Reasons behind increased abdominal gas or bloats

At one time I sat nearby a professor of economics on a trip from Huye District in the Southern Province and after 20 minutes on the road, I started to sense a rather foul smell in the car.
Dr Joseph Kamugisha
Dr Joseph Kamugisha

At one time I sat nearby a professor of economics on a trip from Huye District in the Southern Province and after 20 minutes on the road, I started to sense a rather foul smell in the car.

When I looked around and there was no possible stimulus for this unpleasant smell that had now become intolerable, I carefully looked at this rather highly educated gentleman and engaged him in a food and lifestyle conversation.

I carefully looked at his body positioning to assess the possible discomfort and turned to be in the right guide.

In our conversation, he narrated having spent few weeks with a troublesome digestion. I told him that the discomfort is common to so many people and advised him on dietary measures to overcome poor digestion.

This topic sounds funny but it is very realistic among human beings.

For example many people in Kigali complain of abdominal heaviness after wedding ceremonies or other events due to feeds from highly fried foods with oils and other fatty substances that improve food taste.

One of the possible causes of bloating is increased or excess gas in the abdomen, which is caused when particular foods are eaten and remain in the stomach without proper digestion.

Poor digestion is one of the common causes of abdominal bloat and sometimes people present with a swollen abdominal belly.

Some food substances are hard to digest and take long to clear from the stomach. Now, when you feed on many of these sequentially, you are likely to develop abdominal bloat.

People who tend to feed on heavy fatty meals suffer from abdominal discomfort as fats are some of food nutrients that leave the stomach and the other parts of gastro-intestinal tract late or simply, whose digestion is very slow.

They have complex structures that take long to be broken down by digestive components of the body than to digest proteins and carbohydrates.

The normal living bacteria in our gastro-intestinal tract act on the sugars from these food remains to break them down. This produces gas that lead makes people uncomfortable.

The body response to this increase of pressure in the abdomen is to release the gas as soon as possible. The most functional opening of this excess gas in the abdomen is through the anal opening.

This is why release of poorly smelly gas from the body is in most cases not intended. The body makes sure it is expelled as soon as possible to create room for other end products of digestion.

In case you find yourself frequently experiencing abdominal bloats, it could be a good idea to check your food regimen to trace the right measure for your problem.

 For example cabbages contain sulfur a compound hard for the body to break down. This is why it is advised to cook cabbages very well before they are eaten.

Though it is recommended to feed on green leafy vegetables, you need to know the components before you eat because various green leafy vegetables have different nutrient components on which digestive enzymes act upon.

High starchy foods like cassava, sweet potatoes and yams can cause abdominal bloats when eaten in large quantities.

But gas accumulation in the abdomen on such starchy carbohydrates has been seen in people with limited or without regular exercise.

Normally carbohydrates are very good for people with good exercise regimen as they compensate for the required energy building demands.

Milk and other dairy products do not cause abdominal discomfort to everyone but there are some individuals with lactose intolerance. It occurs when the body does not have the required enzyme to break down lactose sugar. When this sugar is inadequate in the body, then gas will accumulate after intake of a glass of milk and the body response will be to gas out the accumulated gas to release pressure.

The gas is produced by bacteria that feed on digestive remains in the gut and this gives it a poor smell when it comes out of the body.

However lack of good or adequate bacteria in the gut can lead to increased gas in the abdomen as seen in people whose intestinal flora has been degraded by overuse of anti-biotics.

The bacteria flora or gut flora, help to stimulate the digestive process and keep the gut cells healthy. But over use of anti-biotics or food poisoning tend to disrupt the delicate balance of bacteria that brings about proliferation of bacterium in the gut.

The best way to solve digestive problems is to ensure admirable water intake slowly in order to aid the digestive system. Another lifestyle regimen is regular exercise. The two lifestyle regulatory measures tend to beat the gas bloat effect in the abdomen.

Dr Joseph Kamugisha is a resident Oncologist in Jerusalem

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