Low Gut Bacteria Linked to Obesity, Inflammation

by Sandy Todd Webster on Oct 21, 2013

Food for Thought

It’s often said that good health begins in the gut, an aphorism that is well supported by two studies published in the August 29 issue of Nature (2013; 500, 541-46). In short, individuals with low bacterial richness in their gut have more obesity and inflammation—and weight loss can improve the richness of their bacterial genes.

Emmanuelle Le Chatelier, from the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique in Jouy en Josas, France, and colleagues examined the microbial composition of the human gut in 123 nonobese and 169 obese Danish individuals. The researchers found that the groups differed with respect to the number of microbial genes in the gut. Twenty-three percent of the population were individuals with low bacterial richness and were characterized by more marked overall adiposity, insulin resistance and dyslipidemia (abnormal amount of fat in the blood), and by a more marked inflammatory phenotype, compared with those whose bacterial richness was high. Within the group with low bacterial richness, obese individuals also gained more weight over time. A few bacterial species were able to differentiate between lean and obese participants.

Aurélie Cotillard, from the Centre de Recherches des Cordeliers in Paris, and colleagues examined the temporal relationship between food intake, gut microbiota, and metabolic and inflammatory phenotypes during a diet-induced weight loss and weight stabilization intervention conducted in 38 obese and 11 overweight individuals. The researchers found that more pronounced dysmetabolism and low-grade inflammation were present in those with reduced microbial-gene richness (40%). Low gene richness and clinical phenotypes improved with dietary intervention, but the intervention was less efficient for inflammation variables in those with lower gene richness.

"This finding, although exploratory in nature and requiring replication, supports a recently reported link between long-term dietary habits and the structure of gut microbiota, and suggests that a permanent change of microbiota may be achieved by appropriate diet," Cotillard and colleagues wrote.

Fitness Journal, Volume 10, Issue 11

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About the Author

Sandy Todd Webster

Sandy Todd Webster IDEA Author/Presenter

Sandy Todd Webster is Editor in Chief of IDEA's publications, including the award-winning IDEA FITNESS JOURNAL and IDEA FOOD & NUTRITION TIPS, the industry's leading resources for fitness, wellness and nutrition professionals worldwide. Sandy joined IDEA in 2001 as executive editor of IDEA PERSONAL TRAINER and IDEA FITNESS MANAGER magazines and was promoted to lead the editorial team in 2003. More than 20 years in magazine publishing, marketing communications and creative services have shaped her straightforward approach to multi-channel communication. Early experience in Los Angeles as a sports writer/reporter, and then enriching years as a managing editor in allied health care publishing have pulled her across a spectrum of stimulating subject matter. Fitness, health and nutrition reside at the perfect center of this content continuum, she feels. A Chicago native, Sandy grew up fully engaged in various competitive sports. Her drive and dedication as an athlete translate to a disciplined work ethic and unwavering approach to challenge in her career. Shortly after graduating journalism school from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, she was recruited to L.A. for her first post in magazine publishing. After two decades of working on magazines--and now in the throes of applying the unbelieveable multi-media content delivery options available in the magazine 2.0 world--she is still "completely in love" with the creative process it takes to deliver meaningful, inspirational content to end users. She is an accomplished home cook and gardner who would love to combine those skills and passions with her health and fitness background to continue educating readers about a well-balanced, healthy lifestyle.