The human body is a complicated machine. Inside the human body there is a billions of different bacteria that serve different roles. Some of those roles are for your benefit and some of them can be damaging. Up until recently, many people have never even heard of probiotics or gut bacteria. Recent research has been streaming in, however, that shows the important implications that we should all be aware of when considering the best weight loss strategies. Bodybuilders in particular should be aware of this research so you can incorporate better foods into your diets.
The post will cover two studies because of the complexity of the topic. The two studies are titled as follows:
- “The obese gut microbiome across the epidemiologic transition”
- “The Fiber Gap and the Disappearing Gut Microbiome: Implications for Human Nutrition”
The obese gut theory
Obesity is a highly sought after research topic because of the sheer amount of obese humans that reside on the planet (around a half a billion estimated). This studies aim was to prove that obesity is something that can be directly linked to a person’s microbiota, or simply their gut bacteria. They set out to prove this theory with rats.
Previous studies showed that the gut microbiota was observed to regulate the host’s ability to harvest energy from food, thus showing its role in host fat storage. This role in fat storage was directly linked to the having higher ratios of Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes bacteria. So to just summarize this part, researchers found that rats with a higher ratio of Firmicutes to Bacteriodetesgot fat. The next step was to see if they could actually transfer this ratio to another rat and make it fat.
Researchers bred a rat that was completely germ free for the experiment. This meant the rat had no bacteria residing within its gut. They took that ratio of Firmicutes to Bacteriodetes from a fat rat’s feces and gave it to the germ free rat in the form of food (gross I know). Do you know what happened? The rat got fat. Further obesity research on humans also shows this link although it’s not nearly as prevalent as the rat study since it was strictly controlled. So what the hell does this mean for me??
The Fiber Gap
That previous study proves one very important thing: regardless of caloric intake, the microbiota of your gut can lead directly to fat gain. The role that Fiber plays in the gut seems to be much larger than anyone had really anticipated. There is convincing evidence from research in animal models that a disruption of this host–microbiome symbiosis leads to an increase in immune-mediated pathologies related to chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs), such as obesity, cardio-vascular disease, colon cancer, allergies, other atopic diseases (including asthma), autism, and autoimmune diseases. So to summarize that last bit, when your gut bacteria is out of balance, it could make you sick. Where is this theory derived from though?
Researchers compared the gut microbiota of humans from different regions and discovered that the depletion of the good bacteria was linked to something very simple: Fiber. While the research shows other factors (like antibiotics) may be to blame, the only factor that has been empirically shown to be important is a diet low in microbiota-accessible carbohydrates (MACs), which are indigestible dietary carbohydrates that become available to the microbes that colonize the intestine. So to summarize that, Fiber is the only factor that has direct evidence of lack of and imbalance of gut microbiota in humans.
While many have heard of probiotics, prebiotics may be a foreign term. To compare the two, a probiotic is actual bacteria you would ingest to promote a health balance in your gut and intestines. A prebiotic is a fiber that can promote the growth of health bacteria. So the big difference here is the prebiotic is like a fertilizer while the probiotic is like sod. Unfortunately, anyone who has sodded a yard knows it’s not always the best and can die off if not really taken care of. Taking a probiotic is no different. The lack of prebiotic fiber in a person diet could be the evidence that directly links this fiber study to the obesity study. It was cited that over 50g should be well tolerated by anyone and that number may be low to the amount that we actually need to maintain a gut balance.
Gut microbiota is extremely important for maintaining and losing weight. The obesity study proves that if our guts are out of balance, our efforts to lose weight could be a waste of time since we are essentially fighting an unknown force. The fiber study shows that there could very well be a link to the amount of fiber we consume in our diet and the size of our stomachs. The key takeaway is to eat more prebiotic foods and always look to promote a healthy gut. I myself take a 25 million strain probiotic every day, which has proved to effectively remove the prior digestive issues doctors were unable to diagnose.
As always the study links: