Have you ever been in a situation where outgoing winds would be enormously embarrassing, and you had to keep a fart? Let’s face it – we all know it.
The adherence leads to a build-up of pressure and a considerable lack of feeling. An accumulation of intestinal gas can trigger abdominal cramping, with some gas being returned to the circulation and released on exhalation. Too long a halt causes the build-up of intestinal gas to eventually escape via an uncontrollable fart.
It is not clear in the research whether the increase in pressure in the intestinal tract increases the chance of developing a so-called diverticulitis, in which small pouches in the intestinal mucosa develop and become inflamed – or whether it possibly does not matter at all.
What is bloating?
The terms flatus, fart and outgoing wind refer to intestinal gases that enter the intestinal tract due to the normal digestive processes and metabolism in the body and then escape through the anus.
As the body digests food in the small intestine, the non-degradable components continue to move along the gastrointestinal tract and eventually into the colon, called the colon.
Intestinal bacteria build a portion of the contents by fermentation, i. a fermentation process, from. This process produces gases and by-products called fatty acids, which are absorbed and used in metabolic pathways related to the immune system and prevent the onset of disease.
Gases can either be taken into the circulation through the intestinal wall and eventually exhaled through the lungs or excreted as a fart via the rectum.
What level of flatulence is normal?
It can be quite challenging for researchers to get people to sign up for experiments that measure fart incidence. Fortunately, ten healthy adults volunteered to measure the amount of gas that passed through their bodies during a day.
Within 24 hours, all the flatulence that was expelled was collected via a rectal catheter (ouch!). They ate normally, but to increase their gas production, they also had to eat 200 grams (half a can) of baked beans.
Participants produced a mean total volume of 705 ml of gas within 24 hours, but varied between 476 ml and 1490 ml depending on the individual. Hydrogen gas was thereby generated in the largest volume fraction (361 ml in 24 hours), followed by carbon dioxide (68 ml / 24 hours). Only three adults also produced methane in the range of 3 ml / 24 to 120 ml / 24 hours. The remaining gases, which are believed to be predominantly nitrogen, contributed about 213 ml / 24 hours to the total output.
Men and women each produced about the same amount of gas, averaging eight flatulent episodes (singly or as a series of farts) over a 24-hour period. The volume varied between 33 and 125 ml per fart, with larger quantities of intestinal gas released immediately after meals during the hour.
During sleep gas was also produced, but only half as fast as during the day (on average 16 ml / hour vs 34 ml / hour during the day).
Fibers and flatulence
In a study on dietary fiber and flatulence, researchers looked at what happens to the production of intestinal gas when you provide people with a fiber-rich diet.
Researchers got ten healthy adult volunteers to follow their usual diet for seven days while consuming or not consuming an additional 30 grams of psyllium per day as a source of soluble fiber. During the week of psyllium ingestion, they were asked to add 10 grams – about a heaped tablespoon – to each meal.
At the end of each week, participants were taken to the lab and, in a carefully controlled experiment, an intrarectal catheter was introduced to quantify, over a few stumps, how gas (in terms of gas volume, pressure and number) moved through the intestinal tract.
They found that the high-psyllium diet resulted in a longer initial retention of the gas, but the volume remained the same, meaning fewer but larger farts.
Where do the gases come from?
Gas in the gut comes from different sources. It can come from swallowing air. Or carbon dioxide, which is produced when gastric acid mixes with bicarbonate in the small intestine. Or gases can be produced by bacteria that are in the colon.
While these gases are designed to perform certain health-related tasks, the production of excessive intestinal gas can cause bloating, pain, borborygmus (which causes rumbling noises), belching, and increased farting.
The most odoriferous farts are sulfur-containing gases. This was confirmed in a study of 16 healthy adults who ingested pinto beans and lactulose, a non-absorbable carbohydrate that is fermented in the colon. The odor intensity of the flatulence samples was judged by two judges (they have our sympathy anyway).
The good news was that the researchers, in a follow-up experiment, found that a pillow of charcoal could help suppress the smell of sulfur gases.
Finally, bad news for jetsetters: Aircraft pressurized cabins increase the likelihood of flatulence as the gas volume expands at a lower cabin pressure compared to ground conditions. With the modern functions for noise reduction in airplanes the fellow travelers will probably hear farts rather than in earlier times.
What should one do?
The next time you feel that a large volume of intestinal gas is preparing to leave, try to move to a more suitable location. Whether you make it there or not, the best thing for your digestive health is, just let go.
For some creative ideas (and a giggle) about how to keep a fart, you can read about it here in this WikiHow:
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