Is gut bacteria the secret weapon to weight loss?

By Jodi Mohrmann, Managing editor of special projects, jmohrmann@wjxt.com
Published On: Feb 06 2014 06:49:13 AM EST
Updated On: Feb 06 2014 07:40:00 AM EST

More than one third of U.S. adults are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Now, we’re learning what could be a major factor when it comes to how much you weigh.

Weight loss specialist and internist Dr. Sue Decotiis says now there’s proof as to why her patients are successfully shedding pounds.

“Now, we know that this really works,” said Decotiis, who works with NYU Medical Center.

A new study reveals that gut bacteria may help determine whether a person is fat or thin.

“It’s one of the many factors that are involved in obesity,” Decotiis said.

Researchers say they took bacteria from human twins—one overweight and the other thin—and transferred it to mice. Mice with bacteria from a thin human stayed thin and mice with bacteria from an obese human gained weight

“The whole study is fascinating because we’re learning that we can really prove that there is a difference,” Decotiis explained.

Decotiis says she’s already been altering the gut bacteria of her patients to help them lose weight by prescribing medicinal grade probiotics.

“It contains a lot of species that perhaps you don’t have if you’re obese, so that is the purpose of giving it,” said Decotiis.

Toni Castellucci says she’s following Decotiis’ program.

“I really was concerned about achieving optimal health and physical well-being,” said Castellucci.

Castellucci says she went from a size twelve to a four in three months.

“It works for me,” she said.

Castellucci expects to go back in the field for the second time with the Peace Corps at age 72.

“It has reset my, not so much my goals, but my expectation for myself.  I can do it,” she explained.

Castellucci says that recent study is convincing, but the bottom line isn’t just about weight. It’s about feeling healthier.

Decotiis says many things in our environment contribute to gut bacteria, like long-term use of the birth control pill, hormones in food, junk food, and chemicals in the environment.

Additional Information:

Trillions of bacteria that live in the gut—helping digest foods, making amino acids, and making some vitamins—may help determine if a person is thin or fat.  Diet is also a huge factor as to why obesity is linked to gut bacteria. Those who are overweight lack bacteria that fight weight gain. To lose the weight, a high fiber diet is recommended to change the germs in the gut. The gut is where the body processes food and is the determining factor of weight gain and weight loss. (Source: webmd.com/diet/news/20130828/your-gut-bacteria-may-predict-your-obesity-risk).

CAUSES: A bacterium that is found in the gut may prevent food from breaking down, which causes fat to accumulate to the gut region. Gut bacteria may also cause health issues such as rheumatoid arthritis, a disorder that causes swelling, pain, loss of joint function, and stiffness. Probiotics are now being used to treat the weight gain from gut bacteria. A probiotic is a bacterium that maintains a balance of organisms in the intestines. Probiotics promote a healthy digestive system, which can help a person lose weight. (Source: nih.gov/researchmatters/november2013/11252013arthritis.htm  and http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/tc/probiotics-topic-overview)

NEW STUDY:  A novel study involving mice and humans, which is part of a growing fascination with gut bacteria and their role in health and diseases like IBS and Crohn’s disease, shows that gut bacteria could be linked to obesity.  Researchers found pairs of human twins in which one was obese and the other was thin.  They transferred gut bacteria from these twins into mice and watched what happened.  The mice with bacteria from fat twins grew fat; those that got bacteria from thin twins stayed lean.  However, Dr. Jeffrey I. Gordon of Washington University in St. Louis, the senior investigator for the study, says to use caution.  He says that they need to figure out which bacteria are responsible for the effect so that people can be given pure mixtures of bacteria instead of feces.  The part of the study that was the most shocking to other experts was an experiment indicating that, with the right diet, it might be possible to change the bacteria in a fat person’s gut so that they promote leanness rather than obesity. Researchers found that given a chance, bacteria from a lean twin will take over the gut of a mouse that already had bacteria from a fat twin.  The fat mouse then loses weight.  However, the opposite does not happen.  (Source: nytimes.com/2013/09/06/health/gut-bacteria-from-thin-humans-can-slim-mice-down.html?_r=0)

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