Gut Bacteria and Obesity Connection

Photo by: Bigstockphoto
Photo by: Bigstockphoto

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), obesity has reached epidemic proportions in the world. Since 2008, more than 40 million school children are obese and the numbers continue to grow each year. Obesity is one of the most preventable diseases in the world but unfortunately, at least 2.8 million deaths are linked to being obese or overweight.

Although countless of researches and tests have been conducted to combat obesity, there hasn’t been a clear solution to preventing obesity other than the old fashioned way — through regular exercise and diet.

But a new study centered on our gut’s micro flora could hold promising results in the war against the flabs.

The Link Between Metabolic Rate and Gut Microbiota

The human body is home to millions of harmful and beneficial bacterial cells. They thrive in our organs, including in the gut where more than 35,000 bacterial species live. However, most of these bacteria haven’t been identified by science. Collectively, bacteria living in our gut works like an organ, helping our gut maintain normal functions while keeping harmful organisms out.

A growing number of scientific researches claim that gut bacteria can affect a person’s metabolism and body weight. Some studies suggest that some types of bacteria are able to absorb more calories from the food we eat and this absorption can lead to more stored fat.

In other studies, gut bacteria could be responsible for helping maintain metabolic homeostasis, which may result in weight loss.

Some studies suggest that obesity is not caused solely by eating more food than we could burn, but also inflamed or imbalanced gut microbiota. Some experts recommend taking a diet free of refined grains, sugars, and flours, as well as avoiding food cooked in vegetable oil to promote a healthy mixture of gut microflora.

The bottom line of these studies is that, depending on the state of your gut microbiota, bacteria could be responsible in making you lose or gain weight.

Gut Microbiota Imbalance

So how does one’s gut microbiota become imbalanced? When bad bacteria overrun the gut, there is an increased presence of a molecule called lipopolysaccharide or LPS. LPS is often found on the surface cell of bacteria. LPS can trigger the body’s immune system defenses, causing inflammation.

How do you know if there’s a change in your gut microbiota? Inflammation and insulin resistance could point to an imbalanced gut microbiota. Other less obvious symptoms include increased level of energy used to process indigestible plant fibers.

On a normal gut microbiota, the body—at a certain point—digests plant fibers. And this digestive process produces short chain fatty acids or SCFAs. An inflamed gut microflora will produce an abnormal level of SCFAs. And a high level of SCFAs produced in the gut could trigger an imbalance in the gut microflora.

Obesity + Imbalanced Gut Microbiota

The link between gut microbiota and obesity is based on the concept that gut bacteria is making an individual take in more fat. With every amount of food you eat, the bacteria that feeds on refined carbohydrates thrives in the gut — multiplying by the millions. By taking care of your gut microbiota, you will be able to lose weight easier. There is an implication that the food choices we make each day not only impact our long-term health, they could also affect our gut microflora.

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