The roaring thunderous noise alighted from one corner of the classroom and the entire bunch of students started to laugh uncontrollably at one individual. You guessed it right-he farted! History has always used flatulence/farting as a piece of comedy or as a representation of humor in books and magazines. Flatulence is normal, common and nothing to worry about mostly.
Flatulence, farting or wind is the act of passing gas from the digestive system through the anus. We do pass gas through the mouth, but this is called as burping or belching. While we think than flatulence is rare or confined to certain individuals, the truth is that everyone has gas and most of us pass gas between 5 and 15 times daily. It is something regularly experienced by everyone with only numbers, characteristics and intensity varying from individual to individual.
The word is derived from the Latin word ‘flatus’ meaning a blowing or breaking wind and there is an entire area of study dedicated for this known as flatology. While it is common for individuals to fart, it varies from individual to individual in terms of volume and frequency and smell that can vary in concentration depending on the individual. Some people pass gas which goes unnoticed or pass healthy gas that is harmless without odor.
Although purely biological, this process is often laughed at which can make the person feel embarrassed and guilty when he/she is present among others. Lifestyle changes, diet modifications and exercise can control flatulence.
Science of Farting
Along with the food, water and saliva that we swallow, we also gulp in small quantities of air that gets accumulated in the digestive tract. Trying to digest food can sometimes cause gases to build up and our body struggles for a way out to expel these unnecessary air and gas. Farting or belching is the answer to our struggle.
Hydrogen, methane and carbon dioxide are the main gases released during digestion that cause no odor. Most of the time we don’t realize passing wind as these gases are mostly odorless and released in small quantities. But sometimes, there is a bad smell due to the presence of gases such as Sulphur that crop up when we eat foods that are difficult to digest. The excess smell might also indicate an underlying health condition or might be the side effect of medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), laxatives, antifungal medicines and statins.
Some Do’s and Don’ts to prevent the occurrence of excessive or smelly fart include:
When we say that certain foods can enhance farting, there must be a solid reason behind this. Closely observing these foods shows that foods causing flatulence are usually those high in certain polysaccharides (especially oligosaccharides) such as inulin. Examples of such foods include:
Lactose intolerance: When people with lactose intolerance consume milk or other dairy products that contain lactose but lack the enzyme to break it down, the bacteria feed on the lactose. This can lead to gas production in these people.
Artificial sweeteners: Sorbitol and similar sweeteners are found in candies, chewing gums and other sugar-free sweets which can cause some people to develop diarrhea, gas or both.
Fizzy drinks: Carbonated drinks and soda can cause a build up of gas in the intestinal tract.
Farting Due to Health Conditions
Certain health conditions that can cause flatulence include:
Changing your lifestyle and eating healthy food can help in controlling flatulence but it is better to visit a GP if you lose weight without any reason, notice bloody stools, repeatedly get constipation or diarrhea or have constant stomach ache/bloating. The GP might suggest charcoal tablets or clothing containing activated charcoal to reduce the effects of foul smell released during flatulence. The charcoal tablets are suitable only if the individual does not consume any other medication as charcoal has the tendency to absorb the medication and make it less effective. Probiotics might also be prescribed to reduce flatulence as the friendly bacteria aid in digestion and reduce the symptoms of farting.
AVOID FRAUD. EAT SMART.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.