Intestinal gases and the human microbiome: a tumultuous relationship

Welcome to an exciting journey into our digestive system, where intestinal gases intertwine with the amazing human microbiome. On this journey, we explore the differences between flatulence, bloating, and aerophagia, and how they relate to our internal microbial population. So fasten (or rather loosen) your seat belts and get ready for this air tune!

First of all, let’s clarify the situation. Although the terms flatulence, bloating, and aerophagia are often used interchangeably to describe the accumulation of gas in the intestines, they each refer to different processes. Below we explain how they differ.

Aerophagy: excess air inside us

This is a consequence of the involuntary swallowing of air while eating, drinking or talking. Eating quickly, drinking through a straw, chewing gum, or talking while eating can all contribute to its production. Once inside, this air accumulates in the intestines, causing bloating, which is one of the causes of flatulence and subsequent flatulence.

Flatulence: when the stomach expands

This is bloating caused by excessive gas in the digestive tract, a balloon-like feeling that can be uncomfortable. In addition, all the accumulated air passes through the intestines and is added to the orchestra of intestinal gases, causing the process of flatulence.

Flatulence: bowel music

Known colloquially as “winds” or “farts,” they are the natural result of gas accumulated in the intestines escaping through the anus. When we eat or drink, we also swallow air, which mixes with the gases produced by the fermentation of certain foods in the large intestine. The result is flatulence, a symphony of noises and noxious odors that make us laugh, blush or find fault.

Gas plant in our guts

Although flatulence, bloating, and aerophagia are distinct phenomena, they are closely related through our microbiome. Let’s see how to do it.

Gut microbiota, also known as gut flora, is a group of microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other microbes) that live in the gut and play an important role in digestion and overall health. The relationship between gut microbiota and gas production is complex and not yet fully understood. However, we do know that some gut bacteria are more prone to them than others.

Thus, it was shown that the representatives of the genus Metanobrevibacter associated with methane, and belonging to the genus Bacteroids bond with hydrogen.

Changes in the gut microbiota are also known to affect gas production. For example, the use of antibiotics can change the microbial composition and reduce its volume. Supplementation with probiotics—live microorganisms added to the diet to improve gut health—may have the opposite effect.

rotten egg smell

In addition, some microorganisms help us break down foods that we cannot fully digest. And when broken down, this food releases small amounts of hydrogen sulfide, the gas that gives our farts that characteristic rotten egg flavor. Other substances, such as methyl mercaptan, contribute to this “aroma”.

Passion for fast food, rich in fats and proteins, increases the risk of damage to the pituitary gland of other people. Since these foods are harder to digest, they require more work from our beloved gut microbes, which in turn increases the excretion of sulfur compounds.

In contrast, high-fiber foods can slow down the rate of digestion, giving bacteria more time to do their job and releasing fewer malodorous compounds.

Tips for keeping them under control

Although the formation of gases in the intestines is a normal process, we have already indicated that its excessive presence can be manifested by bloating, pain, flatulence and belching. Preventing this is in our hands. Through proper nutrition and a healthy lifestyle, we can maintain gas harmony and peaceful coexistence with our microbial community. Here are some tips on how to keep “fresh air”:

  • Eat fiber-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains.

  • Limit vegetables that are more likely to cause gas, such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, or beans.

  • Add probiotic-rich foods like yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut to your menu.

  • Cut down on carbonated drinks such as sodas and beer.

  • Chew thoroughly to reduce the amount of food and make it easier to break down.

  • Drink enough water to keep food moving and prevent gas buildup.

In some cases, symptoms may be the result of digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome. For this reason, when an inconvenience changes our daily life, it is necessary to consult a specialist to find the cause and find a solution.

In any case, there is no need to be embarrassed when internal melodies appear. Always remember to keep a positive attitude and laugh at the unpleasant situations in life. Happy journey to a happy and healthy gut!

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