Release body gases
In the old days, it was good manners to let the body make itself heard after a hearty meal. But today, releasing wind is considered indecent, which is why we are uptight about it, in the truest sense of the word. But this is wrong, because whatever can be let out can no longer cause discomfort inside.
Frequent causes of flatulence
Flatulence is often self-inflicted. While rules of etiquette represent one reason for this, certain unhealthy everyday habits also contribute: gulping down food in a hurry, eating over-sized portions, as well as eating foods that are difficult to digest. A few changes to your behaviour will make life easier for your stomach.
Where intestinal gases come from
It’s actually a normal and natural process for the body to produce intestinal gases such as carbon dioxide, methane or hydrogen sulphide. Intestinal bacteria decompose the food components that we cannot digest – fibre, for example – and the waste is converted into gases. Some of these find their way out through the «back door».
Only when an excessive amount of this gas is released into the atmosphere do experts speak of flatulence. Or of meteorism, a bulging bloated belly that also makes rumbling, gurgling sounds. Both can have a strong negative impact on our well-being, especially if they occur after practically every meal.
What can help with flatulence
Avoid foods that cause bloating, such as leeks, cabbage, pulses, stone fruit and products containing sweeteners.
Instead, choose digestible foods such as white rice, peeled potatoes, bananas, cooked courgettes and cooked carrots.
Eat fatty foods in moderation.
Eat regularly, take your time, chew thoroughly.
Take a short walk after your meal.
Don’t drink highly carbonated soft drinks.
Mix anise, fennel or caraway seeds into your meals or use them to make teas like fennel tea or chamomile tea. Ginger, cinnamon or mint can also have a soothing effect.
Intolerances can also be the cause
One reason for these conditions could be a dysfunction like irritable bowel syndrome. Others may include gluten intolerance (coeliac disease) or an intolerance to certain sugar compounds such as fructose or sorbitol (fructose intolerance). These are substances that end up undigested in the large intestine where they are fermented by bacteria. The reactions incurred include cramps and bloatedness – plus excessive intestinal gas. Sufferers may find the new FODMAP concept of help. This is used by nutrition experts to identify the triggers that are responsible and suggest more digestible foods.
Lactase enzyme necessary for digestion
Another aspect is the fact that our digestive capacity often decreases over the course of a lifetime, which can mean that too little of the enzyme that digests milk sugar (lactose) is produced. Whether someone suffers from lactose intolerance can be tested by means of a hydrogen breath test. If this is the case, sufferers are often advised to avoid milk and only eat more digestible dairy products such as yoghurt or cheese.
When to see a doctor?
As a general rule, if flatulence occurs frequently and becomes increasingly troublesome, it’s worth consulting a doctor. Organic causes – such as chronic inflammation of the pancreas – are rare, but pain, diarrhoea, blood in the stool or lack of appetite should be treated as a warning.