Ever wondered what makes you fart? Of course you have! And do you know, Rosemary Stanton – one of our most favourite, super smart, no nonsense nutritionists even wrote a book about it!
Gas is an essential and unavoidable part of digesting food – so if you’re not passing wind, there’s something wrong. Some gas comes from swallowed air, but most of it is actually produced in our gut, when various carbohydrates and fibre are fermented by the bugs making up our gut microbiome. These bugs live mostly in our large intestine (colon), and make up around 3kg of our total body weight. The more we feed them with fibre rich plant foods, the more plentiful and diverse the population becomes.
Farts are mostly made up of odourless gases like carbon dioxide, hydrogen, methane and nitrogen, as well as sulphur dioxide (which is actually the stinky one). The average person produces between 400-2400mL of gas each day – which is a pretty wide range. Just FYI, a half blown up party balloon is about 1500mL.
So which foods are the big culprits? Well that depends on whether you’re talking about odour or volume! The smell of wind is more related to intense flavours in foods (think rich food and highly spiced dishes) or foods that release sulphur compounds (like eggs and cruciferous veggies). The big wind producers include the garlic and onion family, cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower or Brussels sprouts, the entire legume family, many grains and cereals (the more whole grain the windier), and certain fruits like pears and stone fruit. Chewing gum is another food to watch, in the windy stakes.
Because our digestive systems differ, the windiness rating for various foods will change from person to person. If you’re lactose intolerant – milk will certainly do it ! If you’re a fructose malabsorber, mango and watermelon might be culprits. And it also depends on the types of bacteria that make up your individual microbiome – some strains will be big wind producers, and others not so much.And there you have it. A quick run-down on the business of farting / tooting / parping. If you want to know more, we thoroughly recommend sourcing a copy of ‘Wind Breaks’ by Rosemary Stanton and Terry Bolin.