November 23rd, 2014 by Digestive Detective
The recent explosion in research around the microbiome and gut bacteria has opened the doors to a whole host of issues that can result from disruptions in the GI tract. Researchers from the German Institute of Human Nutrition’s Department of Gastrointestinal Microbiology recently identified a specific bacterium that, when present, resulted in significant weight gain among mice fed a high-fat diet compared to mice fed the same diet that did not harbor the bacterial strain.
In separate studies, conducted at Cornell University, researchers have identified a family of microbes called Christensenellaceae that appear to help people stay lean. Researchers analyzed sets of genes in over 400 twins and linked the particular bacteria to lower body mass index and weight in individuals who carried the Christensenellaceae microbes. While it appears that genetics plays a role in the presence and quantity of this particular species of bacteria, the research also brought to light that imbalances in the composition of bacterial communities in the gut drive health outcomes - in this case the propensity towards overweight.
In addition to bacterial composition of the microbiome, inflammation and oxidative stress along the GI tract can also create an internal environment that leads to weight gain. Elevated levels of oxidative stress can influence glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity making weight loss difficult and leading to increase in weight. Such inflammation can be caused by intolerance to particular foods, consumption of processed and inflammatory foods, undigested food particles that enter the small intestine, and medication/antibiotic overuse.
Focusing on increasing your exercise and cutting calories in the presence of a poor functioning, inflamed digestive tract with imbalanced gut bacteria that lacks healthy species in favor of disruptive, pathogenic microbes will not only result in a lack of sustainable weight loss, but in frustration over why your efforts seem to fall flat.
So before you take another step on the treadmill or eat another salad, consider working to improve your digestive health - your midsection will thank you in more ways than one.
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