What do your farts say about your health?
Flatulence, or farting as it's more commonly known, is a very natural and normal biological process, and we all do it. However, if you find yourself passing wind more than normal, or if your farts are particularly smelly, it can be a sign of an unhealthy gut. The latest gut health research shows 50% of people with poor gut health suffer excessive wind and gas. The good news is we can do something about excessive or smelly farts, and our nutritionists explain the common causes of smelly farts and how to reduce farting.
What causes farting?
Farting is the release of gas that has built up in the digestive tract. Some of the gas may have been swallowed when drinking or eating food, however the majority of gas that causes farting is produced as a result of the bacteria in your gut.
The fibres in your food that cannot be broken down by the digestive tract are metabolised by bacteria in your gut. As the fibres are metabolised, the bacteria produce gas, which then needs to be released through the anus in the form of a fart. You may also be interested in reading 'What does your poo say about your health'.
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One of the worst offending fibres that create gas is called 'raffinose', which is found in high quantities in beans, which is where the idea that beans make you fart comes from.
The type of gas produced by bacteria in your gut depends on what type of bacteria are dominant in your gut. Some farts are odourless, and these are typically formed of the gasses nitrogen, oxygen, hydrogen, methane or carbon dioxide.
Smelly or stinky farts are in a class of their own, and are typically made up of hydrogen sulphide, a gas that smells like rotting eggs.
How often is it healthy to fart
We're all biologically unique and it's only natural some of us will pass wind more than others. While 5 farts a day can be normal for some, up to 20 farts per day can also be considered normal. Yes, really - it's OK to fart that much each day! Farting is a sign that your digestive system is working, and although farting can be a social inconvenience, it is not necessarily a health concern.
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How much is too much farting
If you find yourself always farting, and your fart count is upwards of 20 a day, it is a common sign of an unhealthy gut that you can do something about, as we highlight below. Excessive farting could be a sign of a food intolerance such as a gluten intolerance, or other digestive issues.
It could be a simple problem to solve by taking a prebiotic and probiotic to repopulate your gut with healthy bacteria and rebalance your gut microbiome - learn more in 'What are probiotics?'. You can also consider a targeted bloating and digestive support supplement.
If you find passing wind is painful, or if you have an uncomfortable or a painful digestive tract generally, you should consult your GP.
What causes smelly farts
If the gas release is particularly smelly, it is likely to be one of the following causes on their own or in combination with each other.
1. High fibre foods
Foods high in fibre produce more gas in the gut, and if they are particularly strong smelling to start with, that can translate into smelly farts. These foods include cabbage, broccoli, asparagus and bok choy. Foods which are rich in sulphur may also make your farts excessively smelly and they include nuts, seeds, whole grains, chickpeas, lentils, walnuts, onions, garlic, green leafy vegetables and cruciferous vegetables.
Experiencing smelly farts is not always a bad thing - it can also be a short term and natural result of your body detoxifying itself. Learn more in 'The best foods for detoxing your liver'.
2. Food intolerance
Having a food intolerance may mean that your digestion is compromised, leaving undigested foods for bacteria to ferment. Extra fermentation = extra farting. You may enjoy 'Common and unusual symptoms of IBS'.
3. Infection in your gut
You may have noticed that when you have a tummy bug, you fart more and they smell worse than normal. If you have smelly farts for an extended period of time, your gut may be overrun with bad bacteria, parasites and fungi, which can also cause fatigue, low moods, stress, insomnia and weaken your immunity.
Taking a high quality prebiotic and probiotic can populate your gut with healthy, active bacteria, fighting off unwanted and bad bacteria. Learn more in 'Best probiotics for IBS'.
Constipation causes a build-up of poo in your gut, which is further fermented by bacteria and produces more gas. Constipation is not something you have to live with - learn more in 'How to get rid of constipation'.
Ask your GP about your medication as the side effects of some prescription medications can cause your farts to be particularly smelly.
Other gut issues
If your farting and bowel habits have changed without any discernible change in your diet or lifestyle, consult your GP who can investigate further. Extra farting can be a sign of bigger problems, so it's important to get it checked out.
How to reduce farting
Here are six effective solutions to reducing farting.
1. Chew your food properly
Chewing is an essential step to naturally improve digestion. Chewing stimulates the production of stomach acid and digestive enzymes which break down food so that it can be properly digested when you swallow. It's also one of the ways to reduce bloating. Try to chew each mouthful up to 20 times before swallowing (depending on the food).
2. Eat smaller portions
Eating smaller portions during each meal so that your body has enough enzymes to deal with the quantity of food ingested is always helpful and helps to prevent excessive fermentation.
3. Eat slower
Eating slowly is better for your digestion as you produce more digestive enzymes, and your body has time to deal with the incoming food.
4. Take a prebiotic and probiotic
As we said earlier, a high quality probiotic, which includes a prebiotic, at least 40bn CFU (the number of active bacteria), and at least four clinically studied probiotic strains can rebalance your gut microbiome, relieve excessive farting, bloating, IBS, digestive discomfort, and fuel your energy, brain, skin health, immune health and much more.
5. Take a digestive support supplement
DR.VEGAN® Debloat & Detox is a targeted plant-based formula of botanicals and herbs to stimulate the release of digestive juices to help your body breakdown food properly.
6. Exercise & drink more water
Ideally we should have two or three bowel movements per day, one after each meal. If you're not having sufficient bowel movements each day, you may be constipated. The movement of food is important to help prevent the build-up of gas, and exercise and drinking more water can help with slow moving bowels and relieving constipation.
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