoes, pasta and artificial sweeteners are common culprits and don’t need any help leading you into gastric distress. Dining habits, such as eating too quickly, failing to chew completely, talking while eating or eating while standing can lead to gas as well. If you suffer from gas, first examine how you eat and then adjust what you eat.
Gas Attack: What to Eat to Avoid Bloat
Just as there are a wide variety of foods that are known to cause gas, there are just as many that are used to relieve gas. The biggest players are:
Peppermint – in the form of tea or chewed leaves, peppermint is especially effective at relaxing stomach muscles and easing spasms.
Ginger – ginger is great at calming a troubled tummy (which generally leads to gas). Whether chewed or steeped in tea, it’s as warming as it is comforting.
Kefir – though dairy/lactose intolerance is a known cause of gas, kefir is 99 percent lactose-free and supports a healthy digestive system. Start with any of our delicious kefir flavors, or add kefir to your favorite (gas-friendly) fruit smoothie.
Cinnamon – cinnamon helps digest excess fats in foods. Fats are hard to digest in general and can lead to gas. Add a sprinkle of cinnamon to your morning tea, over oatmeal or in a kefir smoothie for added health benefits.
Honey – known for its antifungal and antibacterial properties, honey also helps improve your digestion (especially when paired with cinnamon or ginger). It’s delicious in tea or a kefir smoothie (noticing a trend) or in a spoon on its own.
Ripe Bananas – foods high in potassium, such as bananas, help combat gas caused by salty foods. Be sure to use ripe bananas, as unripe bananas have mixed reviews on the cause/cures gas list. Test this out for yourself. We love our superfood banana kefir smoothie bowl and know you will, too.
Fennel Seeds – fennel seeds are often chewed after meals in India, both to freshen breath and to stimulate the digestive system.
When to Head to a Doctor
If you find yourself suffering from gas or bloating for long periods of time, or nothing is providing relief, it might be time to heat to a doctor for a check-up. Other symptoms to look out for include:
- severe abdominal cramps
- abdominal pain
- constipation or diarrhea
If you experience any of these symptoms, or are concerned with the state of your stomach, don’t hesitate to reach out to your doctor. Better safe than sorry!