High Fiber and Excessive Flatulence
Humans need to expel gas for two main reasons. Air gets swallowed naturally throughout the day because of talking and eating and must eventually be let out again. Most is expelled through burping, although some makes its way through the intestines and out the rectum. The second cause of gas is the breakdown of food passing through the intestines during digestion. A certain fiber type causes a lot of gas.
Flatulence is the passing of gas from the digestive system through the rectum, although some gets expelled through the mouth by burping. An average person produces up to four pints of gas per day and passes it out of the body about 14 times daily, according to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. Although digestive gas is odorless, it smells unpleasant because of bacteria in the large intestine that add a sulfur smell.
Soluble fiber dissolves readily in water and is found in many common foods, like beans, peas, oat bran and most most fruits. This type of fiber becomes soft and gel-like as it works its way through the intestines and does not get completely broken down until it reaches the large intestine. The way in which it is digested causes gas that gets expelled through the rectum as flatulence.
Insoluble fiber comes from wheat bran, vegetables and whole grains. This type of fiber does not cause excessive flatulence, according to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, because it remains unchanged as it passes through the digestive system.
Foods do not have to contain fiber in order to trigger flatulence. Starches like pasta, corn, wheat and potatoes all cause cause gas during breakdown in the large intestine, although the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse advises that rice does not have this effect. A complex sugar called raffinose gives beans their well-known gas causing properties, and it is responsible for the same effect in broccoli, Brussels sprouts, asparagus and cabbage, as well as in whole grains. The sweeteners fructose and sorbitol also cause digestive gas.
Do not avoid soluble fiber because of its role in excessive flatulence, as it has many important health benefits that outweigh the inconvenience. This fiber lowers your bad cholesterol level and controls blood sugar levels because its slows sugar absorption, according to the Mayo Clinic. High fiber foods promote feelings of fullness, helping you lose weight, and it helps you have regular, normal bowel movements.
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