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Gut bacteria may be the trick for weight loss

March 16, 2019 2 min read

Gut bacteria may be the trick for weight loss

For the longest time, I used to think that my overweight friends and family who told me that they were following to a strict diet and exercise regime but could not lose weight were just lying and being lazy…well, they may have been right…

Early studies on the effects of gut bacteria for weight loss, suggest that some people may have specific activities of gut bacteria that do not allow them to lose weight, even when following a strict exercise and diet program.

A preliminary study published in the August issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings suggests that, for some people, specific activities of gut bacteria may be responsible for their inability to lose weight, despite adherence to strict diet and exercise regimens.

Dr. Purna Kashyap, M.B.B.S. a gastroenterologist from the Mayo Clinic and co-senior author of the study said “We know that some people don’t lose weight as effectively as others, despite reducing caloric consumption and increasing physical activity”, and this lead to him and his team asking themselves if there are other factors that prevent people from responding to normal weight-loss strategies.

Dr. Vandana Nehra, M.D, another gastroenterologist from the Mayo Clinic and co-senior author of the study said “Gut bacteria have the capacity to break down complex food particles, which provides us with additional energy. And this is normally good for us. However, for some individuals trying to lose weight, this process may become a hindrance.” So Dr. Kashyap, Dr. Nehra and their team sought to test the possibility that certain gut bacteria may provide people with more energy and therefore be responsible for the inability for some people to lose weight.

The study analysed the gut bacteria of 26 participants who were part of the Mayo Clinic Obesity Treatment Research Program and found that patients who did not lose weight did in fact have different gut bacteria to those who did lose weight in the program.

They found two types of gut bacteria specifically important in weight loss:

  1. Phascolarctobacterium: was associated with weight loss success
  2. Dialister: was associated with failure to lose weight

They were also able to discover that failure to lose weight was associated with the ability to use specific carbohydrates. “This suggested to us that gut bacteria may possibly be an important determinant of weight loss in response to diet and lifestyle changes,” Dr. Kashyap says.

Although Dr. Kashyap does mention that this is an early finding in a relatively small study, and more research is needed, it is a very interesting notion that our gut (our second brain) can have such power over our metabolism. “While we need to replicate these findings in a bigger study, we now have an important direction to pursue in terms of potentially providing more individualized strategies for people who struggle with obesity,” Dr. Kashyap says.

Reference for ‘Gut bacteria for weight loss’:

David A. Muñiz Pedrogo, Michael D. Jensen, Carol T. Van Dyke, Joseph A. Murray, Jeffrey A. Woods, Jun Chen, Purna C. Kashyap, Vandana Nehra. Gut Microbial Carbohydrate Metabolism Hinders Weight Loss in Overweight Adults Undergoing Lifestyle Intervention With a Volumetric Diet. Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 2018; 93 (8): 1104 DOI: 10.1016/j.mayocp.2018.02.019

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