A nutrition expert at Hamburg’s UKE (University Clinic Eppendorf) is helping change the reputation of flatulence. Once a sign of a good appetite and good fortune, nowadays expelling gas in public is considered socially unacceptable, even though it is a natural part of life. If you accidentally expel gas, most are left feeling horrified and embarrassed. However, Dr. Bettina Jagemann, a nutritional expert and researcher at UKE, is changing the face of gas…at least in Hamburg.

People say the human body is the world’s most perfect machine, but if that’s true why does it produce stinky gases? The main culprit is bacteria in the intestines. And there, these bacteria, which are inside the food we digest, basically have a big, loud party. Normally in digestion, food gets broken down and used in the stomach. The waste from food generally ends up in the colon, and later in the toilet. However sometimes, the body does not fully digest food and some “non waste” gets past the stomach and the small intestine. When this bacteria accidently ends up the colon, it naturally produces gas.

When this happens, “the bacteria start a big party in your intestines,” says  Dr. Jagemann. If your body reacts the way it should, these gases will escape through your mouth usually as a belch or through your colon as flatulence. If they don’t escape one way or another, these gases remain as flatulence in your stomach and, after a while, will cause uncomfortable bloating.

If you are prone to being gassy, the excess air in your stomach may not affect you. But if the bloating disturbs you, becomes painful, produces foul-smelling gas (like Sulphur), Dr. Jagemann recommends examining your diet before you take more drastic steps. "It's best to start by writing a diet and symptom journal," advises Jagemann. Most people notice that some foods, such as cabbage, milk products, or legumes have a gas-producing effect. Surprising to some, too much fructose or too many carbonated drinks can increase the formation of gas says the expert.

The best way to help your body counter flatulence is to go for a walk after eating. This age-old recommendation is useful and has been proven to help the stomach and gut digest better. Also, avoid eating foods that cause your body to react with gas. A change in diet and periodically cutting out certain foods can go a long way in reducing gas. It is important not to ignore abnormal flatulence, because it can affect your quality of life and, for example, cause indigestion or heartburn. If your flatulence episodes become chronic, the acid can damage the esophagus and lead to reflux.

Some occurrence of gas is normal – and healthy. So, if you have a gas from time to time, be glad. However, if you are concerned about chronic gas, please consult a medical professional immediately.


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