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High Fat, High Sugar Diet Makes Weight Loss More Difficult

High-fat, high sugar diet actually change the composition of bacteria in your digestive system, resulting in easier weight gain and more difficult weight loss.

The ground breaking research, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, showed that changes in our intestines based on diet can happen very quickly, even within 24 hours. The researchers hope the findings will lead to new ways to lose weight or to prevent gaining weight, or even to help those who need to gain weight.

The trillions of bacteria in our gut are essential to converting food into energy. Although there are hundreds of different types of bacteria, there are two principal kinds: Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes. Obese mice have more Firmicutes, which are more efficient and digesting indigestible foods such as complex carbohydrates, which leads to greater weight gain. Lean mice have more Bacteroidetes.which are less efficient at digesting certain foods, so those foods are more likely to simply pass through the body.

The researchers transferred some of the Firmicute bacteria from obese mice into lean mice, and the lean mice gained more weight, even though they were fed the same diet. However, the question remained if this change would occur in humans. So the researchers transferred bacteria from the human gut into mice, giving the mice initially a high proportion of Bacteroidetes and a low proportion of Firmicutes. They then switched the bacterial proportions, and fed the mice a high-sugar, high-fat diet, and the mice grew fatter. Even more convincing was when the human bacteria from the obese mice were transplanted into lean mice, and the lean mice also gained more weight even though they were fed a low-fat diet.

The researchers hope to use these findings in a very interesting way: they believe there might be a way to alter the bacteria in the gut of malnourished children, raising their proportion of Firmicutes, thus improving their ability to use food.

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