According to a new study, by researchers from King’s College London, the make-up of human feces may have an influence on the levels of dangerous fat that is found inside the body.
There is a lot of research being conducted in order to know more about the biological secrets that are hidden in a person’s microbiome. This is because of the fact that the human body is home to trillions of bacteria. These microorganisms play a part in an individual experiencing good health as well as illness. There is a lot of research that still needs to be conducted. But researchers are making progress. The bacteria inside our body have been seen to have links to cholesterol levels, asthma, and even acne.
Recent studies have shown that there are some microorganisms, helping with digestion and immune functions, also have a relationship with obesity and being overweight. An interesting study showed that transplanting feces in normal weight mice from obese mice made them experience an increase in weight. The reverse was also true as transplanting feces from normal weight mice to obese ones showed a reduction in the animal’s weight.
Coming to human studies, a more diverse community of bacteria is linked to having weight that is considered as normal. However, a less amount of different microorganisms showed a connection to being obese and overweight. But the results were still a bit uneven.
According to Michelle Beaumont, a research associate at the department of twin research at Kings College, a problem that researchers face has to do with BMI measuring weight but not telling if the said weight is due to fat tissue or lean muscle. That is why for the current study, she and her team of researchers focused on diving further and understanding how body fat is affected by microbiomes, rather than weight. The current study was published in the journal Genome Biology.
More than 1,300 stool samples of twins were analyzed for the new study along with X-ray based measurements of the content of body fat present. The collected measurements helped researchers to distinguish visceral fat from sub-cutaneous fat. Visceral fat is known to increase the risk of metabolic conditions (such as diabetes) and heart disease as it stores itself within organs. Sub-cutaneous fat is present underneath the skin and has been studied to have less metabolic activity.
The researchers found out that having a diverse microbiome reduced the risk of obesity. However, it was also noted that a less diverse microbiome increased the likelihood of having more visceral fat. The results of the study showed that the link present between visceral fat and microbiome is far stronger compared to the link present with any other obesity measure. Due to visceral fat giving rise to a lot of diseases researchers should look into actually measuring amount of fat rather than just relying on BMI, which is a very board measurement.
Though a link between visceral fat and bacteria has been observed, there isn’t much clarity when it comes to whether or not weight can be affected by changing the composition of a person’s microbiome. Other studies have showed that transplanting feces can help to control the rates of C. difficile infection. However, human studies involving the use of gut bacteria (through feces transplant or probiotics) haven’t been conducted yet in order to see the possible change in weight. But the current research is a step in the right direction and could help learn more about all of the factors that play a role in obesity and how it can be better controlled in human beings.