6 THINGS YOUR FARTS CAN TELL YOU ABOUT YOUR HEALTH.
“Flatulence is the byproduct of your digestive system breaking down and processing food and nutrients,” Niket Sonpal, MD, an internist and gastroenterologist in New York City, told Health. “Gas and air build up in your gastrointestinal tract when you eat, chew, and swallow—some of which is absorbed naturally by the body—and then gets released as a fart or burp.”
Farting throughout the day and night is largely a good thing; the buildup of gas would lead to uncomfortable bloating otherwise. In short, breaking wind makes you feel better. But that doesn’t mean you should totally ignore your farts.
Paying attention to their frequency, smell, and if they occur with any additional GI symptoms can clue you into what’s going on with your body and even tip you off to some potentially serious conditions. Here are six types of farts you should take note of and what they’re trying to tell you.
Constipation and Farting
Fiber helps keep your poop moving along and prevents constipation. Consuming 25 to 29 grams of dietary fiber each day is optimal, according to a 2019 Lancet meta-analysis.
Carbonated drinks could be the culprit. Seltzer, soda, and carbonated booze, such as beer and hard seltzer, can introduce more air (and thus gas) into your GI tract, making farting more frequent, said Dr. Sonpal, especially if one of these is the go-to beverage you sip around the clock. Try cutting back on bubbly beverages.
By nature, farts don’t smell…great. (If they did, quiet farts wouldn’t be known as SBDs: silent but deadly.) But if yours seriously reek, you can think about pinning the blame on all the high-sulfur foods lurking in your diet.
“Sulfur-rich foods like broccoli and Brussels sprouts will give off that rotten egg smell when broken down in the digestive system,” said Dr. Sonpal. The same garbage stench can also happen after consuming other cruciferous vegetables (like cauliflower), garlic, onions, cheese, beans, dried fruit, and—surprise!—wine.
Farts With Abdominal Discomfort
Farts accompanied by abdominal pain or discomfort after eating could be attributed to food intolerance. “The prime example is if you drink milk or eat cheese and then feel cramps and have excessive flatulence that also smells like a manifestation of doomsday,” said Dr. Sonpal.
Periodic Stinky Farts
You might be having period farts, which typically strike right as your flow is due to begin. Like everything else menstruation-related, it’s hormonal: As estrogen rises at this time of the month, your uterus produces hormone-like chemicals called prostaglandins, which help shed the uterine lining, explained Dr. Sonpal.
“If too much is produced, it can work its way through your system and make other organs contract, including your bowels,” Dr. Sonpal said. Bacterial changes during this time of the month also affect digestion, and that can leave you with smellier farts as well. Try eating unprocessed, easy-to-digest foods before you expect your period to start and holding off on the three-bean chili or cruciferous veggie platter until after it’s over.
Farting and Pooping More (or Less) Than Usual
Excess stress can affect your farts—who knew? When you’re under pressure, you might turn to foods that you normally don’t consume (like processed snacks and late-night bowls of ice cream), which can affect your digestion, said Dr. Sonpal. Stress can also make you gulp and swallow more air without intending to. And, of course, anxiety does a number on your GI system and changes your pooping frequency, Dr. Sonpal said.
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