I realise that what I’m about to type will make a lot of you think I’m disgusting. You’ll wonder how anybody can admit to such a thing, and probably despise me for it. But I have to get it out of my system, so here goes: I love sprouts.
I’d probably go even further than that; I actively look for sprouts in the grocers at this time of year, and look forward to Christmas dinner. If dinner is served without sprouts, there’s hell to pay. I love my forbidden pleasure, and I don’t care who knows it.
What I don’t love though, is the after effect. Just why do brussel sprouts make you fart?
Brussel Sprouts are Good For You
Part of the reason they make you fart so much is that they’re just so damn good for you. Packed full of fibre these beauties will have your system working more regularly before you can say “who farted?”. They’re also high in complex carbohydrates which means they release their energy over a long period; to put it bluntly, you’ll be releasing slowly over a long period, too.
Of course, bacteria also play a part. The partially digested sprouts pass from your stomach into your large intestine, where they form a delicious Christmas dinner for all your microbial friends. These friends happen to be particularly apt at breaking down the complex sugars your guts just don’t have the enzymes to deal with.
And the reason for the distinctive sprout-fart smell? In addition to all the traditional gasses given off by the bacteria such as oxygen, hydrogen, carbon dioxide and methane, sprouts are very high in sulphur. This sulphur is then converted by said bacteria into sulphur dioxide, resulting in the Christmas fragrance we all know and love.
It’s not just the sprouts either. Plenty of foods likely to cause wind are going to be piled high on your plates over the Christmas period: cabbage, parsnip and perhaps the worst (or best, depending on your viewpoint) of all, jerusalem artichoke.