So you can’t lose any more weight even after all that hard work at the gym and all those efforts in taming your taste buds’ yearnings? Well, it looks like researchers may have finally found a scapegoat: The bacteria in your body.
According to researchers worldwide, the human microbiome (the bacteria and other microorganisms that live in each human) may actually be a key to things such as weight gain or loss, metabolism and a host of other diseases and illnesses.
At a ratio of 1:10 (human cells to the microbes) they are also the cells that are crucial to life, aiding in things such as digestion, making vitamins, immunity, etc.
Rob Knight, a microbiologist working out of a lab at the University of Colorado, Boulder, says that research on these microbes and their effect on human health, particularly weight, is increasing worldwide.
Researchers such as Knight are now creating a catalog of all these microbes, in order to better study the effect on each one with drugs, or diet, or exercise, or environmental factors, etc.
Knight uses himself as an example of what can happen when the microbes in your body are altered. After returning from a vacation with a bad case of diarrhea, he took antibiotics which cleared things up. But he believes that the antibiotics did more than get rid of his diarrhea, they heightened his ability to lose weight.
Before the trip, and then the antibiotics, which altered his microbes, he had not been able to lose weight. After the antibiotics, he followed the same exercise and diet regime as he did in the past to lose weight with one crucial difference: He lost 60 pounds.
How easy is that? Manipulating the bacteria? Another researcher, Liping Zhao, believes that at some point, we will be able to alter the microbes in each person through food and drugs.
The microbes in each person (and actually in each part of a person) are unique. (Humans share about 99.9% of the same genes, while our microbial makeup is a scant 10% similar.) This explains the diversity of ailments or ability to fight off disease, or possibly why some people are obese, or why others can more easily lose weight.
So there’s a belief, therefore, that your bacteria may have far more significance to a person’s health and well being than even genes.
Research is still in its infancy. There are distinctly still questions about how much lifestyle choices have an effect on our bacteria. Or where we live. Or the food we eat. Or whether we have pets… Researchers know that all these things and more do have some impact – how much is not known.
Are you interested to know what your microbes might look like? Well, you may not get the answers today, but you can certainly participate in a study that could very well benefit everyone in the world.
Knight has a crowd funded project called American Gut. It is the “World’s largest open-source science project to understand the microbial diversity of the Human Gut. Learn which microbes live in your gut, skin & mouth. Join over 9,000 people, get a home sampling kit and support the research.”
So, you might be able to blame your bacteria for your inability to lose weight. How much blame you can place is still a big question.