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F for Flatulence

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We all know that embarrassing moment where we simply cannot help ourselves but to let go of some wind. The medical term of a simple fart is flatus and it is described as gas generated in the intestinal tract that is then expelled through the back passage.

What leads to flatulence?

There are many reasons we pass wind. Some are:

  • Poor eating habits such as eating too quickly, not chewing properly and eating with our mouth open and thereby allowing extra air into our digestive tract.
  • An excess of unfavourable bacteria eating lumps of undigested food in our digestive tract. This can easily happen following a course of antibiotics where beneficial bacteria in your digestive tract are greatly reduced. It can also be from a candida overgrowth.
  • Digestive disorders such as constipation, stomach ulcers and suboptimal digestion.
  • Food intolerance including lactose intolerance where the lack of the enzyme lactase means you are unable to break down lactose. This leads to undigested lactose products being digested by unfavourable bacteria.
  • Consuming carbonated drinks, or legumes like dried beans that have not been sufficiently soaked.

All of the above do not go unnoticed in our bodies because in return a gas is created containing hydrogen, carbon dioxide, nitrogen and the flammable methane.

When is too much too much?

Passing wind is a normal biological process, like sweating, burping or breathing. Everybody farts, even those who pretend not to. The average human passes wind approximately 15 times a day. Flatulence is often associated with bloating due to the gas build up and can be uncomfortable, not to mention socially embarrassing.

What you can do about it?

  • Good digestion starts in your mouth. Chew your food thoroughly and be mindful when you eat. Avoid distractions such as eating on the run, TV dinners or eating while driving.
  • Eat probiotic food containing beneficial bacteria such as yoghurt, miso, tempeh and kefir. You may want to top it up with a good quality probiotic supplement.
  • Reduce sugar and refined carbohydrates as it feeds that unfavourable bad bacteria.
  • Add 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to a glass of water before meals. Build up to 1 tablespoon if well tolerated. This is an easy way to increase digestive enzymes and promote hydrochloric acid in your stomach. This helps optimise digestion.
  • Herbal teas such as peppermint, chamomile or ginger can reduce abdominal discomfort.
  • Avoid ‘trigger’ foods until your symptoms have improved. Trigger foods can typically be cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts and legumes.
  • Make a note of suspected foods that cause abdominal discomfort. Triggers may also be in the environment such as chlorine in a pool, stress or certain food combinations. Experiment with giving yourself 30 minutes before eating dessert. Sugar tends to jump the queue and therefore interfere with normal digestion.
  • Soak your grains and legumes as much as possible. The traditional way of making Bircher Muesli, a Swiss speciality, is soaking oats overnight with a bit of lemon. Soaking initiates the digestive process and reduces the load of phytic acid or antinutrients which impairs nutrient absorption and causes bloating.

What else can you do?

  • Exercise is a great way of improving digestive health and reducing stress at the same time. Humans are designed to move around and be active. Find your pedometer and challenge yourself to 10,000 steps a day. Get started and enjoy the many benefits!
  • Make an appointment at my clinic for a thorough health assessment to find the cause of your abdominal discomfort.

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