Bust the gut
Scientists are studying microbes in the gut in far greater detail to devise therapies to fight obesity
Band lack of exercise have AD DIET been held culprits for obesity for a long time.Lately,though,an ever increasing amount of evidence has accumulated to reveal that the gut microbiota—a fancy name for bugs that inhabit your gut—may be responsible for a variety of lifestyle diseases, including obesity. An average human gut is home to 1014 microbes which is, astonishingly, 10 times more than the number of cells that make up a human body.The gut microbes live the life of barter. They depend on us for their food,and in turn,end up producing chemicals that aid our digestion, enhance our immunity and sometimes even control our mood.
Thanks to our understanding of gut microbes, the trend of consuming probiotics— food rich in live organisms like yogurt—has increased. Though probiotics have often been associated with good health, their role in controlling obesity is not clearly understood as yet. A 2015 study by China’s Shanghai Jiao Tong University, which was published in EBiomedicine found that modulation of gut microbial population was effective in managing obesity in not just physiologically obese people, but among patients afflicted by Prader-Willi syndrome— an inborn genetic disorder associated with obesity, which leads to excessive eat-
DOWN TO EARTH ing and lack of satiety. In the study, gut microbial population was altered in subjects by feeding them a “diet rich in non-digestible but fermentable carbohydrates”. The diet “promoted growth of beneficial groups of bacteria and reduced toxin-producers, alleviating metabolic deterioration” associated with obesity,regardless of whether it was genetically inherited or lifestyle-related.
However, another study by scientists from Keimyung University, Daegu, South Korea,published in Nutrition Research in 2015 analysed evidence from clinical trials that tested the effectiveness of probiotics as a treatment for weight loss, and found that pro-
TARIQUE AZIZ / CSE