But not always!
Sometimes stinky farts are actually a sign of good health — really! In fact, some of the compounds that produce unpleasant gas are associated with a reduced risk for cancer.
While flatulence is both the butt of many jokes — pun fully intended — and the source of both physical and social discomfort, it can also indicate good health.
The gas in our gut comes from two basic sources: the air we swallow while we eat, and the by-product of the bacteria in your intestine, also referred to as food fermentation. Healthy, fiber-rich foods are known to cause gas, especially if you suddenly eat a large amount of them when you’re not used to eating them.
In many cases, this is because healthy, fiber-rich and nutrient-rich vegetables encourage good bacteria to flourish. Good bacteria can affect both gene expression and nutrient absorption, and they even produce vitamins and enzymes. Some of the top celiac researchers even believe certain changes in the human microbiome triggers celiac disease… and possibly other autoimmune diseases.
Someone with an excellent diet and overall good health may pass gas around 18 times a day (or more if she’s recently incorporated new foods into her diet).
Most of the gas we pass comes in odorless gases such as carbon dioxide, hydrogen or methane. However, sometimes sulfur enters the composition, and that’s when things can get smelly. Fortunately, even the smelly gas can signal positive things.
Vegetables from the Brassica oleracea family, like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and Brussels sprouts, are rich in a sulfur compound called sulforaphane. While this compound may make your flatulence a little less pleasant for those around you, it’s a compound that is strongly associated with a reduced risk for cancer.
In addition, bacteria in your gut creates sulfur gas by metabolizing hydrogen or methane. This means that when they metabolize and produce sulfur gas, they’re reducing the hydrogen and methane in your intestine. This may result in less overall gas in your intestine, which means you may experience less bloating and cramping.
So next time you pass smelly gas after a meal rich with healthy vegetables, don’t blush — grin!