You see serious dieters complain about not reaching their goal. Your gut bacteria has to be blamed.

New study says the mix of microbes in our guts can either help or hinder your weight loss efforts.

Purna Kashyap, a gastroenterologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn, explains “We started with the premise that people have different microbial makeups, and this could influence how well they do with dieting,”

Kashyap and his collaborators studied the progress of people who joined a lifestyle-intervention program for weight loss. The participants were advised to follow a low-calorie diet about three months and studied the results.

Kashyap explains “We found that people who lost at least 5 percent of their body weight had a different gut bacteria as compared to those who did not lose 5 percent of their body weight,” Their findings are published in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

The weight loss was successful in who had an increase of a bacteria called Phascolarctobacterium. There is another bacteria, Dialister, was associated with a failure to lose the weight.

Kashyap says that there can be other types of bacteria that might influence dieting.

We can get a good number of calories from our microbes, which Phascolarctobacterium does for us.

Consider this: What happens when you eat an apple. You digest most of it.

“But there’s a certain part of the apple we can’t absorb,” explains Martin Blaser, a professor in the Department of Microbiology at NYU Langone Medical Center. “We don’t have the right enzymes to digest every bit of [the apple], but our bacteria can.”

If: The bacteria eat what we can’t.

In the process, they produce byproducts that we can digest. So these byproducts become another source of calories for us.

The new study suggests that certain bacteria — or mix of bacteria — may be more efficient at creating “extra” calories for us to digest.

“Somewhere between 5 to 15 percent of all our calories come from that kind of digestion, where the microbes are providing energy for us, that we couldn’t [otherwise] get,” Blaser explains.

“If times were bad, if we were starving, we’d really welcome it,” Blaser adds.

“If two studies show the same thing, then we’re on more solid ground,” Blaser says. He was not involved in the research, but agreed to review the findings for NPR. For now, he says these findings are intriguing, but preliminary.

“What we would hope to do is to be able to individualize care for people,” Kashyap says. “And we’d also try to develop new probiotics, which we could use to change the microbial makeup.”

Present probiotics on the market are not effective. The proceeding is to develop a new product that aids to successful dieting. But it’s not so simple to manipulate the mix of microbes in our guts.

“Some bacteria are difficult to work with,” so it could be challenging, says Blaser.

Probiotics of new kind based the research might help dieters but, “it’s at least some years off,” Blaser says.


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