How Gut Microbes Affect Body Weight?
Our gut is a home to trillions of bacteria. There is a whole world of friendly bacteria residing inside you and they are known as the microbiome. Their total weight is just 200 g so don’t worry, they don’t add too much to your weight!
About 80% of the gut flora makes the immune system. The gut flora also influences the way we look, think and the way our body functions. But it is not limited to that now! A new study has unveiled a new facet of the role played by the gut flora in our body.
Recent study done
A study done at King’s College London and Cornell University (published in the journal Cell) reveals that it is our genetic makeup that influences our body weight by shaping the types of microbes live in our body.
Research was done on pairs of twins. The researchers found a lesser known bacterial family that was more common in individuals with a low body weight. Moreover it has been found that the bacterial family is highly heritable. This particular microbe family protected against weight gain when it was transplanted to mice.
Link between genes and diversity of gut flora
The path breaking results of this study can lead to personalised probiotic therapies to reduce the risk diseases linked to obesity based on one’s genes. Research done previously has linked genetic variation and gut flora to obesity and metabolic diseases. In spite of this, the relation between genetic variation and diversity of gut flora was considered to be negligible. In the recent study conducted, 416 pairs of twins were involved and it was revealed that genes do influence the composition of gut bacteria.
The particular bacterial family found in abundance in those who had a lower body weight is called ‘Christensenellaceae’. The presence was found to be low in obese people. The mice who were treated with this bacterial family had gained less weight than the other mice that were left untreated. This suggests that by increasing this microbe in the body can help in preventing and reducing obesity. Now, you would think that the people with an abundance of this microbe are naturally bestowed upon as they have a low body weight.
The researchers have to say that certain bacteria groups residing in our gut can protect against obesity and the most important thing is that our genes influence their abundance. Thus, the human gut flora is the new area for dietary changes and treatments to help fight obesity.
Till today, variation in the gut flora was attributed to the lifestyle, environment, lifestyle and health. The recent study has changed views by firmly establishing that certain gut bacteria are heritable and their population depends on genes.
This study has shown a new ray of hope to fight diseases linked to obesity.
The British Gut Project
King’s college London, where this study was done is now keen on doing microbiome testing in a wider manner in the UK through a project called British Gut Project. This project will allow almost anyone with an interest in their health and diet to have their gut flora tested genetically using a postal kit and a donation to their website. They want several people to join up so that they can make more path-breaking discoveries about the connection between the gut flora and our health. Seems to be a good initiative!
Further discoveries will be helpful in creating new ways of treating various ailments.
If you want to maintain the health of your gut flora, do read this post- Maintaining The Health Of Your Gut Flora.
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