Saturday, December 3, 2011

Phhhhhhrt. Excuse me.

You've heard it happen in your workplace. Chances are you've let one slip in public too. Oops.

Although embarrasing, flatulence is natural.

But what causes gas and why do they sometimes have an offensive odor?

There are several foods that produce gas.  The majority being foods that contain carbohydrates such as sugars (monosaccharides and disaccharides), starch (polysaccharides), and fiber.

The four sugars that cause gas include the following: raffinose, which is a trisaccharide found in vegetables such as beans and broccoli; lactose, which is a disaccharide common in milk; fructose, a fruit sugar commonly used as a sweetner; and sorbitol, a sugar alcohol found in fruits such as apples and used a artificial sweetners. These sugars contribute to flatulence.

When consuming simple dry fruit seed pods such as peas, beans, soy and peanuts, microorganisms (also known as microflora) that live symbiotically in our intestines breakdown sugar molecules, known as oligosaccharides, and causes gas.

The offensive odor comes from chemicals that are found both in the foods we eat as well as the chemicals that is produced during digestion. These organic and chemical compounds include skatole, indole, methanethiol, hydrogen sulfide, and dimethyl sufide. In addition, the microflora bacteria found in the intestines are also thought to play a role in the foul smell.

Should we avoid foods with carbohydrates? Absolutely not. The glucose that we get from carbs provide energy our body needs.

Austin Fit Magazine suggests limiting foods and beverages which fructose and sorbitol, such as carbonated beverages and chewing gum. Eating slower will also limit the amount of nitrogen and carbon dioxide that is swallowed with food. And daily exercise will help with digestion.

So, the next time you break wind, blame it on the carbs or those pesky microfloras and excuse yourself.

Source: Wikipedia; "Why do Healthy Foods Make Us Bloated and Gassy?" Austin Fit Magazine, November 2011, Pg. 48-50.

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