Do gut bacteria inhibit weight loss?

Content Source ~ Harvard Health Publishing-Harvard Medical School

Q. I just can’t lose weight. A friend says that my problem might be due to the types of bacteria that live in my gut. That sounds crazy to me, but is it true, and can I do something about it?

A. Ten years ago, I also would have thought your friend was crazy. Today, I’d say she could well be right. Here’s why. We’ve known for a century that bacteria live in our intestines, but we’ve assumed that they did little to affect our health. We thought that they were just mooching off of us — taking advantage of the warmth and nutrients in our gut.

In the past decade, however, remarkable breakthroughs have allowed scientists to count and characterize the genes in our gut bacteria. The results have been astonishing. Our gut bacteria have 250 to 800 times more genes than we have human genes. Even more remarkable, these bacterial genes make substances that get into the human bloodstream, affecting our body chemistry. That means it is entirely plausible that the bacteria in our gut could be affecting our health.

How could they affect our weight? When we eat food, our gut breaks it down into small pieces. Only the smallest pieces get absorbed into our blood. The rest is eliminated as waste material. In other words, not all of the calories in the food we eat get into our body and increase our weight. The gut bacteria help break down food. Some bacteria are better able to chop food into those smallest pieces that get digested, add calories to our body and thereby tend to increase our weight. Theoretically, if our guts have more of those kinds of bacteria, it should be harder to lose weight.

But is there evidence that it really is true? Several studies in animals, and some in humans, say that it is. For example, scientists transferred bacteria from the guts of two strains of mice — one that naturally becomes obese and one that naturally stays lean — into a third lean strain raised from birth to have no gut bacteria. Gut bacteria transferred from the naturally obese mice made the germ-free mice become fat, but gut bacteria transferred from the naturally lean mice kept them lean.

Then scientists took bacteria from the guts of human identical twins, one of whom was obese and one of whom was lean, and transferred those bacteria into the guts of lean, germ-free mice. Bacteria from the obese twin made the mice become fat, but bacteria from the lean twin did not.

We are just beginning to understand the role of gut bacteria in obesity, and the science hasn’t led yet to treatments that will make it easier to lose weight. However, I believe that day is coming.

— by Anthony L. Komaroff, M.D.
Editor in Chief, Harvard Health Letter

42+5 Unbelievable Facts About Weight Loss

Why 42+5 you ask? Because 42 is the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything from the supercomputer, Deep Thought, specially built for this purpose. Seems like a good place to start…8-)

~Content Source~

  • During the 19th century, a diet called “Fletcherism” became popular. Introduced by American Horace Fletcher “the Great Masticator” the diet promoted chewing a mouthful of food at least 32 times or until it was turned into liquid. He argued his method of eating could help people avoid disease and lose weight.
  • Elvis Presley was famously a fan of the “Sleeping Beauty Diet,” or a diet where a person was sedated for days at time. The reasoning behind the diet was a sleeping person wouldn’t eat.
  • Losing weight alters brain activity. For example, after following a weight loss program for 6 months, women scored better on memory tests. Research has also linked obesity are poor memory, especially in overweight pear-shaped women.
  • A fat cell lives for about 7 years. When a fat cell dies, a new one grows to replace it. The body keeps track of how many fat cells it has as well as the amount of fat in each cell. It fat cells are removed by liposuction, for example, the body compensates by growing new fat cells in other areas of the body.
  • Obesity has been linked to several types of cancer. Specifically, being overweight causes inflammation that causes cell changes in the body. However, just by losing 5% of your body weight can significantly lower dangerous levels of inflammation.
  • According to a University of Minnesota study, people is disorganized work spaces are more likely to choose unhealthy snacks.
  • After undergoing bariatric surgery, approximately 87% of patients said their taste buds had changed. Almost half of them said food didn’t taste as good, so they didn’t eat as much. Additionally, people had less of a preference for salty foods.
  • Losing weight can reduce arthritis symptoms.
  • A recent study found that eating dark chocolate in moderate amounts is associated with lower levels of abdominal fat. Scientists speculate that the antioxidants may help fight inflammation and improve metabolic functioning.
  • Scientists believe there are as many as 100 different types of “fat genes,” or genes that increase the likelihood of someone developing type 2 diabetes and becoming obese. However, scientists note that obesity-promoting genes can be offset by regular exercise and a healthy diet.
  • In the first half of the 20th century, cigarette makers regularly touted their products as a weight loss aid. One 1929 advertisement proclaimed, “Light a Lucky and you’ll never miss a sweet that makes you fat.
  • Studies of twins reveal that fat cells in a heavier twin underwent metabolic changes that made it harder for them to burn fat. Even gaining as little as 11 pounds slows a person’s metabolism—which, it turn, leads to even more weight gain.
  • The “Byron Diet” is named after Victorian poet Lord Byron who would eat bizarre foods such as potatoes drenched in vinegar in an effort to look fashionably thin and pale.
  • Stress can make it difficult to lose weight. Stress can trigger cravings for carb-rich snack foods which tend to calm stress hormones. Stress hormones can also increase fat storage. In addition to physical exercise, relaxation techniques can help control weight.
  • Sleep deprivation can make it harder to lose weight. Inadequate sleep upsets a person’s hormone balance, which decreases leptin (a hormone that makes a person feel full) and increases ghrelin (which triggers hunger). Scientists argue that getting enough sleep is the cheapest and easiest obesity medicine.
  • Studies found those who suffered from severe ear infections had a more difficult time losing weight. Scientists believe that such infections may damage a taste nerve that runs through the middle ear. The damaged nerve means that a person would have a higher threshold for sensing sweetness and fattiness.
  • Amid the many hundreds of diet books are really only four basic rules for weight loss: 1) eat carbs in the form of whole grains or fiber, 2) avoid trans and saturated fats, 3) eat lean protein, and 4) eat lots of fruits and vegetables.
  • While weight loss pills may help a person lose weight temporarily, they can cause other negative side effects, such as severe mood swings and depression.
  • Researchers note that having sex within a committed, healthy relationship can aid in weight loss, though it shouldn’t replace one’s daily workout. On average, sex burns 150–250 calories per half hour and helps decrease stress.
  • According to one study, using red plates helps people eat less. Researchers believe that the color red is associated with stopping and caution, which subconsciously encourages people to be more aware of what they are eating and how often.
  • According to the journal Obesity, paying for meals with cash increases the likelihood someone will buy more healthful food.
  • A recent study found that those who took more breaks from sitting throughout the day had slimmer waists, lower BMI, and healthier blood fat and blood sugar levels than those who sat the most. In short, the longer a person sits, the more likely they are to die an early death.
  • People who are leaner move an average of 150 minutes more per day than overweight people. Simply getting off of a chair and moving helps turn on fat burning enzymes and increase blood flow.
  • Energy levels typically skyrocket after losing unwanted weight because carrying less weight means using less energy to simply get through day. Additionally, weight loss improves oxygen efficiency, which leads to less huffing and puffing.
  • Sitting at desk burns 83 calories per hour. Standing at desk burns 115 calories per hour. Riding an elevator burns 128 calories an hour. Taking the stairs burns 509.
  • Watching TV burns 64 calories an hour. Making out burns 96.
  • Night owls may be more likely to pack on the pounds than early birds. Studies find that people who go to bed late eat more food, have worse diets, and are more likely to have a higher body mass index BMI than those who go to bed earlier.
  • Studies show that those who travel most for work have a harder time losing weight and tend to have a greater risk of obesity.
  • Muscle uses more calories to maintain itself than any other body tissue. For every pound of muscle someone puts on, they automatically burn an extra 22 to 36 more calories a day.
  • An Ohio State University study found that women who reported stress in the previous 24 hours burned 104 calories fewer than non-stressed women after a high-fat meal.
  • Female breasts are almost made up entirely of fat. This is why breasts tend to reduce in size before other parts of the body with weight loss.
  • One pound of fat equals 3,500 calories.
  • In the “Tapeworm Diet” some people swallow tapeworms to help them lose weight. Unfortunately, side effects include bloating, nausea, and diarrhea-as well as the possibility that the tape worm might lay eggs in other tissues, such as the nervous system, which could cause seizures, dementia, and meningitis.
  • Researchers note that Americans eat for lots of reason, but usually not because of hunger. They eat because of family, friends, packages, plates, names, numbers, labels, lights, colors, candles, shapes, smells, and containers and a myriad of other “food cues.”
  • Someone who has soda readily available and in sight at home weighs on average 25 pounds more than someone who doesn’t.
  • Researchers noted that keeping serving dishes off the table reduced the amount of food men ate by 29%.
  • In a study, heavy people sat, on average, 16 feet closer to buffet food than skinny people did. Additionally, the skinnier people who ate at the buffet looked over all the food, made a plan, and then got their food. The heavier people just dove right in with no perusing or planning. Heavier people at the buffest also chewed 12 times per mouthful; skinnier people chewed an average of 15 times.
  • People who have candy on or in their desk reported weighing 15.4 more pounds than those who didn’t.
  • Google did an experiment with M&Ms at their headquarters. When they put the candy in containers instead of out in the open, people ate 3 million fewer pieces within one month’s time.
  • Posting photos of low-calorie foods on the fridge may help in weight loss. Pictures act as subtle reminder of a person’s weight loss goals. Researchers also suggest making the background on a smartphone a low-cal food.
  • Shopping while hungry makes people not only buy more food, it also makes them buy more junk food
  • Study participants who scored in the top 10% on impulsivity weighed an average of 22 pounds more than those in the bottom 10%.
  • Regularly smelling peppermint may help decrease hunger and, consequently, caloric intake. Researchers believe the strong scent is distracting and helps keeps a person’s mind off of their appetite.
  • On average, if someone eats with one other person, they will eat about 35% more than if eating alone. If someone eats with a group of seven or more, they’ll eat nearly twice as much, or 96% more than if they were eating alone.
  • Studies show that if someone eats with an overweight friend, or if their waitress is overweight, they’ll eat more. However, a woman eating with a man will typically eat less.
  • Greek physician and philosopher Galen explained 2,000 years ago that “bad humors” were the cause of obesity. He prescribed massages, baths, and “slimming foods” such as greens, garlic, and wild game as a way to lose weight.
  • Weight loss drugs first entered mainstream markets during the 1920s. Physicians would prescribe thyroid medication to healthy people to help them lose weight.