Passing gas occasionally is normal. It is more likely to occur in your sleep, first thing in the morning or during exercise. Some people have a major problem with gas. They need to fart multiple times throughout the day or get very bloated and uncomfortable from holding it in. They may experience very smelly or very noisy gas. There is always a reason for this, and finding out what it is can offer immense relief to the farter and those around them!

Your digestive system plays so many critical roles in your health. Most importantly it’s where you absorb nutrients and get rid of wastes. You have approximately 3 pounds of microbes in your intestines; they break down components of your diet that are indigestible and produce beneficial compounds. The bacteria in your gut produce neurotransmitters, influencing your mood, emotional state and sleep quality. They also influence the way your immune system behaves, in terms of allergies and cancer risk.

Your gut bugs can get out of balance for several reasons. Modern living is not always conducive to good gut health. Stress and poor diet can play havoc with your digestive system. Here are 7 potential causes of too much flatulence:

1. You’re eating more fiber than your body can handle

Fiber has health benefits, but too much fiber can be a problem. Soluble fiber is soft and gel-like. Bacteria in the large intestine can ferment it and turn it into beneficial short chain fatty acids. If you have an overgrowth of bacteria, you can experience excess gas production as a by-product of fermentation. If you have too much bacteria in your small intestine (SIBO) you can get bloated, gassy or suffer reflux from fiber.

2. You don’t tolerate FODMAPs well

FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols. They are types of sugar that bacteria in your gut love. Again, if you have an overgrowth of bacteria in a place it shouldn’t be (small intestine), you can feel very uncomfortable after eating foods high in FODMAPs. Examples of these foods include onion, garlic, broccoli, cauliflower and legumes. These foods have a reputation for being wind and gas generating. What causes FODMAP intolerance? Rarely, a person is born lacking the enzymes necessary for digesting a particular sugar. More often it is due to an inflamed intestinal lining, causing insufficient enzyme production. Supplementing with Digestive Enzymes can be immensely helpful.

3. You are lactose intolerant

Lactose is milk sugar. If you are lactose intolerant, it means you don’t produce enough of the enzyme required to break the sugar down. This is extremely common, especially in people who are not Caucasian. More people in the world can’t break down lactose than ones who can. Yogurt and most types of cheese are very low in lactose, so you may be able to tolerate them without discomfort. There are other sources of calcium besides dairy products, so you don’t need to worry about getting insufficient calcium.

4. You have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

IBS can cause varied digestive symptoms, such as bloating, gas, abdominal cramps, constipation or diarrhea. It is usually the diagnosis given when a gastroenterologist cannot find any other cause of symptoms. A number of different things can cause IBS; usually food intolerance and too much of the wrong gut bugs are responsible. Diet modifications and making improvements to gut bugs are usually effective. You can read more about IBS in this article.

5. You have celiac disease or other food sensitivity

Sometimes one specific food is upsetting your digestive system. This could be celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Sometimes a food that is generally considered to be healthy, such as eggs, nuts, corn or rice could be adversely affecting your digestive system. There are blood tests, a gene test and a biopsy that can diagnose celiac disease. It is important to see a doctor for a diagnosis. There is a lot of helpful information in my book about gluten. An elimination diet can help to uncover food intolerance.

6. You have SIBO

This stands for Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth. It means there is too much bacteria in the small intestine (it’s supposed to be in the large intestine). There can also be fungal overgrowth. Absorption of nutrients is supposed to be happening in the small intestine. Having too many microbes there can lead to fermentation, which generates a lot of gas. Killing off the excess microbes is important, as they can steal nutrients from you, leaving you malnourished. The essential oils of oregano, clove and thyme are in BactoClear capsules and they each have an antimicrobial effect. Good levels of stomach acid are necessary for preventing microbial overgrowth in the small intestine and most people with SIBO don’t make enough. This can be overcome with a betaine hydrochloride supplement.

7. You eat too quickly

We all know we are supposed to slow down at mealtime and chew our food thoroughly, but bad habits can be difficult to break. If you eat too quickly, you’ll swallow a lot of air, which can come out again as gas. If you don’t chew your food properly, you’ll find it hard to digest and the bacteria in your gut can ferment it, producing gas. Try to focus on your breathing and slow it down before you eat. If you regularly feel stressed and anxious, a magnesium supplement can be wonderful for calming down your nervous system.

The above statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.