BY: NADIA ZAIDI
Flatulence might be one of the most taboo topics, yet a natural bodily process. We may not want to admit it, but each of us passes gas an average of 40 times a day, and most of the time we aren’t even aware. Flatulence is good for you because it helps us release excess gas and bloating. But it can be a major source of embarrassment, especially if it’s uncontrolled and happens in the wrong setting. Nobody wants to be the person responsible for “cutting the cheese.”
So what the heck is a fart, exactly? Well, it seems obvious but it’s a bit more technical than you’d think. Flatulence is caused by the internal buildup of gases that form during the process of digestion and respiration. Let’s take a second to let that digest!
As we all know flatulence can be quite smelly. Most healthy people pass gas that is odourless and silent – perhaps this disproves the idea that the silent ones are the deadliest. Anyway, it’s important to smell your farts – sometimes. Before I evoke your gag reflex, here’s why:
Excessive amounts of gas that are accompanied by other symptoms could indicate that something is not quite right. Farting too much can be a sign that intestinal digestion is compromised and can result in intestinal motility, bacterial growth or unwanted changes.
It’s important to note that people with diets high in fiber might be on the gassier side, and that’s perfectly okay. Just make sure you lay low on the beans before a big meeting!
It may seem obvious – but it’s an amalgamation of different gases that comprise those rancid farts.
Nitrogen accounts for around 20 per cent to as much as 90 per cent of all the gas that causes us to fart.
Carbon dioxide also contributes to the force of those huge farts, and makes up between 10 to 30 per cent.
And then there’s ten per cent oxygen, 10 per cent methane, and around 10 to 50 per cent hydrogen.
I know the percentages/ranges are uneven, but it depends on the amount of air inhaled by someone in a typical day, coupled with the foods you eat, and your internal chemical reactions during digestion.
What gives flatulence that special odor?
It’s a combination of the gases, which contain sulphur. This is the same compound found in eggs and cruciferous vegetables. How appetizing. The pungency of smell has to do with the percentage of gas present in the body at that given time. Only around one per cent of farts actually smell.
Generally, it comes down to the amount of sulfurous gasses within the intestines.
What dictates the need to fart?
The levels of gas we have is related to our health, and fluctuate with hormonal levels that affect our digestion.
How flatulence is released:
It’s quite a journey! Gas travels down the same “road” in your digestive system as poop. All the accumulated gas makes its way to your intestines and out of your colon.
Bottom line: farting is good for you. It is a necessary metabolic function and is as beneficial as burping and breathing.