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Why You Shouldn't Suppress the Urge to Burp or Pass Gas
Posted by Dr. Ben Kim on Jun 24, 2009
Err...hope this topic doesn't ruin anyone's appetite. It's one that I touched upon in a newsletter a few weeks ago, and given the positive feedback that it's generated, I thought it be best to elaborate and even make this topic a permanent addition to the archives.
But before we do any elaborating, here's a look back at what I wrote in my newsletter:
On Sunday, I heard from another longtime client who was experiencing serious gastrointestinal distress after eating three large slices of pizza the night before.
Two bowel movements in the morning brought some relief, but by noon, his abdomen was uncomfortably bloated and he felt as though he had caught a flu with a pounding headache and an achy back.
I advised him to eat lightly, mainly juicy fruits and greens, and to sip on carbonated mineral water (like Perrier or Pellegrino). I also told him to be sure to release any gas that stirred up at either end of his GI tract; I emphasized that suppressing the desire to burp or release gas would almost certainly worsen his condition.
On Monday morning, my client called to tell me that he couldn't believe what a huge difference the carbonated mineral water made.
He drank two cups, both made by mixing half mineral water and half orange juice, and within an hour, he burped and released "clouds and clouds" of gas.
Upon releasing the gas, his entire body melted into a state of deep relaxation and he went to sleep almost right away. When he woke up, he felt perfectly well without a trace of the horrendous discomfort he experienced the day before.
This little trick of drinking carbonated mineral water doesn't work for every case of GI distress, but over the years, I've found that it can work like pure magic when you know the cause of GI discomfort is bloating that's being caused by indigestion.
Normally, your body will release gas before it builds up to a point where it creates painful pressure. But if you suppress burping and passing of gas, or if your indigestion is severe enough to cause a super quick build-up of gas in your GI tract, you can experience all sorts of problems, including general malaise and headaches.
Drinking carbonated mineral water can provide a much-needed stimulus to push pockets of gas out of your system. The key is to allow anything that wants to leave your body to leave uninhibited.
Just something to keep in mind the next time you experience bloating and abdominal pain after eating something you shouldn't have, or eat too much of anything.
I suppose it's also a good reminder to burp when your body wants to burp, and pass gas when your body wants to pass gas; both mechanisms are in place to keep you comfortable and healthy, and suppressing these mechanisms can lead to trouble.
In more technical jargon, suppressing the release of gas from your body can hurt you in two major ways:
1. It can lead to endogenous toxins seeping through the walls of your small intestine, entering your bloodstream, and ultimately, contributing to toxic load on all of your cells.
Endogenous toxins are toxins that are formed within your digestive tract whenever you don't completely digest the foods that you eat. Endogenous toxins can and will hurt your health if your exposure to them is ongoing.
2. Major bloating can stretch the walls of your digestive tract to a point where the stretch itself creates physical pain. The smooth muscle fibers that line your entire digestive tract are innervated with countless nerve cells that are constantly sending feedback to your brain. Whenever you experience severe bloating, these nerve cells bark at your brain, and this is what you register as pain.
These are the main reasons why many folks report noticing a connection between abdominal discomfort, headaches, and general malaise. It's perfectly normal to experience headaches and ill-defined ickiness when you're bloated from indigestion.
And in the vast majority of such cases, the short and long term solutions involve chewing foods thoroughly (until liquid, if possible) and releasing gas and burping whenever the the instinct to do either is there.
Of course, it's important to remember that sometimes, your body may not be able to tolerate a specific food or food group. For example, many people, particularly those of Asian and African descent, don't tolerate dairy very well. In such cases, no amount of chewing and heeding the desire to pass gas or burp should be considered optimal solutions for promoting your best health.
The bottom line: For less abdominal discomfort and better overall health, chew well, don't suppress the release of gas from your body, and strive to avoid foods that don't agree with your digestive tract.
Because this topic is rarely discussed in most doctors' offices, please consider sharing these thoughts with family and friends - they're simple tips that can make a huge difference in quality of health and life.
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