Gas formation, flatulence and bloating: Causes & remedies
Flatulence may be experienced either occasionally or sometimes repeatedly depending on the subject's age, eating habits or physical activities. Flatulence is the condition or a state of excessive gas formation in the alimentary canal. It may be caused due to certain foods, drinks, vegetables and also under certain medical conditions. Often, contributing factor may be more than one and may require adjustment not only in eating habits but also the life styles.A food may produce more gas than other and quantity of gas formed may not be equal for all the people eating same food. However, few conditions having more or less similar effects are listed below.
- Hot spicy fast foods and rich fatty fried foods usually may produce excessive gas.
- Experts recommend slow eating and less talking to avoid swallowing extra air.
- Eating less quantities of food but more frequently is believed help less gas formation.
- People experiencing flatulence should avoid intake of fluids with meals.
- Many instances of flatulence are reported due to drinking beer, carbonated drinks and caffeine.
- Intolerance and digestibility problems to certain foods may aggravate the flatulence.
Excessive gas formation may be prevented to a great extent avoiding gas forming foods, fruits and drinks. Information on gas producing food items is provided below.
Starchy Foods: Starchy foods such as foods made with wheat, corn and potatoes may produce excessive intestinal gas. However, rice is considered a better option than other starchy foods for people having a tendency of flatulence.
Foods & fruits having soluble fiber: Presence of high soluble fiber content in oatmeal, oatmeal cookies, and oat bran may cause flatulence because of their high soluble-fiber content. If you want to eat oats for their many health benefits, try slowly adding them to your diet in limited quantities to give your body time to adjust.
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Vegetables and legumes: Dried peas and beans, lentils, cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, cucumbers, green peppers, onions, radishes, turnips. Onions contain fructose and asparagus, broccoli, and cabbage have raffinose that may cause flatulence. Soluble fiber present in some vegetables like peas can cause gas in the large intestine.
Fruits: Sorbitol, a sugar substitute, is referred to as a nutritive sweetener also occurs naturally in some fruits like apples, peaches, and pears.
Milk and Dairy products: Lactose, a type of sugar, found in cheese, ice-cream and milk may be sometimes difficult to digest, especially under conditions when lactase (enzyme) is present in insufficient quantity. Consumption of milk and milk products may lead to excessive gas in people having lactose intolerance.
Sodas and Soft Drinks: The carbonation in sodas and soft drinks and fructose to sweeten fruit/soft drinks may increase the intestinal gas.
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Asafoetida (Hing) As Anti-fluent: Avoid gas forming foods and make sure which food is creating more problem to you since effects of gas forming foods vary from individual to individual. However, Indians use asafoetida or hing, an anti-flatulent, in preparation of all the dishes involving gas forming foods.Asafoetida (Hing) is the dried latex (gum oleoresin) exuded from the living underground rhizome or taproot of several species of Ferula, a perennial herb. It prevents excessive intestinal gas and because of its particular property it is known as an anti-flatulent. Asafoetida is used with almost every dish that includes a gas forming food like lentil (dal), chickpea, dry pea etc.
External application of Asafoetida (Hing): A paste of asafoetida (Hing) made with lukewarm water is applied externally on the opening (where umbilical chord connected before separation) of abdomen of the infants kids with bloated stomach.
Ginger As Anti-flatulent: Addition of grated dry or fresh ginger in small quantities to food during cooking or eating as raw before meals provides relief from flatulence.
Concoction: A concoction of fennel, cardamom and mint leaves also provides great relief from gas formation and relief from flatulence.
Baking Soda+ Lemon: Squeeze out juice from a lemon, add slowly baking soda to it until the fizz stops and add a cup of water to it and use it orally.
Hot Water: Sipping hot water provides quick relief from bloating.
Fennel Seed As Chewing Material: Chewing 8-10 fennel seeds after meals is believed to prevent excessive gas formation. Tea prepared using crushed fennel seeds is believed to allow trapped gas to pass.
Herbal tea: Herbal extracts as chamomile tea, peppermint tea, ginger tea, fennel tea, basil tea etc serve as home made remedies for bloated stomach.
Buttermilk mixed with cumin & pepper powder: Drinking twice a day a cup of buttermilk mixed with 2-3 g each of cumin and pepper powder provide relief from heaviness of stomach.
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Gripe Water: Gripe water is being used as a remedy since long to provide relief for infants and kids from colic, gastrointestinal discomfort, reflux and other stomach ailments. The original ingredients of Woodward's Gripe Water included alcohol (3.6% ), dill oil, sodium bicarbonate, sugar, and water. Alcohol and sucrose have been substituted with other ingredients in many countries but sodium bicarbonate still continues to be the main ingredient. Although research reviews published in different journals did not validate the usefulness of various ingredients, people's faith still supports the worthiness of the remedy in relieving colic in infants.
Triphala: Half teaspoon triphala mixed with 1/2 cup warm water at bedtime is very useful in keeping digestion in perfect state. and eat 1 tsp of honey with it every evening at bedtime.
Honey: One teaspoonful of honey in the morning followed by a cup of lukewarm water may help keeping your stomach free of excessive gas.
Physical activity: Continuously sitting for six to eight hours inside an office room and relaxing in a chair at home for several hours may encourage indigestion, reflux and excessive gas formation. Simple physical activities, morning/evening walks, yoga and stretching exercises may help lot in providing relief from bloating and flatulence.
Information provided above may help in living a healthy life. However, flatulence and bloating sometimes may appear as an disorder due to some undetected health condition. Symptoms of cardiovascular diseases and gall stones may appear similar to flatulence and bloating. In many instances, bloating has been observed without any genuine cause related to digestion or foods. Later on diagnosis revealed bloating to be the result of gall stones. None of the remedies may work in such instances without treating the real problem.Hence, people suffering from bloating or flatulence must see a doctor if problem persists for a longer period and medicines prescribed and remedies suggested do not yield satisfactory results.
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