Gases are a taboo subject and farting is something very personal and quite embarrassing when it happens in a public place or when you have a company. On one hand it is understandable since gases may be accompanied by a foul smell, but on the other hand, passing gases is a perfectly natural aspect of digestion. A lot of people don’t want to talk about this problem and claim that passing gases is something that hardly ever happens to them. While the amount of gas that gets produced in the bowels differs from person to person, we all do it, no matter what.
An average person passes gases or burps 14 times a day. Anything above that might be considered a problem with gases. If you do notice that you pass gases too often or that you feel any discomfort or pain when you have to hold them, you should look into some of the lifestyle and diet aspects we talk about below and choose the best remedy for your problem.
Causes Of Flatulence
Gas is produced in the large intestine when food particles are broken down and the solid waste is separated. It is a natural consequence of the digestion process. Some of the gas we pass is actually air that we swallow while eating, drinking carbonated drinks, chewing gum or smoking. A part of it may be released through burping, but a lot of it passes through the whole gastrointestinal tract and leave the body through the anus.
Sometimes the gases are completely odourless, which is a sign of a healthy state of your intestines. When you notice that the farts are smelly, you should consider increasing the intake of probiotics. Why? The foul smell of gases is caused by the bad bacteria that exists in your intestines. In order to reduce their activity, you need to make sure that the level of good and bad bacteria is balanced and you can achieve it by taking probiotics.
Remember that the imbalance of bacteria in the intestines may be triggered by prolonged intake of medicines. Every pill you swallow has to go through the digestive tract and almost every person that takes medicines on a daily basis will experience some gas-related problems at some stage.
Certain foods tend to increase the flatulence. The majority of those products are the ones that contain a high level of cellulose. Since cellulose is too hard to digest completely in the short digestive tract that we have, it causes the production of gases once it reaches the larger intestine. If you wanted to avoid the problem of flatulence caused by food, you would have to drastically reduce the amount of beans, lentils, root vegetables (e.g onions, garlic and potatoes), green vegetables (e.g broccoli, sprouts and cabbage), as well as dairy products, spices, bread and meat in your diet. That sounds like you would be left with water and fruits, which would be quite difficult. Therefore, below we give some tips on how to reduce the flatulence effect when you eat products high in cellulose.
Some people have problems with gases due to the intolerance of lactose. In that case, the lactose you take in by drinking milk or eating dairy products doesn’t get properly digested and fermentation in your intestines. Gases caused by lactose intolerance usually have a foul smell and the body reaction to lactose in the case of its intolerance is almost immediate, with symptoms like abdominal pain and diarrhoea. Thankfully, many dairy products containing lactose can be replaced with their counterparts without this ingredient, so it’s relatively easy to switch to a lactose-free diet.
Allergy to gluten, called celiac disease, is very common nowadays and people who cannot digest gluten suffer from flatulence whenever they eat products that contain this protein. It is difficult, however, to avoid gluten altogether as it is present in wheat, rye, barley, bread and pasta. The market offers more and more gluten-free replacement products, so if you suspect that your problem with excessive gases is related to gluten intolerance, try to follow a gluten-free diet for a few days and see if you notice any change. If so, contact your doctor to confirm the diagnosis.
Health Conditions That Cause Flatulence
When you don’t go to the toilet often enough, the faeces in the colon go into the fermentation process, which causes gas build-up. This doesn’t mean that if you defecate regularly, you don’t need to worry about gases. Some remains of faeces can still be left in the intestine, which often happens to people who don’t drink enough water or have a diet consisting of solid foods only.
Even though the doctors cannot explain clearly how stress is related to the problem of flatulence, it does have a huge influence on the way the gastrointestinal tract works. A higher level of stress may either stimulate the digestive tract, which will lead to diarrhoea in a very stressful situation, or the other way round, it may block the waste in the colon, which will cause fermentation, foul-smelling gases and some major discomfort.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
The symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome range from constipation, bloating and abdominal pain to diarrhoea. It is almost always accompanied by the excessive production of gases and the cause of this condition is very difficult to determine since there are various diseases that usually occur simultaneously with IBS. Some of them are anxiety, depression, liver malfunction and ovarian cysts.
Reasons Of Foul-Smelling Gases
Not all farts are created equal. Primarily, gases are made up of odourless gases, like carbon dioxide, hydrogen, nitrogen and methane. You must have noticed that very often you pass the gases and… nobody notices anything unless they are accompanied by some noise. Farts have foul smell only if the gases mix up with hydrogen sulphide and mercaptans or some pungent substances, like sulphur, indole and skatole, all of them being byproducts of the breaking down the foodstuffs in the gastrointestinal tract. Their production tends to be higher when we consume meat, cheese, eggs and other dairy products, as well as beans and cruciferous vegetables, like cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage.
Home Remedies For Gases
Drinking herbal tea can bring an immediate relief from flatulence, especially if the main ingredient of the tea is chamomile, fennel or peppermint. All of them soothe the abdominal pain and reduce the flatulence. You can mix the three ingredients in equal amounts, put them in a mug and pour some hot water over it. Leave the mixture to strain for 10 minutes so that the water absorbs all the beneficial ingredients from the herbs. Drink the tea every time you feel bloated and if it happens to you regularly, try drinking it after every meal. This should significantly reduce a number of times you will have problems with gases. Herbal tea based on chamomile, fennel and peppermint may be also very beneficial when you suffer from constipations. Since this mixture is a hundred percent natural, it is safe and may be drunk as often as you feel the need to do so. Fennel tea is even recommended for small children and babies.
Flax seeds are a rich source of fibre, which promotes healthy and problem-free digestion. What’s more, they have anti-inflammatory properties and tend to lower cholesterol and blood glucose levels. You can buy ground flax seeds or you can grind them yourself in a coffee grinder. It is important that you don’t consume entire flax seeds as they don’t get digested in this form and you will not be able to make use of their versatile benefits.
Ground flax seeds can be eaten on their own or as an addition to muesli, yogurt, salads, oatmeal or smoothies. The only thing you have to remember about is that flax seeds intake must be accompanied by drinking a lot of water, otherwise, they can lead to constipation. That’s why you should drink at least eight glasses of water a day. Start by taking one to two teaspoons of flax seeds a day and increase the amount to four teaspoons after a week. If you take flaxseed half an hour before meal and drink a glass of water with it, it will reduce your appetite, so it’s a very beneficial solution for those who are trying to lose weight.
Remember to store your flax seeds in a cool place, preferably in the fridge. They may go bad very fast once the package gets opened. Fresh flax seeds should have a nutty smell, while the rancid ones smell bitter.
Chia seeds promote healthy bowel movement and help reduce excessive flatulence. Just like flax seeds, they are high in fibre and should be taken with water. There is no need to grind them, though. Apart from delivering a large amount of fibre, which binds toxins from the digestive tract and adds bulk to the waste in the colon, chia seeds contain a high level of vitamins, minerals and omega-3 fatty acids.
Beneficial as chia seeds are, they may also have some negative influence on your health. If you take medicines regularly, chia seeds may interfere with their absorption. That’s why you need to make sure that there is at least a two-hour interval between the intake of chia seed and the medicines.
Boost the Digestive Enzymes
Healthy digestion depends largely on various enzymes that help break down the food and absorb it into the blood system. In the case of a malfunction of one or multiple organs that produce the digestive enzymes, some elements may remain undigested, which causes their fermentation in the intestines and that results in bloating. You can eat pineapples – rich in bromelain – and papaya – packed with papain. The enzymes contained in these two fruits will give a boost to your digestive system. It is recommended to eat them before the meal, rather than afterwards, as you would normally do. Alternatively, you can buy special enzyme supplements that promote healthy digestion and bowel movement.
Effective functioning of the intestines is possible only when the level of good bacteria is high enough to deal with the bad ones. To protect the smaller intestine, the larger intestine and your colon, you should increase the probiotics intake by eating cultured yoghurt between meals. Before you buy the yoghurt, make sure that the bacterial culture was added after the process of pasteurisation as it kills the bacteria and the yogurt won’t have the same, beneficial effect on your digestive tract.
If you don’t like yoghurt or if your gastrointestinal tract doesn’t react well to dairy, you can reach for special supplements, available in health food stores or in pharmacies. Remember to not take those supplements with food as the increased level of acids in the stomach will damage the valuable bacteria.
Massage, specifically Shiatsu massage, is often recommended to people who have problems with flatulence and who pass gases a lot. Shiatsu massage therapists claim that by pressing specific points on your feet, you can unblock the energy channels, which will in turn promote healthy functioning of the gastrointestinal tract.
The two main points connected to the energy channel responsible for healthy bowel movement are:
• at the bottom of your foot, on the arch, about a finger’s width from the ball of your foot,
• on the top of the foot, where the bones of the big and second toes meet.
If you want to perform the massage yourself, using your thumb press those points for a minute (one point at a time) and release. Repeat the process on the other foot and do three to four sessions on each foot two times a day.
Regular movement equals regular bowel movement. If you don’t do any exercises, there is a much higher chance that you will get digestion problems and you will have to deal with the problems of gases. You can choose the type of physical activity that suits you best. Walk, run, ride a bike or play football. You can sign up for yoga or zumba. Whatever you choose to do, so it regularly and you won’t have to worry about accumulated gases. When you do exercises, even the light ones, your blood circulation speeds up, which accelerates all the processes in your body, from skin rejuvenation to digestion. If you are not a sports person, but you suffer from constant flatulence, try walking half an hour a day and see if notice any difference. The results will probably be the best motivation to keep going.
Activated charcoal is an entirely natural ingredient that has been used for years as an ailment for all kinds for digestion-related problems. It helps for food poisoning, hangover, when you are constipated, when you have diarrhoea and when you feel bloated. Activated charcoal binds the gas and toxins accumulated in the intestines and helps remove them from your digestive system. It is available in all pharmacies. Take two tablets of activated charcoal a day and soon you will forget about the discomfort caused by gases.
How To Prevent Farting
Once you have dealt with the problem of farting, you probably don’t want to go back to the same problem. That’s why you should consider taking all, or at least some of the advice given below to promote a healthy digestion, free from excessive gases.
Eat Well-Cooked Vegetables
When you cook your vegetables, cook them thoroughly so that it’s easier for your digestive system to break them down. Eating raw vegetables is obviously much healthier, but if you temporarily suffer from problems related to gases, stick to well-cooked vegetables. Also, avoid the vegetables that tend to increase the level of gases, like cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli.
Soak the Beans
When you cook beans or lentils, soak them for an hour in warm water, then strain them and put into the fresh water again to soak for another few hours. This will soften them and they will be easier to digest. Also, add some dried marjoram to your dishes with beans. This herb not only adds a great flavour to the dish but also reduces the production of gases that normally follows the consumption of beans.
Eating your meals at specific hours helps regulate the digestive processes and prevent cravings. Your body knows that it doesn’t have to store supplies in case it won’t get another delivery of nutrients, so the brain doesn’t tell you to snack and your digestive system can work in a stable and regular manner, rather than being taken by surprise with new amounts of food coming at random hours. Also, try to eat slower than usually. Chew every bite several times and don’t rush when you’re eating as it has a bad influence on your digestion and when you do it, you swallow more air.
Water with Lemon
One of the simplest and most effective ways to prevent various digestion-related problems is drinking lemon juice with water first thing in the morning. Take a glass of warm water and squeeze the juice of one lemon into it. Drink it immediately after you prepare it and repeat the process every single day, just after you get up. Lemon juice has versatile beneficial properties and one of them is the promotion of healthy digestion. Also, even though it has acidic flavor, it actually helps maintain the alkaline level of pH in your body. This means your gastrointestinal tract works better, it absorbs more nutrients from the food you eat and you have more energy.
Avoid Sugars and Carbonated Drinks
Sugar contained in sweets, pastry, fruits and sodas is a feast for the bad bacteria existing in your intestine. The more sugary your diet is, the bigger chance you have of getting problems with excessive production of gases. Carbonated drinks not only contain a lot of sugar but also the gas that you swallow. Some of it gets released through your mouth when you burp, but a lot of it travels through the whole gastrointestinal tract until it escapes through the anus as an embarrassing fart. Replace sodas with natural juices and mineral water to reduce the amount of gases rapidly.
Quit Smoking and Chewing Gum
We swallow a lot of air when we smoke or chew a gum, so if you fart a lot and you’re a smoker or you constantly chew a gum, you probably know the culprit of your condition. If you are unable to quit smoking, try to reduce the number of cigarettes you smoke per day. If you want to make sure you have a fresh breath, instead of chewing a gum, eat a mint or use a special peppermint breath spray.
Keep a Diary
If you think that your problem with farting can be caused by some kind of food allergy or some specific products, keep a diary of what you eat for two or three weeks and make notes about how you feel – whether you feel bloated, whether your bowel movement is okay and your gases – if any – have neutral or foul-smelling odour. This will help you find certain patterns that affect your digestion. You might notice that your gastrointestinal tract deals perfectly with leafy vegetables and beans, but reacts negatively to lactose. If you notice anything unnerving and you don’t know what kind of remedies you should use to solve your problem or how to adjust your diet to the needs of your digestive tract, talk to your doctor.
When Should I See The Doctor?
If the problem of excessive gases is persistent, regardless of your diet and the use of home remedies, you should contact your doctor. He might direct you to perform special food allergy tests or do a scan of your abdomen to check it for the presence of tumours that might be putting pressure on the intestines or blocking the passage in them.