When talking about health, a few things always come up — a good night’s sleep, a healthy diet, and plenty of exercises. However, you never hear people mention farts in such an equation. This is somewhat understandable. Farts are one of those embarrassing bodily functions everyone likes to forget happened.
But they can actually be a major sign of your overall health, especially if they smell bad. So, if you’ve been asking yourself, ‘why do my farts smell so bad’, here are a few possible causes you should bring up to your doctor.
Why Do My Farts Smell So Bad? 5 Reasons
It goes without saying that farts smell bad. They occur because of a release of gastrointestinal gas that accumulated in your body as a result of either swallowing air or digestion. A little-known fact is that 99% of farts are made out of entirely odorless compounds like hydrogen, methane, and nitrogen. However, they’re also about 1% hydrogen sulfide and mercaptans, compounds that are both rich in sulfur.
In the real world, 1% doesn’t make much of an impact. But in the world of chemistry, that 1% is enough to make your farts smell like rotten eggs. While this is completely normal and healthy, there are cases when your gas can end up smelling particularly bad. The reasons for this are many and varied, but the most common culprits include:
1. Fiber-Rich Foods
Fiber is one type of carbohydrate our bodies can’t break down efficiently. So, in order to clear it from our system, it gets converted to gas. Therefore, if your diet is rich in high fiber foods, you will pass more gas. What’s more, a lot of fiber-rich foods are also naturally high in sulfur. Consequently, they can make your farts smell significantly worse.
Some fiber dense foods which produce the smelliest farts include:
• Pok Choy
• Whole grains
2. Food Intolerances
Food intolerances are another diet-related cause of smelly farts. For instance, if your body is sensitive to lactose and can’t absorb it, the carb will remain in your gut. The gut bacteria will ferment the lactose, which in turn will make your farts smell very bad.
Another kind of food intolerance that produces foul-smelling gas is gluten sensitivity. Gluten is a type of plant protein found in grains and grain products like bread, pasta, and cakes. Like lactose, some people can’t properly digest gluten, so the protein will end up fermenting in the gut.
In severe cases, gluten will trigger an immune response which will cause the body to attack its own tissue. This is known as Celiac disease and is currently something about 1 in 133 Americans struggle with.
If your smelly farts are a result of food intolerances, you’ll typically experience other symptoms like:
• Painful stomach bloating
Sometimes you can’t blame your gassiness on diet alone. Though it’s rare, some medications can also trigger smelly farts. For example, when you take antibiotics to kill off harmful bacteria, you also inadvertently destroy good bacteria, which helps you digest food. As a result, your body will have a hard time breaking down food, thus you may experience bloating and excessive flatulence.
The best way to treat this problem is to switch your prescription. However, you should always consult your doctor about what medication is right for you.
Though farts are usually a sign that your gut is working well, they can sometimes indicate the opposite. When you’re constipated, poop builds up in your colon. The longer it stays in there, the more bacteria it breeds. As a result, you can experience farts, which are not only smelly but painful too.
Usually, you can clear up the issue by eating some fiber-rich foods to get your bowels moving. But if an easier solution is more your cup of tea, over-the-counter laxatives are also an option.
5. Colon Cancer
The least common and most serious cause of smelly farts is colon cancer. When cancerous tumors grow in the colon, they can cause obstructions. These can trigger constipation and smelly farts. Colon cancer also has other side effects like diarrhea, rectal bleeding, and painful bloating.
If you experience any of these symptoms, consult with your doctor immediately. Early detection is crucial for getting effective cancer treatment.
Are Smelly Farts Healthy?
As unpleasant as smelly gas is, most of the time, it’s actually healthy. As a mineral, sulfur contains some potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It can help improve various skin conditions like rosacea and dandruff, as well as alleviate arthritis symptoms. What’s more, a recent study showed that smellier farts mean a person is at a significantly lower risk of developing dementia, heart disease, and diabetes.
So, if you’ve recently been loading up on vegetables, your smelly farts are completely normal. Not only that, but they’re actually a sign your gut is working exactly as it should. However, suppose your smelly farts are accompanied by other symptoms, like fatigue, bloating, stomach aches, and rectal bleeding. In that case, it may be time to consult with your physician to uncover the underlying cause of the problem.
How to Alleviate Your Smelly Farts
Even if they’re healthy, smelly farts are still inconvenient and embarrassing. So, it’s completely understandable if you want to minimize them. There are a few steps you can take to reduce farting including:
• Eat more slowly to make sure your body has enough time to digest the food properly.
• Avoid eating artificial sweeteners in excess, since they too can cause smelly gas.
• Drink more water to make sure you can easily pass stool.
• Eat a lot of probiotic-rich foods like yogurt and fermented foods. They will help healthy gut bacteria grow, which can, in turn, minimize gassiness.
• Try to consume fewer carbonated drinks like soda, beer, and sparkling water.