Gut bacteria could help reverse obesity
Scientists in Belgium have made a discovery that could represent a big step forward in fighting obesity and type 2 diabetes. In the study, from Catholic University in Louvain, researchers isolated a single species of bacteria - Akkermansia muciniphila- that lives in the gut and found that it could change the way food is absorbed.
For this research, obese mice were given a broth containing a strain of the bacteria. The results? While the mice remained bigger than their lean counterparts, they lost half the weight they had gained for the study, without any other change to their high-fat diets.
In a person of normal weight, the _Akkermansia muciniphila_bacteria make up about three to five percent of the bacteria living in the gut. In obese people, however, these levels fall. The scientists found that adding the bacteria increased the thickness of the gut's mucus barrier, which stops some material from being absorbed into the blood. It also changed the chemical signals coming from the digestive system, which led to changes in the way fat was processed around the body.
The researchers conceded that this is just a preliminary test on mice, but believe it opens up a promising area of research in one of the world’s more daunting public health challenges.