By Suzanne Laurie, Nutritionist

Who doesnt suffer from a little flatulence every now and again Not many of us, however it can become a slightly embarrassing problem if every now and again becomes every time you eat! So what causes flatulence and is there anything we can or should be doing..or is it a matter of suffering in what we hope is silence!!!

The good news is no one is immune so there is no need to be embarrassed! Gas in the digestive tract (that is, the oesophagus, stomach, small intestine, and large intestine) comes from two sources:

  1. swallowed air
  2. the breakdown of food

Everyone creates gases in their digestive tract during the breakdown and metabolism of food. These gases then need to be eliminated by burping or passing it through the rectum. However most of the gas produced should be odourless and go unnoticed. If the gases emerging your digestive tract are a little less innocuous this may be because undigested food is passing into the large intestine, where bacteria will ferment it with the release of gases that contain sulphur (a highly odorous substance, which gives garlic its characteristic smell).
Therefore the most common cause of flatulence is indigestion, although chronic flatulence may indicate more serious intestinal health problems and should be investigated further with the help of a healthcare professional.

Facts about Flatulence

  1. Most people produce 1 to 4 pints of gases in their digestive tracts per day
  2. On average we will relieve ourselves of excess gases a staggering 14 times a day!
  3. he gases are a concoction of carbon dioxide, oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen and methane

Prevention of Flatulence
Most cases of excess or odorous flatulence can be prevented by slight dietary and lifestyle change. Here are a few hints for reducing your emissions:

  1. Eat slowly and chew your food thoroughly undigested pieces of food are more likely to pass through to the large intestine if they are not broken down adequately in the mouth. 
  2. Keep an eye on your portion sizes eating large quantities of starchy carbohydrates and/or protein in one meal can overload the digestive system and lead to indigestion
  3. Avoid eating large portions of foods with a high sulphur content these include red meat, beans and pulses, garlic and onion
  4. Try adding some natural live yoghurt to your diet this will help ensure a healthy bowel and prevent overgrowth of bad bacteria that can increase flatulence, particularly the smellier kind!
  5. Consume a healthy balanced diet - The diet should consist of adequate amounts of fresh, raw green vegetables with low levels of sugar, hydrogenated fats and oils, and processed, chemicalized foods. 
  6. Drinking peppermint tea after meals can aid digestion and reduce flatulence
  7. Ensure you have a regular bowel movement do not resist the urge to have a bowel movement as this will hold gases in the intestines and lead to further fermentation and sulphur production

Seek help if

  1. You suffer from flatulence after every meal
  2. You suffer from excessively smelly flatulence
  3. You often feel bloated after eating
  4. Your flatulence is accompanied by other symptoms of indigestion such as stomach cramps, diarrhoea and constipation
  5. You suffer from rectal itching or bleeding