Your Gut Bacteria May Determine How Much Weight You Can Lose
Different gut bacteria may affect differently the way energy is metabolized from foods.
Teodora Zareva is an entrepreneur, writer, board games geek and a curious person at large. Her professional path has taken her from filmmaking and photography to writing, TEDx organizing, teaching, and social entrepreneurship. She has lived and worked in the U.S. and Bulgaria and is currently doing her MBA at Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford. Her biggest passion lies at the intersection of media and youth development. She is the co-founder of WishBOX Foundation, a Bulgarian NGO that helps high school students with their professional orientation by organizing events, courses, summer camps and developing digital media resources.
The bacteria in our gut may play a major role in the treatment of obesity and other metabolic disorders. The human gut microbiome - the microorganisms that inhabit our intestines - are important in preserving our health by affecting our nutrition, immunity and development.
While there are still not enough studies with human subjects in this novel field, those that exist, show promising results. A recently published one in the International Journal of Obesity found that the ratio of two particular groups of bacteria in our gut can predict the fat loss outcomes of subjects who switched their diet to the New Nordic Diet (NND).
The New Nordic Diet was developed three years ago by experts from the five Nordic countries in order to provide guidelines for healthier eating. The NND emphasizes local and seasonal foods, predominantly plant-based, such as roots and vegetables rich in fiber, and whole grains like rye and oats. The recommended meat comes from fish like salmon and herring or wild game like elk, which is low in fat. Due to the region’s climate it also includes a lot of wild foods and herbs like moss, mushrooms, nettles, chives and fennel.
In the study, scientists wanted to compare the effects of the NND with the Average Danish Diet (ADD) on people with “increased waist circumference” who adhered to it for 26 weeks. The NND's macronutrient composition was higher in dietary fibre (43.3 vs. 28.6 g), higher in protein (18.1 vs. 16.4%), lower in fat (30.4 vs. 33.8%) and without differences in available carbohydrates.
62 of the 181 subjects that took part in the study, were randomly selected to provide fecal samples, based on which they were separated in two groups depending on the ratio of Prevotella spp. and Bacteroides spp (P/B ratio) - two specific groups of bacteria that inhabit the human gut.
Interestingly, the effect of the two diets depended on the ratio of these groups of bacteria. Among subjects with high P/B ratio, those on the NND had a 6.94 lbs larger body fat loss compared to those on the ADD. No difference between the fat loss outcomes of the two diets was observed among individuals with low P/B ratio.
Even more intriguing is the fact that during the one year follow-up period, the researchers found that subjects with the high P/B ratio who were recommended to change from the ADD to the NND maintained their weight, whereas subjects with the low P/B ratio with the same recommendation regained 6 lbs.
Lead study investigator Mads Fiil Hjorth, Ph.D., assistant professor in the department of nutrition, exercise, and sports at the University of Copenhagen told GEN:
"The study shows that only about half of the population will lose weight if they eat in accordance with the Danish national dietary recommendations and eat more fruit, vegetables, fibers, and whole grains. The other half of the population doesn't seem to gain any benefit in weight from this change of diet. These people should focus on other diet and physical activity recommendations, until a strategy that works especially well for them is identified.”
At this point the scientists can only speculate about the mechanisms involved in the results of the study. Different gut bacteria may affect differently the way energy is metabolized from foods, the way fibre is utilized, and the way hormones affecting appetite are secreted. Regardless of the mechanisms, however, the P/B ratio in one’s gut could be used as a biomarker to predict weight loss success on a specific diet.
Explore how alcohol affects your brain, from the first sip at the bar to life-long drinking habits.
- Alcohol is the world's most popular drug and has been a part of human culture for at least 9,000 years.
- Alcohol's effects on the brain range from temporarily limiting mental activity to sustained brain damage, depending on levels consumed and frequency of use.
- Understanding how alcohol affects your brain can help you determine what drinking habits are best for you.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx a team of DNA sequencers has figured that out.
- A team at UMass Amherst recently sequenced the genome of the Canadian lynx.
- It's part of a project intending to sequence the genome of every vertebrate in the world.
- Conservationists interested in the Canadian lynx have a new tool to work with.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx, I can now—as of this month—point you directly to the DNA of a Canadian lynx, and say, "That's what makes a lynx a lynx." The genome was sequenced by a team at UMass Amherst, and it's one of 15 animals whose genomes have been sequenced by the Vertebrate Genomes Project, whose stated goal is to sequence the genome of all 66,000 vertebrate species in the world.
Sequencing the genome of a particular species of an animal is important in terms of preserving genetic diversity. Future generations don't necessarily have to worry about our memory of the Canadian Lynx warping the way hearsay warped perception a long time ago.
Artwork: Guillaume le Clerc / Wikimedia Commons
13th-century fantastical depiction of an elephant.
It is easy to see how one can look at 66,000 genomic sequences stored away as being the analogous equivalent of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. It is a potential tool for future conservationists.
But what are the practicalities of sequencing the genome of a lynx beyond engaging with broad bioethical questions? As the animal's habitat shrinks and Earth warms, the Canadian lynx is demonstrating less genetic diversity. Cross-breeding with bobcats in some portions of the lynx's habitat also represents a challenge to the lynx's genetic makeup. The two themselves are also linked: warming climates could drive Canadian lynxes to cross-breed with bobcats.
John Organ, chief of the U.S. Geological Survey's Cooperative Fish and Wildlife units, said to MassLive that the results of the sequencing "can help us look at land conservation strategies to help maintain lynx on the landscape."
What does DNA have to do with land conservation strategies? Consider the fact that the food found in a landscape, the toxins found in a landscape, or the exposure to drugs can have an impact on genetic activity. That potential change can be transmitted down the generative line. If you know exactly how a lynx's DNA is impacted by something, then the environment they occupy can be fine-tuned to meet the needs of the lynx and any other creature that happens to inhabit that particular portion of the earth.
Given that the Trump administration is considering withdrawing protection for the Canadian lynx, a move that caught scientists by surprise, it is worth having as much information on hand as possible for those who have an interest in preserving the health of this creature—all the way down to the building blocks of a lynx's life.
The exploding popularity of the keto diet puts a less used veggie into the spotlight.
- The cauliflower is a vegetable of choice if you're on the keto diet.
- The plant is low in carbs and can replace potatoes, rice and pasta.
- It can be eaten both raw and cooked for different benefits.
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