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Flatulence: Do You Fart Too Much? Here Is Why

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Deborah Akinola
Wirter, poet and public speaker

It is a very regular occurrence for humans to pass out gas. Gas is a healthy way of life, and they are in fact the by-products gotten after digestion of food by a healthy body system. It is compulsory for you to pass out gas else you would become bloated, and you may pop just the way an overfilled balloon would.

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Relatively, the majority of people fart for about 14-23 times a day. This sounds like a whole lot right? Does it seem surprising as well? Well, don’t worry. The gas passed out are relatively odourless, and they go on unnoticed.

Generally, most people think they fart more in a day than others, but that is entirely untrue. Most of the gas that is found within your body system is digested air which going into your system while you are eating, drinking, talking and so on.

The rest of other gases found in the system are gotten; as a result the breakdown of food in the digestive tract. Your diet is also made up of gases. For example, fats are primarily made up of odourless gases such as carbon dioxide, oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen and sometimes a little bit of the methane gas.

Although we agree that gases are a healthy way of life and passing them out is entirely reasonable, they can become quickly uncomfortable and an inconvenience. It is, however, impossible to stop farting.

It has however been discovered through research that people are entirely at a loss as to why they fart always. Usually, gases are found in all parts of the digestive tract such as the stomach, the small intestine, colon and rectum.

Here are a couple of reasons as to why we fart?

1. Swallowed air

Whenever we chew, we swallow air. Also when we take carbonated drinks, we also involuntarily take in the air.

2. Bacteria

Bacteria are a familiar presence in the gut. In fact, they are needed to aid digestion. However, whenever there is a buildup of excessive bacteria in the digestive tract most especially the small intestine, then flatulence occurs.

Some conditions can cause the buildup of bacteria, and they include diabetes type 2, celiac diseases, inflammatory bowel disease, liver disease and so on.

3. Incomplete digestion of carbohydrates

Whenever carbohydrates are not fully or wholly digested, a continuous passing of gases begins to occur. Sometimes, all the food you eat doesn’t get absorbed by the enzymes present in the small intestine.

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When undigested carbohydrates escape the small intestine and get to the colon, bacteria would convert that food into gases such as hydrogen and carbon dioxide gases.

These are the ways by which we get gas inside our bodies, and it is necessary for our bodies to expel them. All gases have to go somewhere right? And it is not all the gases you actually pass out. Some are reabsorbed by your body, while the rest is expelled. When too much of gas begin to gather around the upper part of your colon, it causes a buildup of pressure within the area.

When this pressure which is exerted mostly against your colon wall becomes too much, it starts to cause intense pain in the colon and irrevocably your abdomen. Sometimes this pain can travel all the way up your chest.

Apart from the fact that there could be a buildup of pressure on the colon wall if the gas pressure has passed its threshold, flatulence generally is a painless way of passing out gas.

Sometimes, you would notice that you pass gas more on some days than on others and then your question is why exactly do I have to fart this much today? The reasons are simple, and we have compiled a couple of them for you.

1. Time of the day

Our body works with time. When there is an excessive buildup of gas and swallowed air during the day, it is only reasonable for your body to experience flatulence at night. Whenever your abdominal muscles are stimulated, you are most likely going to experience flatulence.

For example, if you are about to have bowel movements, your intestinal wall muscles keep working and moving to pass the faeces out into the rectum. This can trigger flatulence. Asides this movement which generally goes on unnoticed, some actions such as exercise and coughing can also cause flatulence to occur.

2. The type of food you eat

There are some specific foods that are intended to cause you to fart so much. Not all foods do this do, and also people don’t always react the same to certain kinds of foods.

Foods such as beans, bran and broccoli can cause people to always fart. You should know the kinds of foods which creates this effect in you and probably stay away from them most especially if you are so concerned about being gassy.

You also may be among people who are lactose intolerant. People who are lactose intolerant are so because they lack the enzyme called lactase. Lactase is what works on foods that contain lactose so that they can be broken down.

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Lactase is very essential for the digestion of milk and other dairy products. You can be born with the problem of being lactose intolerance, or you can develop it even as you age. Whatever you do, you just may need to avoid any food that can make your body uncomfortable.

3. You may be pregnant

Asides all the surprisingly amazing changes your body goes through when you are pregnant, there are a few unpleasant ones, and one of them is an increased gas production.

This change is due to the increase in the level of your hormonal activity, and this tends to slow down digestion causing more gas to build up within your intestine increasing your internal wall pressure causing you to keep farting.

4. Menstruation

When you are on your period, you will experience changes in your hormonal level. This will coincide with bacterial changes in your digestive tract system, and this can sometimes lead to a buildup of internal pressure causing you to experience an increased level of flatulence.

5. Medical conditions:

Some medical conditions can also be responsible for you producing gas more frequently than usual. Also, surgery that has been carried out on any part of the intestines can cause bacterial overgrowth.

When then should you be considered or worried about passing too much gas? How much gas is too much gas? How do you find out that you are passing out too much gas or how do you find out that you have passed too much gas?

Before you can be worried about passing too much gas, you must first be observant about how many times you pass out gas in a day. Sometimes your doctor may ask you to count how many times you fart in a day. Some other times, you are required to keep a food journal as this would help you track what you eat and drink to know what causes you to pass gas.

If you fart more than 23 times a day, this isn’t normal, but it isn’t exactly a point of concern if it still ranges around 23 – 30 times a day. If it goes above 30, then you should be getting a little bit concerned about your health as this might be as a result of an underlying medical condition.

How then do you know you are passing out too much gas? How much gas is too much gas? What do you do when you are passing out too much gas?

Typically, every human passes out gas 14-23 times every day. That is the normal physiological range. However, to know if you pass out too much gas, you must be aware of how many times you fart every day.

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You should also keep a food journal to track what you eat and drink as well as this would enable you to know the kind of foods that cause you to have flatulence. If you fart about 14 times to 23 times a day, then you are normal.

Even if it goes a little bit above 23, you are still healthy, and you seem just maybe to have a buildup of gas in you. However, if you notice that you fart about 30 times and above in a day, then there is probably a problem or an underlying medical condition which would need to be addressed immediately which means you would have to visit your doctor for a checkup.

Another thing you need to take note of is the smell your fart produces. Does this sound funny? Well, the smell of your fart tells you if there is anything you should be concerned about. The smell of your fart depends on the kind of food you have ingested as well as it is as a result of the type of gases present in your colon and small intestines when digestion takes place.

You must realise that your fart having a foul smell doesn’t mean anything in itself. This means that it is perfectly healthy for you to have a nasty smelling fart most especially if you have taken a particular kind of food.

Generally, people always agree that eating animal protein such as eggs and meat will cause your fart to smell awful. Although soluble fibres such as vegetables and fruits as well can cause the release of gas, however, the smell won’t be as horrible as that created due to the digestion of animal protein.

There are certain foods that you should be aware causes flatulence frequently. Although people debate the fact that eating lots of carbohydrates such as pasta, noodles and bread causes the frequent passage of gas, it doesn’t debunk this fact.

Other flatulence causing food that you should be aware of includes: lentils and beans, dairy products such as milk, cheese, ice cream and yoghurt, foods made of soy such as soya beans or soy milk, vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, cucumbers, onions, mushrooms and so on, fruits like apples, pears, peaches and fruit juices, whole grains like rice, bran, alcohol most especially beers, carbonated drinks, sugar free gum, candies and generally sweets.

Having talked so much about gas and passing of gas, how then can you reduce how much you pass gas? (Note that you can’t eliminate passing of gas from your system, sorry, they are part of you)

1. Don’t rush your food and be mindful while eating

Most of the gas found in your body find their way there due to swallowed air. While it is not possible to consume without taking in the air, you definitely can reduce the amount of air you drink while eating.

Whenever you are eating on the go, you must make sure that you are mindful of what you are eating. Whenever you eat too fast or rush your food, you will swallow much more air than when you decide to take your food slow. (I’m beginning to think slow, and easily wins the race works here as well). Try to avoid eating when engaged in other activities such as driving, walking, talking, biking, hiking and so on.

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2. Avoid chewing gum and gummy sweets

Research has shown that those who chew gum or sticky sweets swallow much more air than those who don’t. If you are worried about your breath and it’s smell, why don’t you opt out for licking minty sweets? You can also decide to go for mouthwashes that can help kill excess bacteria in the mouth which causes bad breath.

3. Reduce your intake of gas-producing foods

Previously, we have been able to establish that some foods produce much more gas than the others. Some specific carbohydrates have been seen to be the culprit most especially fructose, lactose, starch and insoluble fibres.

This is because the majority of these carbohydrates are fermented in the large intestine, and they have a history of slowing digestion and causing other digestive problems. There are lots of people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) who use a low-FODMAP-diet. These diets prevent the intake of fermented sugars.

It’s however impossible to cut these foods from your diet completely. In fact, these foods make an essential part of your diet; however, you can reduce their intake. The unrefined carbohydrates which frequently cause flatulence are grouped, and they include

  • Complex sugars: These groups include beans, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, broccoli, asparagus, whole grains, sorbitol, alongside other vegetable
  • Fructose: This category of carbohydrates include onions, artichokes, soft drinks, pears, fruit drinks as well as other fruits.
  • Lactose: This category of carbohydrates include all dairy products such as milk, ice-cream, cheese and so on.
  • Insoluble fibres: They include most fruits alongside bran, peas as well as beans.
  • Starch: This group of food includes whole grain foods, potatoes, pasta, corn and so on

4. Using an Elimination diet method, check for food intolerance

There is a difference between being food intolerant and you having food allergies. When you have food allergies, it causes you to have hives, swollen mouth, inflamed throat and so on. However, when you have a food intolerance, you would experience digestion problems such as bloating, severe gas production as well as diarrhoea

A common cause of food intolerance found in the majority of people is lactose intolerance. Lactose is present in all dairy products, and when you are having a disorder known as lactose intolerance, it means that your body doesn’t produce an enzyme named lactase which helps in digesting any food that contains lactose.

Using an Elimination diet will help you identify and narrow down the cause of the production of your excess gas. This is how it works. First, try to eliminate all lactose filled foods, i.e. no dairy products for you.

If you are still experiencing gas production excessively, then you should also try eliminating all the gas producing foods which we have listed above. Remove them all at once and try to introduce them back into your diet slowly.

As you slowly add them back, keep a journal that helps you track the effects you had in your body when you removed these foods from your diet and when you added them back. This way, you will know what kind of food causes you discomfort and how you can stay away from them.

Asides lactose intolerance, some other people experience gluten intolerance. If this is the kind of syndrome you are having, then you must consult your doctor so that he can rule out the possibility of you having the celiac disease before you begin a gluten-free diet.

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Gluten is an enzyme that is found in foods such as bread, pasta and all other products containing wheat and barley.

5. Make sure you avoid soda, beer and other drinks that are carbonated

Carbonated drinks usually contain too much gas. The air bubbles present in this drinks are generally responsible for the burps associated with drinking them. These air bubbles usually make you belch causing you to take in more gas.

Most times, some of these air will escape entering into the digestive tract and travel all the way down to your rectum. If you must take liquid, replace all carbonated drinks, sodas and beer with water, juice that contains no sugar, tea or non-alcoholic wine.

6. Opt for enzyme supplements

In cases where you can’t do but stay without these foods, then you must opt out for supplements. For example, Beano is an over the counter drug which contains a digestive enzyme known as A-galactidase. The function of this drug is to break down complex carbohydrates and sugar into simple sugar which can then be easily absorbed by the body.

These also enable the complex carbs to be broken down in the small intestine. Typically, complex carbs are broken down in the large intestine by gut bacteria.

While this process is going on in the large intestine, it will cause gas to be produced. So to avoid it, taking Beano will cause the digestion to occur in a place where plenty gas won’t be released and which other places better than the small intestine?

A research study carried out in 2017 discovered that A-galactosidase helps in significantly reducing the severity of the occurrence of flatulence after a bean meal. However, the effects are limited because it only works on gas that is produced by bean meals and not the gas produced by vegetables, fibres and lactose.

Lactaid is also a supplement that contains lactase. This supplement helps people who are lactose intolerant to digest the food gotten from lactose filled foods such as dairy products. This supplement if used should be taken before eating.

There are also some dairy products that contain tiny quantities of lactose hence people who are lactose intolerant can opt out for these products.

7. Try using probiotics

Your digestive tract is usually filled with healthy bacteria whose job is to help you break down food so the body can absorb them for use. There are also certain types of bacteria which are healthy a cold can actually help in breaking down the hydrogen gas which is gotten as a result of the breakdown of food substances by other bacteria.

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Probiotics are medicines that contain in a rich form the healthy and good bacteria. These are so many people who are ingesting them to reduce symptoms which are arisen from the pains of digestive discomfort and the pain of chronic disease such as chronic conditions such as IBS.

8. Quit smoking

Smoking is another reason by which gas can enter into your body. Anytime, you smoke either a cigarette, cigar or e-gig you suck in air into your digestive tract. Hence, once you can quit smoking, you will be able to reduce the amount of air you suck in.

9. Treat any form of constipation you feel

Whenever you poo, you pass out bacteria alongside your poo. However, any time you don’t poop, the poop stays within you alongside the lots of bacteria that accompany it. The longer it remains there, the longer it begins to ferment. This entire fermentation process causes the production of extra gas as well as it creates the gas to smell extremely awful.

To treat constipation, the first thing you should indulge in is taking of water. This means that you should make your water consumption extraordinarily high. The more you drink water, the faster things begin to move.

Also, you must increase your fibre intake. Vegetables and fibres have the property of helping to break down food components and assist in the smooth passage of food contents. If all this doesn’t work, you may be forced to take a gentle laxative. However be careful of the laxative you choose as well as the dosage.

10. Increase your physical output

When you move your body, you always fast track digestion. Hence, if you want to speed up your body’s rate of absorption and metabolism, then you must engage in plenty of physical activities and exercises.

Anytime you take large meals, try as much as possible to take a gentle walk so that can help speed up digestion.

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