It's completely normal and healthy for humans to release gas from their digestive tracts each day. Gas is simply air in the digestive tract, which is swallowed when you digest carbohydrates, eat or drink too fast, chew gum, drink carbonated beverages, smoke or suck on hard candy. That said, some foods cause your digestive tract to release more gas more than other foods do, so you can reduce your discomfort and potential embarrassment by avoiding certain foods or trying new cooking techniques for them. However, a food that causes gas in one person may not cause gas in another, so pay attention to how your body reacts to certain foods.
Although beans are nutritionally packed, inexpensive and versatile, they have a reputation for causing gas. If you find that legumes increase your gas, drain the soaking water after you've soaked your beans, and add fresh water to the beans for cooking. You can also add a large strip of dried kombu seaweed to your pot of beans before you start boiling the water. Leave the seaweed in the pot until the beans have finished cooking. Finally, try adding a slice of ginger or some fennel or cumin seeds to the cooking water.
Cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, brussels sprouts, cauliflower and broccoli contain a complex sugar called raffinose, which often causes gas in the digestive tract. To avoid gas caused by raffinose, always cook cruciferous vegetables prior to eating them. Boiling, steaming and stir-frying can help to reduce gas caused by eating these highly nutritious vegetables.
Milk and other dairy products contain lactose, a sugar that can be difficult for human digestive tracts to process. Lactose intolerance occurs more often in Native Americans and people of South American, African and Asian descent than among people of European descent. If you find that milk products give you gas, try adding lactase, either in liquid or tablet form, to your diet when you consume dairy products. Eating yogurt can also help, because yogurt contains bacteria that aids in digestion.
High-fiber foods like whole grains may cause gas, especially if you're not accustomed to eating them on a regular basis. Some people add fiber supplements like psyllium husks to their diets to help with other digestive problems and find they have more gas. MayoClinic.com recommends you add whole grains or fiber supplements to your diet gradually over a period of weeks to minimize gassy discomfort. Also, drink plenty of water throughout the day.
Sweetened Drinks and Candies
Fructose-sweetened drinks like fruit juice or soda and artificially sweetened, calorie-free soft drinks are not blameless when it comes to causing gas. Drinks sweetened with sugar or high fructose corn syrup offer you a concentrated version of the sugars that can cause gas. Even artificially sweetened products like diet cola and sugar-free gum contain the indigestible sugar sorbitol, which causes gas. To avoid getting gas from your drinks, stick with water.
Rachel Terry has a Bachelor of Arts in English from Brigham Young University. She has been a freelance writer since 1998, authoring literary study guides, as well as articles and essays.