Study discovers changes in intestinal bacteria in obese people
Many people have problems with their weight. For this reason, sufferers try to lose weight with all possible diets. Often, however, they cannot maintain their healthy body weight and quickly gain weight again. Researchers have now found that the so-called yo-yo effect after a diet is also related to our intestinal bacteria.
In their current study, scientists from the Weizmann Institute in Israel found that certain intestinal bacteria can be linked to frequent weight gain after dieting. The doctors published the results of their study in the journal "Nature".
Do intestinal bacteria remember our previous weight?
Are you one of those people who keep gaining weight quickly after dieting? If so, this could be related to the bacteria in your gut. "These seem to be a kind of memory of past weight," the experts speculate.
Yo-yo effect is triggered by long-term changes in the intestinal bacteria
The current study was carried out on mice. "The results indicate that the so-called yo-yo effect is not just a fog of recurring unhealthy eating habits," write the scientists. Rather, this effect seems to be related to long-term changes in the intestinal bacteria, which are usually caused by obesity.
Changes in the intestine last extremely long
The changes in the gut microbiome caused by obesity last about five times as long as the actual time of the diet. This caused the mice to regain weight quickly after the “diet” ended, the scientists say. If the results could be transferred to humans, this would lead to more evidence-based methods for weight loss, the experts speculate. The observed effect could explain why some people have such problems controlling their weight after a diet, explains author Eran Elinav from the Weizmann Institute.
Study in mice investigated the effects of changing the diet
The study switched obese mice from a high-fat diet to a balanced diet. Due to the change in diet, these animals were no longer distinguishable from a control group of mice in terms of their weight and a number of metabolic factors (such as blood sugar levels), the doctors say.
Obese mice maintain the differences in their gut bacteria
The researchers found that previously obese mice maintained differences in their gut bacteria, which increased the animals' weight gain by consuming high-fat food. If bacteria from the obese group were inserted into the intestines of the control mice, they also gained weight more quickly.
The observed effect could be a kind of psychological buffer
The observed effect could act as a kind of buffer against the weight loss occurring in times of food shortages, the researchers explain. However, in the case of obesity, this mechanism can lead to faster weight gain.
Changes in intestinal bacteria could last for years in humans
The microbiome in the mice changed only slowly. The bacteria needed a period of six months to re-establish a normal microbiome as in the control group. This period of time is about a quarter of the lifespan of a mouse in captivity, the scientists explain. The doctors predicted that a comparable time span could be between months and years in humans. This can be a really sobering thought for those affected, says author Elinav.
Does a successful change in the microbiome require antibiotics?
If the human microbiome undergoes changes similar to that of mice, the target group could be helped. Once the changes in the microbiome are reversed, it could help to maintain the healthy body weight achieved after a diet, the experts say. However, the consumption of some probiotic yoghurts is not sufficient for this. The composition of the intestinal bacteria is difficult to change. The treatment may require antibiotics to remove the existing bacterial population, the scientists explain.
Intestinal bacteria from those affected seem to convert more energy into fat
The rate of weight gain can be predicted based on the composition of the microbiome of mice, the authors say. The data indicate that a change in metabolism causes the intestinal bacteria to convert the existing bacteria into more energy in fat, the authors explain.
People with long-term obesity regain 80 percent of their weight after a diet
Other research has also suggested that people with long-term obesity who lose weight through diet lose weight in 80 percent of cases within 12 months. (as)