Displaying items by tag: fructose malabsorption and gas

Thursday, 07 February 2019 01:04

It's Ok To Sometimes Be A Little Gassy

Why do we panic when we feel a little gassy?

Why does a little bowel wind send us into a tailspin where we start evaluating everything we have consumed in the last 3 days making us feel like we have done something wrong, indulged in the forbidden fructose fruit?

Why?  Because we know what it is like to live in a state of constant bowel unrest.  

Before I was diagnosed with Fructose Malabsorption each and every evening I looked 3 months pregnant.  My gut was so bloated that my pants wouldn't fit.  Do you all sympathize with me?  Have you felt this way before?  If you have Fructose Malabsorption I assume you know this feeling all too well.

Where does all this air go that is living in your distended gut?  It just doesn't magically disappear.  It tends to come out your back side.  

Can I just say I don't like the word fart?  I prefer more sophisticated terms like flatulance, or funnier phrases like booty cough or rectal turbulence.  "Fart" makes me feel embarrassed.  "A little gassy" seems more medical to me, like there is a medical reason why my body is tooting.  

This "medical disturbance" in my body used to happen so often that I coined the phrase:  "Fructose Volcano".   What is a Fructose Volcano?  If you have Fructose Malabsorption your body has a difficult time absorbing digested fructose.  The majority of the fructose you eat is not absorbed into your bloodstream; and sits in your gut resulting in all sorts of issues.  It’s like a volcano waiting to erupt causing gas that makes you feel bloated, producing bowel wind, and changing your bowel output (diarrhea and/or constipation).  

As soon as I was diagnosed with Fructose Malabsorption and started eating a clean, low fructose diet my gut and gut output made a radical change.  I could start to see my abdominal muscles.  I didn't need to loosen my belt in the evening or even worse change into my house sweatpants; you know those sweatpants that you would never leave the house in, those sweatpants that are so incredibly comfortable and incredibly unflattering at the same time.  You know what I am talking about.  Everyone has house sweatpants.  

I also started to notice a change in my gas levels.  Before diagnosis they were in the red zone, the gauge was teetering on the brink of self-destruction.  Now, after diagnosis I live in the green zone.

So, then why do I still get occasionally gassy?  Should this gas scare me?  Is it always fructose related?

According to the Mayo Clinic website:  "everyone passes gas several times daily" and "intestinal gas rarely indicates a serious condition. It can cause discomfort and embarrassment, but it's usually just a sign of a normally functioning digestive system."

If the Mayo Clinic tells me that everyone passes gas and does so multiple times a day; then why do I always evaluate everything I eat when I feel a little gassy?

I think it is because I am honestly incredibly scared to feel the way I felt before I was diagnosed.  In addition to my irritable gut I felt downright awful.  My joints ached, my nose leaked all year long, and my brain was in a constant state of fog.  For some reason for me gas equals warning sign, red flag, the fructose volcano is about to erupt.

Last week I went out to lunch with one of my good friends who happens to be a dietitian.  Our conversation was mostly about gas.  Yes, it is a funny conversation to have over lunch!  My friend confirmed what the Mayo states:  most gas is not bad, gas happens, gas is a sign that your body is digesting food.  No, I do not need to panic every time I pass wind.  


My friend also taught me two important digestive lessons.

1.  Certain foods produce more gas.  Foods like soybeans, bananas, whole wheat and oats are in a food category called Prebiotics.  

Probiotics and Prebiotics what is the difference?

Probiotics are foods with active live cultures like yogurt, sauerkraut, tempeh, miso, pickles and kefir.  

Prebiotics can stimulate the growth and balance of healthy bacteria in the colon.  Prebiotics are potentially protective against colon cancer and other diseases, help to absorb calcium, and may reduce the presence of pathogenic bacteria in the colon.  

Prebiotic foods may produce occasional gas and that is ok.  The gas is a sign that your colon is producing healthy bacteria.

2.  If you have been on a restricted diet for an extended period of time, or are in a challenge phase of an elimination diet protocol who do you know if the gas is good or bad?  That is a good question.  My dietitian friend told me that gas will most likely happen as you introduce new whole real foods into your diet.  

For example; if you eat something new like oats and have a little gas that is ok.  Your body is doing the right thing, those good oat Prebiotic bacteria are doing their job.

However, if you eat oats and your gut starts really yelling at you or your bowel output makes a huge shift in output or it causes very smelly gas then that food like oats is probably not a good choice for you.  


What about the FODMAP protocol? It is recommended by many dietitians as a tool to help determine what your unique gut likes and doesn't like.  Here is a quote from the Monash University website regarding food reintroduction and FODMAPS: 

"When you experience symptoms, it is vital that you are tuned in to the severity. Pain and significant discomfort are not OK and you can discuss these outcomes with your treating dietitian who can advise further on future challenges and food trials you may better tolerate. But for many people, the reintroduction of FODMAPs, or FODMAP ingestion when eating, results in gas production and a little bloating. The initial thought is that there has been a reaction and the food should again be removed from the diet, but we ask you to think about it in a different light.

Fermentation and gas production after eating high FODMAP foods is beneficial to the gut. If you experience some gas related symptoms that are tolerable and perhaps just include some mild bloating and flatus, this could be a good sign that you are providing fuel that encourages good bacteria in your gut. Everyone experiences some bloating and flatus and it is important not to immediately consider these as ‘symptoms’ of IBS, rather they should be considered a normal part of healthy digestion (as long as there is no significant discomfort or pain!).

So remember, a little gas is a good thing."


What have I learned about gas and my gut?

1.  A little gas is ok.  It is actually a sign that my body is going through a healthy process.

2.  I need to eat those foods that give me a little gas because my body needs those Prebiotic bacteria.

3.  I do not need to freak out every time I have a little gas.  Not all gas leads to the dreaded Fructose Volcano.

4.  If I do eat something and my gas and other symptoms are more severe then that food is not a good choice for my unique gut.


Additional FBF Blogs:

Cliff Notes On Sugar Digestion:  more details regarding Fructose Volcanoes and Glucose Spaceships

A Closer Look at FODMAPS

Fructose Malabsorption and Chronic Inflammation

Daily Fructose Malabsorption Journal 


Published in FBF Blog