Flatulence & Bloating

Flatulence & Bloating

Gas is produced in the bowel as a by-product of the digestion process. If produced in excess quantities and not released, the abdomen can become bloated, distended and taut. Flatulence is the expulsion of gas through the anus, and although sometimes embarrassing, is perfectly normal and healthy. Gas that is produced in excessive quantities or has a particularly foul odour may be an indication that the digestive tract is not functioning optimally, and nutritional and herbal remedies may be able to assist.

Symptoms

  • Frequent passing of wind, sometimes with foul odour
  • Abdominal pain and distension
  • Indigestion
  • Flatulence and bloating may accompany both Constipation and Diarrhoea

Causes

  • Sulfur-rich and fibrous foods can result in increased flatulence, especially if intake increases suddenly
  • Swallowed air can contribute to the problem
  • Lactose intolerance, Irritable Bowel Syndrome and other bowel problems can also cause flatulence and bloating, as can some medications

Nutritional & Herbal Solutions

  • Taking a broad-spectrum digestive enzyme supplement works with your body's own gastric secretions to enhance your digestion of proteins, fats, carbohydrates and cellulose, and consequently may reduce symptoms of flatulence and bloating. Look for a formula that also contains herbs such as ginger and peppermint, which are traditionally taken to relieve symptoms of gastrointestinal cramping (colic) as well as other digestive symptoms such as Indigestion and Nausea
  • Peppermint is also sometimes taken in conjunction with activated charcoal to provide natural relief from bloating, gas, wind and flatulence. The peppermint oil has a calming and anti-spasmodic effect on the gastrointestinal tract, while charcoal relieves discomfort by acting as a natural adsorbent, absorbing unwanted toxins and accumulated wind
  • Taking probiotic supplements such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus plantarum and Bifidobacterium longum helps restore the balance of the digestive bacteria and normalise bowel habits, so may be beneficial for people who experience excess wind. Oligofructose (sometimes called fructo-oligosaccharides) can be taken at the same time as probiotics to encourage and support re-colonisation by the friendly bacteria

Diet & Lifestyle advice

  • Foods that are renowned for causing flatulence include legumes (beans, lentils and peas), dried fruit, nuts, eggs and some vegetables, especially onions, cabbage and other sulfur-rich vegetables. If these foods are problems for you, don't avoid them altogether, but start with small quantities and build-up your consumption of them over time. Adding aromatic herbs and spices to your meals may also help. Good options include basil, ginger, fennel, caraway and cardamom
  • Flatulence may be a feature of lactose intolerance, coeliac disease and other food allergies and intolerance. If you suspect your flatulence may be caused by a food allergy, talk to your healthcare professional, who can arrange for the necessary testing
  • Some cases of flatulence are caused by swallowing excess air - often while smoking, chewing gum, or eating too quickly
  • Taking the time to chew your meals slowly prepares the stomach for the imminent arrival of food, and triggers the release of gastric acids and enzymes that will enable optimal digestion

If symptoms persist consult your healthcare professional. Information provided is of a general nature and should not replace that of your healthcare professional.

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