Scientists are increasingly peering into the world of the microbiome—i.e., the amalgam of microorganisms such as bacteria that make up the human body—in an effort to understand what role these little snippets of life play in how effective drugs are for different people and even why certain diseases progress the way they do. And a new piece of research suggests that your gut bacteria may even be a buzzsaw for your weight loss diet.
The (admittedly small) study from researchers at the renowned Mayo Clinic involved collecting fecal samples from overweight and obese patients undergoing lifestyle interventions to shed pounds. In science speak, here’s what they found: “A gut microbiota with increased capability for carbohydrate metabolism appears to be associated with decreased weight loss in overweight and obese patients undergoing a lifestyle intervention program.”
In plainer terms, the scientists found a link between the prevalence of certain kinds of bacteria and the chances of success that various patients had in achieving their 5% weight loss goals—Phascolarctobacterium had a positive association while Dialister did not. And the research team hypothesized that there are probably all sorts of other associations between various bacteria and the ability to lose weight.
The field of microbiome research is still in its earliest stages. But a creeping drip of evidence suggests it might be more important to our fundamental biology, and medicine itself, than previously thought.
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