You can’t go a day without seeing or hearing an advertisement about Greek Yogurt. Greek Yogurt is a highly nutritious food. Not only is it high in protein and essential vitamins and minerals but it also has live cultures called probiotics to help promote gut health. In knowing some of the benefits of greek yogurt, what would you say if someone told you that depending upon the foods you eat and the make-up of your microflora, bacteria in your intestine, it may explain some of the reasons as to why you may be thin, overweight, or obese?
The human body contains about 100 trillion metabolically active microorganisms in its intestines. There are somewhere between 300-1000 different species of microbes in the gut. However, most estimates show about 500 species with 99% of the microbes solely coming from 30-40 species. All 300-1000 microbes serve a purpose. Microbes functions in the gut by fermenting unused energy substrates, preventing the growth of harmful bacteria, regulating the development of the gut, producing vitamins for the body (Biotin and Vitamin K), and producing hormones to direct fat stores. However, not all species are good for us. It is thought that some species may be capable of causing disease by producing infection or increasing the risk of cancer.
First off, we are all born with a sterile digestive tract. Once we are born, bacteria rapidly moves into our system. We obtain bacteria from the environment, our mother’s milk, and the foods we consume to name a few. Overtime, the intestine contain hundreds of thousands of species which are different from person to person.
In knowing the complexity and differences in microbes that people possess it has been a topic of research in understanding what our microflora actually does. In a new study from Washington University in St. Louis they indicated that different kinds of bacteria can help spur obesity or protect one against it. The methods used were transplanting intact human fecal microbes from twin pairs, where one twin was overweight and one was of normal weight, into the intestines of germfree mice. Purpose of this was to identify the impact of different gut bacteria on body composition and the effect of diet on the microflora.
In this study it showed that that the mice who received gut bacteria from the obese twin gained more weight and experienced unhealthy metabolic changes compared to the mice who received the gut bacteria from the lean twin. While observing the mice, it was noted that the obese mice did not eat more than the mice who received the gut bacteria from the lean twin. Then, the mice that contained the gut bacteria from a lean person were put into the same cages as the mice who became obese. When the mice were together certain bacteria from the lean mice invaded the intestines from the overweight mice, as mice eat each others feces, and their weight and metabolism improved while the lean mice stayed lean. However, the overweight mice only benefited from the lean mice’s gut bacteria when they were fed a low-fat, high-fiber diet and not a typical American diet that is high in fat and low in fiber.
Possible reason for the changes in body weight is because over-weight and obese people contain less diverse gut bacteria than lean individuals. Therefore, it is the hope that through continuous research a healthy combination of microbes can be used to help individuals lose weight and change their microflora. Therefore, keeping your microbes happy by eating clean as the result of doing so will make you happy as well!