Some Gut Microbes Are More Efficient At Gathering Energy Than Others

Some Gut Microbes Are More Efficient At Gathering Energy Than Others
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According to recent findings from the University of Copenhagen, certain Danes have a different mix of gut microorganisms than their fellow Danes, which allows them to absorb more energy from meals. This study is an important first step in unraveling the mystery of why some individuals gain weight even when they consume the same number of calories as others.

In a cruel twist of fate, some of us gain weight merely by gazing at a platter of Christmas cookies, while others may eat as much as they want and not gain an ounce. Our unique microbial make-up in the digestive tract may be a contributing factor. This is in accordance with recent findings from the University of Copenhagen’s Institute of Food, Nutrition, and Physical Activity.

Using the amount of energy left over after digestion, researchers analyzed the excrement of 85 Danes to calculate the efficiency with which their gut microorganisms absorb fuel from meals. Simultaneously, scientists charted the microbial make-up of each person’s digestive tract.About 40% of the participants are members of a group that, on average, obtains more energy from meals than the other 60%. The study participants who relied on food for the most of their energy were also the ones that weighed the most.

The findings suggest that unhealthy eating and lack of exercise may not be the only causes of obesity. The make-up of a person’s gut microorganisms might potentially have a role. The bacteria in each person’s digestive tract were used to classify them into one of three categories. Forty percent of people had the so-called B-type composition (dominated by Bacteroides bacteria), which is better at absorbing nutrients from meals.

Based on their findings, the researchers wonder whether some people are at a disadvantage because their gut microbes are excessively efficient at absorbing energy. A higher proportion of the food’s calories may be absorbed by the human host as a consequence of this efficiency.

The digestive process takes anywhere from 12 to 36 hours, with food making many stops along the road before all of its nutrients are absorbed.

Because all of the participants had comparable eating habits, the researchers also analyzed how long it took them to complete this trip. In this case, the investigators speculated that those with longer digestive journey durations would get the most nutritional value from their diet. In contrast, the study’s findings were the reverse.

Studies in mice have now been confirmed by a fresh investigation in people. Studies have shown that germ-free mice fed the same food but given the gut bacteria of fat donors acquire much more weight than germ-free mice fed the gut germs of lean donors.

It was nonetheless hypothesized by the researchers that the disparities in weight growth may be due to the fact that the gut flora of fat persons were better at releasing energy from meals. The recent research out of the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Sports confirms this notion.

Eighty-five overweight Danes were surveyed about the amount of calories in their feces samples. Individuals ranging in age from 22 to 66 (both sexes) took part in the study. Forty percent of the individuals belonged to a group that had shorter digestive transit times and less bacterial diversity in their guts. It was also observed that there was less leftover energy in the stool of this group compared to the other two groups, and that this difference could not be accounted for by changes in typical diet. It was also noted by the researchers that the group whose members had the least amount of energy in their feces also weighed the most.

What should you know about gut bacteria?

Gut bacteria are influenced by a person’s genetics, as well as their environment, lifestyle, and food. There are an astounding 100 billion bacteria per gram of faeces, making up the gut microbiota, which is like a whole galaxy in our digestive tracts. The function of gut bacteria in the colon is to digest dietary fiber and other food components that cannot be metabolized by the body’s digestive enzymes. The three most common types of bacteria found in humans—Bacteroides, Ruminococcaceae, and Pseudomonas—allow for a categorization of the human population into subgroups (Prevotella).


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Anna Daniels

Anna is an avid blogger with an educational background in medicine and mental health. She is a generalist with many other interests including nutrition, women's health, astronomy and photography. In her free time from work and writing, Anna enjoys nature walks, reading, and listening to jazz and classical music.

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