Constant flatulence is a signal from the body that should be taken seriously. Bloating indicates an imbalance in the digestive system. And it is precisely this imbalance that can have a negative impact on general health.
Diet or the way we eat is usually to blame. But stress, medication or intolerances can also lead to flatulence – in addition to many other triggers. We explain possible causes of flatulence and present many tips and measures that can be used specifically to deal with flatulence.
Flatulence is putrescent gases
Persistent flatulence is the result of gas formation in the intestine. Gas formation in the intestine is not uncommon in itself. The gases produced are normally easily absorbed by the organism and excreted again through the lungs.
However, if flatulence or even constant flatulence occurs, this is due to excess gas formation that the body can no longer eliminate unnoticed. Instead, the gases are now discharged through the anus in the form of flatulence.
Flatulence is not harmless air, but putrefaction gases that can not only damage the digestive system and its natural intestinal flora but also put a strain on the entire organism, especially the liver. Rapid elimination of flatulence is therefore extremely important to protect the body from self-poisoning.
What causes flatulence?
Flatulence can develop for a variety of reasons:
Disruption of the intestinal flora
Flatulence can affect the intestinal flora, but it can also develop as a result of an intestinal flora disorder (dysbiosis). However, an intestinal flora disorder can also have numerous causes, e.g. Stress, medication (e.g. antibiotics), wrong diet, hasty eating etc. Since an intestinal flora disorder is associated with numerous negative consequences (of which flatulence is one of the most harmless consequences), it should be prevented or remedied in any case will.
It is known, for example, that an intestinal flora disorder weakens the immune system reduces intestinal health, reduces the utilization of food and can thus lead to a loss of nutrients and vital substances and can also promote autoimmune diseases, allergies, food intolerance and other chronic diseases.
Flatulence from too many grain products
It is usually an unhealthy diet or at least a diet that is unsuitable for the person concerned. Because not everyone tolerates everything equally well. For example, in some people, grain products can cause bloating ( 1 ).
A diet that is mainly based on isolated and concentrated carbohydrates (white flour products, sugar) automatically promotes fermentation processes in the intestines, which in turn leads to a shift in the intestinal flora.
Furthermore, if you are not used to whole grain products and start doing them all of a sudden, you may also suffer from flatulence at first until your intestines and intestinal flora have adjusted accordingly.
Flatulence from too much protein
An excess of proteins (particularly in the form of animal proteins or animal protein preparations, e.g. protein drinks) promotes the development of flatulence ( 2 ). Animal proteins are often insufficiently digested, which can lead to putrefaction processes in the intestine. These in turn lead to the putrefaction bacteria taking over, which throws the intestinal flora out of balance and ends in flatulence.
Bloating caused by unhealthy eating habits
Many of today’s common eating habits disrupt or actually prevent healthy digestion and bring bloating with them in no time. Bad eating habits are:
- Late or late night eating
- Hasty eating
- Lack of chewing and salivating of food
- Eating and drinking at the same time
Flatulence from wrong food combinations
Wrong food combinations can quickly lead to bloating in sensitive people or people with an ailing digestive system. Particularly unfavourable combinations are cereal products with sugar or fruit (e.g. fruit cake, bread with jam, pancakes with compote, etc.) or cereal products with dairy products (cheese bread, cheesecake, pizza, pasta with cheese, etc.).
Bloating caused by food intolerance
Bloating can indicate a food intolerance, such as a fructose intolerance ( 3 ), lactose intolerance ( 4 ) ( 13 ), histamine intolerance ( 5 ) or gluten intolerance. These intolerances can be checked or ruled out relatively quickly by any general practitioner or specialist in gastroenterology. Often enough, however, the patient has to point this out to the doctor.
In addition to intolerances that affect a specific substance (e.g. lactose, gluten, etc.), there are also intolerances to individual foods that can ultimately result in flatulence. For example, there are people who tolerate fruit very well – with the exception of apples. Just a small apple is enough and they suffer from terrible flatulence.
The best way for those affected to find out about such intolerances is to observe themselves and their symptoms in connection with the food they eat. If necessary, a diary can be kept in which all meals, snacks and drinks and finally also the corresponding symptoms are entered. In this way, it is easier to recognize which symptom appears after which food.
Bloating caused by sugar substitutes
Sugar substitutes such as sorbitol, maltitol, xylitol, etc. can lead to extreme flatulence if consumed in high dosages ( 7 ) ( 8 ). These sugar substitutes are preferred in the sugar-free diet versions of soft drinks, diet sweets, chewing gum, and some cough drops or throat dragees, etc.
Bloating caused by medication
Many medications have side effects that affect the digestive system by damaging healthy gut flora and thereby causing bloating. These include, in particular, antibiotics ( 9 ), some painkillers, some antidiabetics (e.g. metformin) etc. Thorough cleansing of the intestines should therefore automatically follow any therapy with such a drug that is harmful to the intestine.
Bloating caused by psychological stress
Psychological stress, in particular, is often underestimated, but it often affects the digestive system and causes bloating in many people ( 10 ).
Bloating caused by chronic inflammatory bowel disease
Flatulence can also indicate an existing chronic inflammatory bowel disease ( IBD ) ( 6 ). For example, in Crohn’s disease, the narrowing of the bowel that is often present causes the bowel to expand over the narrowing, causing pain and bloating ( 11 ). In the case of ulcerative colitis, another chronic inflammatory bowel disease, an attack is accompanied by sometimes severe flatulence.
Since these diseases not only draw attention through flatulence but also through severe diarrhea, cramps, etc., most affected people will automatically go to a doctor for further clarification and no longer just think of it as harmless flatulence.
Bloating caused by a weakness of the pancreas
Weakness in the pancreas can also lead to flatulence. In this case, the pancreas does not produce enough digestive enzymes, so that some of the food reaches the large intestine undigested, where it is fermented by the intestinal bacteria, which can then lead to annoying gas formation. A pancreatic insufficiency test can be ordered here.
Flatulence associated with irritable bowel syndrome
If flatulence occurs in combination with daily abdominal pain and irregular bowel movements, then irritable bowel syndrome is also a possibility after other possible reasons for this symptom have been ruled out (such as the food intolerances mentioned above) ( 12 ). However, the flatulence here often turns into a meteorism, which is used to describe gas formations that collect in the intestine, leading to permanent “bloating”, that does not or only partially go away.
Measures against flatulence
If you are bothered by flatulence and can rule out serious illnesses as the cause, then the following tips and measures can help you to get rid of your flatulence.
- Have food intolerances clarified or test them yourself. Please note, however, that a test for lactose intolerance, for example, can be negative, while the patient clearly reacts to lactose, e.g. can drink coffee with soy milk or lactose-free milk without any problems but develops flatulence after a coffee with cow’s milk. Tests for intolerance can therefore confirm a suspicion, but experience has shown that negative results do not always rule out an intolerance.
- Keep a food journal as explained above under “Food Intolerance Bloating”.
- Have yourself checked out, especially if, in addition to flatulence, other noticeable symptoms such as e.g. blood in the stool, pain, unwanted weight loss, chronic diarrhea or chronic constipation occur.
- Consider a colon cleanse. An effective colon cleanse consists of three components: zeolite (or other clay), psyllium husk and a probiotic. Zeolite is a mineral clay that has an exceptionally high binding capacity and is, therefore, able to bind not only toxins but also intestinal gases so that these can be easily excreted ( 14 ). Together with psyllium husk powder ( 15 ), zeolite also regulates bowel movements, soothes the intestinal mucosa and promotes the colonization of helpful intestinal bacteria from additional probiotics.
- Change your diet. Of course, take into account existing intolerances that have previously caused you flatulence, consistently avoid products with sugar substitutes and at the same time follow the guidelines of a natural and alkaline-rich diet, which automatically leads to a reduction in the often problematic grain products and animal proteins.
- Also, avoid particularly unfavourable combinations such as cereal-fruit or cereal-milk or cereal-meat/fish/egg in one and the same meal.
- Make sure you have regular meals to prevent bloating. Before you eat very late in the evening, it is better to skip the meal or – if you are still hungry late in the evening – just prepare a light vegetable soup.
- Don’t drink with meals. However, outside of mealtimes (one hour before or one hour after eating), drink at least 2.5 liters of pure non-carbonated water daily to promote the elimination of metabolic waste products, thereby also supporting digestion and consequently preventing flatulence.
- Support your liver, of course with a healthy alkaline diet, but also with e.g. bitter substances to prevent flatulence that could arise due to liver weakness e.g. Swedish bitters.
- Take care of effective stress management, as hardly any organ reacts so directly to stress as the intestine so that flatulence can arise due to a stressful situation alone or be promoted by it. The most helpful relaxation methods include progressive muscle relaxation, autogenic training, but also tapping or healing currents. And also different forms of meditation.
So-called adaptogens, are medicinal plants that can make you more resistant to stress, e.g. Rhodiola.
- Move! The more and more regularly you move, the better your intestines will get going. Gases do not settle in this way but can escape easily and often do not arise at all, since a “moving” intestine is usually a much healthier intestine.
- Have regular colonics.