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Gas, Flatulence - Definition and Solutions

Gas, flatulence is primarily caused by intestinal bacteria. In the process of digesting sugars and polysaccharides (starches), various gases are produced. Hydrogen sulfide, which has the odor of rotten eggs, is the principal cause of any unpleasant odors.

Lactose (the sugar found in milk) and sorbitol (an artificial sweetener used in some low calorie foods and chewing gums) are poorly digested by many people. Lactose is a particular problem for anyone with the genetic trait of lacking lactase, an essential intestinal enzyme responsible for the proper absorption of lactose.

Polysaccharides or starches are long chain sugars produced by whole grain plants, such as wheat, oats, corn and rice. Fruit and vegetables contain another type of polysaccharide called cellulose. For the most part, cellulose is not a problem unless the fruit or vegetable contains some other difficult to digest sugars and starches.

Passing gas is a natural and normal part of the digestive process. Everybody does it. Itís not an indication that somethingís wrong. And most intestinal gas is inoffensive and unnoticeable. However, excessive or particularly offensive flatulence could be an embarrassing social problem.

Excessive flatulence can usually be managed by choosing foods wisely, eating in moderation and by building up a tolerance for difficult to digest foods. Digestive aids like hydrochloric acid and enzymes work well for many people.

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