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Study shows that human gut microbes affect weight loss and obesity

Posted: September 6, 2013 |   Comments

( A new research study published in the U.S. journal Science has shown that human gut microbes can help fight obesity.

In the study, researchers recruited four human twin pairs with different obesity levels and transferred gut microbes from their fecal samples into the guts of germ-free mice that had been raised under sterile conditions. They found that, when fed a normal diet, the mice who received microbes from the obese twins gained more fat than mice who received microbes from the lean twins.

When mice who received microbes from an obese twin were housed with mice who received microbes from a lean twin, the obese-microbe mice lost weight, but the lean-microbe mice were unaffected. An analysis of the bacterial communities revealed that certain bacteria can pass from the lean mice and colonize in the obese mice, suggesting that these bacteria are largely responsible for protection from weight gain. However, microbes from the obese mice were unable to colonize the lean mice.

When the researchers changed the mice's diet to be representative of modern Western diets with low fiber and high saturated fats, they found that neither the obese mice nor the lean mice were affected by each other's gut microbes. Meanwhile, a healthy, high-fiber, low-fat human diet showed the same results as a regular diet.

The findings highlight the fact that human metabolism relies on a variety of complex interactions between diet, body mass and gut flora. And that these microbes have much more to do with weight loss than previously thought.

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