Obesity and Friendly Gut Bacteria

More and more research is coming out on the importance of the friendly bacteria in our intestinal tract and how it affects our general health and well-being.

This group of friendly bacteria in our guide is collectively called our Microbiome.

We now know that we have approximately 10 times more bacterial cells in our body than we have human cells. In addition, quite surprisingly there are 4 million or more genes contained in the microbial community of our intestines. We as humans, for comparison, have only 25,000 genes. So there are MANY more genes in our body from bacteria than our own cells!

Research is showing that there is an interaction between the DNA of the bacteria in our gut and our human DNA that contributes to our uniqueness and our health.

Obesity is a common problem in our society and much research is being done to understand it.

Now a new study has shown that germ-free mice that received gut bacteria from obese humans put on more weight and accumulated more fat than mice that were given bacteria from the guts of lean humans.

Furthermore, it was found that the transmission of physical and metabolic traits via the friendly bacteria in their guts, was also dependent on the mices’ diet.

In this study, the authors used identical and fraternal human twins, one of whom was obese and one of whom was lean and took the bacteria from the each of their stools, and put it into the mice.

The conclusion of this study is that the microbial communities in our gut can transmit lean or obese traits. Specifically the researchers found that a bacteria called Bacteroides, played a protective role against increased fat accumulation in the mice who were on a certain diet.

This research was done by Vanessa Ridaura,a Graduate Student at Washington University School of Medicine. Jeffrey Gordon, the director of the Center of Genome Sciences and Systems Biology at Washington University School of Medicine was quoted as saying “The recipients of the obese twins microbiota gained more fat than the recipients of the lean twins microbiota. This was not attributable to differences in the amount of food they consumed, so there is something in the microbiota that was able to transmit this trait.”

Specifically we do know that eating a high fiber – low-fat human diet will give us more diversity in our friendly bacteria, which is almost always a good thing.

These findings are suggesting that a much more complex view of the obesity problem is required. Specifically, the interactions between diet, body mass and gut microbiology have realized.

Dr. Gordon said what we all know and that is “In the future, the nutritional value and the effects of food will involve significant consideration of our microbiota – and developing healthy nutritious foods will be done from the inside out not just the outside in.”

I recommend to all my patients and readers that they take a probiotic every day. And of course high-fiber low-fat diet is the thing that we all should be doing.

About Dr. Soram Khalsa

As an MD, Dr Soram specializes in Integrative Medicine combining diet, nutrition, acupuncture, herbs and nutrition. Visit Dr Soram’s Healthy Living Store where you’ll find high-quality nutritional supplements: