The cause of flatulence is the bacterial fermentation of the complex carbohydrates in the large intestine. Besides a minute amount of contribution from the air that we end up gulping while eating, the majority of flatus or gas comes from bacteria. The key condition for flatulence is
1) Presence of bacterial colonies in large intestine. Which all human beings naturally have. Bacterial colonies in the large intestine are also commonly referred to as “gut flora” or “intestinal flora”.
2) Presence of undigested or partially digested complex carbohydrate or polysaccherides or oligosaccherides in large intestine. This is also inevitable given the normal human diet. Although this will greatly vary from person to person and will depend upon other conditions or disease a person might have.
As long as above two conditions are satisfied flatulence will be there. As mentioned these two conditions are extremely commons and hence the occurrence of flatulence.
If you are reading this one of your likely concern is how to avoid flatulence, especially the foul smelling one. Before we start thinking about that, we first need to ask whether we should really try to stop flatulence ? Not really. For the most part it is a natural process which we are better off leaving alone, but if someone is having persistent, frequent foul smelling flatulence, that is not normal and it is legitimate to think of addressing that situation.
To get a very clear idea what is involved when one thinks of addressing flatulence issues, one needs to get a bigger picture of what goes one when we talk about flatulence. Let’s go through the highlights of the digestive process that is associated with the flatulence.
a) Digestion is the process of converting food into nutrients which body can readily absorb and use. Digestive process achieves this in two steps, it mechanically grinds and crushes the food to expose largest possible surface area and then it releases various enzymes into this mix which breaks down food into simple components which can be absorbed into the digestive tract wall and transport into the bloodstream.
b) There are certain type of foods, like cellulose fiber, for which human body doesn’t have an enzyme to break it down. Many times because of the diseases, the body cannot produce enough of certain enzymes, this results in the undigested food especially complex carbohydrates in the last stage of the digestive tract, which is the large intestine.
c) Luckily human large intestine has billions of bacteria which readily feast on the undigested food that it encounters. What follows is an anaerobic bacterial fermentation.
d) During anaerobic bacterial fermentation of undigested food in the large intestine, bacteria get energy for itself and as a byproduct following happens. It releases short chain fatty acids like acetic acid, propionic acid, butyric acid, hydrogen, methane and carbon dioxide.
e) Fatty acids are absorbed through the intestinal wall and are utilized by the body for energy purpose. These fatty acids also help the body absorb essential minerals like calcium, magnesium and iron.
f) These bacteria synthesize important vitamins like K and some types of B. These vitamins are absorbed within the large intestinal wall and used by the body for its important functions.
g) These bacteria prevent other species that could harm the host from colonizing the gut through competitive exclusion. Harmful yeast and bacteria are kept at bay. People who don’t have enough of gut bacteria easily get infected with yeast and harmful bacteria.
h) These gut bacteria have a continuous and dynamic effect on the host immune system. They stimulate antibody production.
i) New research is continuously revealing previously unknown mechanisms through which these bacteria are contributing to our good health and well being.
Given all these very important and vital functions that these gut bacteria play, it is very clear, we can not afford to loose these bacterial. They are essential.
The question then becomes, how can we prevent foul smelling flatulence without disturbing the intestinal flora. An attempt has been made throughout this site, to answer this question.
Nowadays there is a lot of awareness about eating healthy food. The knowledge about healthy and unhealthy foods is very widespread. We may not be eating that much healthy but we definitely know a lot about what we should really be eating.
Among different types of health foods, high fiber is a very important class. We probably have heard that one of the important ingredient missing in our daily diet is fiber. Typical western diet lacks fiber.
Our typical diet is high in protein, saturated fats and simple carbs. But it is usually very low in fiber and most of us do not get enough fiber from our food.
But this has been rapidly changing. We have started to consume more food containing fiber. Examples are certain vegetables, beans, lentils and certain ready-made cereals which contain high fiber. Even lots of snack foods are being offered in high fiber…….continue reading….
Have you ever noticed that milk has an inherently mild sweet taste? If you never had plain milk, you may not have noticed. Try plain milk and observe the taste.
This is because milk has a type of sugar called lactose. Lactose is one of the many types of sugars or simple carbohydrates that are found in different food sources.
Lactose cannot be absorbed during digestion as it is. It needs to be broken down The human small intestine produces an enzyme called lactase. The function of lactase is to break down lactose into glucose and galactose. Both of which are simple sugars, which can be easily absorbed through the small intestinal wall.
About 10% of the population do not produce enough lactase to properly digest a glass of milk.
When you don’t have enough lactase, residual lactose makes its way to the large intestine. There unfriendly bacteria feed on lactose and produce lots of gas. This could easily turn into foul-smelling gas….Continue reading
Many people wonder whether stress can cause an increase in flatulence or gas.
The answer is yes. Here is how stress causes more gas.
Let’s recap the basics of the gas. Gas is produced when undigested food makes its way to the large intestine. The large intestine has hundreds of different types of bacteria. These bacteria will feed on the undigested food when it is available. Whenever bacteria ferment something, they always produce gas as a by-product.
The key is that when undigested food enters the colon, it produces gas. There are a couple of ways the undigested food can enter the colon.
Many food items that we consume have components which we cannot digest. The examples are dietary fibers. We are not equipped to digest them with enzymes. These are bound to make their way to the colon. We rely on bacterial fermentation to break down such food components.
Other times, something goes wrong with the production of necessary digestive enzymes. Because of the lack of the enzymes…….continue reading.
We may not fully realize this but while eating or drinking we end up ingesting quite a bit of air into our body.
Usually this is not an issue. Our digestive system can deal with air just like any other food or drink that it processes.
Although one side effect of ingesting too much air is that it will be expelled initially as burp and possibly as flatulence.
If you are already suffering with lots of gas and would like to cut the amount of gas that you are passing, you have to make sure you are not inadvertently ingesting too much air.
There are few other ways as well in which we end up ingesting air.
When we chew the gum, we end up eating a bit of air. The reason is that……..continue reading.