Studies Prove Gut Bacteria and Obesity Link

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Obesity is commonly thought to be primarily caused by overeating. But did you know that it could actually be the bacteria in your gut that’s causing you to put on weight.

Scientific research an understanding of how the complex community of gut bacteria affects our metabolism is still in its infancy. However, the notable findings of new scientific studies have proven that there are a number of links between gut bacteria and obesity. Let’s take a look at what they are.

1. Methanobrevibacter Smithii and Obesity

A scientific study, conducted by Cedars-Sinai and published in The Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism in March 2013, showed that people with a high concentrations of hydrogen and methane gasses in their breath are likely to have significantly higher body mass indexes and higher percentages of body fat.

In performing the study, the breath content of 792 people was analyzed. This made it the first large-scale human study to show a correlation between gas production and body weight.

Most of the methane production in humans is carried out by a microorganism called Methanobrevibacter smithii. It lives in the digestive tract and helps convert food into energy. However, when it becomes over abundant, the way it interacts with hydrogen is believed to enable more calories to be harvested from food. This encouraged weight gain and obesity.

2. Enterobacter Cloacae and Obesity

A landmark study, published in The ISME Journal (a journal of microbial ecology) in December 2012, showed that a particular bacteria extracted from a morbidly obese human’s gut induced obesity and insulin resistance in germfree mice. The bacteria, called Enterobacter eloacae, produces endotoxins (toxins kept inside the bacterial cell) that activates a gene that helps generate fat. It also deactivates a gene that consumes fat.

What’s particularly interesting though, is what happened to the morbidly obese volunteer who participated in the study after the level of Enterobacter eloacae bacteria in his gut was reduced. At the beginning of the study, the volunteer weighed 174.8 kilograms, and Enterobacter eloacae made up 35% of his gut bacteria (yes, it was flourishing!). He also suffered from diabetes, hypertension, and other serious metabolic issues.

Over the course of 23 weeks, the amount of Enterobacter eloacae in the volunteer’s gut was reduced from 35% to undetectable in laboratory results. This was done through a diet specially formulated to kill off the bacteria, consisting of whole grains, traditional Chinese medicinal foods and prebiotics (foods that can change the balance of bacteria in the human digestive tract).

The amount of endotoxins being produced in the gut dropped dropped, the volunteer lost 54.1 kilograms in weight, and recovered from hypertension and hyperglycemia as well. The amount of inflammation in the volunteer’s body also substantially improved.

The study isn’t the first one to indicate that the bacteria in the gut plays a significant role in weight gain, but it’s the most convincing to date.

How Can You Improve the Bacteria in Your Gut?

As mentioned in the study above, the consumption of prebiotics was used to change the bacteria in the volunteer’s gut. It’s likely that many of you won’t be familiar with the concept of prebiotics, as it’s only a relatively new discovery. However, it’s one that’s now being thought of as better than probiotics at restoring the bacteria balance in the gut.

There are many different types of foods that are known to have a prebiotic effect, but some are more effective than others. We reveal what we believe to be the best prebiotic supplement here.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Nazir May 15, 2014 at 2:54 pm

I hv obesity issue of my 12 yrs son, need suggestion.


Maya S. Cook July 15, 2014 at 3:21 pm

Hi Nazir, does your son exercise? And what does he eat each day?


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