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Did You Know?
Avoiding a heavy meal and taking a light walk before hitting the sack can help to prevent excessive gas at night.

First of all, it is necessary to know about the origin of gas in the intestine. It is observed that the large intestine host friendly bacteria. During meals, the food consumed passes through the stomach and then the small intestine where digestion and absorption of food takes place. Partially undigested food moves down the large intestine (colon). The harmless bacteria present in the colon bring about metabolism of undigested food. This bacterial activity to promote breakdown of food releases gases such as methane and hydrogen. Although experiencing flatulence is not a cause for concern, when it occurs frequently, it is an indication of excessive gas in the stomach.

Reasons for Excessive Flatulence

Gassy Foods
People who have dinner that is high on gassy foods are predisposed to stomach discomfort due to excessive gas information. As the name suggests, gassy foods are foodstuffs that promote production of gas in the intestine. So, eating too much of gassy foods during nighttime can cause excessive belching. Soluble fiber foods as well as those high in fructose (a type of sugar) and complex carbohydrates are all considered as gassy foods that are responsible for excessive release of gas during digestion. Some of the common foodstuffs notorious for producing unwanted gas are given below:
  • Vegetables like beans, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower
  • Fruits such as peaches, oranges, apricots and bananas
Indigestion
There is less physical activity during nighttime and on top of that people tend to have heavy meals, which often leads to indigestion. The ingested food is often completely digested in the small intestine. Undigested food (if any) is passed down to the large intestine. However, undigested food tends to accumulate more in the large intestine (colon) in people with digestion problems. Thus, the friendly bacteria in the colon has the burden of processing high amount of undigested food, which results in excessive gas and bloating.

Improper Eating Habits
The habit of wolfing meals has become relatively common, thanks to our hectic schedule that demand completing project deadlines and long working hours, leaving very less time for lunch or dinner. We tend to eat hastily on the desk, while at the same time continue with our office work. This habit of gobbling food without giving much importance to chewing, makes it difficult of our body to digest food. When this partially digested food reaches the colon, it creates a perfect environment for the bacteria to proliferate, which can cause wide range of health problems such as bloated stomach and frequent flatulence.

Foods Containing Sugar Substitutes
Used as artificial sweetener, sorbitol and xylitol are found in food items labeled as sugar-free products. Although good alternatives to sugar, sorbitol and xylitol are no easy to digest. The bacteria in the colon have a hard time breaking down sorbitol and xylitol. The breakdown of these artificial sweeteners by the bacteria is slow and moreover causes excessive production of gas. Also, bacteria tend to multiply in the presence of sorbitol and xylitol, which eventually leads to bloating and frequent smelly farts. Some of the food items that contain these sugar substitutes are:
  • Chewing gum
  • Sugar free desserts
  • Sugar free cakes, cookies and jams
Check the food label that often mention these artificial sweeteners as sugar alcohols and polyols.

Lactose Intolerance
Individuals with lactose intolerance and having milk or other dairy products such as yogurt at nighttime may also suffer from indigestion, leading to excessive gas. Lactose intolerance means the body is not in a position to digest lactose, a type of sugar present in dairy products. This happens because of lack of lactase in small intestine, an enzyme needed for digestion of lactose. Even otherwise, dairy products are no easy to digest, especially when physical activity takes a backseat at night.

Carbonated Beverages
The fizzing that you notice in carbonated beverages is due to the presence of carbon dioxide. So, it is obvious that after drinking carbonated beverages, there is excess build up of gas in the stomach that eventually escapes from the body in the form of frequent burping and flatulence.

Increased Bacterial Population
Usually, the friendly bacteria that produce gas and aid in digestion reside in the large intestine. However, when their population increases substantially, they may travel up to the small intestine and interact with food that is yet to be digested. As bacteria gets exposed to undigested food frequently in the small intestine, it can cause excessive belching anytime after having heavy meals.

Pancreatic Insufficiency
The pancreas also play an important role to ensure proper digestion of food. How? Well, they release certain enzymes into the intestine in order to facilitate digestion. In pancreatic insufficiency, the pancreas are incapable of producing digestive enzymes, which leads to indigestion, malabsorption and excess gas build up.

Inefficient Functioning of Intestinal or Stomach Muscles
For better digestion, proper working of the stomach and intestinal muscles is very important. The contraction and relaxation of gastrointestinal muscles push the food forward, which helps in digestion. However, when these muscles are not functioning correctly, the ingested food moves at a very slow rate. This in turn slows down the digestion, eventually causing excessive belching. Patients suffering from gastroparesis, a condition typically marked unsatisfactory working of the stomach muscles, experience bloating and gas, in spite of having a small meal.

Intestinal Disorders
Intestinal problems like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and diverticulitis can also impair digestion, leading to excessive gas after eating. Patients affected with diverticulitis show presence of inflamed diverticula. Diverticula are nothing but small abnormal tissue growth that are seen protruding from the intestinal wall. When these bulging pouches become swollen, the condition is referred to as diverticulitis that is typically marked by abdominal pain, unwanted changes in bowel pattern (constipation and diarrhea) and decreased appetite due to nausea and vomiting.

Celiac Disease
People who are unable to tolerate consumption of food products that contain gluten are said to suffer from celiac disease. Gluten is a type of protein in wheat products, oats and rye. When patients diagnosed with celiac disease include gluten products in their diet, it injures inner lining of the small intestine and is accompanied by poor digestion, excessive gas and abdominal discomfort.

As aforementioned, frequently farting at night is many times the result of indigestion. So, finding out the cause of poor digestion is necessary to get rid of excessive gas at night. Use of medications available under the brand name 'Mylanta' is also helpful to reduce bloating and gas build up. Certain dietary changes that involve moderate consumption of gassy foods might also help to stop surplus build up of gas in the stomach.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.