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Altering gut microbes to reduce effects of fatty food

By Tim Sandle     Jul 19, 2016 in Science
We avoid overeating by our guts sending messages to our brain. However, high fat foods can disrupt this neural network, according to new research. This means high fat food is doubly bad because we may want to eat more of it.
The new research links to the microorganisms that reside in our gastrointestinal tract. The consumption of high fat food appears to disrupt the microbial populations and this, in turn, affects the triggering of the neural response signal to the brain. The risk is that this shift in microbial populations can lead to overeating and weight gain.
The finding stems from a study of rats, made by researchers from the University of Georgia, Binghamton University, and Pennsylvania State University. The mechanism at play is that high fat consumption alters the gut-to-brain neural pathway. This triggers inflammation in brain regions responsible for feeding behavior.
To explore the role of microorganisms, the researchers examined the microbiome of the human gut to see if it altered in relation to the diet and neural changes. By using advanced molecular biology methods, the researchers found there was a “negative shift” in gut microbes linked with high fat diets.
The good news is that the researchers think the effect can be reversed by manipulating the gut microbes, so that the feeling of ‘fullness’ can be restored and over-eating avoided. This was attempted in some of the studies. Here it was found that when the gut microflora returned to the norm, the disturbed gut-brain signals and brain inflammation were corrected. The treated rats proceeded to eat less and their weight fell.
Reversal methods would involve the use of antibiotics. This is a somewhat hit-and-miss affair and would require refining. An alternate approach would see people administered with doses of specific populations of live microbial cultures.
In a statement, one of the lead researchers, Dr. Claire de La Serre said: “We then wanted to test if foods known to have anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties could also reverse the negative effect of a high fat diet, similarly to the antibiotic treatment." Here her team examined what happens to rats fed a high fat diet that was supplemented with blueberry (the fruit has anthocyanins, which have anti-microbial properties.) It was found these rodents had a very different microbial profiles with less inflammation and stable blood sugar levels. This means certain foods (dubbed “bioactive foods”) could also help with reducing obesity.
The new research has yet to be published in a peer review journal, although the findings have been reported to a recent meeting of the Annual Meeting of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior. The results indicate that further study is worthwhile.
On hearing the news via social media, medical doctor satish Kumar (@HilsaSatish) tweeted: "Microbes convert fat in food 2 acetate & reaches 2 brain which send signal 2 pancreas 2 increase insulin production causes." Also, psychiatrist Felice Jacka (@FeliceJacka) tweeted: "Why are we fat? Microbes hold the key. Junk food, antiobiotics & caesarians."
More about fat microbes, Microbes, Gut, gastrointestinal, Fat
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