Poor gut bacterial diversity may be part of the struggle by obese dieters to keep weight off. A new study was presented at the European Congress of Endocrinology. There are ten bacteria living on and in every cell that makes up the body. Therefore, the diversity of bacterial species in our system has a huge impact on our health.
Studies show that the gut microbiome plays an important role in regulating digestion and energy metabolism and the obese people have gut bacteria that are better able to extract energy from food. Surplus energy is converted in the body to fat. When struggling to keep the weight off you have originally lost, manipulating the gut mocrobiome could be the key to helping to hold of obesity and diabetes.
The German researchers from University Hospital Schleswig Holstein in Kiel put eighteen obese adults on a diet of just 800 calories per day for 3 months and tracked how much weight they lost, their sensitivity to insulin and both the activity and diversity of their gut bacterial using stool samples. The same factors were tracked after putting the dieters on a weight maintenance diet for a further 3 months. The results were compared to thirteen obese (control group) and thirteen lean adults who followed their regular diets for the 3 months. They found the obese dieters had a beneficially altered microbiome diversity and metabolism at the end of the 3 month dieting, but it was not sustained during the 3 month weight maintenance phase in spite of losing an average of 20kg overall and having improved insulin sensitivity at the end of the 6 month period.
There was one limitation of the study that the medications patients may have been taking was not accounted for and could have an impact on gut bacterial diversity and metabolism. This is often the recommendation of low calorie diet programs from the anti-obesity campaigns as this study, but their work showed that this is not making enough of a long-term change in the obese people’s gut bacteria. Therefore, this explains why so many of them put weight back on. The question is why the gut microbiome is resistant to maintaining change after dieting. The potential of using prebiotics during weight maintenance or the potential of fecal transplantation from a healthy gut to that of an obese patient, might be explored.