Let’s Talk About Farts!
By Joy Stephenson-Laws, JD, Founder
When you have to get on a commercial airplane sometimes it’s best to expect the unexpected, but I don’t think passengers on a recent American Airlines flight from Phoenix to Austin expected their flight to be delayed due to an excessively gassy passenger! You can read all about it here.
The little kid in me couldn’t help but laugh when I read this story (although I feel bad for the people who were on that plane!), but it also made me realize that farting is something we don’t talk about enough. And it is, afterall, a normal function of the human body. Understanding our body and all its many functions is a great way to be proactive about our health and the quest for happy and healthy longevity.
So, let's discuss farting!
According to Harvard Health Publishing, we fart 14 times a day. If you are blushing and thinking that you don’t, remember that we also fart in our sleep. It’s normal! Clearly, farting is healthy and serves a purpose other than clearing a room or an airplane!
“It's normal to have some air in the digestive tract. Air accumulates when you swallow, and the process of digestion generates gases as well. When too much builds up, the body releases it. Passing gas keeps the pressure within the intestinal tract low and prevents painful stretching of the stomach and intestines. Burping accomplishes the same purpose,” reports Harvard.
I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t want painful stretching of my stomach and intestines. We all are familiar with how uncomfortable it is to hold in a fart. Also think about how fussy a newborn baby gets when they can’t fart.
Not all farts are the same just as not all poops are the same. Reading your stools and farting can be helpful in getting very in tune with your body and health. For example, hard lumpy poop is a sign of constipation. Having poop that is yellowish or grayish in color could be a sign of gallbladder or pancreas issues. Check out this article from the Cleveland Clinic about all the different stools and what they might mean.So what can farts tell us about our health?
If you’ve ever had a particularly smelly fart that even made you want to leave the room yourself, you might want to consider what you are eating and how much alcohol you are consuming. Interestingly enough, the excessively gassy plane passenger was apparently very hungover. Sulfur-containing compounds called sulfites in beer and wine may cause farts to be extra smelly. Farts are never going to smell like roses, but the real issue may be excessive alcohol intake which is not good for overall physical and mental health.
Eating a processed and ultra-processed foods diet, which unfortunately many Americans do, may also cause some extra smelly farts possibly due to causing an imbalanced gut microbiome.
Now here's where farting gets confusing.
Contralily, eating some healthy, nutrient-dense foods can also cause some pretty foul-smelling farts.
“Foods that are rich in sulfur, including onion, broccoli, and cabbage can also cause odorous gas, says Moday [a doctor that was interviewed]. As these foods are digested,sulfur compounds are released causing gas that smells sulfurous, or like rotten eggs,” according to an article from Business Insider.
In no way am I implying that people should stay away from these nutrient-dense foods. I just think it is helpful to understand our gas as it relates to diet. In some cases, very offensive chronic gas can be a sign of colon cancer, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or a digestive tract infection. So you want to be very in tune with your farts and lifestyle. If your farts are causing you a cause for concern, seek the advice of a competent healthcare professional.How to be proactive if you are just too gassy!
Being constantly gassy is not fun for you or anyone in your circle. The good news is there are things you can do. A pH GI Effects test may help to determine food intolerances and gut issues that may be causing you to fart a lot more than 14 times a day. Once you get your test result, a competent healthcare professional can help you make the necessary dietary and lifestyle changes.
Also know that eating fast, using a straw and consuming a lot of carbonated drinks may also cause excessive gas.
Enjoy your healthy life!
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice. Please consult with your doctor or another competent healthcare practitioner to get specific medical advice for your situation.
The pH professional healthcare team includes recognized experts from a variety of healthcare and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses, and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products, and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.