Ever wondered why some of your shit floats and some sinks? Science blames your farts.
No, we’re not pulling your finger. To answer the age-old shower thought, scientists did what they do best — science’d the crap out of mice, literally!
Believe it or not, this dangling dilemma has been a hot topic of discussion among researchers for a while now — predating even the 1970s! In fact, till recently, most people blamed the presence of fats in the faeces for their floatiness until research showed otherwise.
While now it is well known that the presence of gas in the faecal matter forms the primary suspect for this intriguing phenomenon, scientists still scratch their heads over what determines gas production in the first place.
In a bid to get this nagging thought out of the way, scientists from Mayo Clinic in the USA turned to mice to help answer nature’s grossest question. When they experimented with mice whose gut microbiome was sterilised, they found that none of the poop from these troopers was floaty. This was a surprising result because, believe it or not, we’ve already done enough experiments to know that at least half of the mice poop samples are supposed to be floaters (in most cases).
While this already points towards gut bacteria as the prime suspect for the floating poop, scientists did not go with their gut feeling! Science demands confirmation before concussive interpretations, and therefore, researchers had to take the next big step — inject these sterilised mice with the poop from the floater-producing mice.
While this might be a ‘gross’ oversimplification of the process! But guess what? Even the sterile mice began generating floaters when injected with stool samples from healthy floater-producing mice.
Therefore, the researchers could finally confirm that some faecal matter float because of the nature of the gut bacteria present, wherein some bacteria naturally help in producing more gas than others, leading to more floatiness in the faeces.
While more research is needed to confirm which bacteria, in particular, helps pass the most gas, the researchers did note Bacteroides ovatus has been a well-known perpetrator of flatulence in humans. However, there could be a whole gang of criminals behind mice breaking wind, which means still more crappy research is required before this topic can be finally put behind us.
The findings of this research have been published in Scientific Reports and can be accessed here.
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