Why Do I Fart So Much? 3 Causes Of Flatulence & How To Fix
Whether they’re loud, silent or smelly, excessive farting can be an embarrassing issue to live with. Unless of course you’re Jim Carrey in Dumb & Dumber! For the rest of us flatulence is probably not a great dinner party trick or something to laugh about. So in this article we’re going to look at 3 things: First, we’ll answer the question, are you really farting a lot, or is your current level of flatulence considered normal? Next, we’ll look at what causes flatulence. This will be really interesting, as you’ll finally get to see what’s responsible for all those embarrassing toots! Finally, we’ll show you the best way to reduce flatulence without resorting to restrictive diets or poorly researched products.
Table of Contents
So let’s look at what is considered normal versus excessive flatulence. In this 1991 study that appeared in the journal Gut, researchers found people expelled 476 to 1491 mils of farts per day, with 705 mils being the median amount, which is about 23 fluid ounces.
And they also found that women and men expelled equivalent amounts.
Now, unless you’re going around capturing your own farts and measuring the volume like these poor scientists did in the trial this is probably not very helpful for working out whether you are farting too much.
So to put it in simpler terms, 600 to 700 mils a day, being the average amount of flatulence observed - translates into roughly 14 farts per day.
And up to 25 farts per day is also considered to be within the normal healthy range.
Now, if you find yourself farting more than this, then you might have excessive flatulence.
2. What causes flatulence?
So let’s now look at what causes flatulence, as that will give us some insight into how to fix it.
In this 2006 study researchers detailed a range of potential causes. And as you can see most of them likely won’t apply to you as they are to do with specific health conditions.
But what might be relevant for most of you reading this is carbohydrate intolerance. And as you can see, we’re talking about an individual’s inability to fully digest the following things:
- The sugar lactose found in milk
- Other poorly absorbed sugars such as fructose and sorbitol, which can be found in many fruits for example
- Plus intolerance of complex carbohydrates and fiber, which you can find in everything from whole grains to beans to vegetables
The researchers also noted some other carbohydrates might be hard to digest and absorb, leading to flatulence, including
- Polyols, including sugar alcohols like Isomalt, Maltitol, Mannitol, Xylitol
And just before we move on - since the 2 other types of carbohydrate intolerances mentioned in the study are hereditary disorders or diseases, they are best discussed with your healthcare practitioner.
3. Why do carbohydrates cause flatulence?
So now let’s look at why these carbs actually cause flatulence? Well, it’s because many of the carbohydrates in these foods are indigestible by your body, because we lack the enzymes to digest them. And instead, can only be digested by the bacteria in your large intestine.
For example, 20% of carbohydrates in baked beans are indigestible by us and instead can only be broken down by your bacteria.
In fact, here’s a funny clip from Nickelodeon you might remember watching in the 1990s explaining just this…
And of course, when your bacteria go about breaking down these leftover carbohydrates via the process of fermentation, they create gas as a by-product. Kind of like how your car produces exhaust fumes when it’s running. And this of course ends up exiting your body in the form of a fart.
4. How common are these flatulence issues?
To help you get a picture of how common these issues are, we’ll quickly run through some interesting stats we found in the 2006 study.
- First, lactose intolerance impacts a huge portion of the population as you can see.
- Meanwhile, a whopping 40% of fructose is not absorbed in the normal human intestine…meaning it might be a tough carbohydrate for many of us to digest as well.
- And then there is sorbitol, which research suggests might be poorly absorbed…or digested if you like…by roughly half the population!
5. Which foods cause flatulence?
So now let’s look at some examples of carbohydrate-rich foods that can cause flatulence.
- So obviously milk and other dairy products can be a key cause of flatulence for many people. And this is because their bodies don’t produce enough lactase, the enzyme that breaks down lactose sugar.
- Meanwhile, as we saw earlier foods containing fructose might also cause flatulence. And to give you an idea of which foods contain high amounts of fructose, it would be the following:
- In terms of fruits, some examples would be apples, cherries, figs, mangoes, pears, and watermelon.
- In terms of vegetables, some examples would be asparagus, broccoli, mushrooms and onions.
- And in addition to these, you would also find high amounts of fructose in fruit juices and honey.
- Next up, foods containing sorbitol, which is a type of sugar alcohol, might cause flatulence.
- And examples of these would include fruits like berries, as well as apples, apricots and cherries.
- But just as importantly, sorbitol is often found in processed foods such as sugar free gum or candy, as well as ice cream, chocolate and baked goods.
- And finally, foods containing complex carbohydrates and fiber, would include all the usual suspects of flatulence. Some key examples would be beans, lentils, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, bokchoy, brussel sprouts, bran and wheat.
And if you want to discover the complete list of foods that are most likely to cause flatulence, then download our free Flatulence Foods List. It goes through all the different types of foods that cause flatulence…both the smelly and the loud kinds.
6. Which foods cause smelly flatulence?
Just before we finish this article, it’s worth quickly talking about which foods cause smelly flatulence. You see, here’s the thing…while farting frequently can be embarrassing, especially if it is loud…the number one thing we all want to avoid is smelly gas!
In fact, this problem is so big, we actually wrote a separate article detailing exactly what causes smelly farts and how to fix it.
7. How can we reduce flatulence?
So now we know why we fart, let’s look at the best way to reduce flatulence. So one option is to simply reduce your intake of the various flatulence-causing carbs we covered in this video.
And in fact, the 1991 study from earlier in this article found that:
“...ingestion of a fiber or carb free diet reduced the volume of gas down to 214 mils compared to 705 mils when eating a carb rich diet."
Likewise, in the 2006 study we covered, researchers found low gas diets that exclude many complex carbohydrates reduce farting by up to 50%. In other words, people farted very little on low carb diets.
But the problem with this approach is you are throwing the baby out with the bathwater. And by solving one problem…being flatulence…you can possibly end up causing much more serious problems due to a low fiber diet.
If you’re interested to learn why, we go into detail on the benefits of fiber for your health in our guide to flatulence.
So just to be clear here, the only time you should really be eliminating a food completely from your diet, is if you have a diagnosed intolerance, allergy or medical condition, such as lactose intolerance or celiac disease.
8. A smarter way to reduce flatulence?
For the rest of us…the smarter approach to reduce flatulence is to actually lean into the problem. Meaning, you should focus on training your gut to digest these carbs better. And here’s the best way to do that:
- So first of all, avoid eating large serving sizes of these foods, at least initially. This step alone will reduce excessive flatulence for most.
- And of course by the same token, don’t cut any of these foods out completely.
- Instead, what you want to do is gradually expose your gut to the various carbohydrates we’ve talked about in this video. Meaning, you slowly build up the serving size over time.
- For example, if you struggle eating cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, try eating just 1 floret a day for 1 week, then 2 florets a day the next week and so on.
- Over time your gut will get better at breaking down the food and the flatulence will decrease, even as you eat more of it.
- Now of course, if you have an important job interview coming up or a first date even then feel free to cut your carbs back temporarily.
9. Other ways to reduce flatulence?
There are many other ways to reduce flatulence, and if you want to dive into all of them…check out our Flatulence Fighting Toolkit. It’s the ultimate guide to dealing with excessive flatulence.
And in it we talk about everything from specialist digestive enzymes like alpha-galactosidase to probiotic strains like L Plantarum.
An evidence hierarchy is followed to ensure conclusions are formed off of the most up-to-date and well-designed studies available. We aim to reference studies conducted within the past five years when possible.
- Systematic review or meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials
- Randomized controlled trials
- Controlled trials without randomization
- Case-control (retrospective) and cohort (prospective) studies
- A systematic review of descriptive, qualitative, or mixed-method studies
- A single descriptive, qualitative, or mixed-method study
- Studies without controls, case reports, and case series
- Animal research
- In vitro research