Flatulence is Embarrassing, but it doesn't have to be!
By Frank Morosky
Flatulence ( fart, flatus, intestinal gas, breaking wind, SBD)- we all have flatulance, and it is a normal part of life. It is a natural result of good digestion. Passing gas is a more familiar term to many people. Most of us try to make light of flatulance so as to not be embarrassed by its occurrence. Gas pains can be uncomfortable and malodorous for many people but you can reduce the symptoms and find relief with proper diet control.
The average person expels flatulence gas 14 times every day. The amount of actual gas released ranges from as little as one cup to as much as one half gallon per day. Gas is made primarily of odorless vapors such as carbon dioxide, oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen, and sometimes methane. The unpleasant noxious odor of flatulence comes from bacteria in the large intestine that release small amounts of gases that contain hydrogen sulfide.(sulfur smell) Contrary to popular belief, women have just as many passages as men, and older people, have no more gas than younger individuals.
Flatulance occurs when a food does not break down completely in the stomach and small intestine. As a result, the food makes it into the large intestine in an undigested state. Most lower intestinal gas is produced when bacteria in your colon ferment carbohydrates that aren't digested in your small intestine. The body does not digest and absorb some carbohydrates (the sugar, starches, and fiber found in many foods) in the small intestine because of a shortage or absence of certain enzymes.
This undigested food then passes from the small intestine into the large intestine, where normal, harmless bacteria break down the food, producing gases such as hydrogen, carbon dioxide, and, in about one-third of all people, methane. As much as 80 to 90 percent of rectal gas (flatulence) is formed by bacteria. Eventually these gases exit through the rectum. Certain foods produce more flatulence than others because they contain more indigestible carbohydrates than others. Beans are well known gas producers. The beans pass through the small intestine and arrive in the large intestine without being digested, which causes flatulence to occur.
Unfortunately, healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, oatmeal and legumes (beans and peas) are often the worst offenders. That's because these foods are high in soluble fiber. Soluble fiber dissolves in water forming a gelatinous substance in the bowel. Fiber has many health benefits, including keeping your digestive tract in good working order, regulating blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and helping prevent heart attacks and other heart problems. But it can also lead to the formation of gas. In the colon the bacteria thrive on the undigestible fiber. These bacteria are harmless but for those who have an intestinal gas or flatus problem it is probably best to avoid or carefully test soluble fibers to see if they are contributing to intestinal gas.
On the other hand, insoluble fiber as found in wheat, rye, bran, and other grains does not dissolve in water. It is not used by intestinal colon bacteria as a food source, so the bacteria generally do not produce intestinal gas. Both soluble and insoluble fiber should be eaten on a daily basis.
By contrast, fats and proteins cause little gas. They are absorbed in the digestive tract before they get to the colon.
Sugars are known to create gas. Fructose is naturally present in onions, artichokes and, pears. It is also used as a sweetener in some soft drinks and fruit drinks. Sorbitol is a sugar found naturally in fruits, including apples, pears, peaches, and prunes. It is also used as an artificial sweetener in many dietetic foods and sugarfree candies and gums.
Foods that may cause excessive and smelly gas include:
-Most beans, especially dried beans and peas, baked beans, soy beans, lima beans,
-Vegetables, such as Cabbage; radishes; onions; broccoli; Brussels sprouts; cauliflower; cucumbers; sauerkraut; kohlrabi; asparagus, potatoes
-Fruits such as Prunes; apricots; apples; raisins; bananas.
-Carbonated beverages- Soft drinks, fruit drinks, milk and milk products, such as cheese and ice cream.
-Packaged foods prepared with lactose, such as bread, cereal, and salad dressing.
-Foods containing sorbitol, such as dietetic foods and sugarfree candies and gums
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Flat-D Innovations, www.flat-d.com has a simple solution for many digestive disorders. The “Flatulence Deodorizer” can control intestinal gas odors. The pad is like wearing activated charcoal underwear but much more economical because it is localized. See our home page or Medical Conditions Button for more information. Go to our News section for more detail about these and other topics.
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