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Gut Microbes Help the Body Extract More Calories from Food

Discussion in 'Other Health News and Research' started by Glynis Steele, Sep 13, 2012.

  1. Glynis Steele

    Glynis Steele Senior Member

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    Newcastle upon Tyne UK
    ScienceDaily (Sep. 12, 2012) — You may think you have your food all to yourself, but you're actually sharing it with a vast community of microbes waiting within your digestive tract. A new study from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine reveals some gut microbes increase the absorption of dietary fats, allowing the host organism to extract more calories from the same amount of food.

    "This study is the first to demonstrate that microbes can promote the absorption of dietary fats in the intestine and their subsequent metabolism in the body," said senior study author John Rawls, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Cell and Molecular Physiology at UNC. "The results underscore the complex relationship between microbes, diet and host physiology."

    Previous studies showed gut microbes aid in the breakdown of complex carbohydrates, but their role in dietary fat metabolism remained a mystery, until now. The research was published in the Sept 13, 2012 issue of the journal Cell Host & Microbe.

    The study was carried out in zebrafish, which are optically transparent when young. By feeding the fish fatty acids tagged with fluorescent dye, the researchers were able to directly observe the absorption and transport of fats in the presence or absence of gut microbes.

    The researchers pinpointed one group of bacteria -- Firmicutes -- as instrumental in increasing fat absorption. They also found the abundance of Firmicutes in the gut was influenced by diet: fish fed normally had more Firmicutes bacteria compared to fish that were denied food for several days. Other studies have linked a higher relative abundance of Firmicutes in the gut with obesity in humans.
    "Our findings indicate that the gut microbiota can increase the host's ability to harvest calories from the diet by stimulating fat absorption," said the study's lead researcher, Ivana Semova, PhD, who was a graduate student at UNC at the time the study was conducted. "Another implication is that diet history could impact fat absorption by changing the abundance of certain microbes, such as Firmicutes, that promote fat absorption."

    Although the study involved only fish, not humans, the researchers say it offers insights that could help inform new approaches to treating obesity and other disorders. For example, said Rawls, "If we can understand how specific gut bacteria are able to stimulate absorption of dietary fat, we may be able to use that information to develop new ways to reduce fat absorption in the context of obesity and associated metabolic diseases, and to enhance fat absorption in the context of malnutrition."
    Study co-authors include Lantz Mackey of UNC, Juliana Carten and Steven Farber of the Carnegie Institution for Science, and Jesse Stombaugh and Rob Knight of the University of Colorado at Boulder.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120912125114.htm
     
  2. justy

    justy Donate Advocate Demonstrate

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    Hey Glynis this could be a possible explanation for why i keep gaining weight, despite restricting diet - and others aqround me eat way more but stay trim. My problem appears to be absorbing too many CALORIES from my food but no where near enough NUTRIENTS!

    Thanks for this, Justy
     
  3. Ema

    Ema Senior Member

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    I listened to a very interesting podcast this afternoon on food, diet, and weight loss. I've read and listened to a LOT on weight loss struggling as I am with weight gain through this journey and this contained a lot of new information for me. The title of the podcast is a bit misleading because it touches on fructose but the main topics are our food supply and all the problems therein along with how that affects our health. Fructose is just a small part of the discussion.
    My favorite part is summarized by this paragraph:
    "Dr. Lustig is a neuroendocrinologist, with basic and clinical training relative to hypothalamic development, anatomy, and function. Prior to coming to San Francisco in 2001, he worked at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, TN. There, he was charged with the endocrine care of many children whose hypothalami had been damaged by brain tumors, or subsequent surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy. Many patients who survived became massively obese. Dr. Lustig theorized that hypothalamic damage led to the inability to sense the hormone leptin, which in turn, led to the starvation response. Since repairing the hypothalamus was not an option, he looked downstream, and noted that these patients had increased activity of the vagus nerve (a manifestation of starvation) which increased insulin secretion. By administering the insulin suppressive agent octreotide, he was able to get them to lose weight; but more remarkably, they started to exercise spontaneously. He then demonstrated the same phenomenon in obese adults without CNS lesions."

    http://www.connectwell.biz/robert_lustig.asp

    He also talks about how excessive insulin can make losing weight virtually impossible. He points to a study where people were fed 500 calories a day and they were still unable to lose weight. He thoroughly debunks "calories in equals calories out" and the idea that it is possible to eat and exercise ourselves out of metabolic syndrome (though certainly those things are important for general health and well-being).

    He explains in detail how excessive insulin (or insulin resistance) sets us up for problems from the get go by creating automatic fat storage and creating an energetic deficit because the calories we need to create energy are derailed before they can turn into energy and thus end up as fat. The example given is if one needs 2000 calories a day to feel well and energetic, up to 500 of those can be stored as fat. So then we only have 1500 calories for energy and we have an extra 500 calories of fat simply due to the effects of insulin. So this makes us hungrier and sets up the starvation mechanism. We eat more, can feel driven even to eat more to make up the caloric deficit...so we eat another 500 calories and store more fat due to insulin and STILL do not make it to the 2000 calories we need to feel well and energetic despite eating a quarter more food than needed without the metabolic problem. It's very interesting to me...and all ties back to damage in the hypothalamus and the vagus nerve.

    Here is a link to the podcast:

    http://www.blogtalkradio.com/underg.../14/the-bitter-truth-about-sugar-and-fructose

    I highly encourage anyone interested in food, eating, and weight loss to have a listen. If anything, maybe it will help reinforce the idea that weight gain in terms of endocrine problems is not an issue of willpower or fault.
     
    Valentijn, Merry and Sasha like this.
  4. justy

    justy Donate Advocate Demonstrate

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    Thank you so much Ema - i will listen to this some time soon - what to do about it? your description sounds exactly like me. Did a detox candida diet for 6 weeks recently at the same time as my husband. In the first week he lost 7lbs - overall about 20lbs and looked 10 years younger. I ate the same diet and GAINED 5lbs. This has been going on like this for years but has got much worse since becoming more ill - although i initially lost a lot of weight it has all gone back on, plus some.
    Justy x
     
  5. Alistair

    Alistair

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    Wagga Wagga
    Paleo Diet of Organic heirloom varieties = Highest Nutrient densities.
     
  6. Sasha

    Sasha Fine, thank you

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    Thanks for this - there's an interesting thread on how chronic sinusitis can be due to/linked with a disruption of the microbiome in your sinuses - fascinating radio broadcast on it linked from that thread. All this microbiome stuff is interesting. It seems like all of a sudden, medical researchers are interested in it and finding that the microflora in different parts of the body are linked to disease. Interesting potential for treatments.
     
  7. justy

    justy Donate Advocate Demonstrate

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    Great podcast Ema - nearly listened to it all. Very interesting. I have a terrible addcition to suagars going back many many years - i have managed to kick it a few times, but it always comes back!
     
  8. Ema

    Ema Senior Member

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    I'm so glad that you enjoyed it! I found it to be very interesting as well.

    As far as what to do, the only suggestion seems to be to lower insulin levels by consuming a low sugar/carbohydrate diet. I do like that he doesn't limit fruit and veggies the way that some low carb diets do but instead points out that the fiber they contain will help modulate the insulin response. However, I've been eating this way for years and still am struggling now with extra lbs.

    Dr Holtorf has published some articles on leptin resistance and using some pharmaceutical meds to influence insulin levels. I'm not entirely sure how all this works but am planning to test leptin next week and think about incorporating some of these strategies into my nutritional plan to see if anything helps. It's interesting to me how all my symptoms all seem to come back to an underperforming hypothalamus!

    http://thyroid.about.com/od/loseweightsuccessfully/a/weight-loss-diet.htm
     
    justy likes this.
  9. Wally

    Wally Senior Member

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    @Ema and @justy,
    I know this is an older thread, but I thought you might like to read this 2014 interview (linked below) with the Director of the Cancer Center at Weill Cornell Medical College and New York-Presbyterian Hospital. He provides some additional information/hypothesis about metabolism and sugar. (Note - discussion re fructose/ sucrose/ glucose/artificial sweeteners and metabolism begins on the last paragraph of page 2).

    See, "Cancer, metabolism, fructose, artificial sweeteners, and going cold turkey on sugar" at http://www.biomedcentral.com/content/pdf/1741-7007-12-8.pdf

    Not sure how this would play into the hypothesis about damage to the hypothalamus.

    Also, it would be interesting to contact the researcher/director who gave this interview and see if there is a time frame that he believes that you need to be completely off of sugar to re-set this pathway (?). In reading this interview, it appears that sugar may be able to be added back in after the re-set. However, it is unclear if there is a particular type and/or specific amounts of sugar that can be added back into the diet after the re-set that will not cause a repeat of the prior metabolic problem. I wonder if he might also have thoughts about how his hypothesis would fit into recent studies with ME/CFS patients in relation to leptin.
     
    justy and Ema like this.

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