Um.. it's a gas!

Posted by on 26 May, 2009

This is going to get uncomfortable but the topic today is gas. Bum gas.

I know, women don’t pass wind. I understand you’re all reading this for your cousin or your sister’s boyfriend’s personal trainer. I thought it might be worth mentioning that I probably see at least three or four patients a week who specifically come to see me about their gas. So it’s not that rare!

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This is going to get uncomfortable but the topic today is gas. Bum gas.

I know, women don’t pass wind. I understand you’re all reading this for your cousin or your sister’s boyfriend’s personal trainer. I thought it might be worth mentioning that I probably see at least three or four patients a week who specifically come to see me about their gas. So it’s not that rare!

OK who’s ready to take the gas quiz?

Question; How often should you pass gas?

Answer; Every day. Not passing wind in a 24 hour period is a sign of a bowel obstruction and means you should call an ambulance and go to casualty. Ever had an operation? 'Have you passed wind?' is the first question you’ll be asked post-op. If you haven’t let one rip, you’re not going home!

Question; OK but how much is normal?

Answer; Are you sitting down? Anywhere between 500mLs and two litres a day of gas is NORMAL. And it comes out in amounts between 50mLs and 200mLs at a time (do the math - 10 to 20 a day!!)

Question; What causes the smell in my gas?

Answer; Bugs. Bacteria, which broadly speaking fall into two camps. Methane producing bugs actually aren’t too offensive, but your hydrogen sulfide producing bacteria smell gross. Different people have a different proportion of these bugs in their guts. Now your genes, what foods (including garlic and spices) you put into your guts and how much alcohol are the missing links that round off the smell factor.

Question; I am so gassy and full of wind. Could something be wrong with me?

Answer; Well yes. The top three conditions I see that causes gassiness and bloating are Helicobacter pylori infection, celiac disease and lactose intolerance. Check with your GP if you think you might have one of these!

But for most people, gas from time to time is just normal and needs a few management strategies. So are you ready?

Here are my TOP 5 tips to avoid the embarrassing gas leakage problem;

1. Avoid fatty food. Fat slows down the digestive process giving your food more time to ferment and your bowel bugs more time to create some seriously stinky wind.

2. Avoid sulfur containing foods that provide the sorts of bugs which hydrogen sulfide producing bacteria eat, like eggs and cabbage.

3. Avoid fizzy drinks, especially diet ones that are flavoured with gas enhancing artificial sweeteners like sorbitol.

4. Buy some activated charcoal tablets (like Charcotabs or Nature’s Own Charcoal,) which can help when you are having a gassy day but have to get through work without embarrassing yourself.

5. Temporarily cut out high fibre foods like green leafy veggies, lentils and cauliflower

I wish you all an Elle McPherson tummy.