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Obesity - Blame it on your Microbes

New evidence indicates that gut bacteria alter the way we store fat , balance levels of glucose in the blood , and how we respond to hormones that make us feel hungry or full. The wrong mix of microbes can help set the stage for obesity and diabetes from the moment of birth.

Studies have shown that both formula fed babies and infants delivered by cesarean section have a higher risk for obesity and diabetes than those who are breast-fed or delivered vaginally.

Researchers hope to learn how to cultivate this inner ecosystem in ways that could prevent - and possibly treat - obesity . Imagine foods, baby formula or supplements devised to promote virtuous microbes while suppressing the harmful types.

Rapid gene-sequencing techniques have revealed that the biggest and most diverse metropolises of "microbiota" reside in the large intestine and mouth, although impressive communities also flourish in the genital and our skin.

Researchers have begun the transition from census taking to determening the kinds of jobs these minute inhabitants fill in the human body and the effect on our overall health.

Studies comparing intestinal bacteria in obese and lean individuals found that the gut community in lean people was like a rain forest brimming with many species but that the community in obese people was less diverse. Lean individuals tended to have a wider variety of Bacteroidetes, a large tribe of microbes that specialize in breaking down bulky plant starches and fibers into shorter molecules that the body can use as a source of energy.

Another job vacancy associated with obesity might be one normally filled by a stomach bacterium called Helicobacter pylori. It helps to regulate appetite by modulating levels of ghrelin - a hunger stimulating hormone. H. pylori was once abundant in the American digestive tract but is now rare, thanks to more hygienic living conditions and the use of antibiotics.

Diet is an important factor in shaping the gut ecosystem. A diet high in processed foods has been linked to less diverse gut communities in people. Other factors are sedentary lifestyle and genes.

A new appreciation for the impact of gut microbes on body weight has intensified concerns about the profligate use of antibiotics in children.

Proposed treatments for obesity include "fecal transplants" or identifing the precise strains of bacteria associated with leaness, determine their roles and develope treatments accordingly.

Keeping our gut microbes happy could be the elusive secret to weight control.
Likes: ahmo

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Thanks Sue. When I realized I couldn't find a donor for fecal transplant, I searched for appropriate probiotics for fat digestion. Although a different strain from the highest rated, this is the one I found. http://www.swansonvitamins.com/swanson-probiotics-lactobacillus-gasseri-3-billon-cfu-60-veg-drcaps
 

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