The Guardian has recently published a really interesting research result with regards to gut bacteria. Although the research was carried out on mice, it could be very interesting, if the results can be applied to humans as well. Obviously more research will need to be carried out.
The research was carried out on obese mice where they were switched from a high fat diet to a balanced diet and it was found that their weight, blood sugar and other metabolic factors were the same as mice that had not been on the high fat diet and were a normal weight. However, their gut bacteria was different and those that had been obese put on weight more easily than those that did not. It was suggested that this would be useful in times when food was scarce.
It was found that in the mice, the gut bacteria took a long time to shift back to those the same as in the control group, when they went back on a healthy diet. It took about six months which is about a quarter of a lifespan of a mouse and it was predicted that it humans this could take longer, perhaps years.
It does show that if you stick to a healthy diet for a long time, then you will eliminate the unhealthy gut bacteria eventually and could remain a healthy weight. However, it could take a long time and many people find that they will not stick to a diet for long enough for those changes to be made.
A medical researcher from Imperial College; Simon Cork, comments on the results explaining not only that it may not apply to people but that trying to change gut bacteria by eating probiotic foods will not be enough. He explained that adding in a few good bacteria will not make a big enough difference as there will be so many other competing with it. He explained a long course of anti-biotics would be needed to destroy the bacteria. There was nothing specifically done to look at why gut bacteria has an influence of weight game but it was suggested that it converted more energy into fat.
It is important to be careful what attitude you take from this when you are reading it. You may feel that as you have little chance of sticking to a diet for long enough to eliminate the gut bacteria that might cause you to gain weight quickly after stopping; that there is little chance in bothering at all. But this is not true. Firstly, try to use it as motivation to keep the weight off or stick to the diet for a longer time as the longer you work at it, the more chance you have of eliminating those bad gut bacteria. Also it is better to lose weight and put it on than not lose weight at all. Although in the past we were told that yo-yo dieting was bad, there is little evidence to support this. Every time you lose weight it helps to reduce metabolic factors such as blood sugar and blood pressure. This means that you are doing your body good, even if it is just for a while. You also start to learn more about healthy eating and you may find foods that you really enjoy that are healthy and make some permanent diet swaps for more healthy things.
Dieting can be difficult and getting motivated to start, then sticking to it and keeping the weight off all come with challenges. If we know that there is a big chance that we will not stick to it or if we do, will put weight back on, it can be demotivating. However, if we do not start dieting, we may find that our weight keeps going up and we will be even worse off. This research makes it seem that we are not only fighting our own willpower, temptations etc but also bacteria within our bodies are working against us as well. This is something that should give us more determination, make us realise that we will really need to work hard, fight that enemy bacteria to give ourselves the best chance at being healthy and living a long and disease free life.
Another positive is that research is ongoing. This means that in the future there might be something available to make it easier for you. Possibly a bacteria transplant or maybe eventually pills which will get rid of your bad bacteria and replace it with good. It does not even seem that far away. In the meantime though, it will be necessary to work hard on keeping healthy and not letting weight get too high. It is vital to keep doing this because, we have been promised weight loss pills and cures for a long time and nothing has arrived yet, so this could be the same. Also if an unhealthy diet is followed for too long them there could be irreversible damage done to the body. Even if you can find a way to get slim and remain slim, it may be too late. High blood pressure damages arteries and high blood sugar damages blood vessels and this cannot be repaired by the body and so it is important to avoid this if you can or stop any extra damage taking place.
It can be difficult knowing that not only might your genes be working against you in keeping slim and healthy but you are fighting your gut bacteria as well. But the good news is that you can work against it and if you eat small portions of heathy food then you will be less likely to be overweight and obese. It isn’t easy when everyone has busy lives, convenience foods are not healthy and there is a lot of tasty food available that is not healthy, but it is possible and even by making small changes you can start to fight against it. Just swapping a few foods, then a few meals, then a few days of food, you can start to make your diet much healthier and get slimmer as well.