Because of spam, I personally moderate all comments left on my blog. However, because of health issues, I will not be able to do so in the future.

If you have a personal question about LI or any related topic you can send me an email at I will try to respond.

Otherwise, this blog is now a legacy site, meaning that I am not updating it any longer. The basic information about LI is still sound. However, product information and weblinks may be out of date.

In addition, my old website, Planet Lactose, has been taken down because of the age of the information. Unfortunately, that means links to the site on this blog will no longer work.

For quick offline reference, you can purchase Planet Lactose: The Best of the Blog as an ebook on or Almost 100,000 words on LI, allergies, milk products, milk-free products, and the genetics of intolerance, along with large helpings of the weirdness that is the Net.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Burps, Bloating, and Flatulence

The Canadian site C•Health has a nice primer on the basics of gas production. the kind that takes place inside the body.

"Forgive me": the facts about flatulence
If swallowed air doesn't make its way out in the form of a burp, it may migrate from the stomach down into the colon. Here is where a burp can become a fart. Gas in the colon also comes from the natural breakdown of food by bacteria in the colon. The food that is not digested in the stomach and small intestine moves to the large intestine for breakdown; this includes carbohydrates such as undigested fibre from fruits and veggies or lactose after eating dairy products.

And as with a belch, flatulence needs to flee our body. This time it passes through a different sphincter, the anal sphincter, but the concept is the same: Air vibrates as it passes through a tiny, pinched up opening and out comes that familiar whoopee cushion sound of passing gas.

And that odour that most people are afraid of others detecting? That actually comes from the bacteria that break down the food in the colon. This bacteria release small amounts of sulphur-containing gases. Yes, the same "rotten-egg" sulphur of stink bomb fame.

"Time to loosen my belt": the nuts and bolts of the bloat
Bloating isn't something you hear or smell, but you will likely feel it. Bloating is the particular sensation of fullness and swelling caused by gas that builds up in the stomach and intestines. The bloating may cause some abdominal pain or discomfort, especially right after you eat. It can accompany burping or breaking wind or be caused by a medical condition that affects the digestive system. Those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or lactose intolerance may experience frequent bloating.

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