Although renowned for creating delight in children, farts are not considered the best way to make friends and influence people. But there is an upside: the production of gas means that your body is hosting the right kinds of bacteria.


Although renowned for creating delight in children, farts are not considered the best way to make friends and influence people. But there is an upside: the production of gas means that your body is hosting the right kinds of bacteria. To encourage these ‘good’ bugs – known as our microbiome – we need to eat fibre.

“Fermentable components of dietary fibre have a critical role in feeding the gut microbiome,” said Dr Trevor Lockett, Head of the Gut Health and Nutrition Group at CSIRO Food and Nutrition.

“This part of fibre is fermented mostly to short chain fatty acids, a process which creates gas.”

Fermentation is a chemical process that breaks down carbohydrates in fibre: bacteria do it in our bowels to create food for themselves. Molecules that improve the health of their host – that’s you – are also produced. Dr Lockett presented an update on his group’s latest research at ‘Bugs, Bowels and Beyond’, the 2015 National Scientific Conference of the Australian Society for Medical Research held in Adelaide, South Australia last week.

He focused in particular on recent findings describing how different dietary components influence the microbiome, and determine their production of not just gas, but also molecules that are beneficial in the large intestine.

“For example, we know now that bacteria living in the large intestine produce a short chain fatty acid known as butyrate, which can reduce inflammation by stimulating regulatory immune cells,” he said.

“We’re now seeking to expand some of this work to see if we can improve inflammatory bowel disease.”

The component in food that manages to make it through digestive processes in the stomach and small intestine to feed the microbiome in the large intestine is known as resistant starch.

You can improve the proportion of resistant starch in your diet by eating unrefined whole grains, pulses and legumes, unripe bananas and cooked and cooled foods such as potatoes, pasta and rice. Dr Lockett explained that in addition to conducting fundamental research, scientists at the CSIRO work across the fields of nutrition and agriculture for product development.

“As our understanding of the beneficial components of dietary fibre has improved, we’ve been able to inform colleagues who are growing grains for cereal purposes,” he explained.

“If we can include and enrich resistant starch in marketable grains, perhaps we can drive health benefits.”

Dr Lockett’s CSIRO colleague Dr Bianca Benassi-Evans – who is based in the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) building – has recently trialed two non-genetically modified barley grains to determine their impact on bowel health. Comparing the two candidate CSIRO barley grains against regular barley and puffed rice as breakfast meals in a sample of 20 adults, she found both to have desirable features.

“Our grains increased the acidity in stool samples, and increased bowel production of butyrate, a short chain fatty acid,” she said.

“Both of these outcomes are biomarkers of good bowel health.”

Additional studies are currently taking place, through which Dr Benassi-Evans hopes these grains may end up in your cereal aisle.

“What you choose in that supermarket can have dramatic effects on gut health,” she said.

Which breakfast products make you fart is a question you’ll have to determine yourself.

CSIRO Food and Nutrition in South Australia has laboratories and clinical consulting facilities at SAHMRI and The University of Adelaide.

This article was originally published on The Lead.


  1. That explains it! My breakfast diet consists of a smoothie with quinoa, chia, teff, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, linseed, apple cider vinegar, coconut oil, tumeric, ginger, soy milk and a banana. My gases are particularly active early in the morning and I was a little concerned but science has now relieved my mind, thank you.

  2. Farts do not create delight in children. Children at school bully children with this gas. Please change your introduction.

    1. Hi Lisa,

      We appreciate your feedback, but we see our blog as a lighthearted approach to explaining interesting science.


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      1. I would like to disagree, not only do farts cause delight in children but adults also find them hilarious too. The many many conversations we used to have at uni many years ago attest to that. That and poo talk. Brilliant?

    2. Fart novels are a very successful children’s literature genre. This indicates children’s delight in flatulence. This doesn’t imply bullying is acceptable, but that the issue is complex. Consider, for example, the perrnial popularity of the whoopee cushion.

  3. So my dog’s farts are a good thing too!? She eats lots of veges (loves everything, especially snow peas, sweet potato, blueberries,carrots, apples,and Greek yoghurt) as well as the occasional treat of sardines in springwater , all added to her kibble. But boooooy does she fart!

  4. My Mum’s late Father, Professor William St Clair Symmers of Queen’s University and others, a Pathologist and Anatomist, he died in 1937, told her when she was a child, she was born in1906, that farting was absolutely necessary to demonstrate that your innards were working properly. Mum brought us up with this knowledge so it has always been regarded as a normal part of life – if a little odorous at times!
    It is interesting that so many of these facts which were pooh-poohed (no pun intended) in recent years as being “Unscientific Nonsense by the Medical profession have once again been discovered to be true.

    1. 1974 Sydney Uni put on a vast historical show LAFART, but that’s behind me now. Lots of farting & pissing, I find, delays my next shit being needed in train or bus, being diabetic with kidneys needing 2.5L pure water daily. I worked in CSIRO Solar Physics Electronics for years when it was at that campus, before NASA in USA .

  5. I knew I have been leading a heathy life all along, I will have to show my wife, she always complains when I fart.

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