Most people at some point in their lives suffer from gas, flatulence and other issues with the colon. In small doses these are natural function of the gut. However, when it becomes very often or in long term, it can be a sign that your body has a week digestion, metabolism, or other imbalances. From an Ayurvedic standpoint, the colon is the main seat of the vata dosha (body and mind constitution). Vata’s predominant elements are air and ether, so out of balance vata can create these qualities in the body. These qualities can result in gas, dryness, constipation, cramps, and anxiety.
Vata can increase in the colon due to a number of factors. Some of which are: vata-aggravating foods, anxiety, insomnia, cold and windy weather, constipation, and improperly digested food. These factors can all lead to a build up of gas due to the disturbance on our agni (digestive fire). When our digestive fire is compromised we cannot properly digest or assimilate foods. This leads to the main causes of gas:
• Indigestion • Fermentation of food in the intestinal track • Incomplete digestion
When your digestive fire is to weak to digest and absorb food, food is left in the gastrointestinal tract to ferment. When bacteria begin to ferment the food in your gut, they not only produce gas, they also excrete other toxins. These toxins can irritate the lining of the digestive tract. Some of the toxins are absorbed into the blood where it can aggravate the kidneys and liver and leading to other issues and diseases. This is why it’s important to deal with chronic gas and flatulence before it creates other problems in the body.
Remember that it is a natural process and only out of balance does it lead to other issues. Whenever we eat anything we swallow a small amount of air, which can increase vata tendencies for dryness, constipation, and anxiety. If our vata is already out of balance this can aid in too much air in our system. Also, any food we eat undergoes slight fermentation, which produces gas. The gas in our system only becomes problematic when it becomes in high quantities. These gases are segmented in the colon, and create flatulence, discomfort, and even pain if out of balance.
Ayurveda has many recommendations for reducing gas and flatulence. One of which is following a vata-pacifying diet, which is also recommended for fall and winter. In general, avoid raw foods, cold food and drinks, dry snacks (like crackers and popcorn), and most beans. Also fermented foods can increase gases in the colon, so it is recommended that you avoid them when working on reducing gas and flatulence. For the best results, book an appointment with an Ayurvedic practitioner to work on healing your gut and reducing gas and flatulence!