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.