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article imageCan gut bacteria help a person to slim?

By Tim Sandle     Sep 13, 2013 in Science
Gut bacteria from thin people were transferred to the intestines of mice carrying microbes from obese people. The new bacteria kept mice from getting tubby.
The link between gut bacteria and obesity was shown in a new research study. The research was not, however, heralding a total ‘wonder cure’ for obesity. Although the bacteria transferred from thin mice helped the obese mice from gaining more weight, this only worked in conjunction with a change to the diet of the healthy mice. In other words, the ‘healthy’ gut bacteria only started to work once the obese mice started to eat healthier foods.
For the study, researchers transplanted fecal microbes from obese and lean human twins into mice lacking gut bacteria of their own. Within two weeks, mice that received bacteria from obese people started to put on fat. Mice given bacteria from lean people stayed slim. The researchers later transferred the bacteria from the thin mice to the obese mice and then noted the effect.
The research is part of a wider research project which suggests that gut microbes can affect a person’s metabolism. Other research has indicated that fat and thin people have different microbes teeming in their intestines.
In a related area of research conducted by the international MetaHIT consortium, scientists have evidenced that individuals with fewer numbers of so-called “good” bacteria are more likely to be obese and develop obesity-related ailments such as type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and heart disease.
This direction of study has led researchers to experiment with fecal transplants to flush out bad gut microbes and dump in good ones. The transplants can clear up diarrhea and may even help some obese people regain insulin sensitivity.
The new findings linking bacteria to weight in mice may lead to new studies on people, in an attempt to off-set some of the more serious side effects of obesity.
The research findings have been published in the journal Science. The paper is titled “Gut microbiota from twins discordant for obesity modulate metabolism in mice.”
More about Gut bacteria, microbiome, Obesity, Intestines, Bacteria
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