Flatulence And What It Says About Your Health

Flatulence, or passing gas, is a normal part of everyday life; consciously or unconsciously, everyone passes gas at least 14 to 20 times a day. Every time you swallow saliva, drink, or eat, you also swallow tiny amounts of air and this air accumulates in the gut, and as humans we eliminate excessive gas by either belching (burping) from the mouth or out through the anus. This extra air consists mostly of oxygen and nitrogen, but when our bodies digest food, gas that consists of carbon dioxide, hydrogen, as well as methane, mixes with the oxygen and nitrogen and is then released from the body. The reason why flatulence makes an embarrassing sound is due to the gas passing through the rectum, which cause vibrations in the anal opening.

However, passing gas is more than a routine function; it can be an indicator of digestive health issues and can say a lot about your lifestyle, eating habits, as well as give you a clue about the state of your health. For example, carbohydrates such as fiber, starch and sugars do not get absorbed completely in the small intestine, so if you eat a lot of whole wheat, vegetables, or beans, you will be more flatulent than someone who eats a lot of meat. However, even though an individual who eats a lot of vegetables may be more flatulent than a person who eats a lot of meat, flatulence from a person who eats a lot of meat usually smells much worse. The foul smelling odor in gas comes from a combination of sulfur compounds, and many red meats as well as other forms of protein typically contain high amounts of sulfur.

While passing gas is a normal physiological activity, there is a thing as too much flatulence. Excess flatulence can be an indicator of hidden health problems in the digestive system such as a bacterial imbalance, a lack of compounds (enzymes) in the GI tract, or even an overabundance of GI compounds. In addition, experiencing very foul smelling flatulence could be a sign of infection, or even a bleeding ulcer. Please keep in mind that having very foul smelling or excess flatulence usually is accompanied by changes in digestion or in stools, so if you are experiencing any fluctuations with your digestive system it may be time to see a doctor.

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