Flatulence is the passage of gas from the intestine through the anus. Individuals of all ages should pass wind between 5 and 15 times a day. There is no right or wrong concerning the amount that is passed from a health prospective. In the West, passing wind is, arguably, not socially acceptable. Healthwise it is not a serious matter to withhold the passage of gas but this often leads to abdominal aches and pains. Eighty-five per cent of gas in the intestinal tract is swallowed and 15 per cent is produced by bacteria. The swallowing of air is most commonly associated with eating rapidly and talking whilst masticating . Most food has air as part of its cellular components or structure and chewing crushes this out. Poor chewing, therefore, allows air to pass into the stomach and thereafter the rest of the intestine.

Bad bacteria often produce more gas and are the cause of an excess in a few per cent of cases. Our natural bowel flora produce gas and the rate at which they do so will be dependent on the contents of the colon. Higher sugar levels will increase the bacteria’s metabolic rate, thereby increasing their gaseous biproduct. Bacterial gas accounts for the characteristically unpleasant smell which will vary depending on the food eaten and its enhancement of bacterial activity. Flatulence is not a medical problem unless it is associated with bowel pain, is sociably unacceptable, too frequent or bad smelling.

Eat food more slowly, chewing well and avoiding talking whilst masticating and swallowing.

Review the diet in association with the amount or odour of the flatus and see if specific foods can be isolated as a cause of any problem. Cut down on refined sugars and excessively sweet foods.

Avoid overeating or eating late at night.

Yoghurt bacteria tablets such as Lactobacillus acidophilus or Probifidus can alter the bowel flora in the colon and have a mild effect on unpleasant flatus.

Review the amount of fibrous foods and ensure that the diet is not too heavily weighted in foods that are hard to digest, such as raw vegetables.

Consider the use of hydrochloric acid tablets with a pancreatic enzyme supplement since poor digestion may allow undigested foods to reach the bacteria in the colon which then feast. If things improve with this treatment consider visiting a complementary medical practitioner for a discussion on why the digestive process is lacking.