New Wave Nightingale

Passing on info about a sneaky bodily function

New Wave Nightingale(Mar. 18, 2024) — March winds and April showers bring forth May flowers, so the saying goes. But this March, I want to veer off in a slightly different direction – as in breaking wind.

Yes, folks, I’m talking about flatulence. It’s a normal part of the mammalian experience, except for sloths, who don’t fart. Of course, there are people who swear that they never have and never would – but we all know better.

The average person passes gas at least 14 times per day; it is the functioning of a normal, healthy digestive tract. Excessive gas is generally due to some interesting, modifiable habits such as swallowing air and dietary patterns. Air swallowing is generally not noticed and happens if one eats quickly, chews gum, smokes, drinks carbonated beverages or gulps air while talking or eating when upset. Perhaps someone should write a country song about crying and farting.

Intestinal bacteria are also culprits when the food they act upon has not been digested higher up the tract. Fruits, beans, peas, cruciferous veggies and oat bran are known triggers (but very good nutrition).

More social than a physical problem

Flatulence is generally more of a social than physical problem and can cause embarrassment to those afflicted and not living in fraternity housing. Like many things, it does not improve with age and many multiparous, post-menopausal women in otherwise good health can find themselves in this situation – or so I’ve heard.

It can be helpful to maintain optimal tone of the pelvic floor. Most people can manage the heartbreak of windbreak by eating slowly, quitting smoking, limiting gum chewing and maintaining an awareness of dietary triggers. Doctors also recommended chewing thoroughly, drinking ­beverages close to room temperature, getting regular exercise and maintaining an upright posture while eating.

As many triggering foods are very healthy, perhaps eating al fresco makes a good strategy weather permitting. Time-honored natural remedies include peppermint or chamomile tea, anise, caraway, coriander, fennel and our anti-inflammatory friend – turmeric. If gas is accompanied by intractable stomach pain and bloating, new onset heartburn, change in bowel habits, unexplained weight loss or blood in the stool, it is important to seek medical attention.

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Nathalie Montijo
Nathalie Montijo

Nathalie Raven Archangel-Montijo holds a rather interesting array of degrees and certifications, including master’s in nursing and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). She has post-master certification as an adult geriatric primary care nurse practitioner (AGPCNP) and a license to practice acupuncture in California (L.Ac). To round all that out, she is certified in infection prevention and control (CIC) and as an advanced certified Hospice and palliative care nurse (ACHPN).

She also performs in the outlaw country band, Nineteen Hand Horse.