Are the bacteria in your gut making you fat?

With obesity forever topical and most cyclists aware of the importance of maintaining a healthy body weight, be it for cosmetic, health or performance reasons, a new area of research is set to expand in 2009 that may be of interest.

The evidence

Researchers have studied two groups of beneficial bacteria that are dominant in the human gut, Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes. The relative proportion of Bacteroidetes is decreased in obese people by comparison with lean people, and this proportion increases with weight loss on a low calorie diet.

Findings indicate that obesity has a microbial component that may have implications for probiotic products being used as part of a weight loss strategy. Indeed, scientists who changed the internal bacteria balance in obese mice to that of thin mice, found that without altering caloric intake the fat mice got thin.

Layman lowdown

It seems that scientists can tell by looking at the balance of your gut bacteria whether you are fat or thin. That?s right: the balance of bacteria is different for obese individuals, and this has been shown in both animal and human studies.

New research is set to see if the same can be achieved in humans as has been achieved in mice, and to examine just how much the balance of bacteria affects how we metabolise and store food, and therefore the amount of energy extracted from the diet.

CW says

The bacteria in the gut are affected by the food we choose to eat. Eating a healthy diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables will provide a more favourable environment for a lower body weight as well as lots of vitamins and minerals for health. This study however, is incredibly interesting for those who seem to struggle with weight loss, and the next year will see much more research in this area, which may lead to probiotic treatments that form part of an effective weight loss regime.


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