You’ve just eaten a filling lunch at work (Taco Tuesdays!) and now your belly is tight. The feeling travels downward, but somehow gets lost en route. Squeezing your glutes, you take the long way around the office back to your desk, hoping to let out quiet toots little by little. No luck.
Of all the times you’ve mastered holding in a fart, never did you think you’d ever have trouble letting one out. We’ve all been there.
To start, there’s no shame in farting! In fact, the average healthy person cuts the cheese about 12–25 times per day. Flatulence is a natural process of the body that indicates your digestive system is running smoothly. Sometimes that built-up gas just needs a little “push.”
In this article, we’ll explain the science behind intestinal gas as well as a few simple ways on how to make yourself fart when feeling extra bloated.
- Benefits of Breaking Wind
- How to Make Yourself Fart
- How to Relieve Gas Naturally
- What Happens When You Hold in a Fart?
- When To See a Doctor
Benefits of Breaking Wind
From the loud “strangled balloon animal” to the “silent-but-deadly,” there’s a perfectly good explanation for letting one rip. Passing gas is a normal bodily function that occurs when food breaks down in the gut. This gas is a blend of nitrogen, hydrogen, and other natural gases (meaning farts are, indeed, flammable), and is released from your digestive tract through the mouth and anus. The first becomes a belch and the latter—you guessed it—a glorious fart.
The air you swallow, whether through eating, chewing gum, or drinking a carbonated beverage, can also impact how often you fart. Certain types of food you eat can encourage a lovely toot as well, especially dairy-based foods for those who are lactose intolerant.
Reasons You Can’t Pass Gas
Unfortunately it’s not always easy to relieve trapped gas from our rear like we can with burping. When this happens, the gas can sometimes feel like a sudden sharp pain in the stomach or chest, very uncomfortable nonetheless. Are you feeling extra bloated but having trouble breaking wind? Here’s why:
- Poor digestion - your intestines aren't breaking down the food fast enough, resulting in a slower gas-release process.
- Food intolerances - such as with gluten and dairy products, when the intestines lack the enzymes to break down those particular foods.
- Constipation - a digestive problem causing difficulty passing stool and, in some cases, gas.
- Lifestyle habits - smoking and overeating are two of many habits that cause gas build-up.
- Physical conditions - digestive disorders such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Crohn’s Disease can cause constipation and trapped gas.
How to Make Yourself Fart
If your tummy is tightened and cramping, yet your butt just isn’t cooperating, don’t fret. Here are a few helpful ways to relieve trapped gas.
Many basic yoga poses can help push out that built-up gas. These positions will give your abdominals a good stretch and aid in relaxation. So throw on a pair of comfy clothes, grab a mat or rug, and try these positions to relieve your gas:
Kneel down on all-fours. Shift your hips back so that your butt touches your heels and torso rests on your thighs. Let your forehead touch the mat, stretch your arms out in front of your body, and breathe deeply. Doing so will put a little pressure on the stomach that should motivate some gas to pass.
Happy baby pose
Mimicking the way babies grab their feet while lying backside, this pose helps relieve stress on the lower back, where trapped gas can be loitering around in your rectal area. Simply lie down on your back, lifting your knees up and to the outer sides of your body. Bending the knees, grab your feet with your hands and gently pull them towards you. This tension should encourage a fart (or two!).
Knees to chest pose
Again, lie on your back, this time keeping your knees together. Bring your knees down to your chest while also tucking your chin to your chest. Place your hands behind the bend of your knees and hold. Hopefully, some gas will find its way out!
Gas Relief Medication
If you deal with bloating and gas often, medication is another option. Over-the-counter (OTC) products that contain simethicone, an anti-flatulence agent, can tackle those gas bubbles in the intestines and break them down. A few popular OTC gas relief brands include Gas-X, Beano, and Lactaid (this last one may come in handy for dairy-lovers who are lactose intolerant).
When was the last time you had a good workout? Getting the body in motion can help relax the muscles in your gut and pass that gas right out your tushy. A little cardio, such as jogging and jumping jacks, and a few squats can do the trick.
Have you ever noticed a fart come out while you’re “doing the doo”? Sometimes having a bowel movement can help relieve that gas trapped in the intestines. Also, your body alignment on the toilet can make all the difference. Sitting in the proper position to poop can help both gas and bowels pass smoothly.
How to Relieve Gas Naturally
If you find yourself still unable to force out the gas, here are a few more options and home remedies you can try that naturally promote digestion and gas release.
Eat Fart-Friendly Foods
Do you remember the funny phrase during your childhood, “beans, beans, they’re good for your heart”? It definitely has some truth to it. Beans and most other legumes are high in fiber, protein, and certain sugars that can only break down by the bacteria in our large intestines. This process produces gas that accumulates and eventually makes its way out the anus. So, technically speaking, the more you eat them, the more you fart!
Foods that make you fart:
- Navy beans
- Carbonated drinks
- Milk and dairy products
Foods that reduce gas:
- Pinto beans, black beans, quinoa
- Water, tea, red wine
- Gluten-free wheat, oats
- Lactose-free milk, soy or almond-based
- Blueberries, bananas, strawberries
- Spinach, zucchini
While some foods help you toot, others can cause gas to build up. These include certain fruits and veggies, dairy products, fried and spicy foods, and artificial sweeteners. The best option? Limit your intake of the ones high in sugars, especially processed sugar, and opt for more whole foods.
Add Apple Cider Vinegar to Your Water
If you have apple cider vinegar in your pantry, pull it out! When it comes to gut health, ACV has a lot of benefits. Simply add about a tablespoon of the vinegar to a glass of water and drink it before your meal. The acidity in ACV can help break down foods during the digestive process. Interested in other concoctions you can make from home? Check out these colon cleanse drink recipes.
Drink Chamomile Tea
Several herbal teas, especially chamomile, improve gastrointestinal problems like poor digestion. Chamomile has anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic properties that soothe the gut and help pass gas.
Enjoy Some Peppermint
Peppermint is another natural remedy used for soothing gut problems. Research shows that the menthol in peppermint is antispasmodic, which relaxes the intestines and helps relieve constipation and bloating.
What Happens When You Hold in a Fart?
Holding in your gas (aka tightening your anal sphincter muscles) builds pressure in the digestive system. This can lead to pain, bloating and discomfort. You might also feel some bubbling or gurgling as the gas moves around your system.
Research has shown that some pent-up gas can be reabsorbed by your body’s blood system and exhaled (!) out of your body. At the end of the day, the gas will find a way out unless it’s blocked because of a medical reason, like an obstruction.
When to See a Doctor
Sometimes excessive farting, or a lack thereof, can be a sign of something serious regarding your digestive health. If your gas is accompanied by other issues, such as diarrhea, fever, severe stomach pain, and weight loss, it’s a good time to talk to your doctor. These issues are symptoms of several health conditions including IBS, gallstones, and ulcers. If you have no additional red flags, yet your toots aren’t tooting like they usually do, it still may be a good idea to tell your doctor.
Common Questions About Flatulence
Still curious about your farts? Here are answers to a few frequently asked questions.
Why Do My Farts Smell Bad?
Smelly farts are normal (so don’t be alarmed). Sometimes it’s due to the type of food you eat. Fiber-rich foods contain sulfur, a natural compound that smells like rotten eggs, that the bacteria in your gut breaks down into gas. Certain types of medication, such as antibiotics, can also affect your gas smell. While rare, smelly farts may be the sign of an infection or disease. These however are usually accompanied by other health concerns.
What Causes Excessive Gas?
Excessive gas is often triggered by fiber-rich foods like beans or food allergies, such as lactose intolerance. Smoking, chewing gum, and taking medication can also increase your gas throughout the day. Rare cases of excessive gas relate to digestive disorders and health complications. The average person passes gas at least 12 times a day, so you may have just noticed them more than usual!
When Should I Be Concerned About My Gas?
You should be concerned about your gas if you’re also experiencing other health concerns, such as fever, diarrhea, and weight loss. Excessive farts, especially if they smell bad more frequently, are something to monitor if there hasn’t been a change in your diet or medication.
Now that you support the “free farts'' movement, let’s change those views about poop, too! Just like passing gas, doing your business is also a natural bodily function that means your gut is healthy. If ever you get “stopped up” down there and need to adjust your pushing posture, our toilet ottoman can help.
Is It Okay To Hold In Your Farts?
Though it may not be the most comfortable thing, sometimes the situation calls for it! Holding in your farts every now and then shouldn’t cause any issues. But in general you should allow your farts out to allow your digestion system to do its thing
What Does It Mean If It Feels Like You Have To Fart But You Can’t?
While this may be a sign of good old constipation, it can also be a sign of an abdominal obstruction or intestinal blockage. If you’ve tried the tips listed above and still have issues after a few days, reach out to your doctor.