My 6-year-old son has a new favourite book. It’s called “No One Likes a Fart”, authored by the oh so funny Zoe Foster-Blake. In the story, poor little fart just wants to try find a friend but of course everyone he tries to meet is not interested in befriending him due to his rather unpleasant odour. Luckily, like most fairy tales, the story has a happy ending. But this did get me thinking that even though the story line mimics the real world where farting is something we would rather not talk about and certainly avoid in public; this unwelcome gas is generally a positive sign of good gut health and should perhaps be embraced in a more welcoming manner.
No One Likes A Fart by Zoe Foster-Blake
Flatulence (commonly known as farting) is caused by gas produced when we digest food. The bacteria in our gut breakdown carbohydrate and protein through fermentation and produce gas by products including methane, nitrogen and carbon dioxide. The varying smell will depend on the ratio of gases, which is ultimately influenced by the foods that we eat.
Eating foods that are high in fibre can produce a lot of gas. Whilst this may be embarrassing, the upside is the multitude of benefits that are achieved from eating gut-friendly fibre. All fibre is important for good health, but especially foods that are naturally high in resistant starch, as this nutrient has been shown to have many positive benefits including increased immunity and reduced risk of bowel cancer and diabetes. Foods that are naturally high in resistant starch include legumes, cooked and cooled rice and potatoes, green bananas, as well as whole grains like BARLEYmax®.
Foods that are known to produce smelly farts include things like cabbage, broccoli, onions, leeks and garlic, so if you find your farts are starting to smell a bit too much, it may be best to avoid these foods. There are some people that have difficulty digesting FODMAPS, a type of short-chain carbohydrates that can cause gut pain. When the small intestine does not break down FODMAPs, they are fermented in the large intestine by gut bacteria, which can lead to bloating and excess gas production. Some people respond well to a diet that restricts FODMAPS including onion, garlic, wheat, honey, legumes and some fruits. However, it is important to undertake this type of diet with the help of a dietitian as it is not a long-term diet. Once gut issues have settled down, FODMAPS can usually be reintroduced back into the diet.
So, remember that farting is perfectly normal and, in most cases, a good sign of a healthy gut, even if those around you feel otherwise! So, I may just send a note to Zoe Foster Blake and suggest that perhaps she could write a follow up children’s story called “Everyone Should Like a Fart”, what do you think?
Teri Lichtenstein (APD)
The Healthy Grain Brand Ambassador