Losing weight needs good gut bacteria as well as good diet

By 9. September 2013Blog, Health, Nutrition

A paper published in the Journal Science last week demonstrates the importance of gut bacteria as well as diet in the fight against obesity.

Studying the causes of obesity is a complicated matter, just look at the number of TV documentaries about the matter over the last year blaming everything from high fructose corn syrup to trans fats. The scientists used faecal transplants from human twins that were obese (Ob) and lean (Ln) and put them into mice that had no gut bacteria.

What they found was that the microbiota from the lean twin when transplanted into mice were able to breakdown and ferment polysaccharides more than the microbiota of obese co twin.  The scientists state in the paper that previous studies had demonstrated that increased microbial fermentation of non digestible starches is associated with decreased body weight and fat, in mice at least.

Now for the slightly disgusting part of the study, if you are eating perhaps you should finish this story later. Mice are coprophagic, which means they eat each other’s feces, lovely. What that does allow though, is that the scientists could see if the gut bacteria could be “transferred orally” by housing together an Ob mouse and a Ln mouse. And sure enough that is what happened. Ob mice fed a diet made up of low–saturated fat and high amounts of fruits and vegetables got fatter than Ln mice. Ob mice that were cohoused with Ln mice did not put on this weight and retained a similar physical condition to that of the Ln mice.

3 members of Bacteroidetes, B. uniformis, Parabacteroides merdae, and A. putredinis were found to be “prominent invaders” of the Ob mice guts. I sense a new diet pill coming our way soon….

The paper is available from the Science Journal website.