Gut bacteria and fat absorption may be linked
Posted 8 months ago by Jacob in General Health News
New research has revealed that gut microbiota may play a significant role in calorie and fat absorption. A discovery that may have huge implications in how we treat malnutrition and obesity, as well as other metabolic diseases. Researchers, led by Dr. Ivana Semova, at the University of North Carolina, USA, believe that the presence of a particular phylum of bacteria in our gut, known as Firmicutes, is instrumental in increasing fat absorption. The study reveals that Firmicutes bacteria allows the host organism to extract more calories from food, than it would otherwise be able to.
"Our findings indicate that the gut microbiota can increase the host's ability to harvest calories from the diet by stimulating fat absorption," said Dr Ivana Semova. "Another implication is that diet history could impact fat absorption by changing the abundance of certain microbes, such as Firmicutes, that promote fat absorption.”
Another researcher, John F. Rawls commented, “We may be able to use that information to develop new ways to reduce fat absorption in the context of obesity and associated metabolic diseases, and to enhance fat absorption in the context of malnutrition.”
The study was carried out in young, optically transparent zebrafish. The research team fed the fish fluorescently dyed fatty acids and observed how they were absorbed and transported around the fish’s body.
They discovered that the fish with higher levels of Firmicutes bacteria absorbed much more fat from their food, suggesting that the microbiota of the gut can have a big influence in fat and calorie absorption.
Further research has also suggested that a high-fat diet actually promotes the growth of Firmicutes.
Reference: Semova, I. et al (2012) Microbiota Regulate Intestinal Absorption and Metabolism of Fatty Acids in the Zebrafish. Cell Host & Microbe. 12:3. 277-288.
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