Over the past few decades, several studies have found intriguing links between obesity and the gut microbiota. For example, in fecal transplant studies, colonizing lean mice with gut bacteria from obese mice resulted in substantial weight gain. One hypothesis also suggested that a key factor that distinguishes obese and lean animals is the ability of the microbiome to harvest energy from food.
We know that gut bacteria play an important role in digestion.Metabolites from various bacteria can help break down food into carbohydrates and lipids, so When we eat, we treat the microbes in our gut to a feast. These microbes affect our metabolism, but we don’t know exactly what role they all play in obesity. not.
To investigate, researchers examined 85 middle-aged and overweight human volunteers.To track stool energy density as a measure of human gut microbial energy extraction as well as microbiome analysis. , fecal samples were studied.
This study also investigated an alternative hypothesis for obesity, intestinal transit time. Rather than gut microbes extracting more energy from food, it has been suggested that slow food transit through the gut may play a role. The idea is that the longer you wait, the longer you have to extract energy from that food.
Interestingly, the researchers found that participants with the shortest intestinal transit times unexpectedly extracted the most energy from food. microbial populations predominated. bacteroides Bacteria do the best job.
Henrik Roager, co-author of the new study, said: “But here we also found that the participant with his type B gut bacteria, which extracted the most energy, moved through the digestive system the fastest.
Combining all this with weight gain, the researchers found that subjects extracting the most energy from their diet weighed about 10% more than those who did not obtain energy from food as efficiently. This equates to a weight difference of approximately 9 kg (20 lbs) between the most efficient energy extractor and the least efficient energy extractor.
“The fact that our gut bacteria are good at extracting energy from food is basically a good thing. Because it provides extra energy in the form of chain fatty acids, we use it as an energy-providing fuel,” Rogers said. “But when we consume more than we do, the extra energy provided by our gut bacteria can increase the risk of obesity over time.
The researchers believe their findings point to a causal link between the amount of energy extracted from food and specific gut bacterial populations, but whether this explains the significant weight gain. Roager says it is certainly plausible that the weight difference between the groups in this study is related to the amount of energy extracted from food. It is something that will be investigated with more certainty in research.
A new study was published in microbiome.
Source: University of Copenhagen
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