What causes burping and farting?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Many of you logged on to and told us your most embarrassing health questions. Thirty-eight percent of you said that gas was a major problem in your lives. On a previous show, Dr. Oz, Vice-Chair and Professor of Surgery at Columbia University, explained that the average person...both men and women...passes gas 14 times a day. What's causing this phenomenal natural gas leak?

"Many of those bacteria that are on your side and protecting you normally will eat up the foods that you're eating and release their waste product: gas, which, by the way, is good for you. You want to have a regular amount of gas. The problem happens when you eat certain foods that give you more gas than you want."

Probably the most infamous gas-producing foods are beans, which, Dr. Oz explains, contain sugar. "In fact, sugars in general are the problem." Bacteria love simple sugars and simple carbohydrates because they're so easy to digest.

Dr. Oz says it's not just what you eat. It's also in the air you breathe. "Twenty percent of the gas comes from the air you take in your mouth," he says. "That comes because you're eating too quickly, you're drinking carbonated beverages, you're chewing gum, you're smoking cigarettes, you're sucking air into your body that gets into your intestines."

Think of your body as a refrigerator, Dr. Oz says. If you let food sit in there, it's going to smell after a while. In your body, sulfur-rich foods like eggs, meat, beer, beans and cauliflower are decomposed by bacteria to release hydrogen sulfide-a smell strong enough to flatten a bear. Avoiding these foods is the ideal solution, but when stinky gas persists, the best solutions are leafy green vegetables and probiotics, specifically lactobacilli GG. These can be found in some yogurts. The product Beano can sometimes work with beans, but soaking the beans ahead of time is useful as well.
Marjorie Nolan Cohn
Nutrition & Dietetics

Burping and farting is your body’s way of releasing air that is in your digestive tract. The air accumulates for a couple of reasons. First, you may be swallowing air. This happens especially when you eat fast, chew gum, experience anxiety, or breathe shallow breaths. Drinking soda, or other carbonated beverages also causes air. Another reason happens when you digest food. Some foods produce gas, by way of the bacteria in your colon.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.