Equal parts funny and gross, farts are an interesting topic. Although passing gas is just a fact of life, there are times when you may want to reduce your chances of clearing a room or creating a biohazard situation in a meeting.
There’s also the dreaded first date situation we’ve all found ourselves in, where you’re looking to impress a potential lover. You do your utmost not to toot your horn, both to avoid embarrassing yourself and scaring them away with the devilish smell. It also makes for some funny faces and a lot of trips to the bathroom. Never enjoyable.
Fortunately, a new study offers up some very helpful advice. Researchers at Monash University, Australia, recently examined how different foods can affect the amount of hydrogen sulfide produced in the gut, aka fart gas.
While farts are made up of several different gases: oxygen, nitrogen, methane, carbon dioxide and hydrogen, it’s hydrogen sulfide that’s responsible for making your wind smell like a carton of eggs left to rot in the sun.
A little gross background information – in order to discover how the gas interacts with feces, the scientists gathered the poop of seven healthy volunteers and then mixed it with components commonly found in both meat and carbohydrates to see which produced more of the odor-causing gas
The result? Cysteine, an amino acid found in meat, eggs, and other protein-heavy foods, increased the hydrogen sulfide approximately seven times more. What was even more interesting was that when they mixed the waste with fructans and resistant starch, production of the sulfide was reduced by 75 percent.
What does this translate to in human terms? Your typical bodybuilder’s diet that’s high in protein (you know the ones – loads of dry looking chicken breast and little to no veggies) is likely to make for a terrible post work car ride.
If you actually plan on being in a situation where a malignant toot would be socially crippling, you might want to ease up on the eggs and instead opt for carbs like bananas, potatoes, wheat or vegetables like artichokes and asparagus.
According to lead study author Chu Yao, the biggest takeaway from the research would be not to avoid fiber for fear you’ll suffer from bad gas. While fart production might increase, fiber soaking up water in the intestines help knock out the sulfide and reduce the smell.
Discussing the topic with the New Scientist, Yao said: “The concerning thing is that there are all these people walking around constipated because they are too scared to eat fiber in case they do a bad fart.”
So there you have it, protein-rich foods are where most of the smelly foods come from. Just to be on the safe side you should also stay away from gone-off food in general (stale broccoli never goes down well for me) and drinking too much beer. Hangover farts are not nice.