Flatulence is the stuff of comedy for people young and old, and it’s not something often discussed in polite company. However, it is something that we all do once in a while. In fact, your farts can speak volumes about your health and wellness. So, even if it makes your nose wrinkle, go ahead—have a whiff! See (or rather, smell) for yourself what your farts say about your body.
What Are Farts? Farts are a mix of swallowed air that enters the digestive system “accidentally” while breathing (that would be all the air that passes through your mouth — whether it is via chewing gum, drinking carbonated beverages and eating very quickly) and gas produced by the bacteria in your lower intestine.
The bacteria in your intestines create gases as they breakdown sugars and starches that your body can’t easily digest.
The bacteria breakdown process produces roughly between 2 and 6 cups of gas a day, and after it builds up, it needs to come out somewhere.
Regular farting is a sign that you’re consuming enough fiber, and have a healthy collection of bacteria in your intestines.
Cracking the Code of Breaking Wind
If you’re wondering how on earth the smell (or frequency) of farts could possibly give you clues to your health, you’re not alone. We’ve cracked the code of “cutting the cheese” so that these inevitable puffs of air and gases can help you learn more about your body and its health.
About one percent of the gas produced by our intestines is not scent-free. That scent is generally hydrogen sulfide, a gas that is created when your body breaks down foods with sulfur in them
Many very healthy foods produce sulfur-containing gas when digested. This gas exits the body after digestion in the form of a smelly fart. So, if you’ve been eating red meat, broccoli, cauliflower, beans or dairy products, don’t be surprised if you find yourself with some slightly stinky farts later on down the line.
Extremely Stinky Farts
Let’s face it: most of the farts we notice aren’t exactly flowery-smelling. But if you find yourself passing gas that is truly awful in odor, it may be a sign of an underlying health problem.
If you need to pass gas immediately after consuming dairy, that can be a sign that your body is having a hard time breaking down the lactose and you might be interested to learn that most people have lactose intolerance to some degree.
Less commonly, frequent and extremely stinky farts can be a sign of a chronic problem, like irritable bowel syndrome or celiac disease, or an infection like gastroenteritis. But there are also other reasons your digestive system doesn’t function properly.
Scentless farts are, not surprisingly, completely healthy and normal.
Not all flatulence has an acrid scent. Sometimes the farts you let loose are simply an accumulation of air swallowed while talking or from drinking fizzy water earlier in the day. These scentless farts are similar to “burps,” they’re just exiting the body in a different location.
Frequent farting is generally nothing to lose sleep over in terms of health indications and in fact the average person passes gas about 20 times a day. But there a few tips that can help you to reduce excessive gas and bloating.
People who eat a healthy vegan diet may be more prone to frequent flatulence than their omnivorous counterparts. This is partly due to the carbohydrate-rich diets strict vegetarians consume, and the fact that many (very healthy) veggies are sulfuric in nature (some of these veggies are garlic and onions which have many health benefits), leading to gassiness after being consumed.
However, frequent farting that is accompanied by discomfort, bloating, or a very foul odor may indicate a food allergy. If you find your fart frequency on the uptick after eating dairy products like cheese or drinking milk, or if the frequency goes up after eating wheat-containing foods, you may wish to rule out allergy by visiting your doctor for an allergen panel.