Quick, Pull My Blogging FingerPosted: October 12, 2010
During our most recent get-together, we shared a seasonal growler of locally-made Propeller Pumpkin Ale. This hearty, satisfying brew was supposed to serve as the inspiration for my first Six Top entry, but, alas, there’s a more important issue to address…
If there’s a theme to our gatherings, aside from the food, it’s the aftermath: a group of half-smiling, over-indulged, slightly bloated, partly lactose-intolerant individuals crawling their way to the living room. With a groggy sense of regret, and a few loosened belt buckles, we sit and stare at our after-dinner drinks, wondering to ourselves how a body can continually betray its appetite. But just 10 minutes ago I was enjoying roasted carrots and shallots. Why am I now so frightened and curious about the health of my intestinal tract? And why am I so reluctant to pass wind among my culinary brethren?
Yes, unfortunate as it is, fantastic cuisine comes with a price. And the price is gas.
Whether it’s repulsive flatulence or obnoxious belching (that’s “farting” and “burping” for you laypeople) intestinal gas is a normal process for maintaining digestive health. Especially farting. In fact, the primary reason for farting is to release toxin buildup of partially digested food. This keeps such toxins from entering the blood stream and contributing to disease. On average, people produce 1-3 pints of intestinal gas each day, so that’s a lot of potential toxins! Nasty.
But farts do more than release toxins. They ease the discomfort of bloating—that tight, swollen feeling which inspires the false promise of “never eating like that again”—while lowering blood pressure. Read on:
Researchers at Johns Hopkins University, in Maryland, have discovered that the gas leading to flatulence is produced from an enzyme called CSE – a substance that also relaxes the blood vessels and lowers blood pressure. CSE production starts inside the cells that line the blood vessels. The odor comes from bacteria in the gut that generate small amounts of hydrogen sulphide, a toxic gas whose use might now be further developed to help with blood pressure treatment.
Scientists engineered mice that were deficient in CSE, depleting their levels of hydrogen sulphide. The mice were found to have blood pressure readings 20 mm/Hg higher than normal mice. They then added a blood pressure drug, methacholine, but it didn’t help. That told the researchers that hydrogen sulphide is responsible for the blood vessel relaxation.
No sh*t! This means that every fart we suppress is actually hurting us. In other words, we NEED to fart, despite the protests of angry friends and insulted family. What’s more, if the average person launches 14 farts a day (as reported) then anything less should be considered polite.
Okay, okay. On a more serious note, farting is actually an indicator of how well we digest our food. Too many gassy farts signals room for improvement, meaning we need to eat healthier. This means choosing whole, unprocessed foods (found in abundance on Chad and Lindsay’s farm), chewing repeatedly before swallowing (until food becomes liquid), and avoiding foods that don’t “sit well with us” (due to allergies and genetics). It also helps to take a half-hour rest after every meal, which keeps blood flow focused on the area where it’s needed most: our guts.
So, no matter what you call it—cutting the cheese, floating biscuits, bunting, fanny whispering—the point is that farting should be celebrated as a natural body process, as much a part of eating as the food itself.
Ahh, what a relief.