Gas is probably one of the most embarrassing IBS symptoms, and it can be difficult to talk about. Fortunately, gas tends to be one of the easier IBS symptoms to reduce and control, and results can usually be seen very quickly.
Gas - What Usually Causes It?
Gas is actually a perfectly normal result of human gut function, and it has two sources: gas in the GI tract can come from swallowed air or from the normal digestion of certain foods. People with IBS can also (but don't always) produce more gas than a normal person.
However, they are prone to trapped gas due to mistimed contractions of the smooth muscles of their GI tracts (this can also cause bloating), and they have guts that are hypersensitive to normal amounts of gas, causing abdominal pain or discomfort. So, reducing gas production is important, but so is finding ways to help your body deal with the abnormal IBS response to normal amounts of gas. There are several different avenues to success here, and if you really want to tackle the problem aggressively you can combine all of them.
In a nutshell, gas from swallowed air can be prevented by: eating and drinking at a leisurely pace instead of rapidly; avoiding carbonated beverages and chewing gum; not smoking.
Important but Uncommon Causes of Gas
* Ascites (excess fluid in the peritoneal cavity, typically caused by liver disease)
* Tumors in the abdominal cavity
* Ovarian cancer
Gas from foods stems from the body's inability to digest certain complex sugars, starches, and fibers in carbohydrates because of a shortage or absence of the needed digestive enzymes. These undigested foods pass into the colon, where the body's normal gut bacteria breaks down the food, producing hydrogen, carbon dioxide, and, in some people, methane. Eventually, these gases have to exit the body. Beano, an over the counter product, contains the enzyme that the body needs to digest the gas-producing elements in carbohydrates. So, Beano can help prevent gas from these foods, and it is perfectly safe for IBS.
There is growing evidence that some people with IBS may be more prone to produce gas (or excess gas) from foods that do not cause gas, or only cause minimal gas, in people without IBS. This is thought to be due to a disruption of the normal balance of bacteria in the gut.
The bacterial system in the human colon is incredibly complex, with more than 400 different species of microbes. Acacia provides fuel for microbial fermentation. Interestingly, fermentation is an action that many people think of as causing an increase in gas. However, it is foods that rapidly ferment in the gut that can cause high gas production. Foods such as Acacia ferment slowly, and this fermentation promotes growth of the gut's beneficial lactic acid bacteria (such as bifidobacteria and lactobacilli). This in turn helps actively reduce gas and bloating, which is exactly the goal you're trying to reach. In addition, the fermentation of Acacia leads to short chain fatty acid production, which lowers the ph balance of the gut, allowing beneficial conditions for lactic acid bacteria to thrive. The greater short chain fatty acid production may also reduce inflammation of the gut and colorectal cancer risk, two nice bonuses.
It's important to distinguish between rapidly fermented prebiotics such as FOS (which can cause a sudden release of gas, bloating, and subsequent abdominal pain) and slowly fermented prebiotcs such as Acacia. Slow fermentation of Acacia results in a much lower and slower gas production.
Reducing gas production in the first place is an important step to take. But, since it's impossible to completely prevent all gas (especially if you're eating a healthy diet with fresh fruits, vegetables, grains, and beans), it's also really helpful to try and alleviate the side effects of gas. As with other IBS symptom management, a multiple-step approach is almost always more effective than just trying one single thing.
Tummy Tamers, enteric coated peppermint oil capsules with fennel and ginger oils, are a medical food for the dietary management of IBS, and as part of the diet have been clinically proven to help IBS symptoms such as gas. Menthol and methyl salicylate, the main active ingredients of peppermint, have calming effects on the intestinal tract. Fennel helps regulate contractions of the small intestine and aids gas expulsion. Fennel also relaxes the gut, which can relieve spasms of the GI tract, and it is exceptionally beneficial for gas and bloating. Ginger contains powerful digestive enzymes. Using these three oils combined synergistically can be a great multi-pronged way to help get rid of gas and also address the pain and bloating gas can cause.
Finally, specific yoga poses can help alleviate trapped gas and the abdominal pain it can trigger. Yoga can also help relieve gas in association with bloating. Regular yoga practice may actually help regulate your gut's function and normalize global IBS symptoms by heading off problems proactively, so if you've been considering this approach please give it a shot.