Researchers at the University of Iowa have shown that drug-induced changes to the gut microbiome can cause obesity by reducing the resting metabolic rate – the calories burned while sleeping or resting. The findings, published in the journal eBiomedicine this week (12-15-15), highlight the critical role of gut microbes in energy balance and suggest that unhealthy microbiome shifts can lead to weight gain and obesity by altering resting metabolism.
The link between the gut microbiome and obesity seems clear, but just how changes to gut bacteria can cause weight gain is not.
“Our research leads to the conclusion that it is probably bacteria (in the gut) that are responsible for the calories you burn while you are asleep,” says John Kirby, PhD, professor of microbiology and urology at the UI Carver College of Medicine.
Kirby and his colleagues focused on the effects of risperidone, an antipsychotic drug that causes significant weight gain in patients. Risperidone is used to treat various psychiatric disorders in adults and children, including autism, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia, and prescribing rates for children have increased nearly eight-fold over the last two decades.
In an earlier study, Kirby and Chadi Calarge, a UI pediatric psychiatrist, compared patients taking risperidone long-term to patients who were not on the drug. They found that weight gain was correlated with a significant shift in the composition of the patients’ gut microbiomes.
The results may suggest that manipulating resting metabolic rate, specifically by targeting the gut microbiome, could represent a new approach to treating obesity. Alternatively, preventing unhealthy changes to the microbiome may prove beneficial for patients undergoing risperidone treatment.
Recently a team of researchers from Vanderbilt University presented their findings that friendly bacteria produce a therapeutic compound in the gut which inhibits weight gain, insulin resistance and other adverse effects of a high-fat diet in mice and that it may be possible to manipulate the bacterial residents of the gut – the gut microbiota — to treat obesity and other chronic diseases.1
In recent research, doctors also found that certain probiotics could help women lose weight and keep it off.
- Women consuming probiotics lost twice as much weight over the 24-week period of the study.2
A high intake of yogurt has been found to be associated with a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to research published in open access journal BMC Medicine. This highlights the importance of having yogurt as part of a healthy diet.
Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition that occurs when the body doesn’t produce enough insulin, or the body’s cells develop resistance to insulin. Researchers from Harvard School of Public Health pooled the results of three prospective cohort studies that followed the medical history and lifestyle habits of health professionals. They found that high consumption of yogurt was associated with a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Previous research has suggested calcium, magnesium, or specific fatty acids present in dairy products may lower the risk of type 2 diabetes. It has been shown that probiotic bacteria found in yogurt improves fat profiles and antioxidant status in people with type 2 diabetes and the researchers suggest this could have a risk-lowering effect in developing the condition.
Bad cholesterol and high glucose levels
Earlier we reported research that says Probiotics are an essential tool in the fight against bad cholesterol and high glucose levels. Researchers in China have just released an animal study that found that Lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidobacterium can decrease serum levels of lipid and glucose and improve insulin resistance. 3
- Further in another recent study, probiotics are seen as being a positive and therapeutic lifestyle change dietary option in cardiovascular disease as they seem to reduce cholesterol and inflammatory markers.4
In very recent research a bifidobacteria probiotic formulation resulted in a significant reduction of total cholesterol and low-density cholesterol. 5 This confirms and supports the new research and other research which suggested probiotic bacteria (and phytosterols) have shown themselves to be natural cholesterol lowering agents. 6 Other research supports not only Bifidobacterium but Lactobacillus as well.7
Recently this bulletin from the American Heart Association
“Two daily doses of a probiotic lowered key cholesterol-bearing molecules in the blood as well as “bad” and total cholesterol . . . Probiotics are live microorganisms (naturally occurring bacteria in the gut) thought to have beneficial effects; common sources are yogurt or dietary supplements.” 8
How do Probiotics lower cholesterol?
Everyone has cholesterol in their blood, but if the levels of LDL are too high, the excess can accumulate on the walls of the arteries. This build-up of cholesterol and other substances – called plaque – can narrow the artery like a clogged drain. A high level of oxidized cholesterol or a low level of HDL cholesterol can be particularly troublesome. It can also lead to arteriosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. There are many risks of high cholesterol which range from coronary artery disease to heart attack to stroke.
You need cholesterol
However, we have to keep in mind that cholesterol is a naturally-occurring substance in the body and, at the right level, is necessary as it gives rise to many of the adrenal and sex hormones.
The theory behind probiotics’ ability to lower cholesterol is that the bacteria is able to bind to cholesterol in the small intestine. This binding prevents the cholesterol from being absorbed in the blood stream.
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2. Certain probiotics could help women lose weight. January 28, 2014
3. Yu RQ, Yuan JL, Ma LY, Qin QX, Wu XY. Probiotics improve obesity-associated dyslipidemia and insulin resistance in high-fat diet-fed rats. Zhongguo Dang Dai Er Ke Za Zhi. 2013 Dec;15(12):1123-7.
4. Dirienzo DB. Effect of probiotics on biomarkers of cardiovascular disease: implications for heart-healthy diets. Nutr Rev. 2013 Dec 13. doi: 10.1111/nure.12084. [Epub ahead of print]
5. Bordoni A, Amaretti A, Leonardi A, Boschetti E, Danesi F, Matteuzzi D, Roncaglia L, Raimondi S, Rossi M. Appl Cholesterol-lowering probiotics: in vitro selection and in vivo testing of bifidobacteria. Microbiol Biotechnol. 2013 Sep;97(18):8273-81. doi: 10.1007/s00253-013-5088-2. Epub 2013 Jul 20.
6. Awaisheh SS, Khalifeh MS, Al-Ruwaili MA, Khalil OM, Al-Ameri OH, Al-Groom R. Effect of supplementation of probiotics and phytosterols alone or in combination on serum and hepatic lipid profiles and thyroid hormones of hypercholesterolemic rats. J Dairy Sci. 2013 Jan;96(1):9-15. doi: 10.3168/jds.2012-5442. Epub 2012 Nov 22.
7. Kumar M, Nagpal R, Kumar R, et al. Cholesterol-lowering probiotics as potential biotherapeutics for metabolic diseases. Exp Diabetes Res. 2012;2012:902917. Epub 2012 May 3.