Farts are the butt (ah!) of many jokes but few ever talk about them in a serious tone. It is a normal bodily function for everyone, after all, and yet it is still an uncomfortable subject for many. It even gets to the point that not even the benefits of farting are discussed.
Health benefits of farting
Farting is a fundamental part of the digestion. As the body decomposes the food and breaks down the nutrients, gas is formed as a by-product. The odor, the intensity, and frequency can also be good indicators of the overall health of the digestive tract.
But there are more benefits of farting than serving as a window to whatever is going on inside you.
It’s good for your colon
This is a straightforward one. The produced gas will be stored in the colon waiting for release. If you don’t let a toot out once in a while, this organ will suddenly be overwhelmed by the smelly gases, which can damage its walls and create inflammation.
It reduces bloating
In line with the previous benefit, if you don’t pass gas and it keeps accumulating it in the colon, it will eventually start to go up the route it just came down from.
When this happens, you feel uncomfortably bloated and you can even feel intense pain and cramps as the gases move through where they shouldn’t be in the digestive tract.
It can be a healthy sign
Certain foods like cauliflower, cabbage and Brussel sprouts support the “good bacterias” living in your gut, their wellbeing and their efficiency.
If you eat one of such foods only to find yourself passing more gas than normal, that’s a good sign! These foods are supposed to do just that and it means that everything is running smoothly inside.
You can double check your diet
If you notice a distinctive increase in flatulence, normally accompanied by cramps and pain in the midsection, and the odor has become more smelly and intense too, you might be dealing with food intolerance.
Likewise, if you barely fart at all and pooping isn’t regular either, it is very likely your diet is missing more fiber.
Is it dangerous to hold in a fart?
Dangerous might be too strong of a word. The gas will come out, it simply has to. So, even if you’re holding it, there will still be some “leakage” as you walk or move around.
If you’re not passing enough gas, then it might flow up the tract and lead to cramp and pain. These can turn severe depending on how long you have been holding on.
However, unless you have a previous digestive condition that weakened the walls of the organs or you have a blockage that prevents the release of the gas, a bursting colon is something very rare.
Therefore, it’s not that you shouldn’t avoid passing because it could be dangerous, but rather that the benefits of farting surpass these barely existent risks.
Fart less by avoiding these foods
It is already established that passing gas is a good and healthy thing. Nevertheless, if you suffer from a lot of flatulence, it can affect your normal daily life.
There is no problem in holding a toot because you’re next to your boss, but if you have to hold several constantly, pain and cramps will eventually come along.
Avoiding certain foods that cause an increase in the production of gas can thus be a great help.
Leafy-greens, particularly of a darker color, tend to trigger an increase in the production of gas. However, just because you want to enjoy the benefits of farting and embrace your newly acquired knowledge, doesn’t mean you should be cutting them altogether from your meals. They are simply too nutritious for that.
Instead, focus on avoiding those veggies like cauliflower, broccoli, onion, and Brussels sprouts that are more prone to generate flatulence. These contain raffinose, a complex sugar that the body has troubles digesting, thus leading the bacteria in the gut to produce more gas as it breaks it down.
Beans are probably one of the most famous foods when it comes to causing gas. Besides being rich in fiber, which helps the digestive system process the nutrients and expel the waste better, it also contains raffinose, the same sugar complex that makes veggies produce more gas.
If you’re lactose intolerant, it means your body lacks the enzyme lactase to digest it. A direct consequence of this is an increased gas.
Even if you are not intolerant, you could be sensitive to it. This means your body is capable of processing the nutrients and you have none of the other symptoms of intolerance, but your body still struggles to digest lactose.
Try to avoid any dairy foods or eliminate them completely from your diet for a short period of time to assess if that might be the cause of your excessive flatulence or not.
Sugar alcohols such as sorbitol, mannitol and xylitol get broken down by the gut bacteria into methane gas, hydrogen and carbon dioxide, thus leading to more flatulence.
They can normally be found in hard candies and chewing gum, but also in some fruits and veggies, such as raspberries, plums (xylitol), and peaches, prunes and raisins (sorbitol).
Sodas and candies
When you eat or drink any of these you tend to swallow more air.
It is easy to understand with sodas and you gulp the little bubbles. With candy, it tends to happen particularly with chewing gums and hard candies that you have in your mouth for longer periods, chewing and swallowing their juices together with air.
This air can either come out through burping, or it enters the digestive system and mixes up with the gases being created there.
Debunking the myth: Smelling farts is good for your health
This issue didn’t fit within the benefits of farting, but it had to be addressed.
Do you know that awful rotten egg smell that sometimes accompanies your toots? The culprit of that odor is hydrogen sulfide gas.
In 2014, researchers of the University of Exeter, in England, isolated this particular component and discovered it helps preserve mitochondria cells. In simpler terms, hydrogen sulfide can play a key role in the treatment of conditions like stroke, diabetes, arthritis, aging, heart failure, and dementia.
The press immediately connected the dots in the most profitable way and titles everywhere proclaimed that smelling farts was even recommended. What is more, some even claimed it could prevent and cure cancer.
These stories still prevail in the online world, but the study authors were quick to release a statement clarifying that cancer is not mentioned at any point in their research and, moreover, there was no indication that sniffing farts could have any benefit.