Why do we burp?

Now we know: Burping is a way of ridding excess gas from our stomach

In some cultures burping after a meal is considered a way of vocalising your compliments to the chef.

In some cultures burping after a meal is considered a way of vocalising your compliments to the chef.

 

Everyday bodily functions don’t tend to blend well with the rigid rules of good manners. Burping and belching, however, seem to be less of a taboo than other unmentionable emissions.

It’s not just antiquated etiquette books that add a tone of dread to the very thought of burping in public; author Rosalinda Oropeza Randall published Don’t Burp In The Boardroom: Your Guide to Handling Uncommonly Common Workplace Dilemmas as recently as 2014.

Just what is a burp, anyway?

“Burping, belching, or ‘eructation’, is a way of ridding excess gas from our stomach,” says Antoinette Witter, a nutritional therapist at The Happy Gut Clinic in Dublin. “This may be due to eating too quickly and swallowing air as we eat, causing mild discomfort or the more common and irritating condition of indigestion. Indigestion can be brought on by eating too much at a time, eating fatty or greasy food, stress, smoking, coffee and alcohol.”

In Etiquette, The Guide to Gracious Living, written in 1952, good manners aficionado Amy Vanderbilt takes a pragmatic approach to finding yourself the cause of an unexpected burp in a social setting. “Burping or belching should not be considered ‘rude’. It is nature’s way of getting rid of gas and, medically, suppressing it may be harmful. If you must, cover your mouth with a napkin.” Sounds perfectly sensible.

Heck, in some cultures burping after a meal is considered a way of vocalising your compliments to the chef. It’s a way of letting your host know that you are full and that they’ve done their duty in providing you with adequate sustenance.

Is burping ever a warning sign for something more serious than a simple lack of etiquette awareness? “It may also be due to other more sinister medical conditions like ulcers or gallstones,” cautions Witter. “If you find yourself reaching for the Rennies all too often it may be time to visit your GP.”

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