What’s that smell?
Are you embarrassed by your farts?
Do you find yourself blaming the dog or hurriedly exiting the office?
You are not alone. Foul smelling farts are an embarrassing digestive symptom that many of my clients suffer with and feel too mortified to tell anyone.
I’m here to reassure you that this is a symptom of an unhappy gut and not something you have to live with. Read on to find out why it's happening and what you can do about it.
Why do your farts smell so bad?
Foul smelling gas including farts that smell like rotten eggs or sulphur can be a sign of:
✔️ Protein maldigestion
✔️ Bacterial overgrowth in the small (SIBO) or large intestine (LIBO)
✔️ Low stomach acid
What can you do about it?
Reducing sulphur rich foods like eggs, cauliflower and broccoli can bring temporary relief BUT these foods are super healthy so it's really important to address the underlying issues so you can continue to eat a rainbow of veggies daily. So many foods contain sulphur, it's going to impossible to avoid them all.
It can feel tempting to cut out more and more foods from your diet but this won’t solve the actual underlying problems. Cutting out trigger foods is simply a sticking plaster measure for symptom relief while we get to work on the root of the problem - such as resolving the protein maldigestion, the bacterial overgrowth or low stomach acid. Or all three in many cases!
How to stop farts smelling so bad?
Here are 5 tips to stop farts smelling so bad.
1. Support the cephalic stage of digestion.
That’s a posh word to describe the early stages of digestion where your body produces digestive enzymes, stomach acid and bile. These digestive juices ensure food particles are broken down small enough so that by the time they reach your small intestine they are absorbed with ease. Working with a nutritionist means we can support these early stages in your digestion with tailored diet and the right supplements.
Less bloating, less gas and no toxic smell. Yay!
2. Be mindful of your stress.
No really, don't skip this section!
The thing is, if you are chronically stressed...
Let's say, you're always eating on the run and not chewing your food properly…
Then your body is too busy making stress hormones to prioritise digestion.
In this stress scenario, our digestive system shuts down. Over time this leads to big problems - such as excessive bloating, gas, indigestion, stomach pain.
I love this infographic by the Gut Stuff illustrating what happens to digestion when we are stressed.
Taking steps to mindfully chew your food and eat only when calm and relaxed is an important step in the healing process.
3. Check for nutrient deficiencies
Digestive enzyme and stomach acid production naturally declines as we age, making symptoms of bloating and excessive gas worse.
Deficiencies in vitamin B and zinc contribute to low stomach acid and if you’re dealing with very low stomach acid, no amount of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice in your water will rectify a deficiency. Ironically we need good stomach acid to absorb vitamin B12 from our food. Bit of a vicious cycle that one!
Don’t forget, certain medications (e.g. Rennies, Omeprazole, Lansoprazole) block stomach acid production and you may need added support to prevent bloating and gas.
Low stomach acid = partially digested foods/deficiencies = bloating and excessive gas. 💨💨
4. Check if you have SIBO or LIBO
We need to rule out bacterial overgrowth in the small and/or large intestine. This is called small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) and large intestinal bacterial overgrowth (LIBO). When we have an overgrowth of bacteria in the intestines (gut) we can start to experience more and more food intolerances as well as bloating and gas.
If your farts smell like sulphur and rotten eggs, it may be because you have a dominance of sulphur producing bacteria in your gut, such as Desulfovibrio spp. This imbalance in gut bacteria in the large intestine can trigger excessive bloating and bad smelling gas, especially when you eat sulphur rich foods such as eggs, broccoli and cauliflower.
Addressing this imbalance in the large intestine with the help of dietary changes, suitable prebiotics or probiotics, and sometimes antimicrobials depending on the severity of symptoms will bring much needed long-term relief from embarrassing gas symptoms. Simply cutting out eggs and broccoli won't get rid of the bacterial overgrowth and symptoms are likely to return as soon as you eat these foods again.
Stool testing is a really helpful resource if you suspect bacterial or yeast overgrowth may be contributing to your symptoms.
5. Rule out protein maldigestion
Your body may be struggling to digest proteins from your foods. Protein maldigestion is another way to guarantee farts that smell really bad.
When the food we eat is only partially digested (because we are eating on the run, or have low enzyme levels), the undigested protein molecules reach the small intestine and ferment. This causes excessive bloating and gas.
Stool testing can measure pancreatic enzyme levels. These help us to digest protein optimally. If low, digestive enzyme supplementation can be helpful as well as checking for imbalances in stomach acid and bile and addressing stress (which depletes our body's natural ability to produce enzymes).
Help is here
So many of you have told me you worry about eating out, dating and staying over at your friends house because you can’t trust your gut. You simply don’t know how your stomach will respond and it’s not worth the risk.
I hear you and I hate that you feel this way.
There is always something causing your bloating, gas and gut issues.
Your body is not broken.
The right nutritional support, tailored to you, can identify what is at the heart of your symptoms. It’s why I created my 90 days to better Gut Health programme. If you'd like to discuss your options further book a free 15-minute call here.
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