Most people have been in a situation where they really need to let one rip, but the social setting doesn’t allow it. Whether it’s on a plane, at a friend’s house or on public transport, people feel the need to hold on to a fart until they’re away from the prying eyes – and noses – of those who could judge.
Nothing quite matches that uncomfortable feeling in the stomach and for some, despite their best efforts, the fart slips on out, leading to an embarrassing situation for all involved. While it may seem harmless, The Conversation has published an informative article about how healthy, or unhealthy, it really is to hold in a fart.
According to the article, failing to break wind causes a build up of pressure and discomfort. When intestinal gas has nowhere to go, it can sometimes be burped out. If left too long, the gas will eventually escape and more often than not, it will be through an uncontrolled fart.
A fart, or flatus as they’re also known, occurs when intestinal gases that make their way to the rectum as part of the body’s normal gastrointestinal process of digestion and metabolism. In simple terms, it’s normal for the body to break down food and for the body to produce gasses as part of the digestive process. The tricky task for researchers is to determine how much gas is normal.
Thankfully, there have been studies where volunteers have captured the gas they produce in a 24-hour period through a rectal catheter. During that study, participants were asked to eat half a large can of baked beans in addition to their normal diet. Researchers discovered participants could produce anywhere between 476ml to 1,490ml of gas.
Researchers noted that men and women produce the same amount of gas and it’s normal to fart eight times throughout the day – including during sleep. It also found that in addition to diet, a fart can be the result of swallowing air, from carbon dioxide produced in the digestive system or even by bacteria. The production of too much gas can cause bloating, pain, regular farting or belching, as well as lots of rumbling and grumbling.
While the sound can be enough to make anyone blush, the smelly odour of a fart can also be a problem for many. Researchers have found that smelly farts contain gases containing sulphur, meaning diets high in meat, poultry, eggs, garlic and cauliflower can make a fluff more unpleasant.
And anyone who has ever felt an increased need to cut the cheese on a plane isn’t imagining things. The report also found that because of the lower cabin pressure, people are more likely to pass gas because it expands.
The article concludes that although embarrassing at times, the best thing to do is to fart. It can improve overall digestive health and prevent discomfort and pain.