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Health & Wellbeing / Ali Horsfall

The Body Experts: What To Do About Wind

Anyone who’s ever held in a fart at work, or battled with bloat on the day you want to wear bodycon, will vouch that wind is something we could do all without.

But saying that, it’s also totally normal. Did you know that the average, healthy person passes wind between 10-20 times a day? Maybe now you don’t feel bad about the sneaky one you let out at the bus stop this morning.

Today, we hear from Dr Helen Webberley, to learn a little more about what causes wind and what can be done to help it.

What is wind?

In a nutshell, wind is a build up of gas in the intestines or stomach. It either remains in the body as trapped wind, which can result in stomach ache and bloating, or it is released either by burping or farting – officially known as flatulence. “At the top end, wind is caused by the intake of gas via swallowing. Any amount of gas taken in through eating, drinking or even just swallowing as a matter of course, can result in wind. The more you take in, the more wind you will have and the more you will burp. Chewing things like gum, for example, which makes you swallow more often will increase your gas intake and therefore your wind output,” says Dr Webberley.

“At the bottom end, wind it is made by the normal gut bacteria. If there is a lot of faeces waiting to come out then there will be more gas made. If the gut bacteria balance is wrong, as a result of an infection for example, then that can make more gas. People with very active bowels, e.g. those suffering with irritable bowel syndrome, can produce more gas and this can cause bloating. Many women find that their bowels are sensitive to their menstrual cycles and can feel more bloated at different times of the month,” she says.

What can be done about wind?

Aside from reaching for over-the-counter remedies, if you feel like your wind is excessive, keeping a food diary can help to work out if your diet is the cause. ‘Gassy’ foods are foods with carbohydrates that aren’t easily digested and absorbed by the intestines. These can include;

  •      Beans
  •      Broccoli
  •      Cabbage
  •      Cauliflower
  •      Artichokes
  •      Raisins
  •      Pulses
  •      Lentils
  •      Onions
  •      Prunes
  •      Apples
  •      Brussels sprouts

Unrefined cereals such as bran can also cause bloating and wind, and foods such as cabbage and onions can produce gas containing sulphur – which results in the ‘whiffy’ kind of wind we’re all really keen to avoid.

In addition to watching what you eat, it also makes sense to look at how you’re eating. Rushing your meals, or eating huge portions can contribute to wind – eating smaller portions and taking the time to chew properly gives your body the chance to digest the food. Regular exercise, even just a walk, can help too, as can taking a daily probiotic or drinking peppermint tea.

If your wind is becoming excessive or painful, chat to your doctor – certain conditions such as coeliac disease, IBS, giardiasis and an intolerance to lactose also cause these uncomfortable symptoms.

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