Published 12/16/2013. Updated 1/4/2014.
Study of the gut microbiome is uncovering some very interesting connections between what’s in there, body weight, and food intake regulation.
* Researchers summarizing recent studies on the regulation and functions of the gut-brain axis found that it is heavily involved in the processes of satiety, food intake, regulation of glucose and fat metabolism, insulin secretion and sensitivity and bone metabolism. (Romijn, 2008)
* Altered gut microbiota, inflammation and gut barrier disruption are characteristics of both obesity and type-2 diabetes. A higher amount of a beneficial gut bacteria (Akkermansia muciniphila) has been found in thin mice than in overweight mice. These bacteria have been used to reverse obesity and type-2 diabetes in animal studies. The bacteria are thought to change the gut’s lining and the way food gets absorbed. (Gallagher, 2013)
* And an interesting finding from research on mice: When gut bacteria was taken from mice who’d undergone gastric bypass surgery and implanted into obese mice, the obese mice started to grow more healthy bacteria in their guts and lost weight. (Ramlagan, 2013)
We all know that adult and childhood obesity has become a serious health issue in the US and elsewhere. Beginning in the 1950’s, when calorie-dense/nutrient poor foods and beverages started becoming standard fare in this country, the number of people consuming what is aptly known as SAD (the Standard American Diet) has steadily risen – much to the detriment of both our microbiota and our overall health.
Research is finding that, along with all the other health problems caused by obesity, it actually induces changes in the gut microbiota that facilitate the development of some cancers. (Ray, 2013)
Gallagher, J. (2013). ‘Weight loss gut bacterium’ found. BBC News Health. See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-22458428
Ramlagan, N. (2013) Gastric Bypass Surgery Alters Gut Microbes. Science Translational Medicine. See http://www.aaas.org/news/releases/2013/0327_gastric_bypass.shtml
Ray, K. (2013). Gut microbiota: Obesity-induced microbial metabolite promotes HCC, Nature Reviews Gastroenterology and Hepatology, 10: 442. See http://www.nature.com/nrgastro/journal/v10/n8/full/nrgastro.2013.121.html
Romijn, J.A. et al. (2008). Gut-Brain Axis. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care, 11:4, 518-521.
A version of this page content will appear in my forthcoming 2014 Oriental Medicine Journal article THE MICROBIOTA-GUT-BRAIN AXIS: The constant two-way communication between our guts and our brains.
© Copyright 2013-2014 Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.