Monthly Archives: October 2012

Put a GAG on GAS!!!

A burp or a fart at wrong times can be a source of embarrassment and discomfort. Nonetheless it is a part and parcel of life because an average adult produces about 0.5-1.5 liters of gas every day which is either passed as flatus or as a burp. The amount of gas produced depends on the diet and other individual factors. Certain foods, eating habits and disease conditions can cause you to make excessive amounts of gas. This piece of writing reviews the sources of intestinal gas, conditions that increase sensitivity to gas and measures to reduce gas production.

As a student we study the three states of matter: solids, liquids and gases. The lightest state of the three can act quite heavy when inside the intestines. Intestinal gas comes from two primary sources of intestinal gas: gas that is swallowed and gas that is produced by bacteria in the large intestine.

Swallowed air is the major source of gas in the stomach. It is normal to swallow a small amount of air while eating and drinking and this is mostly eliminated by burping.

Bacterial production: The colon normally houses billions of bacteria which support intestinal health. Certain carbohydrates which are incompletely digested by our intestines are acted upon by these bacteria. In this process certain gases are produced like carbon dioxide, hydrogen, methane and very small amounts of sulfur.

Causes of Increased Gas Formation

  • Larger amounts of air can be swallowed when eating food rapidly, gulping liquids, while having carbonated beverages or chewing a gum, or smoking.
  • Foods that cause gas: Several foods contain a carbohydrate ‘raffinose’, which is poorly digested and can increase gas production. Foods like beans, cabbage, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, broccoli, asparagus (shatavari), etc.
  • Some laxatives contain soluble fiber and may cause gas, particularly during the first few weeks of use.
  • Certain Diseases: Lactose intolerance – Lactose intolerance occurs when your body has difficulty digesting lactose, the sugar found in milk and most milk-based products. Gluten Sensitivity or celiac diseaseGluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye and oats. The people who are not able to digest gluten are said to be sensitive to gluten. Irritable bowel syndrome – Many people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are sensitive to normal amounts of gas and normal movement in the intestines feels painful or overactive.
  • Stress can also lead to increased gas formation because people under stress often swallow a lot of air.

Measures to reduce Gas

  • Avoid foods that appear to aggravate your symptoms. These may include milk and dairy products, certain fruits or vegetables, whole grains, artificial sweeteners, carbonated beverages. Keep a record of foods to help to identify which foods are troublesome.
  • If you are lactose intolerant, do not consume products that contain lactose or use a lactose-digestive aid, such as pre-digested dairy products or lactase supplements (e.g., Lactaid® tablets or liquid).
  • Fructo-oligosaccharides present in certain foods promote the growth of friendly bacteria in the large intestine which help in keeping the growth of gas-producing bacteria in check.
  • Chew food thoroughly. Large particles cause gas when they pass into the large intestine without being completely digested.
  • Eat slowly. If you eat too quickly, you tend to swallow more air.

Though relatively harmless, excessive gas in the gastro-intestinal tract can be quite annoying. By checking our food habits we can put a gag on this gas.

 

Weight loss plateaus: this too shall pass

weight loss plateauYou have been eating healthy, exercising and getting results for your hard work. But recently you have started seeing a downward trend in your weight loss. Have you reached a weight plateau?

A weight plateau is a period of time during which your weight remains at the same level for a long duration. When losing weight, it is common to have plateaus or times when you are not able to lose any more weight. Research suggests that our bodies try to maintain a specific weight or “set-point”. When a person reaches this set-point it becomes difficult to move over and lose weight. The reason for this slow weight loss is that the body adjusts to the selected workout schedule and calorie reduction, making it harder for us to maintain a steady weight loss.

Another theory suggests that if calorie intake is decreased too much or too soon the body is forced to burn more and more protein which seriously lowers the metabolism and dieters give up and go back to the old eating habits leading to gain in weight.

Dr. Kevin D. Hall from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases states, “If you stick to a diet, you should expect your weight loss to continue for years, although not at the same rate.” Thus it can be rightly said that most people who experience a weight loss plateau six to eight months into a diet are reverting back to pre-diet behaviours.

Here are few tips that can help with managing plateaus and resetting your set-point:

  • Plateaus are often temporary. Stay with your program and you should start losing again.
  • Try increasing your physical activity. Adding a few additional minutes or a different kind of physical activity to what you are already doing can get you going again.
  • If you haven’t been writing down what you eat start doing so. You may discover that extra calories have crept into your diet plan. According to the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, those who kept a food diary dropped double the weight as compared to those who did not record their food choices.
  • Plateaus make you feel like giving up. Remember how hard you have already worked and how far you have come. Do not lose heart and push a little harder to keep moving past the plateau.
  • Getting 8 hours of sleep and limiting stress is a sure way to reinitiate the weight loss process.
  • Revisit your goals each week. Make sure they are measurable and process-oriented. Make a list of activities that will work to help you achieve that goal.
  • Weight loss plateaus can be very taxing on motivation levels. Remind yourself that they happen with everyone, whosoever is trying to lose weight. Keep your focus and you will get through this bump in the road.

So accept that you are going to have a few let down moments but be honest about where those pitfalls lie instead of pointing a finger at the scale. It is the first step in recovering from a dreaded plateau.

Image Courtesy: avrilcarpenter.com