How envious have you been of that person that can eat anything and not gain weight? Do you look at a donut and gain five pounds? If this sounds familiar to you then this article is for you.
There are major discoveries as of late in gastroenterology that may explain this phenomena. The science has revealed that having more bacteria in the gut relates to an individual being lean while a lack of diversity in the microbiome results in obesity (1, 2, 3, 4).
Microbiome, Obesity and Genetics
It turns out that our microbiome is dirctly effected by our parents. When we are born we inherit our gut flora from our mother (2). This wild process stems from the moment of birth.
If your parents have poor gut bacterial composition you now receive that as a child. Then, there’s a reason why your parents have bad gut flora. That most likely lies within their diet. So, as a child you start out poorly and your parents feed you the food they eat. This situation compounds upon itself.
If your parents weren’t making a concerted effort to restore and populate their microbiome then you weren’t either. If gut bacteria truly influenced weight gain wouldn’t this explain a lot? What if obesity wasn’t based solely in genetics. Let’s talk about it.
Diversity Of Your Gut Flora and Obesity
Our culture is not one to focus on fermented foods and probiotics. Yet, it seems like something comes out every week from the research community on the importance of the Microbiome.
This disconnect between the research and our day to day lives is causing much more than information loss. We are feeling and seeing the effects on our health.
The microbiome has been discovered to be one of the most under-appreciated organs in the body. It’s impact on our overall health and its power to transform our health if cared for seems ignored.
Yet, studies like this one from the UK are causing people to turn their heads. In this study over 1500 twins were analyzed over a 9 year period. The goal was to measure longitudinal weight gain (gaining weight over many years) and bacterial composition of the gut.
These woman were surveyed on diet and lifestyle. What they found was remarkable. Only 41% of weight gain over time was found to be heritable. Meaning only 41% of weight gain was based on genetics. What was the major influencing factor?
Their gut flora composition was the main contributor. What they concluded was that regardless of caloric intake or other factors the gut floras diversity is what directly effected long term weight gain!
This finding may seem completely insane but it explains why your friend can shovel 15 tacos in their mouth and weigh 120 pounds. All of this while you’re struggling to shave off that 5 pounds from last nights watercress salad.
If this topic intrigues you like it does myself please see Part II. There’s more research out there and more to this story!