Flatulence is the passage of gas from the digestive system. We know it more commonly as “passing wind” or “farting”. Even though farting is laughed about and is a topic of jokes, it is worthwhile to know that it is a normal biological process. It is something everyone experiences on a regular basis! An average person passes gas 14 to 23 times a day. Even though it is absolutely normal, excessive flatulence or farting is not only embarrassing but also may indicate underlying digestive issues.
One cause of passing gasses is that when we eat food, we tend to swallow small quantities of air which collects in the digestive system and after passing through the entire gut, it is passed out as gas.
One other cause is that the friendly bacteria in our gut help digest foods that our bodies have trouble breaking down, these bacteria also produce gas.
Some eating habits such as eating too fast, over-eating, not chewing food properly and eating food with high-fat content may cause excessive gassiness.
Certain underlying health conditions of the gut, such as indigestion or irritable bowel syndrome may also cause increased flatulence. Being sedentary, lack of exercise and stress are also known causes of bloating and flatulence.
Tips to control Flatulence- The main target to treat gas problems is to change your diet and train yourself to swallow less air.
- Eat slowly and chew your food well.
- Identify the foods/drinks that cause bloating in you and avoid them through the elimination diet (eliminate foods that cause gastric distress by identifying them)
- If you constantly suffer from bloating and gassiness many days in a row then it is best to avoid overeating- eat small foods in regular planned intervals.
- Being physically active-Walking, bicycling, running, and other forms of exercise can help move gas through your digestive tract, easing bloating and thus reducing flatulence.
- Reduce or quit smoking.
- Avoid taking fizzy/carbonated drinks.
- Learn to manage your stress well. Practicing ways to reduce stress and anxiety, such as breathing exercises or progressive muscle relaxation, may help reduce acidity, bloating and excess gas.
- Dairy products can be a source of intestinal distress and bloating if you have trouble digesting lactose, or milk sugar. It is best to observe if you suffer flatulence on taking these and discuss it with your doctor.
- Whole grains are very healthy due to their high fiber content. But fiber is an indigestible carbohydrate and therefore sudden increase in the number of whole grains/fiber in your diet may cause gas, bloating. It is advised by nutritionists to slowly increase the fiber content in your diet to allow your body time to adjust and at the same time, increase water intake.
- Ensure the proper movement of food through the digestive tract by hydrating well in between meals with pure water. Proper hydration is important in removing waste from the body because it lubricates fiber causing it to swell preventing it from becoming stagnant along the digestive tract. Moving things through your system minimizes fermentation and reduces gas formation.
- Adding probiotics to the diet can really help.
Temporary bloating or flatulence is nothing to worry about. But if you’re troubled with them on a regular basis, it is important to discuss the possibilities with your doctor.
Dr. Afroze Fatima