Eating a lot of vegetables, fruit, and cereals, is thought to increase bloating and the amount of excreted feces due to a change in the intestinal microflora, which becomes richer in healthy bacteria.
Please note that this article is not an invitation to further cut the cheese in public. Spanish researchers from the Barcelona Biomedical Research Center of the Liver and Digestive Diseases Network in Barcelona have found that digesting plant-based products leads to increased flatulence and feces. The study, published on 30 July in the journal Nutrients, suggests that this is due to the presence of more healthy bacteria in the gut microbiota.
Twice as heavy
The researchers compared the effects of a Mediterranean diet, which consists mainly of plants, and a Western diet, which is lower in fruit and vegetables, on the gut of 18 healthy men aged 18-38 years. Each participant was randomized to follow one of the diets for fourteen days, followed by the other diet for fourteen days, after a small break.
The results showed that men on both diets had the same number of visits to the toilet, but the amount of stool excreted in the plant-based diet was twice as much as in the western diet. They then weighed these excrements. They found that the plant-based diet resulted in 200 g of feces compared to 100 g for the Western diet.
According to the authors of the study, this is because eating plants stimulates the production of intestinal bacteria that feed on plant fibers. “The extra weight of feces is made up of the bodies of these extra bacteria, water, and a small amount of undigested plant fiber,” says Rosemary Stanton, a researcher at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, who is the lead author of the study.
Seven times more flatulence
Participants also recorded their flatulence daily using a handheld meter. They found that on average, they expelled seven times more gas per day on a plant-based diet than on a Western diet.
Moreover, each flatulence contained about 50% more gas, as the researchers demonstrated by giving the men a test meal of braised green beans and measuring subsequent gas production with balloons attached to their rectums.
Most of the gases released are hydrogen, methane, and odorless carbon dioxide, which are released by intestinal bacteria during the fermentation of plant fibers. On the other hand, the smell is due to the small amount of hydrogen sulfide that is a by-product of protein digestion.
Passing gas is a good thing
According to the researchers, these results refute the notion that flatulence is a bad thing. “Our Western notion that flatulence is a sign that something is wrong is completely wrong,” says Rosemary Stanton. In “many cases, farting is a sign of a healthy diet and a healthy colon.”
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