Feeling gassy lately and want to figure out which food is causing you discomfort? Want to learn more about one of the most famous vegetables? This post answers the question “does garlic cause gas”, explores the pros and cons of garlic, and recommends solutions for garlic gas.
Does Garlic Cause Gas?
I would love to tell you no, but the answer is yes. Garlic does cause gas and excessive garlic consumption can lead to excessive gas, heartburn, reflux, nausea, abdominal pain, constipation, and diarrhea (1). But don’t cast out all your garlic just yet. As with all foods, the amount you consume influences the effects you will experience. This vegetable is full of health benefits and gas production is a normal part of the digestive process that results from the breakdown of certain foods. In fact, it is often said that it is normal to pass gas around 14 times a day (2,3).
Why Does Garlic Cause Gas?
Garlic contains fructans, which are a type of carbohydrate made of small chains of fructose. Fructans are not fully absorbed by our body. Instead, they travel to the large intestine where they are fermented by gut bacteria. This fermentation process produces gas as a byproduct, leading to the uncomfortable sensations of bloating or flatulence in some individuals (4). For people with sensitive digestive systems or conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), consuming garlic can trigger symptoms due to its fructans content. It’s important to note, however, that while garlic can cause gas for some people, garlic’s benefits may outweigh its unpleasant effects.
Additionally, garlic contains many sulphuric compounds (5). As garlic is broken down in the gut, its sulfur compounds interact with various elements, including gut flora. This interaction might lead to the production of various gasses, including hydrogen sulfide, also known as hydrosulfuric acid. Hydrogen sulfide, a component of flatulence, is notorious for its distinctive and unpleasant “rotten eggs” odor. However, it’s important to note that the contribution of garlic to the specific sulfuric scent of flatulence can be complex. It involves various factors such as diet composition, individual metabolism, and the unique balance of gut bacteria. Therefore, while garlic can influence the odor of flatulence due to its sulfur compounds, it’s just one piece of a bigger picture.
Pros And Cons Of Eating Garlic
- The Flavor*: Garlic tastes delicious, whether it’s roasted, powdered, or even boiled. Garlic bread just wouldn’t be the same without the garlic. (*This is subjectively a pro and not con of eating garlic.)
- Digestive Aid: Garlic may help support the body in the production of digestive enzymes, which can assist with digestion (6).
- Rich in Nutrients: Garlic is a nutrient powerhouse, packed with vitamins C and B6, manganese, selenium, and fiber (7). These contribute to various health benefits, from boosting the immune system to enhancing metabolic functioning.
- Cardiovascular Benefits: Regular garlic consumption has been linked to improved heart health. It helps in lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels, reducing the risk of heart disease (7). Additionally, it has blood-thinning effects that can be beneficial for certain health conditions, but that can be disadvantageous for other conditions.
- Antimicrobial Properties: Garlic has natural antibacterial properties (8), making it effective against certain pathogens and possibly assisting with conditions such as SIBO.
- Additional Health Benefits: Garlic can help reduce uric acid levels in the body (9), thereby helping to reduce the pain and swelling associated with gout. Furthermore, it provides antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits (10), and may even help the body to detox from heavy metals such as lead (11).
- Digestive Issues: As mentioned earlier, garlic can cause gas and bloating in some people due to its fructan content. This is particularly true for individuals with sensitive stomachs or IBS.
- Bad Breath and Body Odor: One of the most well-known drawbacks of consuming garlic is the strong, lingering odor it leaves on the breath. The odor can even seep through the pores, affecting body odor.
- Potential Drug Interactions: Garlic may interact with certain medications, such as blood thinners and other drugs.
- Blood Thinning Properties: In high quantities, garlic can increase the risk of bleeding due to its anti-platelet activity (12), which is especially significant for people on blood-thinning medications or those preparing for surgery.
- Allergic Reactions: Though rare, some individuals may be allergic to garlic.
While the pros of eating garlic outweigh the cons, this herb still might not be suitable for everyone. If the cons don’t deter you from eating garlic, keep reading for tips on how to manage the gassiness of excessive garlic consumption.
How To Reduce Gas From Garlic?
As stated previously, gas is a normal part of the digestive process. If you feel like you are too gassy, adjust the amount of garlic you consume and how it’s prepared to see if that helps to reduce your gassiness. Consuming smaller doses of garlic will lead to producing smaller amounts of gas caused by garlic. Additionally, you may find that certain preparations of garlic are easier for your body to digest, such as cooked vs raw vs powdered garlic.
Alternatively, certain foods are considered to be gas-relieving and may help you to feel better when you’re experiencing gas and bloating. For example, Cumin, Roman Chamomile, and Caraway are all considered to be carminative (gas-relieving). These ingredient may not be part of your usual shopping list, but they can be found in supplements for gas and bloating. For example, Gaslys™ is a unique supplement that contains these ingredients and more for relieving gassiness and has been said to “stop bloating in its tracks” and be a “great product for gas in your system.”
Garlic can cause gas, but unless you have a condition that makes it so you can’t eat garlic, the health benefits of this vegetable outweigh the drawback of a little natural gas. However, if garlic gas is making you uncomfortable, you can try reducing your garlic intake and experimenting with how you prepare it in order to see how it affects you.
In the event that gas and bloating are a frequent occurrence and a concern of yours, consult with your doctor to check for any underlying health issues and discuss your options.