Stinky Facts About Farts That You May Not Know
Facts and DIY
On 31st January 2018
Perhaps you don't talk about passing gas all day long with everyone that you know (what's wrong with you?!). But let's be honest, we all do it and it's sort of fascinating in the weird way that all bodily functions are. That came out of there? Weird. Gas is made up of a few different gasses: hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and sometimes methane. Gas comes from a breakdown of food in your digestive system by all the nice bacteria that we have working hard in there. How much gas we have and how noticeable it is can be highly variable depending on a lot of factors like of course what we're putting into our body and pretty much every living organism goes through it. It just never really stops once it starts. But as totally normal and common as it is, there are probably a lot of things that you don't know about it. Here are some weird and cool facts you didn't know about passing gas.
Farts are caused by trapped air, which can come from many sources. Some of it is air that we have swallowed while chewing or drinking. Some air is caused by gas seeping into our intestines from our blood, and some gas is produced by chemical reactions in our intestines or bacteria living in our guts.
A typical fart is composed of about 59 percent nitrogen, 21 percent hydrogen, 9 percent carbon dioxide, 7 percent methane and 4 percent oxygen. Only about one percent of a fart contains hydrogen sulfide gas and mercaptans, which contain sulfur, and the sulfur is what makes farts stink.
Farts make a sound when they escape due to the vibrations of the rectum. The loudness may vary depending on how much pressure is behind the gas, as well as the tightness of the sphincter muscles.
You produce about 500 to 1,500 milliliters of gas per day, and expel it in 10 to 20 farts
This might be more than you'd expect, but it's been measured in controlled studies. The surprisingly hefty amount is the result of bacteria that live in your colon and feed on most of the food you eat, says Purna Kashyap — a gastroenterologist at the Mayo Clinic who studies the gut microbiome.
"There are a lot of carbohydrates that we consume — mainly present in vegetables, grains, and fruits — that our bodies don't have the enzymes necessary to digest," he says. "These end up in large intestine, where microbes chew them apart and use them for energy, through the process of fermentation. As a byproduct, they produce gas."
A huge variety of foods contain these complex carbs that we can't fully digest: virtually all beans, most vegetables, and anything with whole grains. For most people, this leads to somewhere between 500 and 1,500 milliliters of gas daily — the equivalent of half a 2-liter bottle of soda, every single day.
If You Do It A Lot, You're Swallowing Too Much Air
Sometimes gas is a byproduct of what's going on during digestion, but sometimes it's simply because you're swallowing too much air that then has to make its way out of the body once it's inside. Eating quickly is one culprit, and so is chewing gum, and even being nervous can cause you to swallow air. You might also be gassy because you're constipated, or because you're eating too much sorbitol. Sorbitol is found naturally in a lot of fruits like apples and pears, but it is found in extremely small amounts. It is also that stuff that's used in sugar-free gum and foods to make them taste artificially sweet, and in those cases, you might be getting a pretty hearty dose of the stuff. It works well as far as taste goes, but sorbitol is not without its side effects. Sorbitol is metabolized very slowly by the body and can cause an increase of movement to the bowels, as well as an increase in gas. Some people get this worse than others, but a lot of people experience intense bloating and gas if they overdo it.
For Some Cultures, Farting Is No Big Deal
While most cultures feel that farts should be suppressed in polite company, there are some cultures that not only don't mind letting them fly in public, but they actually enjoy it. An Indian tribe in South America called the Yanomami fart as a greeting, and in China you can actually get a job as a professional fart-smeller!
In ancient Rome, Emperor Claudius, fearing that holding farts in was bad for the health, passed a law stating that it was acceptable to break wind at banquets.