As embarrassing health complaints go, there are few that are more awkward than gas. Being trapped in an elevator and realizing that you’ve got wind is something that almost all of us will have experienced at some point or other and this is a problem that can be very hard to hide.
And while that’s awkward, it’s even worse if you should find yourself with gas on a date, during an interview or in any other similar scenario where you need to impress or make a good impression.
Moreover, gas is also uncomfortable and can make it hard to relax or to sleep. It can cause serious stomach pain and is generally something you should try to combat as quickly and effectively as possible. Let’s take a look at some of the best home remedies for gas and bloating that you can try out the next time you feel your stomach start to swell.
Herbs for Gas
One option is to try using herbs to combat gas and swelling and in particular, herbs in the carminative family. The term ‘carminative’ is actually defined as ‘substance that aids with the expulsion of gas' which should be an early clue that this is an effective treatment. The best known herb that has a carminative effect is ginger which helps to speed up digestion. This is crucial, as the faster you can digest your food, the less time it will spend in your stomach creating gas and bloating.
Other carminative herbs include chamomile, dill, fennel. Caraway and basil along with many more.
While herbal supplements may be helpful, it is generally considered preferable to stick with natural sources. Keep a spice and herb rack and add a few to your cooking!
Enzymes are substances found in the body and in the diet that act like ‘catalysts’ in a range of important chemical reactions. Specifically, these are chemical reactions that aid in digestion by breaking up the food stuffs in the stomach.
There are many foods that can act like digestive enzymes, including pineapple which is a natural source of bromelain. By eating a little pineapple at the start of your meal, you should find that food gets broken up more easily when it makes its way into your stomach, thereby reducing the amount of time it spends there before being absorbed.
A range of other foodstuffs can also be effective at providing digestive enzymes or encouraging the body to produce them naturally. Apple cider vinegar is another option.
Do note though that these foods are often acidic, meaning that they may worsen acid reflux. Apple cider vinegar is a good choice as many proponents claim that it actually has an alkalizing effect when it reaches the body – but there is no evidence to support this use.
Probiotics are foods that allow for the proliferation of healthy bacteria. While many of us think of bacteria as being unhealthy ‘germs’, the reality is that bacteria can actually be a good thing depending on the kind and the source. The stomach provides a breeding ground for healthy cultures of ‘good bacteria’ and these provide a range of very important jobs inside the stomach.
Among other things, gut bacteria are responsible for producing some of our naturally occurring digestive enzymes to help with the breakdown of food and they are useful for producing numerous important hormones and neurotransmitters that help us to regulate many of our biological rhythms – including those relating to hunger and digestion.
A good source of natural probiotics is yogurt, as are kefir, pickles and apple cider vinegar. Anything fermented is essentially considered a good choice, and if you’re going to use apple cider vinegar then make sure that you get the ‘mother’ which is particularly rich in those important cultures.
Believe it or not, there are also many lifestyle factors that can play a role in combating gas. In particular, if you regularly struggle with stress, then this may also contribute to wind and digestive upsets.
While the nature of this connection is not fully understood, what we do know is that stress-related conditions and tiredness conditions appear to be linked with conditions like IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). Further, it is thought that stress can lead to spasms in the colon which cause abdominal discomfort. In one 2008 review, it was found that using techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, yoga and counselling could actually help to reduce digestive issues.
If you try the home remedies for gas here and find they are ineffective and if the treatments suggested by your doctor are likewise unhelpful, then you may wish to consider looking at stress and similar lifestyle issues to see if that helps.
Another consideration is the way that you are eating. If you are eating particularly quickly for example and if you are therefore inhaling more air as you consume food, this can also lead to gas. What’s more, is that when you eat food more slowly, you’ll break it up with your teeth more and with the enzymes produced by the saliva glands. It is useful to try and think of the mouth as being the ‘first stage’ in the digestive system – this is just as important as what follows.
What you eat also has a role to play. We’ve seen how consuming certain helpful foods can act as home remedies for gas, but what about the foods that you need to avoid?
If you are eating too many leafy greens or too much protein (particularly protein shake), then this can sometimes lead to gas and you may wish to consider trying a slightly more balanced diet. Moreover, if you find yourself experience gas commonly, then it may in fact be caused by an allergy or sensitivity. Gluten sensitivity for example can cause a wide range of digestive health issues, even when it does not present as full-blown gluten intolerance. Likewise, lactose intolerance is another common issue that can lead to digestive upset. If nothing else works, try gradually eliminating foods from your diet to see if that prevents the onset of gas!