‘A Quiet Place’ Raises the Question: How Long Can You Hold a Fart?
In the mysterious post-apocalyptic world of A Quiet Place, any noise you make can signal your doom. The snap of a twig, the rustle of a leaf, and even the ticking of a kitchen timer are enough to alert the horrifying aliens to the presence of human prey. As a result, the film itself is a very quiet one, forcing all the mature adults in the audience to wonder the same thing: What if the characters have to fart? Even more crucially: What if I have to fart in this mercilessly silent theatre?
These questions vexed viewers as soon as the film premiered, even garnering a Twitter moment on Monday. Fear not, fart-havers. Turns out the human body is pretty good at holding in farts, and whether you’re in A Quiet Place or simply viewing it, there are ways to game your body so that noisy flatulence doesn’t get you killed by monsters or shamed by fellow movie-watchers.
Proceed with caution, as there are spoilers for A Quiet Place.
Just Don’t Fart
This may sound like the simplest answer, but it’s probably the hardest one. As the bacteria in our guts digest the food we eat, they naturally produce waste products in the form of methane, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and oxygen. These gases build up until they need to find a way out. A 1971 study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that the average volume of gas in a person’s bowel is usually between about one ounce and 6.7 ounces. Since the gastrointestinal tract is somewhat flexible, it stands to reason that you could hold it a bit longer before you start feeling uncomfortable. Even though you may have heard otherwise, holding your farts is perfectly safe. But it’s difficult.
Unless you have an intestinal obstruction, holding in your farts isn’t dangerous, Lisa Ganjhu, M.D., a clinical assistant professor of medicine and gastroenterology at NYU Langone Medical Center, told Women’s Health in 2015. But that takes serious focus, and the gas could squeak out when you get distracted by something else.
“As you’re walking and going about your business, your body will pass the air,” Ganjhu says.
Since you can’t avoid farts altogether, a more realistic option is to minimize them. One way to do so is to eat food that will be less likely to make you fart. Since farts are mostly produced by bacterial digestion, if you starve the bacteria of the gas-producing nutrients, then theoretically, you’ll fart less.
This means you’d need to steer clear of beans, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, brussels sprouts, and cauliflower, whole grains, booze, onions, celery, radishes, and carrots, just to name a few. These foods all contain compounds — like fructans, a type of carbohydrate — that are tougher for bacteria to break down, inducing more gas. Unfortunately for the characters the movie, who grow their own food, it’s hard to steer clear of some of these veggies.
Find a Quiet Place to Fart
Since farting is basically unavoidable, moviegoers should probably wait for the film’s noisiest moments and hope for the best.
But for the characters in the film, their best option is to find a quiet place to do it — see what we did there? In A Quiet Place, there’s already a great location for that: the soundproofed basement nursery. So while some viewers may see it as a plot hole that the characters in the film don’t fart on screen, the most likely solution is that if they had to do it, they’d just go into the basement and fart on a pillow to muffle the sound. Plot hole filled.