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Whatever you call it—passing gas or letting one rip—bloating and gas happen to everyone. It’s not without reason: bloating gives us important information about our bodies and how our digestive systems are reacting to what we consume or might be missing. Jane reagan and kathleen farrell, registered dietician nutritionists (RDN) at wardenburg health services, let us know why we get gassy and bloated and what we can do to minimize it. What does it mean when we get bloated or gassy?

Bloating and gas are very common gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms, and it is normal to have some intestinal gas within our digestive tracts. Gas and bloating can be mild or can be extremely uncomfortable and cause distention and pain. While it can feel embarrassing to talk about these symptoms, it’s important to understand whether the bloating is normal or caused by other, more significant factors that need to be addressed by a professional.Wardenburg health

what causes bloating and gas?

A variety of factors goes into causing bloating and gas. Fiber is one of the most common reasons. Fiber is not actually digested by our GI tracts. Because of this, bacteria in the colon can produce gas as a byproduct of that indigestible fiber. In addition, if the digestive system is not working at 100 percent, you may experience a more-than-normal amount of gas or bloating.

Eating too fast, overeating or even swallowing too much air by drinking carbonated beverages and chewing gum can all contribute to bloat. Even caffeine can overstimulate the digestive tract, as can food sensitivities or hormonal imbalances. Lastly, stress can lead to increased bloating—it’s all linked!

In terms of food, high-fiber foods such as beans, lentils, asparagus, broccoli, brussels sprouts and cabbage can cause bloating. On the other hand, low-fiber diets can also lead to bloating, since fiber is required to keep things moving and prevent constipation.Wardenburg health with fiber, it really comes down to balancing intake to meet need without overdoing it.

Other foods that contribute to gas often contain various kinds of sugars—from lactose in dairy to fructans in wheat, garlic, onions, cruciferous vegetables and artichokes, to fructose in apples and pears. Sugar alcohol sweeteners, such as sorbitol and xylitol, can also contribute to gas and other digestive symptoms.

Again, it’s about balance—you often don’t need to eliminate things entirely (unless they are making us feel really ill and uncomfortable, in which case you should talk to a professional), but you need to be mindful of what you’re taking in, how much and how it makes you feel. How can you minimize bloating and gas?

Most of the time, bloating is caused by food and/or environmental factors. Many people will experience some gas as a result of fiber and a byproduct of digestion. Sometimes, however, bloating can have a more serious underlying cause, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), lactose intolerance, small intestinal bowel overgrowth (SIBO) or a gastrointestinal disease.Health services

If the gas or bloat feeling becomes painful enough that it disrupts our day-to-day lives—if you can’t eat, sleep or have diarrhea, constipation or other disruptions, it may be time to see a doctor or consult with a registered dietician.

There are a variety of resources on campus to support you with your nutritional needs. Wardenburg health services offers a free nutrition resource clinic for basic consultations, as well as ongoing, in-depth nutrition counseling. Housing & dining services also has a registered dietitian on staff, allison butler, who can meet with students individually, answer questions, do dining hall walk-throughs and more.