Your Friendly Gut Bacteria

By Dr Harold Gunatillake - Health Writer

Researchers now refer to gut bacteria (microbiota) as the "Heart of the Gut". These bacteria living in our gut can influence every metabolic and psychological function in our body. The findings are recent that our gut controls and reflects all activities of our body like the conductor of an orchestra.

Gut bacteria influences, among others, your weight (obesity), cancer, blood lipids, and cholesterol levels, even the levels of triglycerides and some autoimmune disorders like lupus. Studies reveal that the composition of a person's gut bacteria could explain about 4 percent of the variations seen in people. In other words, the better bug's community found in your gut may mean higher HDL (good) cholesterol.

Obesity reflecting on gut microbiomes
Several studies show that gut microbiomes may reflect on obesity problem. Rob Knight professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Colorado at Boulder fell ill while vacationing in Peru. He suffered from stomach discomfort with loose motions. He took antibiotics for five days and got better but then relapsed and took a second course of antibiotics and finally knocked down the infection.
When he returned from holidays, he started losing weight which he could not do for years with dieting and exercising. He is convinced the antibiotics changed the bug flora in the gut and caused him to lose weight.

This story proves that reduction in good bugs in the gut by antibiotics caused the change of gut flora environment, and it could make you lose weight when every other avenue fails.

Numerous studies are underway checking on the role of gut microbes in obesity, with a focus on how they extract energy from the food you eat and how this affects weight gain or loss.

Studies on mice have shown that the good gut microbes may contribute to weight gain. An experiment on the human twins, thin one and obese one, whose gut bacteria were transferred into lean mice, showed that the mice with bacteria from the fat one grew fat, and the bacteria taken from the lean one remained thin.

Researchers tend to suspect that gut bacteria may behave similarly among humans. This may be done by the good bacteria extracting more calories from food and storing in the fat cells of the human, whilst the bad bugs may allow the food to pass more quickly through the intestines.

Studies also have suggested that an increase in a group of gut bacteria called Firmicutes and decrease in a group of bacteria called Bacteroidetes influence obesity in humans.

If you want to stay slim, you need bacteria that are not efficient in extracting energy and breaking down food. Claire Fraser, a professor of medicine and microbiology and immunology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine states,"If we each eat a bowl of cereal, and our bacteria are better at breaking it down, we'll get 95 calories, and the rest will pass through. We are going to gain weight because our bacteria are more efficient than others'.

With regards to obesity, researchers have found that healthy people with normal weight – the control group – and obese individuals show a very different composition and diversity of bacterial metabolites, and it is suggested that the body mass index is the regulating factor for the difference, regardless of age or any other environment factor.

You may think that your body may belong to you, but the fact is there are trillions of microbiomes occupying your gut, and they share it with you. It is estimated that there are 100 trillion bacteria, or tenfold more of them than your total body cells. Microbiota, in total, can weigh up to 2kg. More than 1,000 different known bacterial species can be found in human gut microbiota, but only 150 to 170 predominate in any given subject.

These bacterial floras extract energy from your food and influence in building your immune system, and also fatten your storing fat cells in your body, among other many known and unknown functions.

Recent studies by Stanley Hazen of the Cleveland Clinic have found that gut bacteria secrete a chemical called TMAO (for trimethylamine N-oxide) after people consuming red meat or eggs. This chemical increases the risk of heart attack and stroke, which may explain why the incidence of heart attacks and stroke are less common among vegans or people on vegetarian diets.

These microbiomes love certain foods such as probiotics, cultured foods, and other fermented treats. Eating low fat unsweetened yogurt daily regularly seems to help boosting your immune system, among providing other benefits.

Professor of paediatrics and chief of global health at the Mass General Hospital for Children in Boston Dr. Patricia Hibberd seems to think that people have misconceptions about the use of probiotics; about their role in promoting health benefits.

She said, part of the problem is the way they are advertised where food makers say the product" improves digestive health". On the other hand, there is no proof that the bacteria in such foods prevent or treat specific illnesses. But, those people who use them regularly swore that they give much benefit to their health.

The author of this article had a fungal infection between the last two toes for over 25 years. This infection subsides with antifungal creams locally, and then recurs again. By consuming low fat unsweetened yogurt (Greek) daily, the fungal infection seems to have disappeared now for a long time.

Heart in the gut
Research has found 34 microorganisms in the human gut that may influence blood lipid control and body weight. It is also found that people having blood lipids in the normal range seem to have a higher level of bacterial diversity in the gut. Though the gut bacteria have influence on HDL cholesterol, they seem to have no control over the bad (LDL) cholesterol. Some researchers believe that the bacterial community in our gut is an "extra organ" because of its influence on our health. Hence the gut flora is referred to as the "Heart of the gut".

Today, the focus of origin for most diseases may be the gut, and finding specifically the problem within the gut bacteria may be the solution for the cure of most chronic disorders in the future.

Copyright © 2000 ~ 2016 Ozlanka®.
Ozlanka is not responsible for the contents of this article or for any external internet sites that may be linked through this website.
The views expressed above are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions or concepts of the webmaster or the owners & operators of Ozlanka.

Ozlanka and Auslanka are registered trademarks