THE BUZZ ABOUT BACTERIA
The body’s reaction to certain stressors—from environmental pollutants to a fight with your spouse to the antibacterial soap in your bathroom—affects the way we gain weight, and although some stressors seem obvious, we are oblivious to others, says Alan Christianson, MD, ND, author of The Adrenal Reset Diet.
His advice? Go with your gut! Specifically, focus on two types of bacteria: Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes. Most studies have shown that the more Bacteroidetes you have compared with your Firmicutes, the leaner you will be. Additionally, a study published in the journal Nature indicated that weight gain and calorie absorption differed among individuals with varying balances of these two bacteria in their gut microbiome—even when they ate the same foods. Researchers are poised to find out—and help us address it. A team made from members of both UMass Medical School and Worcester Polytechnic Institute is developing a stress-eating smartphone app that will help users better understand why they overeat. The three-year, two-part project will result in “RELAX”: A mobile app will enable patients to track their daily activities from their smartphones, and a web-based tool will allow clinicians to access patient information to help inform treatment.
“Most commercial apps available today focus on tracking diet and exercise, but do not help the user understand why they are eating so much and/or exercising so little,” says lead researcher Sherry Pagoto, PhD. “Our clinical and research experience suggests that stress is a very common trigger for overeating, and it is a barrier to exercise.”
Learn more about the project’s status by searching “RELAX app” at umassmed .edu.