A plant-based diet means eating more fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes. A new study found that this type of diet makes men more flatulent and gives them bigger stools, which is a good sign of a healthy diet and good gut microbiota.
In the study, titled "Differential Effects of Western and Mediterranean-type Diets on Gut Microbiota: A Metagenomics and Metabolomics Approach" published in the journal Nutrients, researchers measured the changes in stool and flatulence that are associated with the changes in gut microbiota.
Eating Plants Promote Good Gut Bacteria
New Scientist reported that researchers compared the effects of a Mediterranean-style diet and a Western-syle diet on the guts of 18 healthy men that are 18 to 38 years old. The two diets differ significantly because whereas the former is mostly composed of plants, the latter contains fewer fruits and vegetables.
Claudia Barber from the Liver and Digestive Diseases Networking Biomedical Research Center in Barcelona, Spain, and her colleagues randomly assigned participants to follow either of the diets for two weeks and then give them one week break before trying the other diet for another two weeks.
The team measured the men's stools every day on the two diets. They observed that when participants were on a plant-based diet, their stools are double the size compared to eating a Western-style diet. In a plant-based diet, they collect about 200 grams per day but only 100 grams on the Western diet.
Researchers explain that this is because a plant-based diet promotes good bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract. These bacteria make food for themselves by fermenting the fiber found in plants. Rosemary Stanton from the University of New South Wales added that they found extra bacteria, water, and a small amount of undigested plant fiber when they analyzed the stools of participants in the plant-based diet.
Some of these bacteria that ferment plant fiber were found to be abundant in men's guts while on a plant-based diet. This included Agathobaculumand anaerostipes and Agathobaculum butyriciproducens.
Eating Plants Promote Farting
Aside from increased stool, researchers also noticed that a plant-based diet made men more flatulent. According to Eminetra, participants fart at least seven times a day wherein each flatulence has 50% more gas when tested.
Stanton noted that most of the farts by men with a plant-based diet were composed of odorless hydrogen, methane, and carbon dioxide produced by plant fiber-fermenting gut microbiota. A previous report from New Scientist suggests that eating protein-rich foods causes the distinctive rotten-egg smell of farts as gut bacteria produces hydrogen sulfide.
On the other hand, plant fiber-fermenting bacteria are good bacteria because they release short-chain fatty acids that keep the large intestine healthy and protect it from colon cancer. Also, this chemical is absorbed into the bloodstream to protect the person from developing heart disease, and diabetes.
"Our Western idea that flatulence is a sign that something is wrong is completely wrong," New Scientist quoted Stanton. Most often, "flatulence is a sign of a healthy diet and a healthy colon," she says.
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