Or, what gas?! We all know passing gas is normal and averages about 1 liter/day for adults (insert your own age and gender joke here). We won’t address how the volume and composition is measured (and I certainly won’t mention that velocity has also been investigated).
Diet has the biggest influence on the amount of gas we pass and its odor. When dietary fiber travels through the gastrointestinal tract, it arrives in the colon essentially unchanged. The fiber then gets worked over by the bacteria residing in the colon giving off gas as a by-product. Beans and foods in the cabbage family are notorious gas producers and two health foods! Sometimes, it’s the volume of these foods that gets things rolling.
Certain spices like cumin and coriander may also increase gas production. Milk, only if you are lactose intolerant, will produce gas. Two other items that can increase gas output are sugar alcohols and inulin.
Sugar alcohols are sugar substitutes frequently found in “sugar free” gums and candies. Xylitol and sorbitol are two examples you might see on a label. In small amounts, they tend not to be problematic unless you are already prone to GI upset.
I noticed inulin among the ingredients on a fudgsicle label when I questioned why a fudgsicle was bragging about its fiber content. Chicory root is what’s commonly thought of as an inulin fiber source, but many plants contain inulin. Again, in a small amount, its effects might not be noticeable, but if many foods you’re eating throughout the day have added inulin, there might be an unpleasant surprise to you and your close friends.
Speaking of…fiber is our friend – an important component of our diet but go slowly to be well,