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What Causes Gas?
Gas has two main causes: 1. swallowing air while eating or drinking and 2. the breakdown of fiber in the small intestine, which creates hydrogen and carbon dioxide that is then converted to methane and sulfur by other bacteria in the large intestine.
How Much Gas Is Normal?
Passing gas 15 to 20 times a day is a normal part of the digestive process but, in excess, could be a symptom of another condition like celiac disease, gastroparesis or irritable bowel syndrome.
For everyday gas, and the kind that results from adding more healthy foods to your diet, there are several simple steps you can take to help prevent it.
1. Eat and drink slowly. Chew your food thoroughly and don't gulp down drinks or soups quickly. Limit talking while chewing your food and try to chew with your mouth closed. All of these things will help prevent you from ingesting excess air.
2. Skip the straw. Drinking through a straw causes you to swallow air, which can lead to gas.
3. Avoid chewing gum and hard candy. Chewing on gum and sucking on hard candy can force air into your stomach.
4. Skip the carbonated beverages. There are plenty of good reasons to limit soda intake, and gas prevention is just another one. The carbon dioxide that makes soda fun to drink also forces excess air into your stomach.
5. Make sure your dentures fit well. If you have loose-fitting dentures, they might cause you to swallow excess saliva that carries air bubbles to the stomach.
6. Quit smoking. Sucking in smoke doesn't just bring air and smoke into your lungs--it also sends air into your stomach.
7. Exercise. Moderate exercise, like a walk around the block after dinner, helps gas move through your digestive system more quickly, rather than building up and causing pain.
8. Limit your intake of sugar alcohols. These particular sweeteners that often end in "-ol" (sorbitol, mannitol, etc.) and sweeten sugar-free candies, treats and gums cannot be digested and can lead to gas and even diarrhea if consumed in excess. Read labels carefully to determine which kinds of sweeteners are used in the foods you eat.