Health

What Your Farts Say About Your Health

November 5th 2015

By:
Laura Donovan

There's a lot more to farting than embarrassment, humor, and cultural stigma. Your fart smell and frequency could telling you something about your well-being.

Foods that make your farts smellier.

Foods that are abundant in sulfur, such as eggs and meat, might make your farts extra smelly. Foods high in sulfate, such as broccoli, almonds, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts can also have this affect.

Purna Kashyap, a gastroenterologist at the Mayo Clinic, told NPR last year that smelly gas can be beneficial in lowering the amount of air in one's gut because bacteria and archaea produce the sulfide gas.

RELATED: ONE CHART EXPLAINS WHAT YOUR POOP SAYS ABOUT YOUR HEALTH

"Bacteria that make sulfide gas are really important," Kashyap said. "They can cause smelliness, but they can reduce the total amount of gas flow."

Fart

Kashyap said that people who feel they have gas more than the average person are often incorrect. Rather, they just pass gas in a more intense manner or more frequently than most. A diet high in fiber can increase you likelihood of having gas, but Kashyap doesn't recommend cutting out your fiber to have less of it, as you need to fuel the microbes in your gut.

Farting can also be a sign that our gut microbes are doing their job, according Kashyap.

"Eating foods that cause gas is the only way for the microbes in the gut to get nutrients," he told NPR. "If we didn't feed them carbohydrates, it would be harder for them to live in our gut."

RELATED: What Your Pee Says About Your Health

The stigma around farting.

The average person farts around 14 times a day, or roughly half a liter a day. Some people even release up to two liters of gas a day, according to Dr. Anish Sheth, author of "What Your Poo Is Telling You."

In spite of all that, farting remains a taboo thing to talk about and do in front of other people. Growing up, I was never allowed to even say the word "fart" at home, so the feelings of shame surrounding farting and going to the bathroom were instilled in me very early in life.

I'm not alone, either. Farting can be especially embarrassing for women because of the absurd myth that girls don't poop or fart because they're too feminine to do such a foul thing. When it was still on the air, "Sex and the City" famously dedicated an entire episode to the awkwardness that can ensue when you fart in front of your partner for the first time.

Thankfully, some people aren't afraid to celebrate the humor in farts. Comedian Chelsea Handler has joked about her own poop and fart habits before, and actress Evangeline Lilly admitted to farting on a rude passenger during her days as a flight attendant.

Others are so comfortable with the idea of farting that they even light their own toots on fire: