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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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November 29 2011

Flatulence: Foes and Fixes

By Mark Sisson
111 Comments

Farting is universally hilarious. Across every culture, every religion, every language, the issuance of gas from a person’s posterior will – once the wrinkled noses have smoothed out – evoke laughter from just about everyone in earshot. I won’t try to explain why it’s so dang funny, especially when we can turn to Louis C.K. for his masterful thesis on the matter. C.K arrives at three factors: it comes out of your butt, it smells like poop, and it makes a trumpet noise. Taken separately, these things range from gross to inconsequential. After all, plenty of things sound like trumpets. Trumpets, for one. But together, they form a symphony of comedy that’s greater than the constituent parts.

But when they’re issuing out of your body uncontrollably on a regular basis, farts can be a touchy subject. I won’t name any names, but more than a few readers have written in over the past few months with questions about farting spouses, children, and even pets. These readers often admit that flatulence has comedic merit, but just as incessant quoting of Borat after the movie came out quickly got old, farting all the time is annoying. And it might even be the sign of something wrong with your diet.

So, while the pet angle may be beyond the scope of today’s post, I’m going to offer some insight into human flatulence. I’ll deal with both the causes and the potential solutions, mostly at once (because the problems and solutions are intertwined).

First, what is it?

Flatulence is the expunging of intestinal gas, which is either endogenous or exogenous. Exogenous intestinal gas comes from the outside; it is literally swallowed, usually when a person eats too fast, drinks too fast (or drinks bubbly drinks like sodas or sparkling water), or chews gum too vociferously. Exogenous flatulence isn’t too much of a problem, because it usually doesn’t smell and it isn’t caused by eating the wrong foods. It’s actually normal to have exogenous flatulence. If it’s excessive and causing you problems, simple behavior modification can fix this one pretty quickly. Chew and drink more slowly and carefully, avoid smoking, and try to avoid excessive gasping. Stressful situations can exacerbate this, too – think breathing in deeply and rubbing your temples because something just went wrong, and then do it fifty times a day and you get a picture of how you might be swallowing more air than you intend. You want to breathe your air, not ingest it.

Endogenous intestinal gas is a different beast, and it’s the one we’re going to focus on today. It comes from bacterial fermentation of carbohydrates. More specifically, it comes from fermentation of carbohydrates that we improperly or incompletely digest in the small intestine. These leftover bits make it to the colon/large intestine, and that’s where the magic happens.

To address this, first things first, pay attention to FODMAPs, or fermentable, oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. FODMAPs are carbohydrates that some people can’t totally digest in the small intestine. If that’s the case, when they hit the colon, the flora there break it down and ferment it, thus producing large amounts of endogenous intestinal gases like methane, hydrogen, and carbon dioxide, bloating, and other complications. FODMAPs can include healthy, totally Primal foods, but they also include decidedly unPrimal stuff, too. If you’re farting a lot, your first step should be to understand FODMAPs, because they are likely suspects. Let’s go through the various categories, highlighted in Jamie’s excellent piece from last year:

  • Oligosaccharides include things like fructans (fructose with a single glucose molecule attached) and galactans (fructose with a molecule of galactose attached). Sources of fructans are wheat, onions, artichokes, jicama, jerusalem artichokes, chicory root, onions, garlic, and leeks. Inulin, a prebiotic fiber I’ve written about before and which can have numerous health benefits, is a fructan. Galactans are found in legumes (beans, lentils, etc), Brussels sprouts, and broccoli (hence the lovely term “broccoli fart” and the product called “Beano,” which I always found to be a disgusting name).
  • The most common disaccharide is lactose, or milk sugar. Anyone who’s tried GOMAD (Gallon of Milk a Day) while being lactose intolerant (or been within a mile of someone who fits that description) understands what foul gases improperly digested lactose can produce. If there’s one thing I’m thankful for, it’s that Mark Rippetoe endogenously produces lactase. Better choices include hard, long-fermented cheeses and raw dairy, proponents of which claim it contains lactase for easier digestion. I’m not sure about that one myself, as a lactose-intolerant buddy of mine once sampled some raw milk at a Santa Monica’s farmers’ market at the vendor’s urging and suffered (we both did, albeit I did so indirectly) familiar side effects. Your mileage may vary, though. Sucrose is another disaccharide, so avoid it (which you probably already were).
  • Monosaccharides refer primarily to fructose. That means avoiding HFCS, obviously, but even “healthier” choices like honey, and dried fruit like dates and raisins. Eat low fructose fruits like berries.
  • Polyols are sugar alcohols. Xylitol, sorbitol, maltitol, mannitol, pretty much any -ol. Naturally occuring polyols can also be found in certain fruits, like blackberries, stone fruits, pears, and watermelon.

For a complete and handy table of FODMAPs friendly and unfriendly foods, check out the bottom of this post.

So, yeah, right off the bat, avoid FODMAPs. Do this for a week or two and see if your farting subsides. If it does, try reintroducing small amounts of select FODMAPs. Pick a category and start there. Eat a few slices of jicama, some Brussels sprouts, or some onion. Be systematic about it and limit yourself to a single food from a single FODMAP category at a time.

Keep a detailed food journal for a month and keep tabs on your digestive symptoms. If you fart, mark when, where, and what you just ate. You can even note the severity of the flatulence, including odor, volume, and number of laughs received (partly kidding here). Over time, you should be able to note correlations between certain foods and the severity and incidence of your flatulence.

Eat simple meals. Instead of having crazy curries and stews all the time with dozens of ingredients, stick to meat and vegetable. Note the singular “vegetable” and don’t eat broccoli, brussel sprouts, and cabbage in the same meal. Give your gut a chance to get its bearings and you’ll have a clearer picture of what’s causing the gas.

Add some digestive enzymes. Robb Wolf is a big proponent of NOW Foods brand digestive enzymes, and I’d definitely trust his judgment. Remember, a lot of flatulence is caused by bacterial fermentation of undigested food. If you lack the right digestive enzymes, more food bits will make it to the colon for fermentation. According to Robb, you want to take the enzymes shortly before the meal. Start with five or six capsules and stop when you start feeling warmth in your belly – that means it’s working.

Chew your food thoroughly. The more you chew, the greater the surface area of the food and the better you digest it. The better you digest your food, the less food will make it through to your colon. This will also help with exogenous gas flatulence.

Add some probiotics or fermented foods. Note, though, that you’ll want to limit FODMAPs before adding probiotics, as otherwise you’ll just be providing more fuel for the fire.

Limit prebiotic supplements for now. Until you get a handle on things, you don’t want to introduce more FODMAPs. I know that when I was doing daily extensive testing of Primal Fuel, including changing the ratios of prebiotic inulin to achieve the perfect texture, I had some mild flatulence at first (TMI?). A bit of flatulence from prebiotics is completely normal, especially early on, but if it gets worse or doesn’t improve, it’s probably worth watching.

All in all, some mild flatulence is nothing to worry about. It may hurt your social health, but it’s not a medical condition. Severe, continuous flatulence, however, accompanied by painful bloating? Yeah, you need to fix that. Try these fixes, pay attention to potentially offensive foods listed, and keep that food journal. It’s all fun and games and cups o’ cheese (NSFW) until you get bacterial overgrowth (from feeding the colonic flora) and, possibly, Crohn’s disease. So get a handle on it.

Of course, if you can’t, you might consider pursuing a career as a flatulist. Saint Augustine himself had nothing but high praise for the men who possessed such “command of their bowels, that they can break wind continuously at will, so as to produce the effect of singing.” Whatever your spiritual inclination (or non-inclination), I think we can all appreciate a religious man who admires professional fart artists.

Take care, folks, and happy digesting. If you’ve had success or failure with defeating flatulence, let us know in the comment section. I’m always all ears for more input from you guys, and I know we have plenty of readers who could use assistance from someone who’s been there.

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111 thoughts on “Flatulence: Foes and Fixes”

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  1. Mark, you’re right on.
    The things that give me gas are (raw) milk and fibrous vegetables.
    And in the old days the list included grains.

  2. Woe to those of us in our 40s and the gas-related problems that seem to inevitably and magically appear at that stage of life. A friend of mine asked her doctor about it and his answer was, simply, “Welcome to the ‘Farty-Forties’!”

    I wasn’t satisfied with that answer though, and once I started eating primally, the bloating, pain and gas went away. Luckily for me I didn’t have to tweak at all, I just had to cut out all the grains.

    1. Welcome to the ‘Farty-Forties’ sounds a lot like “you just get fatter as you age” and “whole grains are good for you” and other CW garbage.

    2. OMG, bad eye site AND farting in your forties?? I don’t think I can handle all that……

      Funny, I guess looking back, since I have been primal I really haven’t had much of a problem, even when I cheat a little and indulge in something naughty. I guess your system can handle a little…..

    3. I totally agree–eating primally has helped my digestion in so many ways. I used to feel bloated and have intestinal pain/pressure frequently, but now it is gone. I used to think that it was milk causing the problems, but I have no problem digesting raw milk/cheese. The grains were the culprit.

  3. YES, YES, YES, YES! This is such a hugely important message that so many overlook. I have fructose malabsorption so many fructans are a problem for me. It’s much more common than most realize. Getting your gut flora in order does help, but if like approximately 30% of those of European descent you have FM it will be a lifelong issue.

  4. I’ve taken a food allergy test in the past and noticed a direct correlation to the items that ranked high and digestive problems. Milk, Casein, various grains, and eggs all showed elevated allergen levels, and a corresponding physical issue with me. I recommend the test as a piece of mind to anyone.

    1. Did you get tested through a traditional MD or did you pay to be tested through a mail in lab or alternative med doctor? I have been thinking of getting testing done but don’t know the most efficient way to do so…

      1. + 1 –> How to get tested? I’ve figured out a lot by way of elimination testing, but am curious??

        1. The test for fructose malabsorption is very cheap and completely unobtrusive. You will need a doctors referral to get one done. Alternatively, you can could purchase yourself an at home kit.

          Basically, you need to stay off FODMAPS completely for 2 full days, you then fast for 6 hours before the test (if your test is first thing in the morning that’s easy!) you then breath into a device which is similar to a blood alcohol reader and record what number you scored (this is your level of hydrogen, which is a measure of your intolerance to fructose). You then take a cup full of fructose mixed with water and continue to blow into the device every 15 minutes and record your readings. A reading of 20 or over signifies an intolerance. The same test can also be carried out for lactose intolerance.

  5. For me it was wheat – after diagnosis as coeliac and just cutting out wheat/barley/rye/gluten my fartiness and bloating disappeared – more or less overnight.

    It’s also a good sign of having been ever so slightly glutened – if I am windy but no other symptoms of digestive ahem “discomfort”

    1. You know, I’ve heard that too. In countries where it is acceptable to let it out, there are less colon polyps. No idea if this is really true, or if that’s why.

      But I’m so thankful our fam of 5 is SO much less gassy since giving up grains etc. It was really bad. Now that it’s rare, it is kind of funny.

  6. Does anyone know the time lag between eating and farting? In other words, how long does it take for food to be fermented and produce gas? And do all foods take the same amount of time?

    It would be handy to know this when trying to figure out which foods cause which farts…

    1. This is such a funny topic to bring up because I just had a horrible event after my friend gave me two pounds of beautiful garden-grown Jerusalem Artichokes, which I had never eaten before. I made a huge casserole and topped it with some lovely cheese and andouille sausage….

      To answer the question, it took about an hour and a half…. and lasted all night and almost all the next day… and had notes of spice and parmesan.

      I was proud that I made it all the way through yoga without any mishaps… though a few of the poses were extra challenging! Happy to have made it to the other side… and will heed this advice from now on! Thanks Mark!

  7. Wheat + raisins (+ beans, obviously).

    There may be a few more culprits… but I don’t think I have problems which veggies such as onions, broccoli, etc. (just bad breath with the onions/garlic).

    I definitely use this as one of my arguments when I explain to others the benefits of going gluten-free. (I don’t get sick anymore AND I don’t fart anymore!)

    I’m still trying to nail down the precise form of the offending wheat or other grain products. Sometimes I’m totally fine, but other times it’s awful. And it happens every time I go on vacation and people feed me grain-based products, so usually there’s a lot of different stuff being ingested at once. I’m pretty sure I’m okay when I have a slice or two of pizza or some sort of dessert, so it may be correlated with the level of refinement of the grain (which makes sense if we’re talking indigestible fiber).

  8. “try to avoid excessive gasping.”

    There are some situations where that just isn’t possible or desirable.

  9. My non Primal husband went crazy on bread over the holiday and the farts started last night! I told him it’s the bread but he does not believe me. AND he eats Magnum bars every night and he’s Sicilian and does not handle dairy well!

  10. -WOW! I had no idea that FARTING could be so complicated! lol. :3/

  11. Great post Mark!

    “Note, though, that you’ll want to limit FODMAPs before adding probiotics, as otherwise you’ll just be providing more fuel for the fire.”

    This is a great point. I absolutely cannot take probiotics or fermented food when I’m eating any FODMAPs.

    1. How do you eat fermented foods without FODMAPs? I have been religiously drinking coconut milk kefir, but I think it is bothering me.

  12. Much less farting is one of the things I use as an example of a major change I can note since going Primal. I never really thought I had a problem but now when I do have gas it’s such surprise it makes me realize I don’t have it much any more.

  13. Mark, I used to have gas constantly, past the point of hilarity. Since going paleo/primal, I rarely fart. Maybe 2-4 small benign one’s a day. It’s amazing! I’m much less smelly! It’s those grain eaters who stink!

    1. This made me spit out a bit of my salad [in laughter] “past the point of hilarity” I’d have found you funny…. toots are endlessly funny.

    2. This! I was vegan for three years prior to finding the Primal Blueprint, and they were the most embarrassing and windy years of my life. I read once that the average person farts 14-20 times a day… for me it was more like 40-50! I don’t know why the extra gas didn’t clue me in to how unhealthy I was eating. It took ten pounds of weight gain and a nagging desire to inhale an entire salmon to finally clue me in.

      Now that I eat mostly Primal (with the occasional non-primal cheats), I am WELL under that average. *sigh of relief*

  14. It was grains, dairy, undercooked broccoli for me. Now I only fart if I fall off the wagon and have some brownies or ice cream at a family gathering.

    My wife is eternally grateful! I used to do my best brown-cloud-blowing at bedtime, and now…nothing!

  15. Does any of this advice apply to excessive belching..? It seems like belching would be caused by different mechanism than farts, but might also be diet related… Thoughts?

    1. I read somewhere that excessive belching is linked indigestion. I figure taking the digestive enzymes would help with that.

      Although, I’m also interested in this topic because the excessive belching I’ve seen (either from myself or from family) comes before we eat – like an obnoxious hunger cry.

  16. I noticed a definite decrease in gas after cutting out processed foods and grains. I occasionally eat something that seems to put me back in the thick of it and I wonder to myself how I ever thought it was normal to be so gassy!

  17. A decrease in ‘brown-cloud-blowing’ was my first (and immediate) Primal benefit. 30 pounds and many benefits later, I sing the praises of this lifestyle change to everyone I meet.
    St. Augustine is known for the quote “To sing is to pray twice.” Thanks for putting a new twist on that, Mark!

  18. Onions, every time, cooked or raw, rough chopped or finely grated and hidden way down the ingredient list but not in their pickled form strangely … the pickling must ‘do’ something to the fart-inducing chemicals!

    And I tried brussel sprouts last year, at your recommendation Mark, O M G … never, ever again, jet propulsion!

    But generally speaking since Primal smells rn’t us!

  19. Got to love that this post got a Borat reference in it without actually referencing Borat!

  20. I ate three bananas one day. Unbelievable foul smelling flatulence for about 12-24 hours. Avoid too many bananas at all costs if you have a social event coming up. I think it’s due to the large amounts of insoluble fibre!

  21. “If there’s one thing I’m thankful for, it’s that Mark Rippetoe endogenously produces lactase.”

    I’ve been reading Starting Strength and watching a bunch of Rip’s videos so the mental picture here cracked me up.
    Now I have exogenous gas. Thanks Mark.

  22. I made primal meatloaf last week and either the 1/2 cup of coconut flour or the dried onions that I used to soak up some juices did not agree with my system. 1/2 hour after eating and I was glad that my wife was out of town.
    I have a feeling it was the dried onions as I’ve had the same reaction from onion soup mix before.

  23. But what about all the meat that I eat rotting in my colon. Doesnt that cause me to have gas. Cause the people over at 30 bananas a day said that their poo smells good since going raw vegan

    (SARCASM)

    1. LOL! A lot of people I know who actually did that (high fructose) diet said they were so bloated all the time that they looked pregnant!

      1. +1…the first thing I noticed when going low carb was the loss of belly.I looked 10 lbs lighter before any weight came off!

      2. Haha, when I went to boot camp, we got really modest portions of “meat,” so to fill myself up, I often ate the steamed veggies, a big raw veggie salad, an apple, and a banana at every meal.

        I got scary thin, but my stomach was visibly bloated and my gas was awful! We were getting “intensive training” as punishment during the last week, I was doing jumping jacks in front of my rack mate, and right at the end, after an hour of punishment, I let one rip! Thank goodness it was silent-but-deadly — it was all we could do to keep from laughing out loud and getting more punishment!

  24. Dude that “cup ‘o cheese” video was hilarious, crude of course, but hilarious!

    I would have to try that on someone but I rarely have gas since going primal, oh well.

  25. Since doing low-carb farting is a pretty infrequent event. In the past I used to eat a great deal of muesli which produced so much methane I felt personally responsible for global warming.

  26. This was a darn tootin’ good article!

    I think one of my favorite things about being primal is not having the bloated gas feeling. Definitely little to no gas since going primal on most days.

  27. Great article. Here’s a bit more info On Digestive Enzymes:

    “If you lack the right digestive enzymes, more food bits will make it to the colon for fermentation. According to Robb, you want to take the enzymes shortly before the meal. Start with five or six capsules and stop when you start feeling warmth in your belly – that means it’s working.”

    There are actually two different things here:

    1) Betaine HCl (plus or minus pepsin) which is acid, and helps your stomach get used to producing enough acid to digest your food, particularly proteins. This is what causes the “feeling of warmth” in your belly. A deficit of stomach acid is very common as we age, or even more so from proton pump inhibitor use, such as Zantac or Prilosec.

    2) Digestive enzymes — you will recognize these from looking at the label and seeing “ase” at the end of the word — like lipase or cellulase. Digestive enzymes may also be in more natural form, such as papaya powder. As far as I know, none of these cause that “heat in the belly” feeling that Betaine HCl does.

    3) Another digestive aid is Ox Bile — definitely consider using it if you have had your gall bladder removed (as I did.)

  28. Man I wish I had wrote about this topic on my blog first…It’s a great day when a man can make a difference in this world by writing about Farts (and have the science to support it).
    Great Read Mark!

  29. As to the general humor involving flatulence — in my experience it is mostly a guy-thing, along the same line as the Three Stooges. What women find most amusing is men acting like little boys and laughing at them (both the Stooges and the Farts.)

  30. Back in my pre primal days I used to enjoy a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch daily. I would go to the gym a couple hours later and would be farting up a storm at the gym. It was embarassing as can be.

    Today, I rarely fart if I am eating strictly primal foods. When I have a not so primal day I know farts are to follow. I decided to eat pizza this past Sunday night… the farting began that night and continued into Monday afternoon.

    I’ve been fart free all day today! It helps when I eat 100% primal foods!! 🙂

  31. Growing up in an overweight/obese extended family, I remember farting being a common topic of conversation. Everyone treated farting or “blowing up the toilet” (sorry gang) as something that was a part of life for most men. Overeating and farting were sort of branded as symbols of virility. I suppose it was somehow a defense mechanism.

    I’ll take my new life of incredibly rare farts and abs (optimism!).

  32. i “found” Jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes) this last year, and it’s proverbial how they’re supposed to produce “foul wynd”. the first time i ate them, yeah — it was pretty bad. the second time it was hardly noticeable. i wondered if one’s body doesn’t have the right bugs for it at first, but develops them as needed. i DID taste them raw that time, as well as cooked. also, the second time i scrubbed instead of peeling the things, so probably got some soil along with my food. we all know what a good idea it is to eat a little dirt….

  33. I am starting to get lactose intolerent these days. Heavy Cream causes me to smell like a backed up sewer and blow like a hurricane. Cheese fortunately is not an issue at this point, but I am avoiding milk products as much as I can.

    1. Not much lactose in heavy cream (~0.1g/cup)!
      Check ingredients for carragenan. Buy only carragenan-free milk products and you’re probably good to go!

  34. My tips for a flatulence-free life:
    1. Cut the grains (and beans).
    2. Soak your nuts.

    Seriously, since going full Primal and cutting the grains (especially oats, which I’ve written about before), I literally have no gas. And, I never did like beans, and they never liked me. In addition, soaking nuts, and then dehydrating them at a low temp, has done the trick there. And, I find I have to limit dried fruit which is another offender for me – but let’s face it, we should be limiting that anyway if we’re going Primal.

    Love the Louis C.K. reference… classic!

  35. I just love that you referenced Louis CK in one of your articles.

  36. For what it’s worth…My cure for a lot of flatulence (and it did start around my 40s) was cutting out wheat and most sugar. I do have half a piece of sourdough toast in the am with lots of butter, but really try to avoid the rest. I don’t think I am gluten intolerant, but I do seem to have a gluten sensitivity of some kind. I eat fruit, cheese, cream, etc with no problems.

  37. Primal has certainly reduced/virtually eliminated gas. It’s also been pretty easy to identify the triggers.

    Thanks for the article!

  38. Amazing the things we learn here:

    Saint Augustine himself had nothing but high praise for the men who possessed such “command of their bowels, that they can break wind continuously at will, so as to produce the effect of singing.”

  39. Interesting artical but where does garlic, blueberries rasberries and califlower fit in.I have noticed that I have problems in 3 out of the 4 catogories.

  40. If Louis C.K. is the king of making farts funny, then Mark Sisson is the king of making farts interesting. Not an easy thing to do.

  41. Get your gall bladder checked for gall stones. Regular gas problems can be a symptom of gall stones. You’ll know if you have gall stones you’re having intense stomach cramps (worse than labor pains) that wrap from the middle right of your back around to the front. Gall stones are sometimes the result of a fatty diet — but sometimes they’re just genetic. Failure to seek treatment can result in pancreatitis, so see your doctor if this sounds like you.

  42. Just to lighten things up a little bit, go to YouTube.com.

    The same folks who brought you the Engineer’s Guide to Cats has a special video on flatulence, feline and otherwise. Cracks me up every time! Enjoy!

  43. Processed foods, caused one of my kids to sound like a trumpet all day. He only has fresh/home cooked food at home now and the issue is much better.

    With me I find that sweeteners and sugar not to mention any type of gluten cause bloating and trumpeting not to mention IBS.

    Good old real food.

  44. Fantastic article!

    It’s definitely fructans for me. Jerusalem artichokes with asparagus and roast onions followed by apple pie? Parp parp!

    x x x

  45. Great post Mark thanks. If I recall from Robb’s podcast I thought he recommended starting at ONE and moving up to 2, 3…until you feel the warmth in your belly then coming off one moving forward. I dont remember him recommending starting at 5 or 6.

  46. This is one of the great benefits of going Primal – no gas! I was on Weight Watchers for a couple of years and always, ALWAYS, had gas. Like others, I thought that was just a way of life. So glad to have found it ain’t so.

  47. Something that I noticed quite soon after starting to change how I eat was that I hardly ever fart any more – yahoo! I think that my husband is glad too 🙂

  48. So here’s a stinker…(heehee). I just started primal a week ago, and maybe its just my body cleansing itself but after almost every primal meal…especially meatballs, I get the most god awful gas. Like knock you over gas..usually when it happens, i’ll just sit really still to cover it up with my butt but sometimes it doesn’t work and I get exclaimations and looks of horror. Is this just my colon freeing itself like Free Willy, or am i eating too many onions?

  49. It was bad. REEEALLY bad. Because I have Crohns I have digestive issues anyway… I have to limit my intake of raw veggies and cook most things. Fortunately since I eliminated my morning bowl of porridge and grains from my diet it is MUCH better. And beans? Forget about it! The outcome is like hell on earth for myself and the people around me.

  50. A few weeks after going Primal, the constant farting was gone. That was one of the first changes I noticed.

  51. There has been very little ‘male bonding’ in our house since my husband and I gave up the grains.

  52. 2 years ago eating Kashi lean, I would fart so bad, the dog would leave the room. After I gave up grains, the whole gas thing has improved ten fold. The only time I have gas is when I go off my primal diet, or take a prebiotic.
    Everyone thinks I’m nuts, but at least they don’t have to smell my gas anymore 🙂

  53. Onions for me! Even in homemade stock! It only took me 40 years to figure it out but I am ever so grateful I know now. Though I do miss them…

  54. I’ve definitely experienced less gas and smelliness (even in my poo – tmi?) since giving up grains and other processed foods. Gas used to be a normal occurance, but now I’m very aware when I’ve eaten something inappropriate because I’m gassy, or my poop smells badly. It’s amazing, really… Our bodies work SO well wen we treat them right, that even our sh#t don’t stank!

  55. I used to fart after eating candy, sometimes after eating a lot of fruit too. And lets not talk about what happened when I tried probiotic vanilla tasting “candy” sweetened with inulin… I did notice that I rarely ever fart now (3 weeks primal soon), but I wasn’t used to it being a problem so I didn’t think much about it.

    Now I’m just trying to figure out how to get rid of the constipation I’ve had since starting primal…

  56. Hiya,

    The way I avoid it is not mixing fresh fruit with my meals, giving at least 2 hours after a meal before having any fruit.
    If I feel like some fresh fruit then I make sure I don’t mix it with other foods for an hour or so.

    Some fresh fruit/other food combos work without much of a problem, you’d need to experiment. Grapes and apples with cheese appear to be ok, as well as strawberries with cream.

    Cooked or otherwise processed/preserved fruits don’t seem to have the same effect.

    Cheers,

    Luis.

  57. So true. Before primal/low carb I had huge problems with gas. I think I farted for like 10 years straight! Cut out refined carbs, no more gas at all.

  58. I found the FODMAP diet really difficult to follow as someone who cannot tolerate starchy foods like most grains and tubers.

    After coming off it however my bloating is much more troublesome. Perhaps I can survive on it with a massively increased fruit intake…

  59. My gas never smells like anything, and I don’t have bad gas just a lot of little interruptions, like all the time. I wanted to add enzymes to my diet anyways because I have an auto-immune disease. I ended up buying the NOW super enzymes and they burned the hell out of my stomach. What does that mean?

  60. Well since going primal there’s a lot LESS wind for me, all very happy in the gut department unless I have too much fructose. Then it gets achey and gripey.

  61. I was setting the world on fire but then I switched from soy milk to almond milk and that knocked it right out. Who knew?

  62. Less bloat and gas is certainly one of the best reasons for going primal. I lost weight and have more energy and my skin is better, too, but not having the ‘aftermath’ of meals on a daily basis is so liberating. As many have said, when you do get a rare occurrence of indigestion, you wonder how anyone would think that is normal functioning. I think my biggest culprits are dried fruits, which I enjoy–but they are just deadly for my tummy. Some other things certainly cause it to, but I haven’t pinned them down yet. Will have to try Mark’s idea of keeping a journal… Is there an iFart app? 🙂

  63. I just wanted to mention that it’s actually not funny at all in other parts of the world. Some Americans’ sense of humor revolves around bodily functions, which simply seems unsophisticated. I would say that it is definitely not the norm, especially in other countries. If there is any laughter, whether in USA or otherwise, it is mainly nervous laughter or people trying to make light of an embarrassing and humiliating moment. If it were funny, then people would be doing it all the time just to have a good laugh. Maybe even just saying that it’s funny in the article is a way of lightening the topic. But most people do not feel this way. I think just discussing it from a medical viewpoint and/or natural occurrence is more appropriate and comfortable for most people.

  64. I just wanted to clarify that it’s actually not funny at all in other parts of the world. Some Americans’ sense of humor revolves around bodily functions, which simply seems unsophisticated. I would say that it is definitely not the norm, especially in other countries. If there is any laughter, whether in USA or otherwise, it is mainly nervous laughter or people trying to make light of an embarrassing and humiliating moment. If it were funny, then people would be doing it all the time to just have a good laugh. Maybe even just saying that it’s funny in the article is a way of lightening the topic. But most people do not feel this way. I think just discussing it from a medical viewpoint and/or natural occurrence is more appropriate and comfortable for most people.

  65. Poms (That’s the English to you Yanks) find farting incredibly funny. So do Australians. Maybe its an English cultural thing that has been passed on to their old colonies ? There are fart jokes in Chaucer and Shakespear..

    I’m Australian of UK heritage, so I do like a good fart joke – I’m curious Anna – where do you hail from ? Not in a nasty way – just curious about your cultural background. If I ever save up to travel I shall have to behave myself if I visit…

    And yes, I’ll put my hand up for being unsophisticated 🙂

  66. Hi Mark,
    This post was very interesting, and I’ve come back to it many times. My issue is, before I went primal, I was typically constipated but rarely gassy. Now, I have the broccoli gas all the time. I thought it may just be the dietary change (pescatarian to primal, haha) so I gave it a few months. Then, when the gas didn’t go away, I tried getting rid of kale, broccoli, cabbage, etc. That didn’t help a lot, either. I just suffer extreme flatulence. I do partner acrobatics and aerial, so being gassy is far more than a bit of a problem. Any ideas for what I can do to fix my sad digestive system? Thanks.

  67. Can anybody tell me how long after eating a meal that particular food might begin to cause flatulence

  68. If my broccoli or cauliflower is anything less than thoroughly cooked I cannot eat it without getting BAD gas!! Even if it’s slightly crunchy I will be farting for hours. Cooking it until mushy seems to do the trick, but I wonder how much nutrition is left by then… 🙁

  69. If I am sensitive to FODMAPS (for example cabbage) and I decided to make a kimchi and fermented the cabbage, will it still contain the galactans and give me symptoms or does the fermentation process Allow for the vegetables to be better digested without producing gas?

  70. I don’t really like this post as it trivialises the issue. I was diagnosed with fructose malabsorption and since changing my diet my health has improved markedly.

    Previous diets which were low in wheat, dairy, sugar and food colours and additives did nothing to improve my condition.

    After eliminating FODMAPS from my diet – particularly honey and onion many of my health completes have completely disappeared.

    The problem with continuing to ingest these foods when you have an intolerance is not the farting – that’s the least of my problems! Constant diarrhea and constipation means that you are not absorbing the nutrients from your food instead you’re just spitting them out as your digestion system isn’t working properly. So you end up getting very malnourished despite how healthy you eat. For me this meant severe allergies, constant sinus infections, monthly candida infections, rashes, contant headaches, extreme fatigue, allergies to just about everything and severe anxiety.

    After reading your blog I’m eager to increase my fat intake (and change the fats that I eat) and decrease my grain intake even further. Despite this, my avoidance of onion and honey has made far more of a difference that anything else I’ve ever changed in regards to diet. So a highly recommend that if people suspect that they may have an intolerance to fructose then to get themselves tested right away. It is a very simple cheap and obvasive test which is worth having if your experiencing any kind of gastrointestinals symptoms. My diagnosis has changed my life.

  71. So what happens if after eating clean and primal for a long time and then finally not even starchy veggies or any legumes for a month, having been fart free— you suddenly have terrible gas and burbling in your intestines?

    1. Smaartin – I was just looking for an answer to that question myself. I have been eating Primal/Paleo for about a year and a half. Initially, I lost 15 lbs and almost all of my digestive issues went away. I recently decided to do a full month of strict Paleo (no dairy/alcohol/dark chocolate) and I am one week in. Yesterday I woke up bloated and by the end of the day I looked like I was 5 months pregnant – Ack! In reviewing everything I have eaten over the last 3 days, and comparing to the FODMAP list in this article, I believe the offender is jicama… Not something I eat regularly, so I wouldn’t have picked it out of a line-up if I hadn’t been paying close attention. I suggest you try eliminating all FODMAP foods and the introducing them very gradually to see what does it to you. Good luck!

  72. I also must react on bananas. I’ve been having thought if it’s an interaction with serotinergic drug but it may as well be fiber or maybe that “serotonin” in itself. I don’t think orange causes this. I’ve had a gall-bladder removal as my father and he just blames it for his flatulence. My issues went away when either removing milk or avoiding grain. I tend to do both. Overall avoiding carbs form everything except vegetables has been helpful for reducing weight. I thought it was possibly taken all drugs into account. There’s some advice on the internet regarding bananas and fiber. One could supposely tame the stomach by gradually increasing fiber however I rather just stay away from them. I had to pass my laundry-time again due to this foul smell.

  73. Bananas…maybe THAT’s what it is for me. Since going primal I have been farting all day, every day. It is RIDICULOUS. I eat at least 2 bananas per day and have been doing a lot of pumpkin banana creations for my carbs after a workout. Excited to cut them out and see if it helps!

    1. Yea, bananas will totally do that to you. They can have a lot of resistant starch (if they’re still slightly green) in them that go straight to your colon for fermentation. It’s a good thing though, and the farting does subside over time.

  74. I was about to write to Mark and ask him if decreased ( or almost no ) farting would be a nice “side effect” of going Paleo. Well, I followed his advice and did a search before posting the question and found this. Since going Paleo my partner and I have virtually stopped farting.
    We actually didn’t think of this until a few days ago when I mentioned the lack of “gas” recently!
    But slip and have a pizza ( long time ago ) and it is all back within hours.
    I can eat any vegetable and 8 eggs in the morning and nothing. Literally NOTHING. No gas. no discomfort. nada.
    Psoriasis gone. Farting Gone. Sleep – amazing. Energy levels – fantastic.
    I try desperately to get my family and friends to do this and unfortunately most of them think that they will drop dead after two rashes of bacon 🙁
    i managed to get my mum on this – weight loss within weeks ( she’s been dieting since i was 10 ) and her heart burn is gone. for the first time in 20 years , without pills….i havent asked her about farting though. 🙂

  75. I have been reading a lot about paleo and primal recently, and I have been trying to gradually reduce grains and add a lot more veggies. But flatulence is really an issue for me. I noticed it becoming really bad after I had my first child a little over a year ago. I can’t imagine why it would become worse after childbirth or if it could have something to do with nursing, but ever since I had my boy, any veggies seem to bring on really bad gas. And not just broccoli, or onions, or those common ones, but nearly any vegetable. I love salads but the aftermath is unappealing to say the least. I also have food allergies since I took several bouts of antibiotics right after another in my teens. And I have struggled in the past with IBS, from living in India and Mexico, and probably related to the allergies/leaky gut syndrome, too, I suppose. I just feel kind of at a loss because I want to really give primal a try, but all vegetables seem to give me such discomfort, bloating, and gas… I do probiotics, but I’m also raising my son alone right now so there’s not a lot of extra cash for supplements. Has anyone had a similar experience or have any advice/ideas for me?

    1. I’ve got exactly the same thing going on.. on one side, I want to go paleo/primal but I have severe digestion problems and gas.. almost all vegetables give me horrible bloating and flatulence. Having a pizza or chicken with rice is far better for me right now than having a nice and healthy salad :/
      Also to the topic… resistant starch, and thus butyrate, is supposed to have great benefits on the colon. But I got problems with the FODMAP foods already. Is it better to get all that resistant starch and soluble fibre to heal my gut or to eliminate it (and actually never healing it).

  76. Digestive enzymes are the key to sorting out flatulence for a lot of people, our diets need more enzymes than most particularly as we consume high amounts of fat and protein

    1. Dan,

      My experience has been different. I have been primal for about a month (except for beer at night and honey in morning coffee). I notice that I don’t need digestive enzymes if I skip the honey. And skipping the beer and any other kind of alcohol (full teetotalism) as well as the honey and everything is fine. Haven’t taken digestive enzymes in over a month, and no problemo!

  77. Has anyone else noticed tempeh as a problem? I bought some and ate it a few consecutive days when I was flip-flopping between vegan and paleo. It gave me THE most deadly gas I’ve ever experienced in my life. All day long for a couple days after eating the tempeh. No digestive pains but the farts were the kind that smell so strong that they immediately smack you in the face. I couldn’t keep eating the stuff because of that. My whole family would yell in disgust and laugh. It was awful/funny.

  78. I’ve noticed that some cooked and cooled (leftover) vegetables give me horrible gas. Eating them raw, or just out of the pan is fine, but eating them the next day – watch out! This is true for Brussels sprouts and zucchini. Is this related to resistant starch?