Everyone experiences intestinal gas to some degree, which they then expel. However, some people experience discomfort from collections of gas in the intestinal tract that cause unpleasant symptoms of bloating, pain, belching and flatulence. It is possible to ease intestinal gas discomfort by reducing your intake of gas-forming foods, according to The American College of Gastroenterology.
Legumes and Cruciferous Vegetables
Gas-forming foods are the main cause of intestinal gas, especially cruciferous vegetables and legumes. Cruciferous vegetables, which include broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower, contain a complex carbohydrate called raffinose. According to Dr. Lucinda A. Harris, a contributor to HealthU.com, raffinose is a direct cause of intestinal gas. She recommends eating nutrient-rich cruciferous vegetables as part of a healthy diet, but only in small portions, and only two or three times per week, to avoid intestinal gas. Raffinose and another complex carbohydrate called stachyose also cause the flatulence associated with beans and other legumes. Alpha-galactosidase enzyme supplements can help digest these compounds.
Soluble fiber is good for digestion, but can produce gas and intestinal discomfort when consumed in larger amounts. Digestion of soluble fiber only begins when it reaches the large intestine, where digestion causes gas, according to Dr. Joseph Maslar, a contributor to eMedicineHealth.com. Foods that are high in soluble fiber include oats, barley, peas, beans and lentils; most fruits, especially apples, plums and citrus; and vegetables such as carrots, broccoli and potatoes. Nutrition experts at the Mayo Clinic recommend eating foods containing soluble fiber, as they are beneficial to general health. However, to avoid intestinal gas, they advise a gradual introduction of fiber to your diet, as this allows the natural bacteria in your digestive system to adjust to the change.
Our bodies use an enzyme called lactase to digest lactose, a simple carbohydrate found in dairy products such as milk, ice cream and cheese. Some people are deficient in this enzyme. As a result of lactase deficiency in the small intestine, undigested lactose enters the large intestine, where bacteria break it down in a process that causes intestinal gas. Read food labels carefully to avoid gas-forming foods that contain lactose and the ingredients casein and whey, which also contain milk sugars. Lactase enzyme supplements are helpful for many people.