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15 Explosive Facts About Farts

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Farting. Breaking wind. Passing gas. Cutting the cheese. There are a million different ways to discuss blowing the butt trumpet. Everyone does it, even the most delicate of ladies. And admit it, it's usually funny. Here are 15 fascinating facts about the good old fart. 

1. James Joyce thought farts were sexy.

"I think I would know Nora's fart anywhere,” the author wrote in December 1909 of his muse. “I think I could pick hers out in a roomful of farting women."

2. Gerald Ford would blame his farts on the Secret Service. 

The 38th president would turn to his Secret Service agents and loudly proclaim things like ”Jesus, was that you? Show some class!” instead of owning up to his own farts. He clearly never heard “whoever smelt it, dealt it.”

3. Sometimes flatulence isn’t actually from digestion.  

According to a 1942 medical paper, people often attribute gas to indigestion, when it may be something else entirely. The author writes:

The chronic belcher is swallowing air because he is nervous or frightened; the woman who bloats may have only an angioneurotic edema of her bowel; the man who feels as if he had gas in his stomach may have only a duodenal ulcer or constipation, and the man who is passing much flatus may only be chewing gum and swallowing much air with the saliva.

4. “The magical fruit" probably doesn't really make you toot any more than other foods.

A 2011 study found that most people do not fart more if they eat more beans. While a sudden increase in bean intake may cause some flatulence for a few people, it normalizes over time [PDF].

5. Farting is a fetish.

A 2013 paper in the Archives of Sexual Behavior describes a 22-year-old man who is sexually aroused by flatulence. The fetish is also known as eproctophilia.

6. It’s possible to think too much about your farts

In a psychological case study about a 33-year-old woman who was having obsessing thoughts about farting, the poor farting soul was essentially instructed to "fart harder," for a whole year. The paradoxical instructions helped rid her of the obsessive thoughts.

7. Someone has patented reduced-fart snacks.

In 2001, an entrepreneur named Massoud Kazemzadeh, who has a degree in food engineering, secured a patent for “reduced-flatulence, legume-based snack foods.” The snacks were designed to have all the nutrition of a bean, but none of the toots. The patent also includes this gem: “For most people, flatus generation rates are typically between 16 and 64 milliliters [0.54 to 2.16 oz] per hour.” (Of course, we now know, thanks to that 2011 study, that eating beans doesn't lead to more farting, so this type of snack might not be necessary.)

8. You can buy a pill that claims to make your farts smell like chocolate. 

Which, of course, was a challenge that Benjamin Franklin set the world over 230 years ago. A French man named Christian Poincheval sells fart pills that supposedly make your gas smell like chocolate, rose, or ginger, depending on your preference. They retail for about $21 each.

9. There’s such a thing as “defensive flatulence.”

In 1996, a psychoanalyst published a case study of a boy who had been neglected and abandoned by his parents, and subsequently used farting as a defense against the world. “When feeling endangered, Peter had developed a defensive olfactive container using his bodily smell and farts to envelop himself in a protective cloud of familiarity against the dread of falling apart, and to hold his personality together,” the researcher wrote.

10. Fart jokes are eternal. 

Fart jokes have existed since at least 1900 BCE. A Sumerian quip about a woman farting in her husband’s lap is the world’s oldest recorded joke. Humor and farting have been bosom buddies ever since.

11. Smelling farts could be good for you.

A 2014 study found that hydrogen sulfide, the gas that makes farts and rotten eggs smell particularly gross, might prevent mitochondrial damage. The study was talking about direct treatment of cells with hydrogen sulfide, and was in no way related to farting, but we’ll be using it as an excuse to let ‘em rip until someone tells us otherwise.

12. Some NFL teams take a stand against farting.

Denver Post reporter Nicki Jhabvala tweeted a tidbit from an interview with Broncos linebacker Von Miller earlier this year that included mention of a “fart tax” imposed for any flatulence during meetings. Miller said he was the worst offender on the NFL team. Unfortunately, it seems the whole thing was a joke, which may be for the best, since such a penalty would raise a whole lot of questions—would it be based purely on number of occurrences, or severity of sound or smell?

13. Farts can ruin careers. 

In 2014, an opera singer sued her hospital over a botched medical procedure during the birth of her child that left her with excessive flatulence. The lawsuit alleged that “As a result of her incontinence and excessive flatulence,” the singer was unable to work, as the New York Post reported.

14. There’s a whole business in fart-filtering clothes.

Several companies make underwear and other garments that are designed to trap bad smells. Shreddies underwear, for instance, uses a layer of activated carbon cloth to absorb even the most deadly of stinkers. According to a tech reporter who donned the underoos before trying to Dutch oven his wife, they actually work pretty well.

15. Farting can be a profession. 

A performer named Mr. Methane bills himself as the world’s top flatulist, or professional farter—as well as perhaps the only one. He farts the tunes to well-known pieces of music. He’s following in the footsteps of Le Pétomane a French performer who wowed audiences at the Moulin Rouge in Paris with his flatulence at the turn of the century.

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Can You Really Lose Weight by Pooping? It Depends on What You Eat
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If you’re obsessed with either your scale or your bowel movements, you’ve probably wondered: How much of my weight is just poop? A teenage cousin of mine once spent an entire restaurant dinner arguing that he could lose up to 3 pounds if you just gave him a few minutes to sit on the toilet. As you might imagine, he was wrong. But not by that much, according to Thrillist, a site that’s been truly dominating the poop science beat lately.

You can indeed see the effects of a truly satisfying bowel movement reflected on your bathroom scale. (Wash your hands first, please.) But how much your feces weigh depends heavily on your diet. The more fiber you eat, the heavier your poop. Unfortunately, even the most impressive fecal achievement won't tip the scales much.

In 1992, researchers studying the effect of fiber intake on colon cancer risk wrote that the daily movements of poopers across the world could vary anywhere from 2.5 ounces to 1 pound. In their sample of 220 Brits, the median daily poop weighed around 3.7 ounces. A dietary intake of around 18 grams of dietary fiber a day typically resulted in a 5.3-ounce turd, which the researchers say is enough to lower the risk of bowel cancer.

A Western diet probably isn’t going to help you achieve your poop potential, mass-wise. According to one estimate, industrialized populations only eat about 15 grams of fiber per day thanks to processed foods. (Aside from ruining your bragging rights for biggest poop, this also wreaks havoc on your microbiome.) That's why those British poops observed in the study didn't even come close to 1 pound.

Poop isn’t the only thing passing through your digestive tract that has some volume to it. Surprisingly, your fabulous flatulence can be quantified, too, and it doesn’t even take a crazy-sensitive machine to do so. In a 1991 study, volunteers plied with baked beans were hooked up to plastic fart-capturing bags using rectal catheters. The researchers found that the average person farts around 24 ounces of gas a day. The average fart involved around 3 ounces of gas.

This doesn’t mean that either pooping or farting is a solid weight-loss strategy. If you’re hoping to slim down, losing a pound of poop won’t improve the way your jeans fit. Certainly your 24 ounces of gas won't. But to satisfy pure scientific curiosity, sure, break out that scale before and after you do your business. At least you'll be able to see if your fiber intake is up to snuff.

[h/t Thrillist]

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Why You Get Diarrhea When You're Hungover
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If your hangover mornings involve a lot of time sitting on the toilet, you're not alone. In addition to making you puke your guts out, drinking too much can also give you massive diarrhea the next day. Why? Thrillist talked to a gastroenterologist about the hangover poops, and found that it's a pretty common phenomenon, one caused by a combination of unusually fast-moving digestion.

When you drink, Urvish Shah told the site, alcohol increases what's called gut motility, the contractions that move food along your gastrointestinal tract. Combine this with the fact that booze inhibits vasopressin—the hormone that regulates water retention and prevents your kidneys from immediately dumping whatever liquid you drink into your bladder—and suddenly your guts have become a full-blown water slide.

All those cocktails take a fast-paced thrill ride down to your colon, where your gut bacteria throw a feast. The result is a bunch of gas and diarrhea you don't usually get when food and water are passing through your system a little more slowly. And because it's all rushing through you so fast, the colon isn't absorbing as much liquid as usual, giving you even more watery poops. If you haven't eaten, the extra acidity in your stomach from the booze can also irritate your stomach lining, causing—you guessed it—more diarrhea.

The more concentrated form of alcohol you drink, the worse it's going to be. If you really want to stay out of the bathroom the morning after that party, go ahead and take it easy on the shots. Because beer is so high in carbohydrates, though, Thrillist warns that that will cause gas and poop problems too as the bacteria in your gut start going to town on the undigested carbs that make it to your colon.

All in all, the only way to avoid a post-alcohol poop is to just stop drinking quite as much. Sorry, folks. If you want to rule Saturday night, you'll have to deal with the Sunday morning runs.

[h/t Thrillist]

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