Our society has experienced a large spike in obesity worldwide along
with its associated disorders. While sedentary lifestyles and excess calorie
intake have gotten must of the bad wrap, our microbiota hasn’t been getting any!
The truth is, studies have shown a strong link between obesogenic diets and the
negactive impact it plays on our microbiomes. “Changes in diet can account for
57% of the variations in microbiota.” A study was conducted by Turnbaugh et al.
on mice gavaged with human feces to study the correlation between diet and the
human microbiota. The study consisted of two groups of mice—one group fed a
vegetarian diet and the other a western diet consisting of high-fatty foods.
Results proved that the mice fed with the western diet had increased numbers of
bacteria associated with the Firmicutes
phyla and a large decrease in one of the four most dominant bacterial phyla in the
human gut–Bacteroides spp. The shift
in gut community for mice being fed the Western diet was evident, so much so,
scientists were able to notice within a day.
So what? We get a new phyla of gut bacteria with a new diet—but what
harm can the change of composition of a microbe do to our bodies?
It’s important to really consolidate the fact that gut bacteria
such as the Bacteroides spp. are dominant for a reason, they are meant to regulate
certain processes in the body and any change in composition to the natural
order in which our body is meant to run can mean serious implications on our
health. Here’s why….
The Bacteroides spp. is responsible for producing GLP-2, an
intestinal peptide that prevents lipopolysaccharide (LPS) from entering our
plasma by protecting the gut and making sure food is digested properly. With
decreased levels of GLP-2 caused by the Firmicutes
phyla, we are likelier to get higher levels of LPS plasma concentration and
what we now know as a “leaky gut”. A
leaky gut can translate to serious health complications, as the increased
permeability of the gut (the “leakiness”) may permit toxins to flow out of our
intestines and into our blood stream!
It is important we keep ourselves properly informed on how
obesogenic diets affect not just our weight and energy levels but also our
microbiomes. A simple change in the composition of our microbes can be one of
the leading resulting causes of disease in obese individuals.