When you look at an obese person compared with a thin person, there are obvious differences in their physical appearance. Now researchers from Washington University’s School of Medicine are finding that their intestinal bacteria is far different as well.
The research, which was published in the journal Nature, found that microbes in an overweight body are far more efficient at extracting calories from food. Conversely, bacteria strains in thin people helped them assimilate healthier nutrients, delay the absorption of sugars, and eliminate toxins from their body more effectively.
The bacteria present in the intestines of obese people were from a family known as firmicutes. The bacterial strains most often found in thin people are called bacteriodetes. Firmicutes are far more efficient at harvesting calories from complex sugars and depositing them in fat. Equally important, when obese people lose weight, virtually all bacteriodetes counts increased in their intestines, while the firmicute group of bacteria shrank dramatically in number.
This is vital information for the nearly 136 million Americans who are overweight or obese. While more research is needed, studies like these highlight the importance of microbial balance in the gut. Truly, our gut bacteria play a big role in overall health.