What is the source of your gas and flatulence?
The wind that has been trapped can be humiliating and painful. Additionally, it can be caused by a variety of factors, ranging from food to underlying conditions. The following is a guide to coping with flatulence.
A few interesting tidbits:
❖ The average adult lets out air 12 to 25 times per day.
❖ Carbohydrates that end in '-tol' are indigestible carbohydrate alcohols that can induce flatulence.
❖ Wind problems could be a symptom of a more serious underlying condition.
While passing wind is natural on occasion, when it occurs frequently, it can weaken your confidence. And, while this varies by individual, we release gas from our mouth or backside between 12 and 25 times per day on average.
Why does wind occur?
Gas accumulates in the digestive tract in two ways: air swallowed or a by-product of gut bacteria decomposing foods. While some gas is unavoidable and perfectly normal, experiencing a high frequency of wind problems may indicate an underlying health problem.
Enzymes break down foods during digestion so they can be absorbed in the small intestine. However, some undigested fibres, starches, and sugars reach the large intestine during this process. They ferment in the gut as bacteria attempt to degrade them. This results in gases such as carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulfide, which are expelled as flatulence.
Is trapped air painful?
Yes, strangling wind can induce discomfort and pain. If you suffer from a painful trapped wind, you will likely feel it in your stomach and lower abdomen.
How do you know if you have trapped wind?
A bloated stomach or abdomen, flatulence or burping, stomach cramps, a rumbling or gurgling sound, nausea, and pain when you bend or exercise are all common symptoms of trapped wind.
Causes of trapped wind, excess wind, and flatulence
Everyone passes wind, and various factors, ranging from your genes to an underlying condition, can contribute to an increase in gas and flatulence. However, you can mitigate undesirable wind problems — the first step is to determine the source of the issue. Several possible explanations include the following:
Consuming food or liquids too quickly causes us to swallow air, then expelled through burps and belches. As doctors refer to it, Aerophagia can also be caused by chewing gum, smoking, having a blocked nose, or wearing dentures that do not fit properly. After eating, it's common to experience trapped wind.
Foods like cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, dried fruit, and beans contribute to trapped wind and flatulence due to their high fibre and sugar content. However, these are critical components of the diet, particularly for liver detoxification. Therefore, keep a diary of your trapped wind after eating various foods if you suspect these foods. Only certain vegetables or bean varieties may cause problems. While raw vegetables such as cabbage may be problematic for you, lightly steamed vegetables may not be — so keep track of how you react to the cooking method of the food you consume as well.
Carbohydrates or sugars such as sorbitol and xylitol— which are frequently used in low-calorie beverages, chewing gums, sweets, cakes, and cookies — cause flatulence because we lack the enzymes necessary for their digestion. Any sweetener ending in '-tol' may cause complications.
Fructose is a naturally occurring fruit sugar present in table sugar, sweeteners and syrups, dried fruits, juices, and other processed foods and beverages. Our bodies cannot digest an excessive amount of fructose simultaneously, and it accumulates rapidly in our bodies. For example, an apple and a 200ml glass of orange juice contain approximately 6g of fructose, while some carbonated beverages contain up to 50g per can or bottle. Undigested fructose often makes its way to the large intestine, where it ferments and produces gas.
Gut bacteria are critical for digestion. The large intestine contains approximately 500 different bacteria species, and each individual's microbiome — as this collection of bacteria is referred to — is unique.
Bacteria produce various gases when they interact with undigested carbohydrates in the gut, resulting in excessive wind and flatulence.
Our diet, lifestyle, and antibiotic use affect our microbiome, resulting in significant changes in the gases we produce. That is why antibiotics can occasionally cause flatulence and why probiotics — which contain so-called friendly bacteria — can help restore the number of beneficial microorganisms in the gastrointestinal tract, thereby reducing flatulence and other gastrointestinal symptoms. Probiotic beverages and yoghurts are widely available, as are fermented foods such as sauerkraut and kimchi.
Certain medications, such as ibuprofen, statins, and antifungals, can occasionally cause flatulence. Consult your physician if you suspect that a drug you take regularly is causing wind problems.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) affects up to 1 in 5 people and is caused by food passing too quickly or slowly through the gut, overly sensitive nerves in the gut, food intolerances, and stress. Additionally, it can result in stomach cramping, bloating, diarrhoea, and constipation. These tend to occur in cycles over time, with episodes lasting days, weeks, or months. Consult your physician, who can recommend a management strategy. This may include following a diet known as the FODMAPs diet, which has been clinically shown to help with IBS symptoms but must be done under the supervision of a dietitian.
Lactose intolerance occurs when the body does not produce enough lactase, the enzyme required to digest milk sugars. Excessive flatulence, diarrhoea, bloating, stomach pain, or feeling sick are warning signs after consuming lactose-containing dairy foods such as milk and cheese. Consult your physician if you suspect you may have it.
Coeliac disease develops when the immune system reacts to gluten, which is found in a wide variety of foods. Flatulence, bloating, constipation, diarrhoea, weight loss, and skin problems are all possible symptoms. It affects approximately 1 in every 100 people and frequently runs in families. A simple blood test can be used to diagnose coeliac disease.
Six straightforward steps to assist in reducing excessive wind and flatulence
1. Maintain a food diary to identify and avoid foods that cause wind.
2. Consume smaller portions more frequently — and chew food slowly. This allows salivary amylase more time to begin degrading carbohydrates, which can help prevent excessive wind.
3. Consume plenty of water to avoid constipation and to keep things moving.
4. Consume peppermint tea — it contains essential oils that have been shown to aid in the reduction of flatulence and bloating.
5. Exercise to aid digestion — research confirms that light exercise, such as walking or a gentle bike ride, can help alleviate symptoms. Activity is believed to assist in the movement of matter through the intestine, which may help with constipation.
6. Check your fibre intake — the majority of us do not consume enough fibre. It is recommended to consume approximately 30g per day. Sources include fruits, vegetables, and whole grains such as wholemeal bread, oats, and quinoa.
Consult your doctor if you experience any other symptoms such as bloating, pain, diarrhoea, constipation, or blood in your poo – these could be signs of something more serious