In your digestive system are billions of microorganisms. These bacteria, viruses, and fungi are collectively known as the microbiome.
Scientists are increasingly aware of the essential role of the microbiome in influencing physical and mental health. Now, they’ve discovered a specific function of gut health: the microbiome can affect your ability to lose weight.
Bacterial cells in the gastrointestinal tract contain genes – together they outnumber the host’s genes by more than 100 times. In a new study, scientists have found that your likelihood of losing weight when you actively try to do so, whether through diet or exercise, is influenced by genes and enzymes in bacteria living in your gut. .
These results were published on September 14 in the journal mSystems.
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Principal author Christian Diener is a researcher at the Institute of Systems Biology. He says Reverse Microbiomes resistant to weight loss are likely the result of “lifestyle and environmental factors”.
âWesternized diets seem to tend to shift the microbiome in a direction that makes it easier to gain weight,â Diener explains.
The food we eat plays a vital role in overall health. Fiber-friendly foods – like broccoli and apples – and foods high in resistant starch – like potatoes and legumes – are a good place to start.
Science in action – Although it is known that lean and obese people often have differences in their gut flora, this study reveals new insight: There are different sets of genes encoded in gut bacteria that respond differently to weight loss interventions.
The researchers analyzed data collected on participants in a lifestyle intervention program who agreed to share their blood and stool samples. They also filled out food questionnaires.
In this case, the intervention had nothing to do with exercise or food. Instead, participants took part in a commercial behavioral coaching program and received guidance from a nurse and dietitian.
From this group, the study team focused on:
- Forty-eight people who lost more than one percent of their body weight per month over a 6 to 12 month period
- Fifty-seven people who have not lost weight and maintained a stable body mass index (BMI) over a period of six to 12 months
Subsequent analysis revealed three key findings:
- Different genes encoded in gut bacteria were associated with weight loss responses, including stress response genes, genes related to respiration, cell wall synthesis genes, and polysaccharide and protein degradation genes. .
- Genes that help bacteria replicate and grow faster have been found more often in samples from people who have lost more weight.
- People who weren’t losing weight had gut microbiomes that break down starches faster.
How it affects longevity – It is increasingly recognized that good gut health is the key to overall good health. This study extends this understanding to weight loss, finding that the gut microbiota influences weight loss outcomes.
Critically, the gut microbiota isn’t the only factor influencing weight: the study authors point out that there are a number of confounding variables, including age, physical activity, and overall health. .
But it’s a variable we haven’t really understood until now – and it offers a new opportunity to understand why some weight loss efforts work for some and not for others.
Being overweight, however, does not necessarily mean that you are in poor health. It’s a gray area: obesity can put some at risk for health problems like diabetes and stroke, others may be overweight, but still be healthy people. These individuals are classified by scientists as “metabolically healthy obese. “
This study relates more to people who want to lose weight but who have difficulty doing so despite participating in the same interventions. The gut microbiota and associated genes influenced their overall success rate, suggesting to the study authors that there are mechanisms that may explain the variation in some weight loss.
Why is it a hack – This study suggests that in the future probiotics could be used as weight loss tools. But take this with a pinch of salt. Diener describes this potential as a âmaybeâ, adding âwe still have a bit to do. “
For example, some studies suggest that people with Prevotell copri, a common human gut microbe, lose more weight if they follow a high-fiber diet. Diener and his colleagues also observed that bacteria grew faster in study participants who lost more weight.
“However, whether it is a Prevotella copri probiotic would work indeed everyone still needs to be shown, âhe says. “Just eat Prevotella if you have low abundances it is unlikely to work because another kind of bacteria in the gut, Bacteroids, generally compares to Prevotella and will prevent it from colonizing a high Bacteroids gut microbiome.
âThe most effective prebiotic and probiotic interventions of the future will likely need to be tailored to each individual’s gut ecosystem,â Diener adds. Whether or not a probiotic helps depends on the “ecological background” of the person who swallows them.
That’s why a healthy, diverse diet, including a variety of unprocessed plant-based carbohydrates and fiber, is “probably more effective right now,” he says.
While there is no quick fix, a change in diet can alter the makeup of the gut microbiome. On a large scale, the study team explained that most of the genes associated with resistance to weight loss were involved in breaking down complex sugar molecules into simple molecules. For this reason, Diener believes that “fortifying the diet with complex carbohydrates” – like dietary fiber and unprocessed foods – could help turn the microbiome “into a microbiome that sends us fewer simple sugars.”
It also signals the work of Rachel Carmody, an assistant professor at Harvard University, who found that transplanting microbiomes from starch-fed mice to mice that were not starch-fed caused the latter group to gain more weight.
While more research – including a larger sample of studies that track what they eat – is needed, these findings support the idea that our gut microbiomes adapt to our bodies and lifestyle. And because the microbiota extracts nutrients from diets, what you eat becomes a convenient way to maintain health.
The key to healthy weight loss may be less limiting what you put in your stomach and more eating foods that help your gut.
Score Hack – ð¥ ð ð ð ð (5/10 foods high in fiber and resistant starch)