Intestinal bacteria crucial for obesity?

Different types of bacterial strains that live in our intestines can promote or prevent obesity. This depends on the bacterial mixture, the so-called microbiome, as it is scientifically called.

Bacteria under the microscope

The importance of intestinal flora in obesity was rather accidentally discovered: An American woman had microorganisms transplanted from her daughter's intestine to treat an infectious disease. Unlike her mother, who was quite slim, the young woman was healthy but overweight. After the transplant of the intestinal bacteria, the mother's body mass index (BMI) rose strongly to a value of 33, despite a diet and training program monitored by doctors. The doctors suspected that the intestinal bacteria composition of the overweight daughter may have been responsible for the weight gain.

Bacteria's influence on weight is explained by the fact that food consumed is broken down and processed differently depending on the bacteria composition. In plain language, this means that a good food digester becomes fatter than the bad food digester with the same food intake.

Now several scientific studies seem to prove this connection. If the wrong germs gain dominance over our intestines, then the imbalance can lead to much more than just digestive disorders. A bad bacterial mixture can make us not only sick, but also fat.

And so the search for the weight-relevant bacteria began. The scientists finally found the so-called Bacteroidetes phylum. Members of this bacterial species have the ability to intervene in the metabolism of their host and thus influence weight. The question remains, how to get hold of these clever diet helpers? Bacteroidetes phylum does not seem to be difficult to get. One study of mice showed that as soon as the two groups of mice were mixed, the fat rodents also acquired parts of the microbiome of their slender colleagues. However, not under all circumstances. Bacteroidetes phylum seem to be choosy: They seem to be prefer a fiber-rich diet with low-saturated fats, and to avoid an unhealthy diet with mainly readily available carbohydrates. Without a sensible diet, it is not possible here either, because the good intestinal bacteria primarily feed on dietary fibers and only survive and multiply in this way.

And when will a therapy be available? Scientists at in five to ten years there will be such a therapy with which overweight patients can be treated through a targeted composition of the intestinal flora.

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