Have you ever watched a loved one or colleague munch away happily at lunchtime, only to think to yourself, I could never eat that much. It turns out you might be right — and not only does the latest independent research support it, there also appears to be something you can do about it.
More Evidence That Gut Microbiota Affect Obesity
The latest study supporting the assertion that good gut bacteria helps people stay lean and avoid gains in fat comes from Washington University, where a study examined the relationship between a lean human’s gut microbiota, an obese human’s gut microbiota and mice raised in a sterile environment. Although science has long known that high-fiber, low-saturated-fat diets make for healthier lifestyles and leaner waistlines, no one appreciated the link between healthy gut bacteria and weight gain until recently. In the study, otherwise healthy mice who received gut bacteria from the lean infant were able to maintain leanness themselves. On the other hand, mice who received obese infants’ bacteria put on weight — even when both groups of mice ate the same diets in the same quantities.
The Role of Diet
Later, the study’s authors adjusted the diets of the mice to resemble a typical high-saturated-fat, low-fiber American diet. The mice injected with the good bacteria gained weight, just as their obese counterparts did; this led researchers to conclude that high-saturated-fat, low-fiber diets negatively affect weight as well as bacterial mix. When both mice ate a healthy, high-fiber diet, the mice with the injected bad bacteria continued to gain weight while the mice with the good bacteria did not — meaning that bacteria plays more of a role in weight than otherwise assumed.
The Importance of Fiber
Although prebiotic and probiotic supplements have not been proven to positively affect obesity directly, they have been proven to enhance the lower gut’s bacterial mix, which affects a range of important health issues. Prebiotics, unlike probiotics, are natural plant fibers that act like a good bacteria fertilizer and bad bacteria weed killer at the same time. And while the medical research initially relegated the lower gut to a background health player, exciting new studies such as this are making science sit up and take notice. The bottom line? The link between obesity and prebiotics isn’t proven, but the link between obesity and an unhealthy gut bacterial mix is getting stronger every day — and prebiotics have been independently shown to enhance healthy lower gut bacteria in a low-calorie, low-risk way.