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Why We Fart

By November 9, 2013Fun
intestines B12

You probably know that beans (the magical fruit) and cheese (cut the cheese) cause gas. But did you ever wonder why we fart?  Here are the facts behind your farts!

Where the Gas Comes from

Farts are gases from the digestive tract which get expelled via the anus. Because of the pressure on the anus and its shape, farts can make incredibly loud reverberating noises.  All animals with intestines and an anus fart. However, depending on the type of food they eat, they may fart significantly less and to a varying degree of smell. Some people blame farts on swallowed air. In reality, only a very small portion of farts result from air we swallow (this air gets absorbed into the bloodstream). Most gas is produced from the breakdown of food in the digestive system.

When you eat food, it makes its way down into the stomach where gastric acids break the food down into its smaller components, like sugars and amino acids. From there, the food goes into the small and large intestines, where they are further broken down to be absorbed into the bloodstream. The food matter which doesn’t get absorbed by the intestine goes into the colon. There are numerous and bacteria (including helpful bacteria) found in the colon. These bacteria eat the food waste in the colon. Gas is produced as a byproduct of the bacteria breaking down the food waste.

Types of Fart Gases

Most of the gases in a far are oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, hydrogen and methane.   These gases do NOT smell. Note that two of the gases, hydrogen and methane, are flammable. Thus, it really is possible to ignite a fart like you see in cheesy comedy movies. I wouldn’t recommend this though because you could set your butt on fire. It is even possible for the flames to be absorbed up into the anus! Of the other gases which make up farts, volatile sulfur compounds are the ones which make farts smell so bad. Foods that are high in sulfur will produce smellier farts.

Vegetarian Farts Smell Less

Some vegetarians may fart more because of all the beans they eat, but vegetarian farts don’t smell as bad as meat-eater farts! The reason for this is because meats contain high amounts of sulfur and thus produce stinky farts. Further, it takes a long time to digest meat. As meat sits in the digestive tract, bacteria go to town on it and produce large amounts of the stinky volatile sulfur compounds. So, vegetarians tend to fart more but the farts stink less. There are some exceptions to this though. Vegetarian foods like eggs, onions, and the cabbage family are also high in sulfur and produce particularly-stinky farts.

Image credits:
Farts – So Fun They Make You Laugh by Eli Christman Attribution-NonCommercial License
Fart
by Per Olesen Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License Fart now loading by Todd McCann Attribution-NonCommercial License

Author Diane Vukovic

Diane Vukovic is a vegan mom, health nut, and kitchen diva. When she's not deducing veggie nutritional facts, she's probably dancing crazily with her daughter or traveling somewhere in Europe.

More posts by Diane Vukovic

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