100 lb. Club - What?? Bacteria make you fat?!?

View Full Version : What?? Bacteria make you fat?!?

01-19-2011, 03:16 PM
Not sure which forum this is best for, but I just came across the article about the trillions of bacteria that live in our bodies and a potential unexpected effect they have. Although it's not the focus of this article, according to the researchers here bacteria can cause obesity. Crazy. http://pubs.acs.org/cen/science/88/8850sci1.html

It's kind of science-y, so I'll summarize the relevant part briefly:

Apparently, although everyone has a different composition of bacteria species that normally reside in their gut, there are some species that are seen in significantly different proportions in lean vs. obese individuals.

Also, a different group tested out a variant of a normal bacteria species in mice on a group of lean mice. Apparently, it caused them to start eating more and gain weight, becoming obese little mice.

So who knows, maybe we could all make our weight loss efforts easier by altering the bacteria profile in our guts to more closely match those of lean people (I've heard previously of this being done for medical reasons...guess how. ;)) ?? And on the other hand, I wonder if after a long-term dietary change towards healthier eating habits whether the obese vs. lean bacteria profile in a person's digestive system will change? Interesting questions!

01-19-2011, 03:41 PM
I knew it couldn't be the pints of Ben & Jerry's I put away every single week that was making me fat!!! i knew it ;)

01-19-2011, 04:00 PM
lol Trazey. I love your sense of humour.

01-19-2011, 04:11 PM
There are thousands of factors that contribute to obesity. There are viruses that have been implicated in obesity as well as several contributory genes identified. We can only fight the factors we understand, so even the research that seems silly is valuable.

I've also read the gut bacteria research and it didn't inspire me me throw out my food and exercise plan, but I did start taking a probiotic supplement and consciously eat more yogurt.

Do I expect a dramatic obesity "cure" from the probiotic and the yogurt?

Absolutely not. It just meets my four criteria for trying "long shot" weight loss aids: could help, can't hurt, it's cheap, and not disgusting.

I originally only had the first three criteria, and then I had to add "not disgusting" after reading about drinking a glass of cider vinegar once a day (and some say before every meal).

Nola Celeste
01-19-2011, 04:18 PM
Thanks for the link--I've only started on the article, but it's fascinating stuff!

I'd read about research into gut flora elsewhere as a treatment for gastrointestinal infection. The phrase "fecal transplant" was used. I swear, I'm 41, not 11, but the phrase gave me the giggles and reminded me of a kid in my third-grade class who used to do "booger transplants" with another kid.

But getting back to science and away from my bad grammar-school memories, yes, it's fascinating to contemplate just how much effect gut bacteria could have on weight.

01-19-2011, 05:38 PM
I had wondered about the probiotics myself. I used them for a bit after antibiotics from a bad skin infection through my digestive track all out of whack, but I stopped after that cleared up. I didn't follow up the link myself to check to see which specific species of bacteria the group found to be more prevalent in non-overweight individuals. I would be interested to find out whether or not there is a good match-up between the bacteria species that are correlated with their lean subjects and the species put into yogurt etc. Eating yogurt is definitely more on the good for you side, and much less disgusting sounding than a "fecal transplant" :)

Kaplod, did you notice any differences yourself after using probiotics? And yes, drinking cider vinegar sounds terrible!

01-19-2011, 07:25 PM
My dad drinks organic apple cider vinegar for lots of things including gout and also for the flora. His doctor told him the meds he are on were killing all of the good flora and apparently the vinegar helps. He has noticed benifits. He used to dilute it but now he takes it like a shot with a chaser. Bleh. Heneh.

01-19-2011, 07:43 PM
I knew it wasn't my fault! lol

did they consider that the food fat people eat may lead to a different type of bacteria in thier gut? maybe the different bacteria is a symptom and not the cause.

01-19-2011, 10:34 PM
I knew it wasn't my fault! lol

did they consider that the food fat people eat may lead to a different type of bacteria in thier gut? maybe the different bacteria is a symptom and not the cause.

In the research I've read, they did. That was the whole point of the experiments - to find out whether the bacteria types/levels were a cause of the obesity or the result of it. They manipulated the bacteria in the guts of lab rats, and found that by changing the bacteria types and levels they were able to cause weight gain or weight loss in the rats.

I think it's more of a self-perpetuating cycle issue than a simple cause-effect issue though. An unbalanced diet causes the bacterial imbalance, and the bacterial imbalance appears (at least in rats) to increase appetite. It also seems that the obesity can also make it harder for the good bacteria to flourish. So it may not matter which you acquire first the obesity or the bacteria imbalance, they feed each other.

Self-perpetuating cycles are common in obesity (and often they're not a stable cycle, they're a downward spiral)

Insulin resistance is like that too. Obesity can worsen insulin resistance and insulin resistance can worsen obesity.

Activity levels, pain, and obesity also have that relationship. The more obese you are, the more pain/discomfort you have when you are active, the more pain/discomfort you have, the less active you are, the less active you are, the greater your risk for weight gain. The more you gain, the more pain/discomfort you have - it can become an endless downeard spiral if you let it.

For many of these cycles, people can enter at different points. It can be a chicken/egg question, not always easy to see which came first.

With the obesity/activity level issue, my husband and I had very different experiences. For him, the pain/activity level decrease came before the obesity. He was very active and athletic until he started getting symptoms of the degenerative joint disease that he inherited from his mother. He was used to having an athlete's metabolism and appetitie, and when he became less active from the pain, he started gaining weight (but the gaining weight made it even harder to be active and increased his pain).

For me, obesity came first.

Really though, it didn't matter how we got onto the roller coaster, we've ended up on the same ride.

The "solution" is to reverse the cycle (which isn't always easy and in some cases isn't entirely possible).

Losing weight and gradually increasing exercise decreases the pain, which makes it easier to lose more weight and be more active.

Maybe it's Murphy's Law (or the law of gravity), but the upward spiral always seems to be much more difficult and slower than the downward one.