Gut germs could predict obesity

By Shayna Brouker • Published: December 10th, 2013
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Will you become obese? The answer is in your gut, according to a new study from the International Human Microbiome Project. The gut has become known as the epicenter of food processing and an important factor in weight gain and loss. It’s been established that eating certain foods or taking certain medications can disrupt the careful balance of bacteria. A normal human digestive tract contains about 400 types of probiotic bacteria that stimulate a healthy digestive system. Recent studies have found that the type and amount of healthy bacteria in your gut can impact whether you become overweight. People who lack a certain type of microbe or have too little gut bacteria may be more likely to put on pounds.

One study found that gastric bypass surgery effectively slimmed mice down by changing the bacterial makeup in their guts. Another study discovered that gut germs in obese people are less diverse and showed more abnormalities in metabolism. Certain diets, such as a low-calorie but high in fiber and whole foods regimen, actually changed the bacterial composition of the gut.

So there’s a clear connection between bacteria and metabolism — scientists just aren’t sure how it works. In the meantime you can certainly benefit from the scientific background. Taking probiotics to help maintain intestinal balance can aid digestion and ease diarrhea, gas and cramping caused by antibiotics that kill “good” bacteria. They might also help prevent colon cancer, certain skin infections and irritable bowel syndrome. Probiotics can be taken as a supplement or by eating yogurt with live active lactic acid bacteria culture.

Fill up on good bacteria to get your gut in good working order. It might help you stay healthy and keep obesity at bay.