How to avoid (get rid of) wind, flatulence and gas ?

Do you suffer from a bloated belly and excessive gas? The best way to control belching and passing wind is by reducing the intake of gas-producing foods and munching on gas-relieving spices. But, what else can you do to improve digestion and avoid the build-up of gas?

A burp signifies that there is a build-up of gas in the stomach and that the body is getting rid of it. This is air that is usually swallowed along with the food and fluids that we consume. It can also be swallowed when we gulp air when we are under stress. But, what enters the digestive tract must come out, one end or the other of the digestive tract.

Adults, on an average, pass wind, at least ten times in a day. This can be the air that we swallowed or the gases formed during the digestion process. Constipation can produce excessive gas, as can lactose intolerance, a condition in which dairy products are not easily digested.

Unusual culprits

It is not just how you eat or what you eat that adds to the build-up of gas. There are other causes that you must consider –

  • Calcium supplements – Some people have an adverse reaction to the calcium carbonate in calcium supplements. The chemical compound reacts with the stomach juices and releases carbon dioxide. If you are taking calcium supplements and suffer from flatulence switch to one that contains calcium citrate
  • Tight clothes – Tight clothes around the midriff can cause burping
  • Dentures – Poorly fitting dentures can affect the way you chew food, leading to air being swallowed. Get dentures that fit well
  • Nasal congestion – A runny nose, can sometimes make you gulp excessive air causing a build-up of wind
  • Medication – Certain medicines are also the culprit. You could suffer from episodes of excessive gas if you are on antidepressants, antibiotics or anti-ulcer medication

Problem with the oesophageal splinter

The oesophageal splinter is a valve in the digestive tract that keeps the food and wind in the tummy. It sits between the stomach and the oesophagus (the tube that links the mouth to the stomach). Certain foods can cause this valve to weaken, and these foods include chocolate, peppermint, fried foods, fatty foods and caffeine. Cut down on the intake of these foods and you'll not burp so much.

How do you reduce gas the natural way?

  • Deflate the diet : Not all foods have the same properties; many foods produce gas and need to be avoided if you suffer from flatulence. They include cabbage, onions, cauliflower, beans, bran, broccoli and raisins etc. Eggs can also cause wind, as the yolk (yellow part) contains sulphur, which contributes to smelly gas

  • Pulses & beans : Pulses and beans must be soaked overnight or for 5-6 hours, before cooking. The water that they've been soaked in must be discarded. You can use the water in your garden. It's nutrient-rich and good for the plants. Replenish with fresh water, before pressure cooking them

  • Artificial sweeteners : Avoid chewing gums and sugar-free sweeteners that contain xylitol, sorbitol and mannitol as they can also produce gas. These sweeteners are difficult to digest and when they reach the colon, the bacteria present there begins feeding on them and create gas

  • Fructose : Fruits and fruit juices and honey, contain fructose, which is a type of sugar. Fructose acts much like artificial sweeteners and remains undigested in the colon, where the bacteria begin feeding on it and produce gas. Do not cut down whole fruits from your diet, but reduce or avoid the consumption of honey and fruit juices

  • Fibre : Fibre is good for health, but too much of it too fast can cause gas to form. Increase the intake of fibre, in your diet, gradually

  • Dairy - the culprit : Too much gas formation could be a sign that you are lactose intolerant. It is a condition where the milk solids present in milk and all other dairy products, are not digested properly. Cut dairy from your diet, to determine if that is the cause. Lactose intolerant people have low levels of lactase, in their intestine. Lactase is an enzyme that is needed to digest lactose – the natural sugar present in dairy products. If it is difficult to remove dairy from your diet, you can ask your doctor for solutions. Lactose intolerant people are often prescribed lactase enzyme supplements that are added to milk.

    However, a number of lactose intolerant people can consume buttermilk and curd, without difficulty. An alternative is to switch to soy products which are as nutritionally powered as dairy, soy substitutes, such as tofu, instead of paneer and soy milk

Improve digestion to prevent the formation of gas

Gas causes not just bloating of the stomach and immense discomfort, but can also be a cause for embarrassment. Practice the following to alleviate symptoms of gas.

Build 'good' bacteria

Building 'good' bacteria in the gut will aid digestion, naturally. You can ask your doctor for supplements that can help you with it, but a better way to go about it is by eating foods that promote 'good' flora in the digestive tract. Include the following in your diet –

Yakult probiotic is a healthy drink for the stomach

  • Eat fresh curd, with live cultures. This is the regular curd that you set at home. Avoid store-bought curd, both flavored and plain. Make sure it is fresh and unrefrigerated, as cooling kills the bacteria
  • If you opt for supplements then make sure that they contain beneficial bacteria such as biphidus or acidophilus
  • Probiotics such as Yakult help with the regeneration of the 'friendly' bacteria that populate the large intestine and prevent the gas-producing 'unfriendly' bacteria in control

Curl up

You can find relief from painful abdominal cramps caused by gas by lying on your back on a flat surface (the floor is the best option) and pulling your knees up, hugging them close to your chest. This is an asana (pawanmuktasana) suggested in yoga.

The right technique to do this asana is to lie on the floor, with the hands on the side. The knees are slowly raised towards the abdomen and brought close to the chest, while simultaneously inhaling. Use the arms to circle the legs at the shin and hold on to that position. Gently exhale and lower the legs, at the same time. Repeat a number of times, until you get relief. Practiced regularly the asana helps ease the discomfort and aids in the easy passing of wind.

Alternatively, find relief from painful bloating from the gas by kneeling on your bed, and bending down, so the head touches the mattress and your bottom is raised upwards. This posture also allows gas to escape more easily, easing the discomfort.

Walking is another approach that encourages wind dispersal. It's one of the first things that doctors suggest to post-operative patients because it helps their bowels to get to work.

Soothing effects of herbs

Herbs are known to aid digestion and eliminate gas and have been part of the Grandma's home remedies in most Indian homes. Here is lowdown on how you can incorporate herbs into your diet and say goodbye to flatulence, wind, gas!

Cardamom tea
  • Cardamom aids in digestion, so the food that you eat is less likely to form gas in the belly if it is consumed. Drink cardamom tea after your meals, if you suffer from flatulence. To make the tea, boil 1 tsp. of cardamom powder in one glass of water and simmer for 8-10 minutes. Drink the residue, warm

Fennel seeds
  • Known as 'saunf' in Hindi, these seeds aid digestion and are an excellent home remedy for reducing wind. Chew 1 tsp. of fennel seeds after a meal to prevent the formation of gas

Carom seeds
  • 'Ajwain' in Hindi, this spice has a pungent taste, but is an excellent digestive agent and gives quick relief from the wind. Chew a quarter teaspoon of this spice or soak some in a glass of water and drink the fluid

  • If you suffer from a bloated stomach and abdominal pain, sipping on a ginger concoction would provide relief. To a cup of water boiling water add a teaspoon of grated ginger and allow it to steep for 5-7 minutes. Cool, strain and drink. Ginger stimulates digestion, so you won't have food sitting in your intestines, longer than necessary, aiding the production of excess gas

The power of prevention

There is a lot of things that you can do to avoid gas. Simple things such as –

  • Cool your hot drinks – Give your piping hot coffee a few moments to cool. Sipping steaming hot beverages cause you to swallow lots of air
  • Avoid carbonated drinks – Try opening a bottle or fizzy drink after it's been shaken. The contents such froth out, like a volcano. A comparable situation takes place inside your belly when you gulp down fizzy drinks. Beer and sparkling wines have the same effect
  • Avoid straws – Reduce the air that you gulp, by drinking from a cup or tumbler, instead of using a straw
  • Quit chewing gum – You can swallow a lot of air when you chew gum. So, quit the habit
  • Chew well – Remember to chew your food well. When you gulp it down you gulp down air too. Also, when food is swallowed in large chunks, it lingers in the digestive tract, where the bacteria begin feeding on it and trigger the fermentation process, that produces gas
  • Close your mouth while chewing – You just incorporate air into your meal when you chew with your mouth open. You do the same when you talk while eating

When to see a doctor

You should see a doctor if none of the above remedies reduce the belching and the uneasiness, so a better diagnosis of the underlying cause could be made. See a doctor if develop chest pain or if you observe other symptoms such as heartburn, bloating, changes in bowel habits or unexplained weight loss. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) can also cause some of these symptoms.

Article by Juana
Juana is a freelance writer, with years of experience, creating content for varied online portals. She holds a degree in English Literature and has worked as a teacher and as a soft skill trainer. An avid reader, she writes on a variety of topics ranging from health, travel, education and personality development.

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