Gut Bacteria and Gas: What You Need to Know

gut bacteria gas

The human gut is a bustling metropolis of microbes, collectively known as the gut microbiota.

These tiny inhabitants play a crucial role in our health, influencing everything from digestion to mental well-being.

However, they’re also responsible for the less pleasant phenomenon of gas.

Here’s what you need to know about gut bacteria and gas.

Key Takeaways
  • Gut Bacteria and Gas: Various gut bacteria break down food, producing gases like carbon dioxide, hydrogen, and methane.
  • Diet’s Impact: Different foods influence the composition of gut bacteria, affecting the type and amount of gas produced.
  • Probiotics and Exercise: Probiotics balance gut bacteria, reducing gas, while exercise improves overall gut health.
Advanced Bulletproof Gut Program

2 eBooks, 6 Week Program, Recipe Pack, Shopping List and Meal Plans.

The Role of Gut Bacteria in Gas Production

Gut bacteria are essential for breaking down food particles that our bodies can’t digest on their own.

During this process, they produce gases as by-products, primarily carbon dioxide, hydrogen, and methane1.

Here’s a brief overview of how different types of bacteria contribute to gas production:

Bacteria TypeGas ProducedImpact on Health
Fermentative bacteriaHydrogen, Carbon DioxideGenerally harmless, can lead to bloating and discomfort2
Methanogenic bacteriaMethaneSlows gut transit, can cause constipation3
Sulfate-reducing bacteriaHydrogen SulfideCan cause foul-smelling gas4

While gas is a normal part of the digestive process, excessive gas can be uncomfortable and embarrassing.

If you’re experiencing excessive gas, it may be worth discussing with your healthcare provider or a dietitian, who can provide advice tailored to your specific needs and circumstances5.

Diet and Gut Bacteria

farmers market basket eith vegetables

The food we eat plays a significant role in shaping our gut microbiota.

Different foods can promote the growth of different types of bacteria, influencing the overall composition of our gut microbiota and the amount of gas produced.

Here’s a brief overview:

Food TypeImpact on Gut BacteriaImpact on Gas Production
High-fiber foods (e.g., fruits, vegetables, whole grains)Promote the growth of beneficial bacteria6Can increase gas production, but this is usually temporary7
Protein-rich foods (e.g., meat, dairy, legumes)Can promote the growth of both beneficial and harmful bacteria8Can increase gas production, particularly sulfur-containing gas9
Fatty foodsCan reduce the diversity of gut bacteria10May reduce gas production by slowing digestion11
Sugary foodsCan promote the growth of harmful bacteria12Can increase gas production13

Remember, everyone’s gut microbiota is unique, and what works for one person may not work for another.

It’s always a good idea to listen to your body and adjust your diet accordingly.

Probiotics and Gut Health

Bowl of kimchi

Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are beneficial for our health, particularly our digestive system.

They’re often referred to as ‘good’ or ‘friendly’ bacteria as they help keep our gut healthy14.

Here’s a brief overview of how probiotics contribute to gut health:

Probiotic TypeHealth Benefit
Lactobacillus and BifidobacteriumCan improve symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)15
Saccharomyces boulardiiCan prevent antibiotic-associated diarrhea16
Lactobacillus rhamnosus GGCan prevent infectious diarrhea in children17

Probiotics can be found in certain foods, such as yogurt, sauerkraut, and kimchi, or taken as dietary supplements.

However, it’s important to note that more research is needed to understand which probiotics are best for specific health conditions18.

Exercise and Gut Health

fit couple running in park

Regular exercise is not only beneficial for cardiovascular health, weight management, and mental well-being, but it also plays a significant role in maintaining gut health19.

Here’s a brief overview of how exercise contributes to gut health:

microbial culture Icon

Increasing Microbial Diversity

bacteria Icon

Promoting Beneficial Bacteria:

gastroenterology Icon

Improving Gut Barrier Function

  • Increasing Microbial Diversity: Regular exercise can increase the diversity of microbial species in the gut, which is associated with better health20.
  • Promoting Beneficial Bacteria: Exercise can increase the abundance of beneficial bacteria that produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which are crucial for gut health21.
  • Improving Gut Barrier Function: Exercise can enhance the integrity of the gut barrier, reducing the risk of “leaky gut” and associated health issues22.

Different types of exercise can have varying impacts on gut health.

Here are some recommendations:

Exercise TypeBenefits for Gut Health
Cardiovascular Exercise (e.g., running, cycling)Increases microbial diversity, promotes SCFA-producing bacteria23
Regular, Moderate ExerciseMaintains long-term benefits on gut microbiota24
Outdoor ExerciseIncreases exposure to diverse ecosystems and bacteria25

While exercise can positively influence gut health, it’s also important to maintain a healthy diet.

A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can provide the necessary nutrients for gut bacteria to thrive26.

Combining regular exercise with a balanced diet can offer the best outcomes for gut health.

Conclusion

Understanding the relationship between gut bacteria and gas can help you manage your digestive health more effectively.

By making dietary modifications, incorporating probiotics, and maintaining a regular exercise regimen, you can promote a healthy gut microbiota and reduce unwanted gas.

Remember, everyone’s gut is unique, so what works for one person may not work for another.

Shop new arrivals

Frequently Asked Questions

Gas in the digestive tract can be caused due to a variety of reasons such as consuming gas-producing foods like broccoli, the volume of gas produced by bacterial fermentation in the large intestine, swallowed air, and certain disorders like small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). Some people may also swallow more air which can cause gas.

The most common symptoms of gas include flatulence or the passage of gas, burping, abdominal pain, and bloating. These are often experienced by people who have a large volume of gas in the intestines.

The small and large intestines play a significant role in digesting food and absorbing nutrients. They are also home to colonic microbiota which can ferment certain types of carbohydrate, leading to gas production. If the volume of intestinal gas exceeds a certain amount, it can cause digestive symptoms like flatulence, bloating, and abdominal pain.

Yes, the bacteria in the large intestine help break down certain types of foods, such as some forms of carbohydrate, that have not been fully digested in the small intestine. This process results in the creation of gases including methane and hydrogen, leading to intestinal gas.

Yes, some amount of air naturally enters the stomach and the intestines when you eat or drink, especially when you eat or drink rapidly or while talking. However, swallowing too much air can lead to an excess of gas in the digestive system and result in symptoms such as burping and flatulence.

Certain foods are known to cause gas because they contain parts that are not easy to digest, or that create gas when they undergo bacterial fermentation in the colon. Examples of these include beans, broccoli, onions, and whole grains among others.

Yes, it is normal and healthy for the body to pass gas. In fact, most people will pass gas around 14 to 23 times a day. It becomes a cause for concern only if it is accompanied by severe pain, sudden weight loss, blood in the stools or other unusual symptoms.

Yes, certain medical conditions can cause more gas than usual. Some of these include GI disorders like Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Gastroenteritis, and Peptic Ulcer Disease. The small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) is another condition that can cause excess gas.

Yes, there is. Health care professionals might use a variety of tests to get a better understanding of the causes and severity of gas symptoms including breath tests, analysis of the intestinal gas, and other lab tests. It is, however, necessary to consult with a health care provider if these symptoms become frequent and bothersome.

Yes, eating slowly and avoiding hard-to-digest foods can help. People can also avoid carbonated beverages and activities that lead to swallowing air, such as chewing gum and smoking. It is also advised to have regular physical activity. However, persistent issues should be discussed with a healthcare provider.

References

  1. Levitt MD, Furne JK, Kuskowski M, Ruddy J. Stability of human methanogenic flora over 35 years and a review of insights obtained from breath methane measurementsClin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2006;4(2):123-129. doi:10.1016/j.cgh.2005.11.006
  2. Suarez FL, Savaiano DA, Levitt MD. A comparison of symptoms after the consumption of milk or lactose-hydrolyzed milk by people with self-reported severe lactose intoleranceN Engl J Med. 1995;333(1):1-4. doi:10.1056/NEJM199507063330101
  3. Pimentel M, Lin HC, Enayati P, et al. Methane, a gas produced by enteric bacteria, slows intestinal transit and augments small intestinal contractile activityAm J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2006;290(6):G1089-G1095. doi:10.1152/ajpgi.00574.2004
  4. Furne J, Springfield J, Koenig T, DeMaster E, Levitt MD. Oxidation of hydrogen sulfide and methanethiol to thiosulfate by rat tissues: a specialized function of the colonic mucosaBiochem Pharmacol. 2001;62(2):255-259. doi:10.1016/s0006-2952(01)00657-8
  5. Levitt MD, Furne J, Aeolus MR, Suarez FL. Evaluation of an extremely flatulent patient: case report and proposed diagnostic and therapeutic approachAm J Gastroenterol. 1998;93(11):2276-2281. doi:10.1111/j.1572-0241.1998.00635.x
  6. David LA, Maurice CF, Carmody RN, et al. Diet rapidly and reproducibly alters the human gut microbiomeNature. 2014;505(7484):559-563. doi:10.1038/nature12820
  7. McRorie JW Jr, McKeown NM. Understanding the Physics of Functional Fibers in the Gastrointestinal Tract: An Evidence-Based Approach to Resolving Enduring Misconceptions about Insoluble and Soluble FiberJ Acad Nutr Diet. 2017;117(2):251-264. doi:10.1016/j.jand.2016.09.021
  8. Windey K, De Preter V, Verbeke K. Relevance of protein fermentation to gut healthMol Nutr Food Res. 2012;56(1):184-196. doi:10.1002/mnfr.201100542
  9. Janssen AW, Kersten S. The role of the gut microbiota in metabolic healthFASEB J. 2015;29(8):3111-3123. doi:10.1096/fj.14-269514
  10. Turnbaugh PJ, Ley RE, Mahowald MA, Magrini V, Mardis ER, Gordon JI. An obesity-associated gut microbiome with increased capacity for energy harvestNature. 2006;444(7122):1027-1031. doi:10.1038/nature05414
  11. Halmos EP, Power VA, Shepherd SJ, Gibson PR, Muir JG. A diet low in FODMAPs reduces symptoms of irritable bowel syndromeGastroenterology. 2014;146(1):67-75.e5. doi:10.1053/j.gastro.2013.09.046
  12. Ríos-Covián D, Ruas-Madiedo P, Margolles A, Gueimonde M, de Los Reyes-Gavilán CG, Salazar N. Intestinal Short Chain Fatty Acids and their Link with Diet and Human HealthFront Microbiol. 2016;7:185. Published 2016 Feb 17. doi:10.3389/fmicb.2016.00185
  13. Hill C, Guarner F, Reid G, et al. Expert consensus document. The International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics consensus statement on the scope and appropriate use of the term probioticNat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2014;11(8):506-514. doi:10.1038/nrgastro.2014.66
  14. Markowiak P, Śliżewska K. Effects of Probiotics, Prebiotics, and Synbiotics on Human HealthNutrients. 2017;9(9):1021. Published 2017 Sep 15. doi:10.3390/nu9091021
  15. McFarland LV. Use of probiotics to correct dysbiosis of normal microbiota following disease or disruptive events: a systematic reviewBMJ Open. 2014;4(8):e005047. Published 2014 Aug 25. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2014-005047
  16. Tojo R, Suárez A, Clemente MG, et al. Intestinal microbiota in health and disease: role of bifidobacteria in gut homeostasis. World J Gastroenterol. 2014;20(41):15163-15176. doi:10.3748/wjg.v20.i41.15163
  17. Sanders ME. Impact of probiotics on colonizing microbiota of the gutJ Clin Gastroenterol. 2011;45 Suppl:S115-S119. doi:10.1097/MCG.0b013e318227414a
  18. Akatsu H, Iwabuchi N, Xiao JZ, et al. Clinical effects of probiotic Bifidobacterium longum BB536 on immune function and intestinal microbiota in elderly patients receiving enteral tube feedingJPEN J Parenter Enteral Nutr. 2013;37(5):631-640. doi:10.1177/0148607112467819
  19. Monda V, Villano I, Messina A, et al. Exercise Modifies the Gut Microbiota with Positive Health EffectsOxid Med Cell Longev. 2017;2017:3831972. doi:10.1155/2017/3831972
  20. Clarke SF, Murphy EF, O’Sullivan O, et al. Exercise and associated dietary extremes impact on gut microbial diversityGut. 2014;63(12):1913-1920. doi:10.1136/gutjnl-2013-306541
  21. Matsumoto M, Inoue R, Tsukahara T, et al. Voluntary running exercise alters microbiota composition and increases n-butyrate concentration in the rat cecumBiosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2008;72(2):572-576. doi:10.1271/bbb.70474
  22. Mailing LJ, Allen JM, Buford TW, Fields CJ, Woods JA. Exercise and the Gut Microbiome: A Review of the Evidence, Potential Mechanisms, and Implications for Human HealthExerc Sport Sci Rev. 2019;47(2):75-85. doi:10.1249/JES.0000000000000183
  23. Estaki M, Pither J, Baumeister P, et al. Cardiorespiratory fitness as a predictor of intestinal microbial diversity and distinct metagenomic functionsMicrobiome. 2016;4(1):42. Published 2016 Aug 8. doi:10.1186/s40168-016-0189-7
  24. Allen JM, Mailing LJ, Cohrs J, et al. Exercise training-induced modification of the gut microbiota persists after microbiota colonization and attenuates the response to chemically-induced colitis in gnotobiotic miceGut Microbes. 2018;9(2):115-130. doi:10.1080/19490976.2017.1372077
  25. Logan AC, Jacka FN, Craig JM, Prescott SL. The Microbiome and Mental Health: Looking Back, Moving Forward with Lessons from Allergic DiseasesClin Psychopharmacol Neurosci. 2016;14(2):131-147. doi:10.9758/cpn.2016.14.2.131
  26. David LA, Maurice CF, Carmody RN, et al. Diet rapidly and reproducibly alters the human gut microbiomeNature. 2014;505(7484):559-563. doi:10.1038/nature12820
Latest posts by Tarquin (see all)

Similar Posts