Intestinal Bacteria May be Causing Your Weight Gain

Patient Expert

If you have had bariatric surgery, then weight gain has obviously been a problem in your life. So much of problem that it most likely had a serious effect on your health. But now that the weight has been lost, you are hopefully engaged in a disciplined and healthy lifestyle that serves only your best interest.

Ah, but those unwanted pounds are a clever bunch and can manifest in hidden ways. So say the researchers at Emory, Cornell University, and the University of Colorado at Boulder who maintain that the bacteria that is in your intestines may be an important factor in weight gain.

Intestinal Bacteria Effects Calorie Absorption

If you are among those who give little thought to intestinal bacteria then you are a part of what is probably a near absolute majority. But there are those out there who are paying attention and rightfully so. Our poor old ignored GI tracts are busy around the clock performing important functions that help maintain proper health regardless of our collective snubbing.

Multiple trillions of organisms, mostly bacteria, live in our GI tract and make up between three to five pounds of our body weight. These little buggers are responsible for the digestion of certain sugars and proteins, absorption of certain minerals, stimulating the immune system by increasing T-cells, metabolizing and recycling hormones, and exerting anti-cancer effects to name but a few things.

What has been discovered is that not all gut bacteria are created equal and that this inequality effects how people absorb calories differently.

It Was the Bacteria That Made Me Fat

The scientific community spends an inordinate amount of time paying attention to what mice are up to at any given moment in time. Researchers at the aforementioned learning institutions became interested when they took notice of a relationship between gut bacteria and weight differences in mice. Some of the mice lacked the protein toll-like receptor 5 and had more intestinal bugs than the other mice. The result was that these bugged-up mice were about 15% heavier than their bug-appropriate peers.

It was also notice that the chubbier mice had higher levels of inflammation which can cause metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome, in turn, can cause weight gain, high cholesterol levels, and high blood pressure.

As it turns out, some gut bacteria are more adept at digesting fats and carbohydrates than are others. Therefore, if two people eat identical foods, the effects will be different. One will absorb more calories and add on pounds while the other will not.

Firmicutes and Fat

Bacteroidates and Firmicutes are microbiota that are found in the gut. Firmicutes have a particular affection for fat and a real talent for extracting carbohydrates from food. When the researchers extracted Firmicutes from our chubby mice and transplanted them into the bacteria-free guts of mice who were raised in a sterile environment, the slim and trim rodents joined the ranks of their chubby cohorts in appearance. The same is true for human beings: obese people have more Firmicutes and fewer Bacteroidates than do slim people.

Fat reducing diets have been shown to increase the amount of Bacteriodates as weight is lost. Probiotic aids are also effective for restoring proper digestive flora.

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