Do you have any idea how many bacteria live in your gut? Not thousands or even millions, but billions of little microorganisms call your large and small intestines home. These bacteria play a role in everything from digestion to immune function to disease prevention, and they are vital for a healthy body.It turns out they’re also equally important for weight loss.
These bacteria play a role in everything from digestion to immune function to disease prevention, and they are vital for a healthy body. It turns out they’re also equally important for weight loss.
A study out of the University of Copenhagen found that there are two types of human gut microbiota that play roles in nutrition and weight loss: Prevotella and Bacteroides. The Danish researchers measured the quantities of each bacteria in the intestines of the participants, using the levels of each to classify them into two groups. The groups were then fed either the New Nordic Diet or the Average Danish Diet.
After 26 weeks, the researchers took measurements, and it turns out the people with more Prevotella bacteria lost 3.5 kilograms more than the people with Bacteroides bacteria when on the New Nordic Diet. However, those with more Bacteroides bacteria did not lose more weight, even when switching over to the new diet.
It’s estimated that roughly 50% of people have a higher Prevotella-to-Bacteroides ratio, meaning they are more likely to lose weight than the other half of the population. For those with a higher Bacteroides-to-Prevotella ratio, weight loss is going to be much more challenging.
According to one of the researchers, “Only about half of the population will lose weight if they eat following the Danish national dietary recommendations and eat more fruit, vegetables, fibers and whole grains. The other half of the population doesn’t seem to gain any benefit in weight from this change of diet. These people should focus on other diet and physical activity recommendations until a strategy that works especially well for them is identified.”
What’s fascinating about this study is that it proves that weight loss isn’t a one-size-fits-all process. Using various biomarkers, such as blood samples, urine samples, and even fecal samples, nutritionists and dieticians may be able to customize diets specifically to each person. Ultimately, this could lead to more effective weight loss, as the diets will be tailor according to the individual gut microbiota.
For now, the scientists agree that “this is a major step forward in personalized nutritional guidance. Guidance based on this knowledge of intestinal bacteria will most likely be more effective than the “one size fits all” approach that often characterizes dietary recommendations and dietary guidance.”
1. Hjorth, M F, H M Roager, T M Larsen, S K Poulsen, T R Licht, M I Bahl, Y Zohar, and A Astrup. “Pre-Treatment Microbial Prevotella-to-Bacteroides Ratio, Determines Body Fat Loss Success during a 6-Month Randomized Controlled Diet Intervention.” Int J Obes, September 8, 2017.