Whether you are fat or thin may be a family trait, but not just through the inheritance of poor eating habits and a tradition of second helpings. But, before you jump to conclusions, this is not your typical story about genetics and if you want to avoid degenerative disease – I suggest you carefully read this story.
Results of human genetics and gut bacteria study, published in the scientific journal Cell, show that our genes determine the type of microbes thriving in our gut – which in turn determines gut health and several health factors, including body weight. The evidence points to the intestinal bugs inherited as a likely greater risk of obesity.
Just keep in mind, this news does not give you a license to disregard the importance of a healthy diet, because the food you eat can turn on or off genetic expressions.
Conventionally-trained physicians need to learn more about the lifesaving value of gut bacteria
Known collectively as the microbiome, these trillions of live bacteria found in the human body influence everything from your immune system to your likelihood of developing the chronic degenerative disease. These families of bacteria weigh about four pounds and outnumber the number of cells in the body.
The size and weighty influence of these collective bacteria are so significant that some scientists have begun thinking of the microbiome as a “shadow organ” of the human body. With advanced gene technologies being developed, this extra organ is getting greater attention from scientists worldwide.
New study: How genes are connected to obesity
In the newest study, scientists from Cornell University joined with researchers at King’s College London to sequence genes of microbes derived from more than 1,000 fecal samples of over 400 pairs of twins.
Twins were used in the research because of their similar gene makeup. Scientists found that identical twins, whose genes are 100 percent the same, shared greater numbers of specific microbial families in the intestinal tract compared with non-identical twins, who share only half their genes.
These findings provide clear evidence that genes are a major determining factor in the composition of the gut’s microbial make up. This microbial composition can influence a host of health factors, including digestion, metabolism and even mood, as well as act as a cause of obesity.
In their published findings, the scientists conclude that identifying bacterial families more prevalent among thin people could hold the key to customized probiotic treatments that exploit healthy traits and lead to weight loss.
Emerging weight loss treatment plans
When transplanted into mice, those microbes found predominantly in thin people were found to slow weight gain, suggesting that identification of the exact genetic composition of gut bacteria could hold the key to future weight loss treatments.
Exploiting health-related bacteria families may, one day, be as common of an approach to wellness as exercise and a healthy diet. These genetic findings may also change how the medical community and the general population approach issues of obesity.
This is truly exciting information – when you consider the fact that more than one-third of United States adults are obese and millions suffer with obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type-2 diabetes and many forms of cancer – which lead to premature death. The estimated annual medical cost of obesity in the U.S. was $147 billion in 2008 and the “sick care” model of medicine has no way of reducing these costs.
Hopefully, with the help of independent scientists and holistically-minded educators, we’ll achieve critical mass (soon) about the importance of living a healthy lifestyle and implementing safer solutions for the obesity crisis before it’s too late for our society.
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