As adults mature, the prevalence of gas, a product of the digestive process, often becomes more frequent. Uncontrollable gas release is becoming a growing problem for older adults, with socially embarrassing consequences. If a very conservative estimate of 5% of Americans over the age of 45 have this problem to the degree that they want to do something about it, that constitutes a group of over 14 million men and women seeking a solution.
The average person expels gas 14 times every day. The amount of gas released ranges from as little as one cup to as much as one half gallon per day. Gas is made primarily of odorless vapors such as carbon dioxide, oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen, and sometimes methane. The unpleasant odor of flatulence comes from bacteria in the large intestine that release small amounts of gases that contain hydrogen sulfide.
Flatulence occurs when a food does not break down completely in the stomach and small intestine. As a result, the food makes it into the large intestine in an undigested state. The body does not digest and absorb some carbohydrates (the sugar, starches, and fiber found in many foods) in the small intestine because of a shortage or absence of certain enzymes.
This undigested food then passes from the small intestine into the large intestine, where normal, harmless bacteria break down the food, producing gases such as hydrogen, carbon dioxide, and, in about one-third of all people, methane. Eventually these gases exit through the rectum.
Foods that produce gas
Certain foods produce more flatulence than others because they contain more indigestible carbohydrates than others. Beans are well-known gas producers. The beans pass through the small intestine and arrive in the large intestine without being digested, which causes flatulence to occur.
Unfortunately, healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes (beans and peas) are often the worst offenders. That’s because these foods are high in fiber which is an indigestible cellulose. Fiber has many health benefits, including keeping your digestive tract in good working order, regulating blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and helping prevent heart attacks and other heart problems. But it can also lead to forming gas.
Medical conditions that cause gas
If you are “lactose intolerant,” it means that you lack an enzyme (lactase) in your intestine. This is the enzyme that breaks lactose apart into two sugar molecules so they can enter the bloodstream. Without lactase, lactose passes undigested through the stomach and small intestine. Once it arrives in the colon, the lactose meets up with billions of hungry bacteria that are happy to digest lactose. They produce a variety of gases, in much the way that yeast produces carbon dioxide to leaven bread.
There are an estimated 16 million diabetics in the United States, and that many have difficulty in coping with or controlling their diabetes. Certain medical conditions such as Crohn’s Disease, Colitis, IBD, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and Celiac Disease cause people to have excessive flatulence because of their impaired digestion. A diagnosis of IBS has been reported by 10 to 20% of adults in the United States, and symptoms of IBS are responsible for over 3 million yearly visits to physicians. IBS exhibits a predominance in women, with females representing over 70% of IBS sufferers.
Possible solutions- medicine or natural cures
Doctors may tell people to eat fewer foods that cause gas. However, for some people this may mean cutting out healthy foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and milk products.
Doctors may also suggest limiting high-fat foods to reduce bloating and discomfort. This helps the stomach empty faster, allowing gases to move into the small intestine.
Unfortunately, there are few marketed products available to manage the problem. One herbal-tablet product, called: “Bean-O”, claims to reduce gas when sprinkled on foods such as beans, but it proved only marginally effective in testing. Drugs are usually a last resort because of expense and side-effects, but even this option, available with drugs such as GAS-X, is only minimally effective. There are no drugs for daily use to eliminate the odor in gas such as occurs in normally healthy people.
Natural things we can do to minimize gas is to eat slowly, chew thoroughly, sip rather than gulp liquids, minimize fizzy beverages and, not chew gum.
Newest High Tech Solutions
The latest and most ingenious solution for those malodorous gas makers is the use of activated charcoal technology. Activated Charcoal Cloth (ACC) is produced in a flexible textile form. This material absorbs odors more effectively, per unit area, than any other known agent can absorb.
Flat-D Innovations has tackled the odors of flatulence with the help of this technology. They manufacture a Flatulence Deodorizer (Flat-D) reusable flatulence deodorizing pad that is placed in the underwear, next to the buttocks. When gas is expelled through the ACC pad it effectively absorbs the odor associated with the gas. This is the most simple, cost-effective, non-drug solution for the worst odor the body makes. This material is lightweight, extremely thin (1/16th of an inch), washable and reusable. For many, the Flat-D will end embarrassment because you will not have the tell- tale odors around you.