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Flatulence (Wind or Gas)

When you eat or drink, especially quickly or under stress, you tend to swallow air, which combined with gases like sulphur dioxide produced when food is being digested in the body, causes flatulence. This is then passed out as a burp through the mouth, or as wind from the other end of the digestive tract. Just so much as a mention of wind or flatulence can cause people to get embarrassed, and make others snigger, but when it’s you who has his system full of wind it doesn’t exactly seem like an idea of a good joke. So in order to prevent embarrassment caused by flatulence, you would do well to munch some caraway or other wind-relieving seeds after a meal, which will help your body digest food more efficiently.

Constipation and lactose intolerance, a condition in which you cannot digest milk and dairy products properly, contribute in a major way to the build-up of flatulence.

Take care of your diet

  • Reduce intake of all wind-producing foods, which include beans, cabbage, bran, cauliflower, broccoli, onions, prunes and some sprouts. The yoke of an egg, which contains sulphur, also can contribute to flatulence.
  • To prevent flatulence, cook beans and pulses in such a way that it removes gas. Soak them overnight, and discard the old water before cooking, and use fresh water for boiling them. Cooking them in a pressure cooker is even better.
  • Refrain from sugar-free sweets and chewing gum which contain sweeteners like sorbitol, xylitol and mannitol to control flatulence. It is difficult to digest these substances and when they reach the colon, bacteria tend to feed on them and create gas.
  • Avoid, as far as possible, consuming fructose contained in honey, fruits and fruit juices, as this too has the same effect as the sweeteners mentioned above. You need not avoid eating whole fruit, but reduce consumption of honey and fruit juices.
  • If you want to add more fibre to your diet, do it gradually. Fibre is excellent for digestion and good health, but consuming too much of it suddenly can increase wind.

Be careful when it comes to dairy products

  • It could be that your system cannot tolerate lactose, if it is producing too much wind. Experiment by completely cutting out on dairy products temporarily to see if it reduces flatulence.
  • If you do find that your system is indeed lactose intolerant, it would mean a deficiency of the enzyme lactase which is needed to digest lactose. Your system would still probably be able to tolerate curd and buttermilk, and besides try finding products labelled as low-lactose or switch to soya substitutes.

Herbal remedies

  • Ginger is a good gas-buster. It comes in many forms, you may try some of them to see which suits you. You can also take tablets or capsules as per manufacturer’s instructions to ease flatulence. Try some ginger tea after a meal. Grate some fresh ginger and steep it in a cup of boiling water for five minutes, let it cool down and then drink. It will help in good digestion and restrict flatulence.
  • Having cardamom tea with meals can also restrict wind formation by helping your system digest the food better. Put one teaspoon of cardamom in 250 ml water and let it simmer for 10 minutes, and your cardamom tea is ready to drink.
  • Fennel seeds not only have a pleasant licorice fragrance, but have been used for ages to reduce wind and improve digestion. Caraway, anise and celery seeds have a similar effect. Chewing half a teaspoon of these seeds after a meal will help expel wind from the intestinal tract.

By the age of 60 years, around 60% of men and 40% of women start snoring