food for everybody.”
In theory, these recipes would be helpful for some people — and those
in their vicinity. But being a bit gassy may actually be a small price
to pay for a lot of benefits to our health. (Try telling that to
others in the elevator.)
This article was taken in large part from the NPR website.
We know that “air” often comes after eating nutrient-packed
vegetables, such as cabbage, kale and broccoli. And researchers have
found that fiber-rich foods, like beans and lentils, boost the levels
of beneficial gut bacteria after only a few days, as was reported in
December 2013. So all this got us wondering: Could passing gas, in
some instances, be a sign that our gut microbes are busy keeping us
Absolutely, says Parna Kashyap. a gastroenterologist at the Mayo
Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
“Eating foods that cause gas is the only way for the microbes in the
gut to get nutrients,” he says. “If we didn’t feed them carbohydrates,
it would be harder for them to live in our gut.
“And we need to keep these colon-dwelling critters content,” Kashyap
says. “When they gobble up food — and create gas — they also make
molecules that boost the immune system, protect the lining of the
intestine and prevent infections.” (A gassy colon is a happy colon!)
“A healthy individual can have up to 18 flatulences ( but what about
that 19th one?) per day and be perfectly normal,” he adds.
Gas gets into the digestive tract primarily through two routes.
Swallowing air (which we all do when we eat and chew gum) and your
microbiome. That’s the collection of organisms in the GI tract that
scientists and doctors are currently all fired up about. (Check out
Rob Stein’s recent series on it.)
That microbiome includes hundreds of different bacteria. But there are
also organisms from another kingdom shacking up with them: the
archaea. All these microbes are gas-making fools. They eat up unused
food in your large intestine, like fiber and other carbohydrates we
don’t digest, and churn out a bunch of gases as waste.
But that’s not all they make (now for the rest of the story!). They
also produce a slew of molecules (called short chain fatty acids) that
may promote the growth of other beneficial bacteria and archaea. And
the more fiber you feed these friendly inhabitants, the more types of
species appear, studies have found. This bump in microbial diversity
has been linked to a slimmer waistline.
“Undigested carbohydrates allow the whole ecosystem to thrive and
flourish,” Kashyap says.
Most gas made by the microbiome is odorless. (Not in my house!) It’s
simply carbon dioxide, hydrogen or methane. But sometimes a little
sulfur slips in there. “That’s when it gets smelly,” Kashyap says. But
here’s the hitch: Many of the smelly sulfur compounds in vegetables
have healthful properties.
Take for instance, the broccoli, mustard and cabbage family. These
Brassica vegetables are packed with a sulfur compound, called
sulforaphane, that is strongly associated with a reduced risk of
cancer. Another possible benefit of a little smelly gas? It may reduce
the total volume of air in the gut, Kashyap says.
Why? Because bacteria and archaea make the sulfur gas from other gases
in the gut, like hydrogen. “Bacteria that make sulfide gas are really
important,” Kashyap says. “They can cause smelliness, but they can
reduce the total amount of gas flow.”
Of course, having too much of anything can be bad. If gas and bloating
start interfering with your quality of life, Kashayps recommends
seeing a doctor. But don’t immediately blame your diet, Kashyap says.
In many cases, people who complain about too much gas actually don’t
generate more than others, he says. Instead, they perceive the passing
more intensely. Or they pass it more often.
“Yes, a more fiber-rich diet will produce more gas,” Kashyap adds.
“But completely eliminating fiber from the diet should not be the
first option. You don’t want to starve your microbes.” So go ahead.
Enjoy those lentils. Chow down on the cabbage. Then if you stink a
little, think of it as a thank you gesture from your microbiome.”
Well, they say if you get stuck with lemons, you make lemonade!
Mace J. Yampolsky is a Board Certified Criminal Law Specialist, 625
South Sixth St., Las Vegas, NV 89101; He can be reached at: Phone
702-385-9777 or fax 702-385-300. His website is located at: