“You are what you eat, from your head to your feet.”
At least, that’s what we were always told. Though caloric intake certainly has plenty to do with our health, scientists have discovered that the microbes living in our intestines might have more to do with our weight—and ultimately our health—than originally realized.
Previous study on the subject of intestinal microbes showed connections between certain microbes and either weight gain or weight loss. The proportion to which these microbes existed in the intestinal tract was once believed to be heavily tied to the person’s diet. New research however has found that certain microbes are heritable. That’s right, your weight could be heavily influenced by your own genes.
This specific study examined 416 sets of twins and searched their intestinal tracts for certain types of bacteria that were believed to be tied to weight loss and a lean body type. Upon examining these individuals, scientists discovered that these microbes were most commonly seen in either both or neither of the twins. This led scientists to believe that there was some sort of hereditary factor that caused these microbes to appear on an ‘all or nothing’ matter in their study.
To further test their hypothesis, scientists implanted bacteria associated with weight gain and a heavy body mass into mice. These mice responded accordingly and quickly grew in size after receiving the injections.
The results could potentially lean to treatment in humans. Instead of injecting “fattening” bacteria, doctors could shift the balance of the different bacteria in the human intestinal tract. Is it possible that introducing the “lean” bacteria could bring about weight loss in people? Only time will tell, but the outlook for such a treatment is certainly bright.