When I meet my closest friends for an early morning run, we always have a lot to talk about: how difficult it was to pry ourselves out of bed, funny stories about our kids or still-sleeping significant others, or how many guesses it took us to solve last night’s Wordle.
But sometimes, we’re revved up enough to tackle the world’s biggest problems, like what we can do about gas price gouging.
In case you haven’t noticed, gas prices have reached an all-time high — so if you need to fill your tank, be prepared to sell a kidney. But in our giggly, half-asleep state one sweaty morning, we posed a silly-yet-serious question — would it be possible to fuel our vehicles with the free-flowing gas from our farts?
If you were expecting a more cerebral question, think again — I am, after all, the queen of TMI topics like constipation and post-menopausal body odor. And besides, the idea may be unladylike, but it isn’t that preposterous. Inquisitive people before me have already posed the question to the Internet, like one Quora poster who asked directly: If you bottled all your farts, could you fuel a car?
Spoiler alert: You can, theoretically, if you produce enough methane; practically, this would be more difficult to do. But as life usually goes, one honest question often leads to a bigger rabbit hole, and I found myself Googling another fart-themed query: Why am I so gassy?
The reality is, even when I’m not overdoing it on the Fiber One bars, I feel like I’m more gassy than most. My morning run hasn’t even started until I’ve expelled a series of farts, which are hard to hide from my friends because they’re not-so-silent but deadly.
The good news is, I’m definitely not alone. As evidenced by Google autocomplete, “Why am I so gassy?” is one of the most popular “why-am-I” queries on the Internet, after “Why am I so tired?” and “Why am I so ugly?” (What?!). That’s right, people all over the world are struggling just like me to understand why they’re flatulent.
Flatulence, otherwise known as farting or passing gas, occurs when there’s a buildup of air in the digestive system. As the air builds up more and more, the body tries to get rid of it by burping or farting. The average person passes gas about 13 to 21 times per day, though farting more frequently is not uncommon. Sometimes, excessive gas can cause bloating and abdominal pain that interferes with our daily activities — even, shall I say, knocks the wind out of us.
If, like many frequent farters, you find yourself asking, “Why am I so gassy?,” you’re in luck — we’re here to help you get to the bottom of things. In our quest to find answers to this burning question, we didn’t just turn to Google — we consulted with Sarah Glinski, a registered dietitian who specializes in gastrointestinal disorders and gut health, to help explain this phenomenon. Here, Glinski uncovers the most common reasons you may feel gassy, and how you can fix your flatulence.
Why Am I So Gassy?
1. You’re Eating Too Quickly. “If you’re a fast eater, you may be taking in extra air as you eat,” Glinski explains. “This introduces air into the digestive tract, which can lead to excessive gas.”
The Fix: To avoid taking in excess air, eat more slowly, recommends Glinski. “Try putting your fork down between bites, and finish chewing before taking another bite,” she says.
2. You’re Drinking From A Straw. Plastic straws aren’t just bad for the environment — they also lead to gas and bloating in your body. “Just like eating too quickly can introduce excess air into your digestive tract, so too can drinking with a straw,” Glinski says.
The Fix: Avoid drinking from a straw when possible, especially if you’re prone to excess gas. Sip slowly from the side of a glass instead.
3. You’re Eating Too Much Fiber. While consuming enough fiber is important to maintain a healthy diet, eating too much at once can cause excessive gas. “This is because bacteria in the gut can produce gas as a byproduct of fiber digestion,” explains Glinski. “This is especially true of the fermentable fibers found in foods like beans, onions, cruciferous vegetables and whole wheat products.”
The Fix: Definitely don’t skimp on your fiber, but aim to spread it out evenly throughout the day, Glinski advises. “Most people need between 25 and 38 grams of fiber per day,” she points out.
4. You’re Having Trouble Processing Dairy. “If your body is unable to break down lactose — the sugar found in milk and dairy products — you may experience excessive gas, bloating, and diarrhea,” Glinski notes. Plus, the fat in dairy products can slow digestion and delay the clearance of gas from the intestines.
The Fix: If you’re lactose intolerant, try lactose-free dairy products. “You may also find that you can tolerate small amounts of lactose at one time — for example, half a cup of milk instead of a full cup of milk,” Glinski says.
5. You’re Consuming Too Much Artificial Sweetener. Most diet drinks and sugar-free gums contain sugar alcohols like xylitol and sorbitol, which your body has difficulty absorbing. “While sugar alcohols are safe to consume, consuming more than 10 grams per day can result in digestive side effects like gas, bloating, and diarrhea,” notes Glinski.
The Fix: It may be time to re-evaluate your diet and eliminate some sources of artificial sweetener. If you do continue to consume sugar-free products, keep track of how much sugar alcohol they contain, and aim to limit your intake.
The Best Products For When You’re Gassy
If you’ve tried your best to make these dietary changes, but you’re still casually crop-dusting your friends, that’s okay — there’s an over-the-counter product that can probably fix your flatulence. Glinski recommends these simple supplements to get rid of your nagging gas:
Alpha-galactosidase (Beano or Bean Assist). “This is an enzyme supplement that helps break down the carbohydrate in beans and other vegetables. It works best when taken immediately before a meal,” Glinski says.
Lactase (Lactaid). This enzyme helps break down the lactose found in dairy products, Glinski explains. If you’re lactose intolerant but don’t want to give up milk products, the supplement should reduce your gas problems.
Probiotic (Align Probiotic). Any probiotic can help regulate your gut health, but Align is particularly effective for flatulence, Glinski says. “Studies have shown that the beneficial bacteria in Align probiotics can relieve gas and bloating in people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome,” she notes.
Still stinky? Don’t sweat it — we’ve all fallen victim to fart attacks. Though flatulence can be uncomfortable and embarrassing, it’s usually not a cause for concern; it’s most often a sign of a functioning digestive system.
However, don’t hesitate to see your doctor if your gas is persistent or severe or if it’s accompanied by vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, unintentional weight loss, heartburn, or blood in the stool.
Have you ever wondered, “Why am I so gassy?” How do you fix your flatulence? Tell us in the comments!
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