First of all, you need to remember that everyone passes gas. It’s natural but, admittedly, it is a bit of a social problem. Rarely does someone applaud when they smell or hear a fart.
To understand flatulence it helps to think of your body as a gas factory. So let’s take a look at passing gas assembly line. When food reaches the stomach, the nutrients are broken down into amino acids, fatty acids and glucose before being sent to the small intestine.
When food does not get absorbed into the intestinal wall, it can’t enter the bloodstream. Indigestible food and liquids are sent down the breaking wind assembly line where they reach the large intestine as waste… and that’s where farts are created
Different bacteria in the bowel do different things. Some digestive enzymes feed on unabsorbed nutrients. In the case of flatulence, “gas enzymes” eat undigested nutrients by breaking down their chemical bonds – and the result is someone “stepping on a duck”.
So why do farts smell? Flatulence is made up of a number of gasses, many of them odorless — including carbon dioxide, nitrogen, oxygen, and methane. But farts can also contain hydrogen sulfide which has a, shall we say, distinct smell. This hydrogen sulfide is what is being captured by fart filtering underwear.
Flatulence odors can also depend on your diet. For example, vegetarians produce farts that smell less because, generally speaking, vegetables produce less hydrogen sulfide.
There are also other causes for flatulence that we all have to deal with.
Eating too many carbs
Of the three main nutrients, carbohydrates produce the most gas because sugar and starch ferment very easily. About 50% of us have bacteria in our digestive system that prefer unprocessed carbs. Those infamous fart creating beans have more indigestible carbohydrates than most foods.
Consuming indigestible foods
A surprising amount of your food is considered “indigestible”, including milk. Cow’s milk is actually an unnatural fuel for your body, which is why a lot of people are diagnosed as lactose intolerant. Lactose intolerance means the body can’t digest milk, so it considers it waste. If you have a lot of gas enzymes in your digestive system and are lactose intolerant, a glass of milk can create a whole lot of flatulence.
Everyone’s digestive system is unique, so we may react differently to the same foods. Two people can eat the same meal, and end up with the same amount of indigestible carbs but only one of them develops significant gas because his/her (yes, ladies fart) intestinal tract contains more enzymes.
Chewing food and swallowing air
Chewing your food thoroughly helps prevent flatulence because the well-chewed food is easier to digest. However, swallowing air while you eat, drink, or even chew gum usually leads to burping but – if the air gets down deep enough – can also result in farts.
Some types of intestinal infections cause flatulence. When a person contracts an intestinal infection, the lining of the intestinal track thins. The thinner lining means fewer nutrients get absorbed, and more nutrients get sent to the fart factory.
So again, we all fart. It helps to know that flatulence is a world-wide phenomenon, but it can still make us uncomfortable to deal with in public. So you either have to learn to fart proudly, reduce your gas production, or mask the results.