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Erin Palinski, RD, CDE, LDN Probiotic Benefits
We know that probiotics can have many health benefits, including boosting immune system and improving gastrointestinal health. But did you know that bacteria may also be able to help you shed pounds! This new research certainly seems promising!
Mar. 27, 2013 — Scientists at Harvard may have new hope for anyone who’s tried to fight the battle of the bulge.
New research, conducted in collaboration with researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital, has found that the gut microbes of mice undergo drastic changes following gastric bypass surgery. Transfer of these microbes into sterile mice resulted in rapid weight loss. The study is described in a March 27 paper in Science Translational Medicine.
“Simply by colonizing mice with the altered microbial community, the mice were able to maintain a lower body fat, and lose weight — about 20% as much as they would if they underwent surgery,” said Peter Turnbaugh, a Bauer Fellow at Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) Center for Systems Biology, and one of two senior authors of the paper.
But as striking as those results were, they weren’t as dramatic as they might have been.
“In some ways we were biasing the results against weight loss,” Turnbaugh said, explaining that the mice used in the study hadn’t been given a high-fat, high-sugar diet to increase their weight beforehand. “The question is whether we might have seen a stronger effect if they were on a different diet.”
“Our study suggests that the specific effects of gastric bypass on the microbiota contribute to its ability to cause weight loss and that finding ways to manipulate microbial populations to mimic those effects could become a valuable new tool to address obesity,” said Lee Kaplan, director of the Obesity, Metabolism and Nutrition Institute at MGH and the other senior author of the paper.
“We need to learn a good deal more about the mechanisms by which a microbial population changed by gastric bypass exert its effects, and then we need to learn if we can produce these effects — either the microbial changes or the associated metabolic changes — without surgery,” Kaplan, an associate professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, added. “The ability to achieve even some of these effects without surgery would give us an entirely new way to treat the critical problem of obesity, one that could help patients unable or unwilling to have surgery.”
While the results were exciting, Turnbaugh warned that it may be years before they could be replicated in humans, and that such microbial changes shouldn’t be viewed as a way to lose those stubborn last 10 pounds without going to the gym. Rather, the technique may one day offer hope to dangerously obese people who want to lose weight without going through the trauma of surgery.
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- A. P. Liou, M. Paziuk, J.-M. Luevano, S. Machineni, P. J. Turnbaugh, L. M. Kaplan. Conserved Shifts in the Gut Microbiota Due to Gastric Bypass Reduce Host Weight and Adiposity. Science Translational Medicine, 2013; 5 (178): 178ra41 DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3005687
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