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Gut Microbiome and Your Weight

Bacteria may play a role in your weight by modulating your appetite

You and your microbes

As human beings, we see ourselves as unique and independent individuals. However, we are not really independent... since we are never alone! Millions of small, microscopic beings live inside our bodies. Microorganisms are an integral part of our everyday life. The fact is that humans are colonized by many microorganisms and the traditional estimate is that there are ten times more microbial cells within the human body than human ones [1]. Another fact is that microbes, in human organism, are organized into communities called microbiota, and are found within a specific environment, e.g. gastrointestinal tract. Similar to the genetic code of an individual, each individual has a unique microbiota and therefore unique microbiome. Even though they sound similar, there is a difference between microbiota and microbiome. Microbiome is the overall collection of the genetic material of all microorganisms that live on or inside our body or collection of the genetic material of the microorganisms in a particular environment (e.g. in your gut) [2].  

Your gut microbiome

Figure 1: Your gut microbiome

How Gut Bacteria Influence Your Weight?

Not all bacteria are bad. Bacteria within our gut have an important role in digesting food, modulating the immune system, providing protection against harmful microbes, producing vitamins (B12, thiamin, Vitamin K) [3].

Humans and their microbiota have a symbiotic and mutualistic relationship. They work together, benefit from each other and depend on each other. Gut bacteria come in contact with the food we eat every day. These bacteria have been shown to help with nutrient absorption and energy regulation [4]. They can also influence the host’s production of certain chemicals that affect your appetite (e.g. leptin, ghrelin). Some studies have reported that specific gut bacteria affect how much of these hormones are produced and whether you feel full or hungry. Therefore, your gut bacteria may play a role in your weight by modulating your appetite [5].

In addition, studies show that gut microbiota dysbiosis is connected to development of non-infectious chronic conditions. Some researchers suggest that bacteria in the gut may influence an individual's susceptibility to weight gain. Scientists studying obesity have found increased levels of specific species of bacteria (Prevotella and Firmicutes) in obese subjects compared to normal-weight individuals. They think that these species harvest complex carbohydrates (from food) more efficiently than other types found in the gut microbiota of normal-weight individuals. These extra nutrients are later stored in the form of fat. Another paper showed that obesity was associated with fewer types of bacteria in the gut (lower diversity of gut microbiome). Therefore, there are some indicators that microbiome dysbiosis may play a role in weight gain. However, much more research has to be performed in order to make a conclusive causality between microbiome and weight regulation [6, 7].

No One Size Fits All

You already read that each individual has a unique microbiota composition influenced heavily by the type of diet we consume. Therefore, personalized food recommendations are key players when it comes to gut microbiota modification and improvement of the overall well-being. If you think it’s time to make a change, just do it! Test your gut microbiome. Choose OlaWell!

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[1] NIH Human Microbiome Project defines normal bacterial makeup of the body.  

[2] Lederberg, J., & McCray, A. T. (2001). Ome SweetOmics--A Genealogical Treasury of Words. The Scientist, 15(7), 8-8.

[3] Thursby, E., & Juge, N. (2017). Introduction to the human gut microbiota. Biochemical Journal, 474(11), 1823-1836.

[4] Krajmalnik‐Brown, R., Ilhan, Z. E., Kang, D. W., & DiBaise, J. K. (2012). Effects of gut microbes on nutrient absorption and energy regulation. Nutrition in Clinical Practice, 27(2), 201-214.

[5] Fetissov, S. O. (2017). Role of the gut microbiota in host appetite control: bacterial growth to animal feeding behaviour. Nature Reviews Endocrinology, 13(1), 11.

[6] Human microbiome. Encyclopedia Britannica

[7] Turnbaugh, P. J., Hamady, M., Yatsunenko, T., Cantarel, B. L., Duncan, A., Ley, R. E., ... & Egholm, M. (2009). A core gut microbiome in obese and lean twins. nature, 457(7228), 480.

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