Your gut bacteria may hold the answer to a lot of your health maladies, including why you're struggling with losing weight.
In a large study conducted by Dutch researchers, the gut flora does have a significant effect to your cholesterol and body mass index (BMI), two of the powerful indications and factors that affect obesity. Moreover, the same microbiome may tell your risk of heart disease, which is associated with obesity.
A team from the University Medical Center Groningen analyzed the gut microbes of more than 850 people using a sophisticated sequencing model and technology. From this process, they were able to identify at least 34 types of bacteria that can affect obesity. Many of these bacteria have just been discovered during the sequencing.
The diverse bacteria, all together, can impact health at least 6% in BMI and 4% in high-density lipoprotein (HDL), also termed as the good cholesterol. It also affects 4% of the triglycerides, a kind of fat that is also linked to risk of cardiovascular disease. The results remain the same even if other associated factors like gender or age are considered. Interestingly, the bacteria do not affect low-density lipoprotein (LDL), which is also known as the bad cholesterol.
The researchers then suggested increasing the diversity of the gut flora in order to effectively control the weight-related factors, such as BMI and cholesterol levels. These include eating the right kind of diet that's rich in fiber and nutrients, as well as low in meat. It's also important to add food that's either prebiotic or probiotic. Prebiotics act as food for the bacteria while probiotics encourage their increase.
However, like obesity, the gut's microbiome is complex, as diet alone isn't the only thing that affects it. It can also react to the external environment as bacteria can differ from one place to another. The bacteria can also change due to medications, such as antibiotics.
The study is now available in Circulation Research, the journal of the American Heart Association.