Gut Bacteria and Weight Loss – what we only knew about recently.
Many have, at one point or another, made an attempt at weight loss and staying slim. Some were unfortunate enough to inherit genes that make them fat easily while others are caught in inactive, sedentary lifestyles. They don’t eat right either because of the lack of healthy choices where they work or spend most of their time at on a daily basis. Yes, getting that ideal body/fat ratio is an uphill battle that most fail miserably.
And because people have varying needs when it comes to maintaining body weight, attractive celebrities and athletes enlist the help of professional personal trainers to help them create tailor-made diet and exercise plans – something that isn’t just prohibitively expensive but too time-consuming for the average person who works a 9-to-6 job to follow.
A relatively new but very important discovery was made back in 2014, however, that points out that body fat ratio isn’t only dependent on food intake or exercise programmes, but is heavily regulated by a complex system of bacteria in our digestive tract. It is so complex that it could be considered an organ unto itself and is responsible for an innumerable interactions between the bacteria and the cells in our body. A living eco-system in which our cells are in tight symbiosis with, this amalgamation of bacterial genes, called a microbiome, significantly dictates how our bodies store fat, the level of blood glucose maintained in the blood, or our sensitivity to hormones that govern hunger. The total number of genes in the microbiome outnumbers the genes in our cells by 10 to 1. This missing bacteria and their contributing chemical signalling is akin to removing important roles from a factory floor.
This missing bacteria and their contributing chemical signalling is akin to removing important roles from a factory floor.
In an experiment by Washington University graduate student Vanessa Ridaura, the intestinal microbes from eight people were taken and transferred into mice models to study the effect intestinal bacteria have on obesity; microbes from obese and lean individuals were transferred into the intestines of young mice that had been raised germ-free. The mice that received human microbes from the obese individuals experienced unhealthy metabolic changes and got fatter compared to the other group of mice even though neither group of mice ate more than the other.
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Special ‘safe’ foods, too, may actually be dangerous to the microbiota’s population. Formula foods for babies, for example, lack essential bacteria found in mother’s breasts milk and have shown to cause selective breeding of microflora. This results in the lack of colonization of the gut with beneficial bacteria. This void is then filled up by detrimental bacteria that otherwise shouldn’t be present while the baby’s immune system has yet to fully develop, making these babies vulnerable to allergies, asthma, eczema, celiac disease, and obesity. Artificial sweeteners like aspartame, too, are known to cause changes in the gut microbiota that lead to obesity because, even though sweeteners aren’t absorbed by body cells, they are by bacteria.
Formula foods for babies, for example, lack essential bacteria found in mother’s breasts milk and have shown to cause selective breeding of microflora.
Though scientists still do not understand the whole picture they do know that irresponsible and indiscriminate use of antibiotics also destroys large groups of this bacteria makeup that is needed to maintain proper chemical interactions that keep our body weight in check, causing detrimental selective microflora. Doctors say that probiotic supplements can’t fix the balance though it can help, and that eating a wide range of fruit, legumes, vegetables and whole grains in balance to increase the range of fibres available. This is because different bacteria in the colon feed off different types of fibre, so a wide and balanced range ensures that you aren’t feeding one type of bacteria more than the other.
Scientific American, How Gut Bacteria Help Make Us Fat or Thin, http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-gut-bacteria-help-make-us-fat-and-thin/
CBCNews,Gut bacteria may be key to fighting obesity, http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/gut-bacteria-may-be-key-to-fighting-obesity-1.1706768