Tuesday, January 09, 2007

More on the Fascinating Link Between Bacteria & Metabolism

Last August, you may recall a post I did about a study that flipped my way of thinking about the way our bodies process energy. According to the research, reported by the NY Times, microbes in your gut have a surprising influence on your body's ability to breakdown and absorb fat.

Well, new research from the Washington School of Medicine in St Louis,
reported by the LA Times, explains the relationship between bacteria and metabolism in more detail.

In the Washington School study, researchers tested mice and found that:
  • Certain bacteria breakdown complex sugars into a form that can be easily absorbed by your intestines (a bad thing if you're trying to loose weight).
  • The bacteria also suppresses a hormone that normally tells rodent bodies not to store too many calories as fat.
  • Unfortunately, the same bacteria also suppresses hormones that tell bodies to burn more fat.

"The net effect is that the bacteria not only make more calories available to the body, they encourage the body to store that energy as fat and keep the fat on," reported the Times.
So I'm sure you're wondering, when will a drug be available that gets rid of this bacteria? No time soon. And if it does come around, it probably won't help you loose weight. According to the Times report, "it is unlikely that any manipulation of bacterial levels or composition could produce weight loss, experts said." The good news? "Drugs that block this [bacteria-encouraged] activity might."

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I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.