Our culture is full of acceptable and unacceptable social behaviours.
Most people will not point and stare at someone as that would be considered rude. Spitting, yelling and littering are other examples of what most of us consider rude or unacceptable behaviour in public.
So what about flatulence?
Most of us would consider flatulence or farting in public a big no no. Anyone who has farted loudly in the company of others will say that it is very embarrassing to say the least!
But farting or passing gas is a completely normal and natural bodily function. We all do it, even kings and queens!
Not only is farting normal; it is absolutely vital for a number of health reasons.
Farting is a crucial part of digestion, specifically when the gut needs to break down foods and eliminate certain by-products.
So without further ado…The 7 amazing health benefits of farting:
IT’S GOOD FOR THE COLON
Holding in any type of bodily reaction is not good for your health; whether it’s urine, bowel movements or gas. In social situations, there isn’t much harm in holding in an embarrassing toot or two. Those with some digestive issues, however, should know that holding in the body’s attempt to release by-products of gastrointestinal system is potentially problematic.
IT HELPS WITH BLOATING
The feeling of being bloated can be very uncomfortable. Bloating is often experienced shortly after eating a meal, particularly a large one. It can lead to painful gut ache and pain. Bloating may also indicate a buildup of gas that needs to be released. While the buildup of gas isn’t usually harmful, it can be very uncomfortable. Farting or passing gas can immediately lesson any bloating or pain.
THE SMELL IS HEALTHY
Ok… we know. But, it is actually a naturally healthy benefit of passing gas. When we fart, we release a small amount of hydrogen sulfide, which may be beneficial in thwarting off future illness. Studies suggest that hydrogen sulfide in these low doses may help prevent cell damage and even help prevent heart attack, stroke and Alzheimer’s disease.
IT MEANS A HEALTHY GUT FLORA
Eating foods high in fibre is the only way for the microbes in the gut to get nutrients. These are foods such as broccoli, cabbage, lentils, and beans. These foods improve our digestive functions and they produce more gas. Fermented foods are also fabulous gut friends.
IT CAN HELP WITH A BALANCED DIET
The gas we pass may indicate the type of foods our gut needs. It may also indicate the foods that we may be over eating. For example, when we don’t consume enough fibre, we don’t fart as much. And if we over indulge in meat, our farts may give off a very unpleasant odour, indicating that we may need to cut back a little.
IT CAN HELP WITH A BALANCED DIET
This is one of the more important benefits of farting. Interestingly, the characteristics of farts can actually help predict health issues in some cases. Unhealthy characteristics of farts include: extreme odours, pains when passing gas, and an increasing frequency. These symptoms may help diagnose anything from food intolerance to colon cancer.
IT’S INSTANT RELIEF
Ok, so this one isn’t all too groundbreaking…but it’s true isn’t it?! Gas buildup, bloating, and gut pain can all be alleviated or reduced by simply letting out a fart. It may be embarrassing, but the next time you feel the extreme need to let one loose, go straight ahead! Please, just not around me…
Sleep issues can be quite complex at times. Even sleep clinics can have difficulties helping some people.
One of the most important hormones involved in sleep is melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that is made by the pineal gland, which is a small gland in the brain. Melatonin helps control your sleep and wake cycles and how deeply you sleep.
Melatonin is also found in very small amounts in food such as meats, fruit, grains and vegetables. You can also buy it as a supplement through a compounding chemist with a prescription from your doctor.
So whether you are dealing jet lag, insomnia or even shift work, an inconsistent sleep pattern can affect your mood, concentration and even your body weight.
With a few small changes you can improve the quality of your sleep.
Your Internal Clock
Your internal clock is called the circadian rhythm. It tells your body when to fall asleep and when to wake up. So many important things going on in your body are affected and rely on your sleep – wake cycle. So if your sleep schedule is out-of-whack it can impact on your health and well being.
Some tips for better sleep:
Ban blue light. The light that comes from your phone, computer and other electronics is called blue light. It has a very powerful effect on your body clock. At night, this blue light keeps you from being able to wind down and fall asleep as it affects the melatonin you produce. A good habit to start is to turn off your phone,TV and tablet, and to dim the lights about an hour before bedtime.
No napping. Avoid sleeping during the day if you can help it. If you feel that you are so tired that you cannot function with out, trying a cat-nap of no more than 20 minutes to refresh you without affecting your sleep at night.
Get out of bed if you can’t sleep. Staying in bed just tossing and turning actually trains your brain to stay awake. Instead, if you are still awake after 30 minutes or so, get out of bed and do something relaxing. Reading can often help.
Wake up at the same time every day. Even on the weekend. Resist that sleep in. Routine is key to improve your internal body clock. If you are a shift worker and have the day off, try to go to bed later than usual and then wake up later. This can help you adjust when it’s time to work your next night.
Practice good bedtime habits. A dark cool room really helps with good sleep. Avoid bedside clocks and their light.
Try to have a quiet bedroom. Use white noise to block out sound if you need. There are many apps for this.
Avoid caffeine at least 4 hours before you sleep if you are sensitive. Drinking coffee, tea and soft drink can make you toss and turn.
Exercise every day. Getting your heart rate up and sweating is good for your overall health, but can really help with developing good sleep habits and patterns.
Try this: take a big deep breath. It’s so simple, isn’t it?
So simple that we barely give breathing a thought and what it involves.
In a recent survey by The Lung Foundation, 53% of us admitted to rarely or never thinking about our lungs and their health. That’s even though 63% of us know someone with lung disease – and lung cancer is the biggest cancer killer in Australia.
But there is good news! There are many things you can do to help protect one of your body’s hardest working organs:
Exercise that elevates your heart rate keeps your lungs in good shape.
Try activities like brisk walking, skipping, running, cycling or even dancing.
Make sure your life is a smoke free zone. Give away the cigarettes and steer clear of second hand smoke.
Keep an eye on any issues such as a persistent cough and see your doctor if you are concerned.
What is a stroke? You may think of a stroke as a life shattering event that can rob you of speech, movement and memory. But some known as silent strokes have symptoms so brief or subtle that they pass unnoticed.
All strokes happen when blood supply to the brain is interrupted, most often by a blood clot but sometimes by a bleed, depriving its cells of oxygen and nutrients. In a classic stroke the blood clot is in the area of the brain controlling movement and speech and stays in place for longer than 24 hours, causing brain cells to die. This can result in permanent disability. In a mini-stroke known medically as transient ischaemic attack (TIA) the clot dissolves and symptoms vanish, often within minutes. There can be permanent damage but the brain is mostly able to compensate by using other ‘pathways’.
Could you be at risk?
Risk factors you can’t do anything about:
Your genes – having a close family member who has had a TIA or stroke.
Your ethnic background – being South Asian, Black African or Black Caribbean.
Your gender – although stroke affects men and women equally, research shows that women between 45 and 54 are more at risk of stroke than men of the same age, although its not known why.
Risk factors you can do something about:
Your blood pressure – this is the biggest risk factor and high blood pressure lies behind six to eight out of ten stokes.
Lack of physical activity.
Atrial fibrillation – a type of irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia).
Recognise the signs
Act FAST is the acronym to remember. If you or someone you are with experiences any of these classic signs of stroke, even if only briefly, go to A&E or call 000.
Facial weakness – Inability to smile or drooping eye or mouth.
Arm weakness – Can you raise both arms?
Speech problems – Inability to speak clearly and /or understand what is being said.
Time to act – Call 000 or go to A&E at your nearest hospital.
Reduce your risk
The following steps can reduce you risk of both stroke and heart disease:
Aim for a blood pressure of less than 140/90 (lower if you have diabetes)
Keep your salt intake to less than 6gms per day (about a teaspoon) by eating as many fresh foods as possible and limiting processed foods.
Regular moderate to vigorous exercise reduces the risk of silent stroke by 40 per cent. Thirty minutes of brisk walking daily should do the trick.
Keep an eye on the scales. Overweight women are at a far higher risk of ischaemic stroke (caused by a blood clot). Aim for a BMI of between 19 and 25.
Eat more fruit and veg. Load up on vegetables and limit fruit to 2 pieces per day.
Turkey contains the amino acid tyrosine. Research suggests that it helps to keep you alert while the B vitamins in turkey help your body turn the food into energy it can use.
Dried apricots are full of iron, so snack on a couple for an instant iron boost. Low iron levels can leave you feeling wiped out.
Just don’t go overboard as dried fruit has a more concentrated natural sugar content. You can also find iron in meat, green leafy vegetables and legumes such as kidney beans.
Nuts are full of B vitamins. Their protein and fibre content also provide the sustained fullness and energy to get you up and going.
Try a smear of nut butter on an apple slice or a raw carrot. Yum!
Any fresh berries in season are a super healthy snack. They really rev your energy levels with adding too much sugar or fructose. They should be the go to fruit of choice. The sugar levels are lower than other fruits so enjoy guilt free.
This fresh herb is full of B vitamins, C, A and beta-carotene. These nutrients help in the energy making process. Coriander also contains lots of dietary iron and phytonutrients. Add plenty of fresh and chopped coriander in your cooking and enjoy.
Feel like a bit of heat? Cayenne pepper is a delicious spice with a powerful punch. It’s super high in Vitamin C and phytonutrient antioxidants that can boost you metabolism.
Too hot for you? Try red capsicum for a milder flavour energy boost.
Dr Bernard Katzen is an ENT Specialist in Sydney who has provided a dedicated and professional ENT service to patient’s in Southwest Sydney and Macarthur for over 30 years. With a wealth of experience supported by dedicated clinical staff and testing equipment, Dr Katzen will ensure your condition of the ear, nose or throat is correctly assessed and treated.