Wind, flatulence, flatus or farts – whatever you call it, it is a normal function of the gastrointestinal system. In fact, experiencing wind and flatulence lets us know we have a healthy gut that is doing what it is meant to – feeding our good gut bugs! At present, no consensus has been made about what is a ‘normal’ amount of flatus but it seems that 15-30 expulsions of air per day is reasonable.
Flatus is produced mainly by the gut bugs in our colon (last part of the bowel). Foods that have not been fully digested by the time they get to the colon (e.g. fibrous foods like baked beans) are eaten up by our gut bugs and the by-product they release is gas. Flatus can also be produced by the extra air we swallow when eating, sleeping or talking.
However, wind and flatulence can sometimes become a problem. Problematic wind and flatulence may be:
One interesting study published in ‘Gut’ compared the flatus in healthy people vs those with gut symptoms. They found that when fed a high fibre (high FODMAP) meal, both healthy participants and those with IBS experienced more flatus and more abdominal discomfort, however those with IBS had higher rates of pain and discomfort. This tells us that eating higher FODMAP foods contributes to gas in most people, but those with IBS are more sensitive and can therefore experience more discomfort from it.
Chaysavany M, Eck A, Varela E, Roca J, Clemente J, Gonzalez A. et al. Anal gas evacuation and colonic microbiota in patients with flatulence: effect of diet. Gut. 2014, 63(3): 401-408 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3933177/
Lacey B, Gabbard S, Crowell M. Pathophysiology, Evaluation and Treatment of Bloating - Hope, Hyper or Hot Air? J Gastro Hepatol. 2011, 7(11): 729-739 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3264926/