Gut Bacteria Can Affect Fat Absorption, and Act in Accordance to “Social Structures”

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October 01, 2012 | 332,171 views

Story at-a-glance

  • Research reveals that bacteria may have social structures similar to plants and animals. Certain bacteria have the ability to produce chemical compounds that inhibit the growth and/or kill off other bacteria, while not harming their own kind or closely related microbes that are immune to the “biological warfare agents” produced
  • Researchers are increasingly looking at the cascading ill effects of antibiotic drugs. Fluoroquinolones, a class of fluoridated antibiotics, are particularly dangerous. Serious side effects include potentially blinding retinal detachment, kidney failure, permanent tendon damage, psychotic reactions, and injury to your central nervous system
  • Optimizing your gut flora includes avoiding sugar/fructose and processed foods, antibiotics (including conventionally-raised meats), chlorinated water, antibacterial soaps, agricultural chemicals and pollution. It’s also wise to reseed your gut with probiotics. Ideally, you’ll want to include traditionally fermented foods such as fermented vegetables in your diet, to protect and enhance your beneficial intestinal microflora

By Dr. Mercola

Much new research is now emerging on the importance of bacteria – intestinal bacteria, to be more exact. These are commonly referred to as probiotics, and are the antithesis to antibiotics, both of which I'll discuss below.

These microscopic critters are also known as your microbiome.

Around 100 trillion of these beneficial bacterial cells populate your body, particularly your intestines and other parts of your digestive system. In fact, 90 percent of the genetic material in your body is not yours, but rather that of bacteria, fungi, viruses and other microorganisms that compose your microflora.

We're now discovering that the composition of this microflora has a profound impact on your health. For example, we now know that your intestinal bacteria influence your:

  • Genetic expression
  • Immune system
  • Brain development, mental health, and memory
  • Weight, and
  • Risk of numerous chronic and acute diseases, from diabetes to cancer

Certain Gut Microbes Affect Absorption of Dietary Fats

Most recently, a research team that includes Carnegie's Steve Farber and Juliana Carten has revealed that certain gut microbes increase the absorption of dietary fats.1 According to the authors:

"Diet-induced alterations in microbiota composition might influence fat absorption, providing mechanistic insight into how microbiota-diet interactions regulate host energy balance."

Medical News Today2 recently reported on the findings, stating:

"Previous studies showed gut microbes aid in the breakdown of complex carbohydrates, but their role in dietary fat metabolism remained a mystery, until now... 'This study is the first to demonstrate that microbes can promote the absorption of dietary fats in the intestine and their subsequent metabolism in the body,' said senior study author John Rawls of the University of North Carolina. 'The results underscore the complex relationship between microbes, diet and host physiology.'"

The bacteria identified as instrumental in increasing fat absorption are called Firmicutes, which, incidentally, have previously been linked to obesity, as they're found in greater numbers in the guts of obese subjects. The researchers also found that the abundance of Firmicutes was influenced by diet. This adds weight to previous research postulating that gut bacteria can increase your body's ability to absorb fat, and therefore extract more calories from your food compared to others who have a different composition of bacteria in their intestines – even when consuming the same amount of food.

New Research Suggests Bacteria are Social Microorganisms

Three years ago, I posted a TED video featuring Bonnie Bassler, in which she discusses how bacteria "talk" to each other using a chemical language that lets them coordinate defense and mount attacks.

[+]Sources and References [-]Sources and References

  • 1 Cell Host & Microbe 2012 Sep 13;12(3):277-88
  • 2 Medical News Today September 14, 2012
  • 3 Science 2012 Sep 7;337(6099):1228-31.
  • 4 Medical News Today September 11, 2012
  • 5 Drug Injury Lawyers blog September 13, 2012
  • 6 New York Times September 10, 2012
  • 7 PBS NewsHour June 16, 2011