Are Probiotics Responsible For Your Metabolism?

September 9, 2013

Scale with FeetHere’s an exciting new study. It started with twins, one fat, one thin. Then intestinal bacteria from each twin was given to a group of mice. Mice who got the thin twin’s bacteria stay slim, but mice who got the fat twin’s intestinal bacteria got fat.

Then, a twist: the mice were put together, so they’d come to share the same intestinal bacteria—and they all got thin. Important to note: mice eat a healthy, low fat diet. If you gave the fat mice with bad bacteria a diet similar to a bad American diet, they stayed fat.

Scientists are already talking about how this could lead to potential future treatments for obesity. The (gross) but most natural treatment is fecal transplant, when bacteria are extracted from the fecal matter of a healthy person and given to someone who needs them (this is already done to treat C. difficile infections; someday we’ll know which bacteria are doing what and be able to grow them in labs and it won’t be gross).

But of course they’re also thinking of more marketable treatments: find out what the bacteria are doing, and synthesize it (I really can’t get into the head of anyone who would suggest this—I mean, you have an easy, natural solution—probiotics—with only positive side-effects, and you want to make it more expensive and complicated, and likely throw in some bad side-effects? Why? Profit?)

If you want to lose weight, you don’t have to ask your skinny neighbor to donate some good bacteria to you. You can grow your own! It will just take a little longer.

First, you have to change your diet. Ideally, stay on a healthy diet, but if you just want to do it for a few months while the bacteria take hold, that’s better than nothing. The Mediterranean diet is basically what you need to follow: whole grains, lean proteins, lots of fresh fruits and veggies. (Once you get used to eating fruit, you won’t miss processed sugar).

Then, add lots of “good bacteria”, aka probiotics, to your diet. Yogurt, home pickled foods, or a good supplement like Flora MGR, taken every single day, at least once.

Previous studies have shown other correlations between your weight and your intestinal bacteria. You can replace your bad bacteria over time—for instance, pregnant women are routinely tested for staph, and given antibiotics during delivery if they have it. But, pregnant women who take probiotic daily rarely have it (I live in a pretty healthy area—local rates are about 1 in 3 with staph to 1 in 20 with staph when they report taking probiotics).

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