What is Flatulence?
Flatulence means “the act or action of farting”. It is a common occurrence which occurs when food or drink enters the intestines. The contents of the stomach are digested into small pieces. These tiny fragments pass through the intestinal wall and enter the large intestine where they are absorbed by various organs.
The main function of the large intestine is to absorb nutrients from food and water. The small intestine is shorter and narrower than the large intestine. It is about 6 to 7 meters in length and about 1 to 2 centimetres in diameter.
The large intestine, on the other hand, is greater in length, width and diameter. It measures between 1.5 to 2 meters long and about 2 to 3 centimetres in diameter. The large intestine is also known as the colon. After the contents of the large intestine are absorbed, the remaining waste matter is removed from the body.
When food is not digested fully, it puts pressure on the walls of the colon. This increased pressure leads to a hole in the colon wall. The build-up of gas in the intestine is absorbed into the body and this leads to flatulence.
Basically, “farting” is a natural bodily process. It occurs when the body breaks down food into gases. The large intestine absorbs these gases and sends them into the body.
When these gases are not absorbed fully, they build up in the body and are released as flatulence.
There are many reasons why flatulence occurs more frequently. Some of the reasons are listed below.
Diet – Some foods contain high levels of carbohydrates and sugars. These foods are not broken down naturally. They are broken down over a period of time.
It is during this breakdown that gas is produced in the large intestine and this leads to flatulence. Lactose, found in milk, and fructose, found in fruit and honey, are two common examples of carbohydrates. Red meat is another cause of flatulence. It is high in proteins, which are harder to digest than carbohydrates and sugars.
Some people are more prone to flatulence than others. If you experience excessive flatulence, it may be due to the food that you eat. Incorporate more of green vegetables such as broccoli and cabbage in your diet.
These are high in fibre content.
Another reason why some people experience flatulence is the lack of enzymes in the body. These enzymes break down food into gases that are easily absorbed by the large intestine. You can try taking digestive enzymes, which can be bought from health stores, to help break down food in the stomach and small intestine.
Smoking can lead to excess flatulence. Nicotine present in cigarettes stimulates the intestines and causes the movement of gases through the body. When you quit smoking, gases tend to become trapped in the large intestine.
This leads to flatulence.
Lifestyle – The more you move your body, the more gases are released through it. You may experience flatulence after intense physical activity as your body releases gases through the large intestine.
Hormonal imbalance – The balance of hormones in the body determines how gases are absorbed by the large intestine. If there is a hormonal imbalance, the rate at which gases are absorbed increases. This leads to an increase in flatulence.
There are many natural methods to reduce flatulence. These include:
Fibre – Adding more fibre in the diet reduces flatulence. Fibre is found in vegetables, fruits and whole-wheat products. You can also try taking a dietary fibre supplement to increase your daily fibre intake.
Lactose-free milk – People who are lactose intolerant may experience flatulence after consuming milk and other dairy products that contain lactose.
Sources & references used in this article:
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- Review article Flatulence—Causes, relation to diet and remedies (KR Price, J Lewis, GM Wyatt, GR Fenwick – Food/Nahrung, 1988 – Wiley Online Library)
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