The gas in gastrointestinal tract – our digestive system – comes from two distinct sources.
The first source of gas is due to what we swallow. This can be air that we swallow while eating our food; chewing gum; consuming fizzy drinks – even having our mouth open while cycling! The quicker we eat our food the more likely we are to swallow air.
The second source of wind that, for some of us, can make life very tricky – not to mention embarrassing! – is the gas produced by the microbes in our gut.
There are tens of trillions of micro-organisms in our colons. We often talk about the bacteria in our gut – but this vital colony of microbes is made up of not just bacteria but also fungi, protozoa and viruses.
There are over 1000 known different species of microbes found in the colon. These microscopic organisms can weigh up to 2 kilograms – a trillions looks like this:
and we have tens of trillions in our colon – which is why despite each microbe being too small to see – we have enough of them to weigh up to 2 kilograms.
25% of our poo is alive or dead micro-organisms with a some particles of undigested food – the rest is water.
Microbes start to colonise the gut from birth. This is a vital process – the establishment of a healthy and diverse range of micro-organisms – will make a massive difference to our health. The process starts usually with the newborn baby picking up a huge range of bacteria as it passes through the birth canal and has skin contact with the mother. Babies born by Caesarian section miss out on the opportunity to harvest this rich early source of microbes. Doctors are now deliberately bring new born babies into contact with bacteria from their mothers so the babies don’t miss out! By the time we are three our microbiome – the collection of different micro-organisms in our gut – will be complete.
But however good our start in life, these micro-organisms are a live culture and thus are affected by our health, our stress levels, and what we eat.
But let’s get back to our main focus – the gas!
So you have tens of trillions of little organisms inside you. Each one is a little creature – it eats (your poo), it respires (though, luckily they don’t need oxygen to do so), and eventually it dies.
The micro-organisms do fabulous work breaking down your poo – they ferment fibres and produce short chain fatty acids – vital to our health and energy levels. But one of the metabolic wastes produced is gas. More than 50 percent of the gas you release is nitrogen. Hydrogen, carbon dioxide, oxygen and methane make up the rest, along with several forms sulphur – responsible for any bad smells!
Many things seem to increase the amount of gas produced:
- not chewing our food properly
- food intolerances or sensitivities
- lack of stomach acid
- lack of digestive enzymes
So when you come for a treatment we will discuss many aspect of your health, diet and lifestyle to see what might be done to reduce excessive gas 🙂