“I blame my most embarrassing moments on IBS,” confessed an IBS Life reader. “I’ve released gas in a crowded airplane, in an elevator full of people, during intimate moments with a date, and while in a crowded yoga class.” As anyone with IBS knows, flatulence, or the act of releasing gas, is a common and embarrassing occurrence.
While the average individual can release gas about 15 times a day, people with IBS report flatulence occurring at least 30 times day.
Excessive flatulence is often a sign that the body is reacting strongly to certain foods. Bacteria in the digestive tract may have become imbalanced, leading to the odorous excretion. Experts from Monash University, the pioneers of the FODMAP diet, also emphasize that foods in the high FODMAP category can trigger excessive production of gas.
Since excessive flatulence is a common ailment for people with IBS, finding simple techniques that reduce the amount of gas released is high on our readers’ minds. Researchers at the Tehran University of Medical Sciences in Iran published a study in 2016 highlighting the potential of using traditional systems of medicine for easing flatulence.
Traditional Persian medicine is one of the richest branches of complementary medicine with deep roots in history, dating back thousands of years. It became the main paradigm of medicine in the east and west during the 9th and 12th century AD. Today, complementary medicine is being integrated with modern medicine to deliver a more holistic approach to health.
Researchers from Tehran suggested that studying the history of complementary medicine for flatulence may lead to the discovery of new treatment approaches. Some of the points they mention seem practical, but may have been forgotten in modern times. For example, the act of chewing foods slowly is advice that is often dismissed. With today’s eat-and-run mentality, many people tend to only partially chew their food before swallowing. Partial chewing doesn’t prepare the foods properly for digestion.
When partially digested foods reach the colon, bacteria convert them into carbon dioxide, methane, and hydrogen gasses. Pockets of gas build up in the colon, which contribute to bloating and pain. When they’re released, vibrations from the rectum lead to the sound you and people around you may hear. The more gas trapped in the colon, the louder the flatulence will sound.
Other complementary medicine suggestions for reducing flatulence include the following:
Cut out fatty and fried foods. Foods high in fat tend to get digested slower. The more time they spend in the stomach, the more likely they will lead to bloating, cramping, stomach pains, and diarrhea.
Add soothing herbs to daily diet. Some herbs have ingredients that can reduce gas production. For example, dill, ginger, parsley, spearmint, and cumin have been used for thousands of years to ease gas and the pain that accompanies it.
Drink hot water 30 minutes before breakfast. Studies in complementary medicine indicate that this simple act can prepare the digestive system for what’s to come.
Exercise regularly. Physical activity stimulates the natural contraction of intestinal muscles, which helps move stool and gas through the intestinal track more naturally.
Foods that Trigger Extra Gas
High-fiber foods can increase gas production. However, they also help with constipation for people with IBS-C. Instead of removing all high-fiber foods from the diet, it’s best to eat these in moderation with the guidance of a nutritionist/dietitian. Common food culprits that lead to flatulence include:
Cucumbers, raw beets, turnips, and squash
Peaches, plums, and oranges
Broccoli, cabbage, and brussels sprouts
Lactose in dairy products