Why am I so gassy?

By Laura Greaney, MSN, Nutritionist

Passing gas is a part of normal day life and everyone does it. However, sometimes after bariatric surgery people begin to recognize it more. It may be louder, smellier or more frequent but patients say they notice it more. This often leads to people feeling embarrassed in social settings or increasing anxiety. Gas can also cause physical discomfort. There are a few reasons as to why you may feel like your gas is increasing. Burping (borborygmus), bloating and passing(flatulence) is normally caused by swallowing air or the breakdown of foods in your digestive tract. This article will help bring light to some possible reasons gas increases and what you can do to limit it.

There is a variety of reasons that may cause an increase in gas after surgery. One important thing to remember is that your stomach is drastically smaller than it was before surgery and your new stomach is right underneath your esophagus. This doesn’t leave a lot of room for your air bubbles to wander around. Therefore, anything that involves swallowing more air will likely affect you more. These things would include drinking out of a straw, chewing gum or sucking on sugar free candy. Furthermore, eating slow is extremely important for safety reasons with bariatric surgery but eating and drinking too fast and talking while you eat can also increase the air you swallow. When people eat quickly, they usually eat too much. Overeating can speed up your bowel motility. Once food reaches the colon, undigested bacteria in your colon have more fuel to form gas. Reflux is another factor that can increase gas issues. When stomach acid backs up in your esophagus people have a tendency to swallow frequently to get rid of the material, which can lead to more gas back up. Sometimes it’s the breakdown of food that can also cause gas. Carbohydrates often lead to gas as well as some high dietary fiber foods such as, beans, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce and onions. This intestinal gas is usually produced by the fermentation of the undigested dietary fiber.

Now that we have listed some reasons why gas may form, what can you do to help minimize it. For starters, avoid foods that affect you. Some people will be gassy with green vegetables, others with lactose. Whatever it may be, if you feel something causes you to be bloated try to avoid it. Limit your fat intake. According to the mayo clinic “fat slows digestion, giving food more time to ferment.” Also, try to limit eating when you are stressed. Stress often causes your body to tense up, which does not allow your intestines to break down properly. Finally, get moving. Walking after meals helps with your overall digestion.

Gas is a part of life that everyone deals with. Bariatric patients may recognize it a little more due to drastic changes in their diet and their eating techniques. Do your best to follow the rules such as eating and drinking slow, avoiding fatty foods, do not drink out of straws or have carbonated beverages. If you try your best to follow the rules, your gas issues will greatly decrease.

References:
“Pull My Finger- A Mostly Polite Look at Intestinal Gas for Post Weight-loss Surgery Patients” By Walter Medlin MD, FACS in Obesity Action Coalition

“Gas and Gas Pains- Bloating, Belching and Intestinal Gas: How to avoid them” by Mayo Clinic Staff under diseases and conditions

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