Bacteria living in our guts seem to be affecting our waistlines and harnessing them could lead to new ways of shedding the pounds, US research suggests.
The human body is teeming with thousands of species of microbes that affect health. A study showed that transplanting gut bacteria from obese people into mice led to the animals gaining weight, while bacteria from lean people kept them slim. The findings were published in Science. Researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine, Missouri, took gut bacteria from pairs of twins - one obese, one thin. The bacteria were then put into mice which had grown up in completely sterile environments and had no gut bacteria of their own. Mice with the obese twin’s bacteria became heavier and put on more fat than mice given bacteria from a lean twin - and it was not down to the amount of food being eaten. There were differences in the number and types of bacteria species from the lean and obese twin. Overall it seemed those from a lean twin were better at breaking down fibre into short-chain fatty acids. It meant the body was taking up more energy from the gut, but the chemicals were preventing fatty tissue from building up and increased the amount of energy being burned. (via BBC News - Gut bacteria ‘may be obesity weapon’)