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Fart with Pride: It Means Your Gut Is Well-Fed!

Fart with Pride: It Means Your Gut Is Well-Fed!

Flatulence is a hilarious, sometimes stinky, but always inevitable part of being human. For centuries (most of us) have done all we can to make the passing of gas a private affair, but new research out of the Mayo Clinic suggests it’s time to stop being ashamed. Farting could actually be an indicator of a happy, healthy gut–something to be proud of in today’s messed up food system!

In recent years, science has become more aware of how intimately our overall well-being is connected to the health of the millions of microscopic critters that live in our gastrointestinal system. “This live-in colony of microbes, which together can weigh several pounds and consist of hundreds of individual species, is a digestion powerhouse, breaking food down into useful and nutritious components for us and for the microbes,” explains TIME.

These beneficial bacteria are the real-world version of Star Wars’ midi-chlorian: when they’re unhappy, there is most definitely a disturbance in the force. Unhealthy (or too few) gut bacteria can affect brain function, mental health and digestive efficacy. Likewise healthy gut flora deliver a wealth of benefits, like reduced risk of obesity and diabetes.

For a long time, passing gas was linked to unhappy gut flora, but a study by Purna Kashyap, a gastroenterologist at the Mayo Clinic, suggests that in some instances, farting may simply be a sign that our gut microbes have lots to eat.

Gut microbes “eat up unused food in your large intestine, like fiber and other carbohydrates we don’t digest,” reports NPR. “They also produce a slew of molecules (called short chain fatty acids) that may promote the growth of other beneficial bacteria and archaea.” In the process, they produce a bunch of gases as waste, just like a tractor trailer produces exhaust. This gas has to go somewhere, so when enough of it builds up in our gut, we produce a toot or two.

Here’s the catch: flatulence can also be a symptom of a gut that’s out of balance. So how can we know whether our last fart was the work of happy gut flora or a sign that our colon critters are struggling? The key, says Kashyap, is in the scent.

In most cases, the gas produced by healthy microbes is odorless, made up of carbon dioxide, hydrogen or methane. However, if you eat a lot of broccoli, mustard or veggies from the cabbage family, some sulfurous gas is likely to be mixed in–which is still a good thing because these vegetables have their own health benefits.

Ultimately, farting is almost always a good thing unless gas build up becomes painful or you’re farting so many times a day it disrupts your life. So instead of begging excuses next time you toot in public, give your healthy gut microbes a round of applause.

Related:
7 Herbs for Indigestion
Your Body is a Microbe Farm: Here Are 5 Foods to Cultivate It

Read more: Diet & Nutrition, Food, Health, , , , , , , , ,

Image via Thinkstock

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Beth Buczynski

Beth is a freelance writer and editor living in the Rocky Mountain West. So far, Beth has lived in or near three major U.S. mountain ranges, and is passionate about protecting the important ecosystems they represent. Follow Beth on Twitter as @ecosphericblog or check out her blog.

191 comments

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10:27AM PDT on Aug 4, 2014

Thanks I needed that!!!

10:11AM PDT on Aug 4, 2014

I have proof gas is good and am going to share! Thank you Mayo Clinic!

6:00AM PDT on Jul 22, 2014

LOL!! I was always taught it was impolite to fart in public.

I can't wait to tell my husband about this article. He likes to let it go in the car when the air conditioning or heat is on! Now, he will say he has "happy gut flora" or his "colon critters" are out of whack!

10:15AM PDT on Jun 3, 2014

I loved the STAR WARS reference.

9:39PM PDT on May 20, 2014

So really they way I understand it is that it can be an either/or situation. Either your gut is or is not working that causes the gas. That article was really not helpful. But it happens and best try to be private about it.

11:03PM PDT on May 18, 2014

Just poor manners and rather horrid really.

7:37PM PDT on May 17, 2014

Thank you!

6:06AM PDT on May 15, 2014

Thanks.

10:38PM PDT on May 14, 2014

My wife was picking up her ten-year-old nephew after some event or other.
He jumped in the car and, without a word, leaned over and let rip.
He looked up, all smiles at first.
Then, "Oh, sorry Aunt Mary. I thought you were my mom!"

My point ? Unless you're ten, show some manners.

2:16AM PDT on May 14, 2014

Thank you :)

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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