Welcome to Phoenix Rising!
Created in 2008, Phoenix Rising is the largest and oldest forum dedicated to furthering the understanding of and finding treatments for complex chronic illnesses such as chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), fibromyalgia (FM), long COVID, postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS), and allied diseases.
To register, simply click the Register button at the top right.
Exposure to cold temperatures is known to mimic the effects of exercise, protecting against obesity and improving metabolic health. A study published December 3 in Cell now reveals that the beneficial health effects of cold exposure are mediated in part by gut microbes. The researchers found that cold exposure dramatically alters the composition of intestinal bacteria in mice and that this microbial shift is sufficient to burn fat, improve glucose metabolism, and reduce body weight.
After three weeks of cold exposure, body weight began to stabilize. The researchers suspected that the intestine was absorbing more nutrients from food, counteracting additional weight loss that would otherwise result from higher overall energy expenditure.
In support of this idea, transplantation experiments showed that gut microbes associated with long-term cold exposure caused the intestine to grow in size and triggered an increase in the surface area of intestinal cells that absorb nutrients. "These findings demonstrate that gut microbes enable mammals to harvest more energy from food as a way to adapt to the increased energy demand associated with long periods of cold exposure, thereby helping to protect against hypothermia," Trajkovski says. "We were surprised to see that gut microbes had such dramatic effects on the structure and function of the intestine."