All humans have gas in their gastrointestinal tract. The type of food, and beverages consumed and whether the individual smokes or chews gum will have a significant impact on the amount of gas produced and passed. Carbonated beverages will increase intestinal gas. Eating a healthy diet of fruits, vegetables and high fiber grains increases intestinal gas formation.
Dependent upon how it is measured, the gas in the intestinal tract varies from 3 to 6 ounces. The average adult produces 16 to 48 ounces of intestinal gas resulting in about 14 to 23 gas passages/day.
- Complex Carbohydrates: The human intestinal tract can’t digest some of the complex carbohydrates in vegetables, fruits and whole grain products. These carbohydrates pass through the small intestines into the colon where they are fermented by gas producing bacteria. Hydrogen, carbon dioxide and methane are the main gases produced. Depending on the diet and the intestinal microflora, the amount of gas produced and expelled will vary from individual to individual. The strong odor sometimes associated with intestinal gas is due to the very small production of sulfide gases which is dependent on diet and intestinal bacteria.
- Lactose is a sugar in dairy products which must be broken down to a simpler form to be absorbed by the intestines. Thirty to 50 million Americans develop lactose intolerance beginning after the age of 2. It is a common problem in the Asian, African American, American Indian, Hispanic, and Eastern European Jewish populations. Undigested lactose prevents fluid absorption and the sugar is fermented by the bacteria in the colon which results in increased intestinal gas and at times, diarrhea. The main form of therapy is to avoid lactose containing foods.
- Fructose: Another dietary sugar that can cause excessive gas, bloating and loose stools is fructose. Fruits that are high in fructose include apples, apricots, pears, cherries, plums, prunes and peaches (as well as their juices). It is also a used as sweetener in soft drinks and other products. The small intestine has a limited ability to absorb dietary fructose. If it is exceeded, fructose will be fermented in the colon leading to excess gas formation.
- Sorbitol is found naturally in fruits, including apples, pears, peaches, and prunes. It is also used as an artificial sweetener in many dietetic foods and sugar free candies and gums. Sorbitol is not well absorbed by the small intestines. Excess intake will also lead to bloating, gas, and diarrhea.
Studies have found that some individuals with symptoms of bloating and distention may be more sensitive to the amount of gas and fluid in the intestines. Some may have slow intestinal motility leading more fluid and gas in the intestines.
Having the right balance of bacteria in the intestines can be important to lessen the symptoms of bloating, distention and gas.
Probiotics, containing bacterial strains similar to those in Endomune have been studied and utilized to help lessen these symptoms. There have been positive results in many of the studies. There are no effective prescription medications to alleviate excess gas formation. One of the nice aspects of probiotics is the fact that they are safe and without significant side effects. Given the positive studies, taking Endomune may improve the digestion and absorption of the complex and simple carbohydrates.