Naturopathic Tips for Managing Gas and Enhancing Gut Health

Melissa McDonald Naturopath

A very common complaint from clients who come into any Naturopathic clinic is excessive flatulence.
If you are one of these gassy people, don’t worry; you’re not alone. While excessive farts can be mortifying
and uncomfortable, there’s a bright side to all those toots and rumbles. Your body might be trying to tell you
something important about your gut health.

The gas you pass is sign of a healthy gut

The first thing I let people know is that passing a reasonable amount of gas is completely normal part of healthy bodily function. The average person produces anywhere from half a litre to 1.5 litres of gas per day! This gas is a byproduct of the digestive process, and while some foods are more gas-inducing than others, it’s not just your diet that’s responsible for all those methane fuelled trouser trumpets. Let’s take a look at a few things that may cause excessive amounts of gas.

  • The gut-brain connection of the vagus nerve

    The vagus nerve, sometimes called the “wandering nerve,” is the longest cranial nerve in your body. It meanders from your brain stem all the way down to your abdomen, connecting your brain to various organs, including your gut. This nerve is responsible for regulating various autonomic functions, like heart rate, digestion, and, yes, the release of gas. So, what does this nerve have to do with your gassiness?

    The vagus nerve plays an important role in the gut-brain connection, influencing the communication between your brain and your digestive system. When someone experiences stress acutely or chronically, the vagus nerve function shuts down. Because it’s involved in producing hydrochloric acid and digestive juices, which are useful to break down the food in your stomach, these can become lower than what is optimal. This signals your brain to initiate responses like increased or decreased intestinal motility (diarrhoea/constipation) and stomach bloating.

    Low stomach acid may lead to poorer digestion of proteins because pepsin, the digestive enzyme which breaks down protein, is most active in acid at around pH 2. Having low stomach acid also puts you at an increased risk of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). The result of all this is more gaseous byproducts, which must come out somewhere – hopefully not on that hot date!

  • SIBO: The Gas-Gut Culprit

    If you find yourself gassier than normal, it might be worth considering a condition mentioned above: Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO). In SIBO, bacteria that should primarily reside in your large intestine migrate to your small intestine, leading to various digestive symptoms, including excessive gas, abdominal distension/bloating, constipation and diarrhoea (to name just a few). To investigate and dig deeper into your gut health, we can use a lactulose breath test and/or a functional and comprehensive stool test to rule out these bacterial baddies!

Excessive gas is your body’s way of telling you that something in your gut is not quite right! The gut is like a built-in alarm system that urges you to take notice and make changes for better digestive health.

By listening to your body and seeking advice with our Naturopath Melissa McDonald, you can work towards restoring the balance