Monday, January 30, 2017

Gut Bacteria Diversity and Gut Bacteria Memory May Affect Obesity

According to a 2008 St. Louis study, our gut is the home to trillions of bacteria. These bacteria extract calories from food and help manage nutrients. While gut bacteria are found in every person's guts, each one of us has a unique set of bacteria. At least one study has shown that gut bacteria are important in weight control. Both gut bacteria diversity and gut memory may play a role in how bacteria in the gut affect our weight.

Some studies have concluded that individuals with the least diverse set of gut bacteria are more susceptible to obesity. In a recent study, investigators looked at the stool of approximately 300 Danish subjects. The study subjects were a mixture of lean and obese individuals. The investigators concluded that the subjects who had a low level of gut bacteria diversity experienced the most insulin resistance and inflammation. And this low level of gut bacteria is a sign of future metabolic diseases. The low diversity group was also more likely to gain weight.

Another interesting study, done with mice, has shown that gut bacteria have a memory. And this memory might be a factor in the weight gain after weight loss. In the study, done at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, when mice lost weight on a weight loss program, the researchers determined that the gut bacteria in the mice after weight loss were the same as the pre-weight loss gut bacteria. This sameness is what helps to create a memory problem.

According to one of the study's investigators, “in obese mice ... following successful dieting and weight loss, the [gut bacteria retain] a ‘memory’ of previous obesity ...” And, “This ... [gut bacteria memory] accelerated the regaining of weight when the mice were put back on a high-calorie diet or ate regular food in excessive amounts.”  So a high level of gut bacteria diversity can improve metabolic parameters and help a person maintain a healthy weight. But gut memory may prevent us from maintaining weight loss (if human study results are similar to mice results). Therefore, weight loss therapies that address both of these conditions could lead to new weight loss tools.


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