Bust the gut

Sci­en­tists are study­ing mi­crobes in the gut in far greater de­tail to de­vise ther­a­pies to fight obe­sity

Down to Earth - - HEALTH - MANUPRIYA

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-


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