Also known as 'farting', or 'passing wind', flatulence is a medical term for releasing gas from the digestive system. It happens when gas collects inside the digestive system and is a normal process.
Gas collects in the digestive tract when your body breaks down food. It can also happen when you swallow air while eating or drinking. Gas is usually made up of oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen, carbon dioxide, and occasionally methane.
On average, people experience flatulence between 13 to 21 times per day[i]. Some conditions like irritable bowel syndrome and celiac disease can cause excessive flatulence. You may also pass wind more frequently if you eat certain foods; food sensitivities and intolerances may also cause gas.
Flatulence may also be caused by swallowing air. Reducing the following will limit amount of swallowed air: chewing gum, smoking, carbonated beverages, eating or drinking too quickly.
Watch out for processed foods: foods high in fructose or sorbitol, like fruit juices and sugar-free candies
When gas-producing foods take a long time to digest, this leads to the unpleasant smell associated with flatulence. there are some foods the body can’t fully absorb. This means that they pass from the intestines to the colon without being completely digested first.
The colon contains a large number of bacteria that then break down the food, releasing gases; the build-up of this gas causes flatulence.
Keeping track of the foods you eat in a food diary and the flatulence symptoms you experience can help narrow down which ones cause gas in your body.
Food intolerances, like lactose intolerance
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
Foods high in starch, sugar, or fibre and issues with digestion could be causing excessive flatulence. Focus on supporting digestion:
try bitter salads or a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in water before a meal. If you drinking a large amount of water, do this around 30 minutes before consuming food, so as to not dilute the stomach acid needed for proper digestion.
Concentrate on the food, try to be mindful whilst eating but not multitask while eating
Ensure meals are balanced with a good ratio of carbohydrates to proteins and healthy fats
Avoid processed food containing unnecessary additives which can upset the gut lining and mess up digestion. Processed foods are also high in refined carbohydrates and sugar, as well as cheap oils which all cause inflammation in the body. So try to consume whole foods and freshly cooked food wherever possible
Consume prebiotic foods to support the microbiome of the gut such as chicory, Jerusalem artichoke, garlic and onions. However, in some digestive disturbances, these foods may aggravate symptoms. Please also see advice on acid reflux and indigestion
Targeted probiotics, a lower daily dose may be more suitable starting out, as a gentle option for a disturbed digestive system. Prebiotic supplements may also be helpful.
Ensuring enough B vitamins may also be pertinent for good digestion: For example, B1 (Thiamine) may help regulate and enhance appetite, while B3 (Niacin) is required for the proper function of fats and sugars in the body. B vitamins also support a healthy gut microbiome.
Walk around or do light aerobics around 20-30 minutes after eating. Physical activity helps with digestion.
Try gas-relieving poses: lying on your side or try a knees-to-chest position
Drink ginger tea after eating. Ginger may help relieve gastrointestinal irritation and aid digestion by stabilising stomach acid production
Chew fennel seeds after your meals. Though not backed by research, fennel is thought to help expel gas from the intestinal tract and assist digestion. Fennel and chamomile tea can also have the same effect
Decrease stress. Excess tension can cause you to swallow air and also lead to heartburn, which can increase burping. Periods of anxiety can also cause hyperventilation. This can make you swallow more air
Please note that the information contained within this website does not and should not replace medical advice, and is not intended to treat or diagnose. We always recommend you consult with your doctor. Our Nutritional Therapy team is highly trained and we offer one to one Nutritional Therapy Consultations, which are designed to be complementary to any medical treatment from a functional medicine approach, as well as offering a preventative & optimal health focus.