Benjamin Franklin stated that there are two certainties in life: death and taxes. However, we think he failed to mention a third: flatulence, farts, gas… you get the idea.
Yet, for such a normal and frequent act of bodily release, we can still get extremely shy about it.
We’ve all sat at work and desperately tried to hold a fart in or been out with friends and hoped nobody will comment on the sudden dubious smell. But we’re drawing the line at holding in gas to the point of twisting pain.
So, the next time you want to avoid a gas hold up, here are some easy steps you can take. Time to encourage the winds of change, baby.
You’ve embraced high-fiber greens — foods that’ve been labeled so-good-you-should-eat-them-everyday. But eating them in excess can often be the biggest culprits for pent-up gas.
Our digestive system has to work a little harder to break down beans, lentils, rye, apples, broccoli… foods high in the FODMAP (short-chain carbs that bypass digestion).
“Fiber is not easily digestible, and we rely on the bacteria in our gut to break it down via fermentation in our large bowel,” explains Dr Anthony Hobson, clinical director at The Functional Gut Clinic. “A bi-product of fermentation is gas; hence why high-fiber foods can cause flatulence.”
Another little-known fact? High-fiber ingredients could be the case behind your constipation, too. Thus, if you’ve got a date or an important meeting, hold off on the loaded bean burrito.
Psst — if you’ve experienced the classic “spicy fart,” we don’t have to tell you what caused it. Just as eating beetroot or rhubarb can turn your urine pink, the naturally hot components of spicy foods can irritate your bowels and anus.
Heads up: Don’t mix these foods!
The combo of fiber with processed sugar, trans fat, refined oils and carbs, alcohol, and processed meats can be potent. Especially for folks with chronic gut conditions, like IBS or other food intolerances. The levels of uncomfortable gas and bloating after eating these foods is going to be high.
If that turns out to be the case for you, check with your doctor to make sure it’s not just a matter of too much fiber.
Before you get excited, we’re not talking about alcohol (sorry) but good ole H2O.
Drinking enough water daily has numerous benefits, from helping our kidneys function properly to improving our skin; but, in the case of gas, water is what will show it the door.
As dietician Sejal Jacob explains: “Dehydration can impact your bowel movement and how food moves in your gut. Sufficient fluid intake will help regulate your bowels, which aids in preventing constipation and excess gas production.”
Sure, when your stomach has expanded to its max, the last thing you feel like doing is filling it more. But do your farts a favor and drink — right now, and every time you’re thirsty — because the long game here is to help your liver.
Hot tip: Adding ginger (1200 mg) to your water may help with getting the gas out faster.
Yeah, walking boosts heart health, increases immunity and burns calories — but the real reason you’re going for a stroll is to clear the air. Literally.
Just think of pebbles trying to make their way through a twisted hosepipe. Move to help untangle that mess and get your gut decomposing before it builds up into a stench house.
Also, as in many cases, a little movement sends a message to your noggin. “Your gut and brain are constantly communicating with each other,” states Jacob. “Exercise like walking helps calm your brain — subsequently helping calm the gut and improving bloating and flatulence.”
A gut on duty is a gut that gets gas out of the way (or at least produces a less offensive smell). And sometimes the gut wants a little assistance when it works.
Fortunately, it’ll accept in the form of probiotics. If you haven’t heard by now, probiotics are the good guys that boost your digestive system.
“The microorganisms in your gut play a very important role in digestion. When there’s an imbalance in your gut bacteria, pathogenic (bad) bacteria can cause issues like bloating and wind,” explains Jacob. “[Probiotics] help balance the good bacteria.”
Including fermented foods into your diet — such as kimchi and kefir — is another great way to boost good bacteria.
While many natural probiotics include sugar, you might want to avoid the added kind because they can slow the army down a little.
Unless, like Ross Gellar, you’re trying to beat a teenage Monica to the Thanksgiving turkey, eating and drinking is a marathon — not a sprint.
If you inhale that plate of tacos, you’ll take in more air, which — you guessed it — “can get trapped and increase flatulence,” Dr Hobson says.
Plus, “chewing properly helps us to be mindful of our portion sizes and avoid a full stomach,” adds Jacobs. A stuffed tum puts extra strain on your digestive system, leading to that troublesome foe, gas.
So unless you want to become a resident of Gasville by the time you leave the table, pace yourself.
Our daily lives can be full of overlapping stressful factors. Stress and anxiety can come in like the worry warts we didn’t invite and, apart from taking a toll on our mental health, these anxious thoughts can impact the gut, too — encouraging a fart party.
“When you experience stress, your body goes into fight-or-flight mode, causing non-essential activities, like digestion, to shut down,” explains Jacobs.
Luckily, life created time-outs, and you’ve earned the right to take one if you need to.
“Meditation, yoga, and keeping your circadian rhythm in check by sleeping and waking at a consistent time, all act as stress reducers,” she adds.
Deep breathing — slowly, into your diaphragm — can quickly reduce feelings of anxiety too. Doing so signals to the brain and body to lower your heart rate and blood pressure and generally take things down a notch.
It’s pretty clear that farting is natural and A-OK.
Flatulence is, most of the time, an indication that your body is doing its job at clearing out crap (pun intended) it doesn’t need. That’s definitely something to be happy about.
But we get that you might not be announcing the presence of a fart in a crowded room anytime soon — so if you feel a bit of bubbling going on, excuse yourself and let loose where only God can hear you.
Chantelle Pattemore is a writer and editor based in London, UK. She focuses on lifestyle, travel, food, health and fitness.