During a casual conversation the other day, a friend of mine proclaimed that she doesn’t fart. “What do you mean, you don’t fart?” I responded without even thinking about it. Then she clarified her point: she does, in fact, fart, but not very often.
Like any decent human, this got me thinking about my own flatulence frequency. I wouldn’t say I go around breaking wind all day long, but I don’t put myself in the “never fart” category either. After this conversation, there was one question that needed to be answered: How much farting is too much?
Turns out, the average person farts between 5 to 15 times per day. It happens while we’re awake and while we’re snoozing. Perhaps my friend is more of an “afterhours” kind of tooter and doesn’t even realize it. 😉
Now that we’ve established a baseline, shall we go a little deeper? Of course we should! Next question: Why do we fart in the first place?
Farting is the end result of gas buildup in the intestines (so is burping, by the way), and the gas builds up as a result of our body digesting the foods we eat. Also, we swallow some extra air when we eat, drink, or even chew gum. Good news for those of you who were worried about the previous farting average I cited of 5 to 15 times per day. If you click on this link, you’ll see they upped the average to 12 to 25. Phew!
Back to why we fart. To put it simply, our bodies accumulate gas throughout the day. The human body absorbs some of it, but the rest needs a place to go. That place is at one end or the other of a 40-foot long digestive tube, in the form of farts and burps.
A common cause of gas is undigested foods: putrefying proteins (from a lack of protein digestive enzymes), rancid and refined fats, carbohydrates (including sugars), starches, and soluble and insoluble fiber.
One of the main sugars that cause excess gas in your system is raffinose, which is plentiful in foods like broccoli, cabbage, and beans. Since our bodies lack the enzyme required to process this complex sugar, the bacteria in your gut creates a whole lotta gas trying to digest it. Healthful tip: You can leach out some of the raffinose by soaking dried beans in water overnight before cooking them, thus reducing the intestinal gas.
Some refreshing flatulence facts:
- Farting is an equal opportunity bodily function. Young or old, male or female—we all pass gas at about the same amount.
- A mere one percent of the gas your body expels is stinky.
- Every day, we humans produce 0.6–1.8 liters of intestinal gas.
What if you pass more gas than the average bear? There are many possible reasons. Perhaps your gut biome needs support, or your digestive juices need a boost. Maybe your diet consists of too many low-nutrient foods that are harder to digest, like the ones mentioned earlier as well as refined grains, carbonated beverages, and sugar substitutes such as sorbitol. Another cause could be digestive disorders such as irritable bowel disease or lactose intolerance (which indicates weak digestive function). Constipation, stress, and medications are also known culprits.
Thinking back on the conversation that started this whole exploration, I’m not even sure how the topic came up. But this curious self-healther is certainly glad it did. After all, every big and little thing our body does serves a purpose or sends a message. Even farting.