Are your gut bacteria making you fat?
Researchers now believe a bacteria transplant could help some people lose weight.
Sat, Mar 19 2011 at 12:14 AM
Don't have time to exercise and can't afford a healthy diet? New research suggests that you might be able to lose a few pounds simply by changing the kinds of bacteria that live in your gut, according to Physorg.com.
This news may sound like an infomercial, but for some people, the solution to their weight problem might be as simple as getting a "bacteria transplant." Or at least, that's the theory that Willem De Vos, microbiology professor at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, has suggested in a recent lecture.
De Vos points to a recent study of obesity in mice, in which gut bacteria from an obese mouse and gut bacteria from a normal mouse were introduced into a sterile population. Sterile mice that were implanted with the obese mouse's bacteria became obese, while the others remained healthy.
These results shouldn't be too surprising, since it's generally understood that bacterial metabolism plays a major role in the digestive process. But because bacterial metabolism is so complex — we actually have more bacteria than body cells — there's still a lot to be learned about how it effects weight gain and weight loss.
The most challenging part of understanding our bacterial metabolism, according to the professor, is analyzing all the data and narrowing it down to a workable model that researchers can improve upon with experiments. In other words, there are so many different kinds of gut bacteria that most of the bacteria have not been mapped genetically, and scientists have a long way to go in understanding how various kinds of bacteria interact with their larger bacterial communities.
But De Vos says a genome revolution is currently underway, saying it may not be long before personal nutrition advice may include a gut bacteria analysis. The research may pave the way to a full bacteria transplant, or as De Vos describes it, a "poop transplant."
Research by De Vos and the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam has already shown that such a bacteria transplant could have a curative effect in those prone to obesity.
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