Fart, Burp, and Embrace Gas!

Pweeeert! Pardon me…

Passing gas is the ultimate human pastime, ubiquitous throughout culture, race, and religion.  In fact, every species in the animal kingdom passes gas in some way, whether it is a booming fart or just noiseless, general seepage throughout the day. Did you know that some animals even use their flatulence to communicate?

Like most things that are taboo to talk about, there is no real rationality behind the hushed whispers of something so incredibly natural. However, I recognize that it would be strange to walk up to your neighbor and say, “Hey Ted, how often do you fart, and how bad does it smell?” So why not talk to Wondergressive instead?

What is Gas?

Gas is an interesting cocktail of different substances which burst out of your mouth or anus in varying mixtures depending on the food you eat.

Gas is primarily composed of carbon dioxide, oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen, and sometimes methane. Flatus, gas passed through the anus, may also contain small amounts of gasses that contain sulfur. Flatus that contains more sulfur gasses has more odor.

How Much Gas is Too Much?

While many people believe they pass gas too much and become worried, an abnormal quantity is VERY rare. Catapulting gaseous elements out of your orifices 13 to 21 times a day is average. Farting and burping even 30 times a day is, unfortunately for us, still a normal occurrence.

Related Article: Black Seed: From King Tut to Now

There is only one time in your life when you are not filled with gas or passing gas, and that’s before you take your first breath. After that, well, welcome to the toot club; the only way out is death.

What Causes Gas?

Digesting food is the main cause of gas formation, but there are in fact numerous ways to get filled up and bloated:

  • Breaking down of food in the large intestine by bacteria
  • Swallowing air
  • Eating or drinking too fast
  • Smoking
  • Chewing gum
  • Sucking on hard candy
  • Drinking carbonated or “fizzy” drinks
  • Wearing loose-fitting dentures

Some of the gas created in the stomach comes out as burps.  Whatever remains gets passed right along down the digestion train.

The stomach and small intestine do not fully digest some carbohydrates—sugars, starches, and fiber found in many foods. This undigested food passes through the small intestine to the large intestine. Once there, undigested carbohydrates are broken down by bacteria in the large intestine, which release hydrogen and carbon dioxide in the process. Other types of bacteria in the large intestine take in hydrogen gas and create methane gas or hydrogen sulfide, the most common sulfur gas in flatus.

The body does its best to break down all the diverse junk you cram inside of it.  Gas is just its way of saying thanks.

Different Foods Cause Different Farts

The formation of gas is almost entirely dependent on diet.

Related Article: Breathe Deep to Relieve Stress

Some major types of food that cause excess gas are:

  • Beans
  • Vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts, onions, mushrooms, artichokes, and asparagus
  • Fruits such as pears, apples, and peaches
  • Whole grains such as whole wheat and bran
  • Sodas; fruit drinks, especially apple juice and pear juice; and other drinks that contain high-fructose corn syrup, a sweetener made from corn
  • Milk and milk products such as cheese, ice cream, and yogurt
  • Packaged foods—such as bread, cereal, and salad dressing—that contain small amounts of lactose, a sugar found in milk and foods made with milk
  • Sugar-free candies and gums that contain sugar alcohols such as sorbitol, mannitol, and xylitol

As a general rule of thumb, remember this: Most foods that contain carbohydrates cause gas. In contrast, fats and proteins cause little gas.


Okay, I’ll Alter My Diet, but I Still Don’t Want to Fart in Public.  Is it Safe to Hold it in?

Contrary to popular belief, holding gas in the body actually isn’t biologically dangerous.  It’s not going to blow out your small intestine and leave you leaking methane like a popped cow. But, there is a serious drawback to holding it in; it is incredibly painful and debilitating. As I’m sure you’ve experienced,  holding in gas leads to bloating, stomach cramps, and even devastatingly serious pain, especially during those times when you’re sitting in a job interview after downing 2 or 3 triple layer cheese tacos and end up holding in an anal megaton explosion to avoid smelling like a herd of grazing horses.

If you are overly sensitive about your butt musk, your best bet is to pass gas in strategic places. Dr. Oz suggests:

You shouldn’t bother [holding it in], let it come out when it’s supposed to come out. Be smart about it.  Do it in a place that’s airy enough that you’re not going to hurt your family and friends.

There’s nothing wrong with a nice strong fog horn resounding from between your cheeks, but in some instances, like a wedding or funeral, you might want to excuse yourself and blow your gassy payload outside so that it gets carried downwind.

As one of the single best pieces of information, Dr. Oz states that holding gas in for a prolonged period of time won’t make it smell worse.  Smell is completely dependent on what you eat, not how long you let a fart fester.


Natural Ways To Reduce Gas

For those of you still not convinced that holding in gas simply isn’t worth all the abdominal pain and worry over being judged, here are some natural ways you can reduce your gaseous gifts to the world.

  • Try to limit air swallowing. The prevention of air swallowing is important in limiting repetitive belching. A time-honored remedy for repeated burping is to grip a pencil between the teeth. It is impossible to suck air into the esophagus with the teeth parted this way.
  • Eat slowly and don’t talk while eating. Chew your food thoroughly, instead of gulping it down.
  • Avoid using a straw or drinking out of a narrow-mouthed bottle. It promotes air swallowing.
  • Avoid carbonated beverages like soft drinks and beer. Carbonated beverages are an obvious source of swallowed gas as gusty belching is a familiar background sound in a barroom.
  • Avoid chewing gum, or sucking on candy.
  • Have loose dentures refitted. They trap air bubbles and saliva, causing you to swallow more frequently.
  • Treat postnasal drip.
  • Avoid smoking or chewing tobacco.
  • Some people have a nervous habit of swallowing air. Use relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or yoga, to reduce stress.
  • Increase your physical activity. Any aerobic activity like running or even walking will speed up digestion and help eliminate gas, but might make things unpleasant for those bringing up the rear. If abdominal distension is a problem, try sit-ups to firm up the abdominal muscles. Walking after eating moves the air bubble to the upper stomach where it can be easily belched.
  • Reduce your lactose load. Lactose is found in dairy products such a milk, skim milk, and cottage cheese. Aged cheeses, such as Swiss or cheddar, have little lactose. Yogurt is usually well tolerated by lactose- intolerant people. If milk bothers you, try Lactaid or DairyEase.
  • Avoid sorbitol and fructose. Sodas and hard candies which contain sorbitol and fructose sugars cause extra gas and should be avoided.
  • Go slow on high fiber. Fiber is healthy but it will increase your gas, especially if you increase the amount too quickly.
  • Presoak dried beans and discard the water. This helps remove the gas-causing starches. You might also try a few drops of Beano before meals. This harmless natural enzyme can help reduce gas formation. It can be purchased without a prescription at your pharmacy.


Natural Ways To Remove Gas

You know now how to reduce it, but how do you get rid of it? The best way to remove excess from the body is by doing a few easy yoga poses. Not only will yoga remove excess gas from your body so that you will be ready for an embarrassment-free night on the boardwalk, it will also aid in digestion, flexibility, and overall well being.

Related Article: Salamba Sirsasana: It’s Time to do a Headstand!

The best poses to remove excess gas from the body are:

  1. Cow/Cat Pose
  2. Wind-Relieving Pose (you can also pull both knees to the chest and stay in that pose for greater effectiveness and ease)
  3. Seated Forward Bend
  4. Child Pose

All of these poses are for beginners and place minimal strain on the body.  The focus of these exercises is to remove gas, not add stress. Make sure to use a comfortable yoga mat or sturdy, yet soft surface, and to also slowly breathe in and out while doing the poses. This will also help rid the body of unwanted gas.

The most important thing to remember is that it’s okay to enjoy every aspect of life, especially the most natural parts that are shared all across humanity.  Never be afraid to laugh at yourself, especially your gas.




Source List:

Hippo Farting

Do Birds Fart?

Fish Flatulence – How Certain Fish Communicate in School

NDDIC: Gas in the Digestive Tract

GI Health: Too Much Gas

The Merck Manual: Gas Related Complaints

Wondergressive: Save the Food Pyramid

Is it Safe to Hold in Gas?

Cat Pose

Wind-Relieving Pose

Seated Forward Bend

Child Pose

Smoking: A Pre-existing Condition Under Obamacare

I have written about the perils and predictable pitfalls of Obamacare before, and yet another example of the law’s asinine and unworkable structure has been revealed. One of the act’s most hyped lauded features is that it forbids insurance providers from charging more for people with pre-existing medical conditions. Stretching language to absurd, Joycean lengths, the medical exchange boards of Washington DC, California and Connecticut have decided that being a smoker is such a condition, and that smokers cannot by law be discriminated against. To cover the losses, non-smokers will be forced to make up the difference.

Mohammad N. Akhter, chair of the DC Health Benefit Exchange, stated that tobacco use is a “pre-existing medical condition” and that charging smokers more for their insurance would be “in direct conflict with our efforts to help people quit smoking.”

So there you have it. A risky and voluntary behavior—directly associated with the death of nearly a half million Americans a year—is now a medical condition. Americans should be prepared for more of this topsy-turvy nonsense as the Patient Protection Act is an absolute bureaucratic nightmare. As Nancy Pelosi famously said, Congress has “to pass the bill so [people] can find out what’s in it.” That prediction has has largely come true, though not in the way the former Speaker of the House intended. People don’t seem to be thrilled with Obamacare now that they see what a mess it will be. Three years after passing the controversial legislation, only 37% of Americans support the bill and 67% of the uninsured, the very people it was supposed to help, are unaware of how it will affect them.

This financial consideration from the government should come as a complete shock to smokers everywhere, as cigarette taxes have skyrocketed in recent years. The average state and federal tobacco excise taxes increased by 290% between 1995-2009, from $0.57 to $2.21 a pack. Obama is currently cheerleading for a further 94-cent increase.

So charging smokers more for medical insurance isn’t conducive to helping people quit, but charging them more than $3 a pack in taxes alone somehow is. Huh.

Bureaucratic weaseling like this is fraught with eminently foreseeable consequences. Kevin D. Williamson has a pretty stellar takedown at National Review:

Obamacare is designed to destroy the insurance market. Markets do not function without prices, and Obamacare ensures that prices will not be allowed to emerge. There is a medical price associated with smoking, but the District of Columbia has decided to suppress that price by law. Pretending that smoking has no relationship with health-care costs does not make it so — it is only a way to push costs around in a way that is agreeable to the likes of Barack Obama, converting a system that prices risk into a system of entitlements.

That leaves us with a system that is private in name only — which is the point.

It is meaningless to say that we have a private system in which private consumers buy insurance from private insurers when the insurers have been forbidden to price their products, and have instead been converted into something somewhere between a public utility company and a government contractor. Sure, you are free to buy any insurance you want — but if what you want is a lower rate for being a non-smoker, the point is moot, because it would be a crime for anybody to sell it to you.

Another unpleasant reality in this whole debate is how meaningless it actually is. The common conception is that smoking drives up the cost of medical care and that minimizing tobacco use would save millions or billions of dollars every year. The government is clearly torn between enacting sin taxes to punish smokers and giving them victimhood status by declaring their habit a pre-existing condition. However, it turns out that non-smokers actually cost health systems more than both smokers and the obese. Turns out that living longer and healthier is actually much more costly than dying younger.

One of the biggest problems with Obamacare is that it creates incredibly perverse incentives to interfere with the lives of adults. When people are forced to pay for others, they feel entitled to control behavior that may affect their tab. The rationale goes like this: Smoking is dangerous and seemingly costs money; therefore it’s an activity that needs to be controlled. The same reasoning justifies paternalistic efforts to curb obesity, leading to bans on sodas over 16 ounces and trans fats in Michael Bloomberg’s New York. Everyone should be terrified of following this rabbit hole towards its logical conclusion, where politicians can arbitrarily create laws to control seemingly any activity.

As dysfunctional as our current health care system is, Obamacare is the wrong prescription for change. It doubles down on bureaucracy and further diminishes individual choice. Barring repeal and a true injection of market forces, Americans should brace themselves for more schizophrenic and intrusive measures like this, where the government wants to both subsidize and tax the same activity, and the healthy are forced to pay for the lifestyles of the reckless.














A How To: Behavior Changes and Breaking Habits





Stanford University and their Persuasive Tech Lab have released a list of the top 10 mistakes in changing behavior. Great, now I know what I’m doing wrong. What I want to know next is more about what I can do instead of continuing to make the same mistakes.

So let’s take a look at the mistakes and some alternative solutions.

Mistakes in Behavior Change

1. Relying on willpower for long-term change (Imagine willpower doesn’t exist. That’s step 1 to a better future.)
2. Attempting big leaps instead of baby steps (Seek tiny success– one after another.)
3. Ignoring how environment shapes behaviors (Change your context & you change your life.)
4. Trying to stop old behaviors instead of creating new ones (Focus on action, not avoidance.)
5. Blaming failures on lack of motivation (Solution: Make the behavior easier to do.)
6. Underestimating the power of triggers (No behavior happens without a trigger. )
7. Believing that information leads to action (We humans aren’t so rational.)
8. Focusing on abstract goals more than concrete behaviors (Abstract: Get in shape. Concrete: Walk 15 min. today)
9. Seeking to change a behavior forever, not for a short time. (A fixed period works better than “forever”)
10. Assuming that behavior change is difficult. (Behavior change is not so hard when you have the right process.)

In my research for this I found some really interesting behavioral theories and behavior research. So, here’s the list of what I have found most effective and links to original sources so you can continue the investigation and find what works best for you.

Ways to Change Your Behavior

Take Baby Steps

Stanford University’s BJ Fogg works on behavior theory and founded the Persuasive Technology Lab to help him further his research into technology that can change behaviors for the better. Fogg has a program that he personally directs to help change behaviors. It’s free, and he runs a session every week. If you’re interested in joining a session head over to tiny habits. Fogg’s model for behavior change has three factors that affect behavior: motivation, ability, and triggers. The idea of the theory is basically to make target behaviors with high motivation easier to do. Set triggers to encourage positive behaviors and start with small habits.

You can train people, giving them more skills, more ability to do the target behavior. That’s the hard path. Don’t take this route unless you really must. Training people is hard work, and most people resist learning new things. That’s just how we are as humans: lazy.The better path is to make the target behavior easier to do.

So why are tiny habits and baby steps important? Big change is difficult, but small change is doable. Incremental changes have a history of working for groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and addiction recovery programs. Stanford’s Mobile Health recognizes that big changes often fail and organized an event in 2012 entirely dedicated to the idea of baby steps. Remember, if you want to change a habit, any change in that direction is better than no change at all. If you want to be a runner, no matter how slow you are when you start, you’re still running laps around the person on the couch. So start small, and as you continue, change will become easier and you can add to your goals. Self-regulation is a limited resource. If you regulate too much you quickly run out of endurance and become passive.

Don’t Multi-task

Research from the University of Utah proves that most of us are not very good at multi-tasking. We try so hard, but it doesn’t ever seem to work out in our favor. In the Harvard Business Review’s article Multitasking’s Real Victim, they note:

For the modern professional, multitasking is an immutable part of daily life. Yet 97% of us are hopeless at it.”

The article focuses on how the real victim of multitasking isn’t the individual doing it, but the others around them who suffer from that individual’s lack of productivity. They detail a list of activities that others can do to help multitasking obsessed individuals with their bad habit. Since multitasking isn’t effective, the most logical thing to do is focus your tasking on one activity. In The Magic of Doing One Thing at a Time, Tony Schwartz states that focusing on one activity at a time and then taking a real break increases productivity. That is backed up by the compilation of research linked from another article in the New York Times. Do one thing at a time. It will increase your efficiency and make change easier to achieve.

Replace Bad Habits with Good Habits



Change the situation so that positive decisions are easier to make, or better yet, your only choice. If you’re removing certain foods from your diet, remove them from the house. Set yourself up for success. Fill your fridge with healthy foods you enjoy eating. If you’re quitting smoking, take up a new hobby during the times when you would have taken a smoke break; drink a cup of tea or challenge yourself with a crossword. Remember that making the new behavior as easy as possible is important to your success. Goals that are difficult to reach often fail.

Make a Plan

So now we know what types of goals can help us change our behaviors, but we need to make a realistic plan to get us to the finish line. Taking into account what we’ve learned so far: our plan should be focused; it should replace old behaviors with new positive behaviors; and it should be composed of small changes. Now at least we know what the plan should look like; it needs to go from the abstract to the concrete.

Your goals should be realistically achievable and manageable. They should include specific times and specific activities. If you want to quit a bad habit like biting your nails, replace it with a good habit. Your goal can look something like this: when I get the urge to bite my nails I will chew gum as a replacement activity. When I catch myself biting my nails I will do five push-ups. Making definitive goals allows you to see your progress take shape.

Activate Social Networks

Let others around you know what your new habits are so they can help remind and encourage you when you forget or when you feel the motivation is not strong enough. Having people to watch you and hold you accountable for the new behaviors is an important benefit of having a social network that you can take advantage of. Ten Ways to Get People to Change points out that:

Peers can set expectations, shame us or provide role models.

We can use our peers to help us achieve our goals. Let others around you know what your goals are and they will be inspired to see you succeed. They can help create a supportive environment to ensure that your desired habits flourish.


So basically what I’m saying is:

Decide what you want to change, and make a small, realistic, focused plan to get there. Replace your bad habits with good habits. Tell your friends and family about your plan and enlist their help. Most importantly, don’t give up. 

Remember, the key is to start small.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. ~Lao-tzu




Sources and Resources for Further Reading:

Stanford University: Top 10 Mistakes of Behavior Change

Stanford University’s Persuasive Tech Lab

BJ Fogg Tiny Habits

BJ Fogg

A Behavior Model for Persuasive Design

Mobile Health’s Baby Steps for Big Results

Senior News 50 and Better: Baby Steps to Lasting Change

Harvard Business Review: Multitasking’s Real Victims

Harvard Business Review: Ten Ways to Get People to Change

New York Times: Only a Few Can Multi-task

University of Utah: Supertaskers: Profiles in Extraordinary Multitasking Ability

Pub Med: Ego Depletion: Is the Active Self a Limited Resource?

Psych Central How To Change Your Drinking: A Harm Reduction Guide To Alcohol

Pinnacle Counseling: Addiction Recovery: Baby Steps

Harvard Business Review: The Magic of Doing One Thing at a Time

New York Times: Slow Down, Brave Multitasker, and Don’t Read This in Traffic

Forbes: The Secret to Breaking Bad Habits in the New Year

Wondergressive: Green Tea Powers

No Link Between Cannabis and Depression


A study done in Sweden spanning 35 years and testing a total of 45,087 Swedish men has found no connection linking cannabis and depression.

That being said, although the risk was extremely slight, the study did reiterate the connections found between chronic cannabis use and schizoaffective disorders.  The study finds that “there was a strong graded association between cannabis use and schizoaffective disorder, even after control for confounders, although the numbers were small (HR 7.4, 95% CI, 1.0-54.3).

“Conclusion: We did not find evidence for an increased risk of depression among those who used cannabis. Our finding of an increased risk of schizoaffective disorder is consistent with previous findings on the relation between cannabis use and psychosis.”