The concept of an effective weight loss pill, marketed as a probiotic, may not be as farfetched as once thought. The study, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, examined the biological effects of gastric bypass and weight loss.
Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard University researchers scrutinized gut bacteria produced in the body after gastric bypass in lab mice. Within a relatively short amount of time post-surgery the mice lost almost a third of their body weight. Tests on fecal samples revealed the gastrointestinal tract of the mice contained different bacterial concentrations.
Recent, related studies outlined how gut bacteria does play a key role in weight, as it was assessed copious amounts of Methanobrevibacter smithii or M. smithii for short in the gut can digest food differently, promoting weight gain.
The Harvard researchers observed changes in the abundance of two groups of microbes in the mouse gut following surgery, increased levels of Proteobacteria like E.coli and Verrucomicrobia. These bacteria are normally found at relatively low levels in healthy humans and rodents, and previous studies have shown that gastric bypass surgery can alter their abundance.
Scientists found the surgery-altered gut microbes aided in weight loss, as the presence of new gut-flora quelled cravings for certain foods and naturally promoted slimming effects unrelated to the incorporation of exercise. The transformed balance of microbes in the gut led to weight loss as the mice effectively burned more calories.
Peter Turnbaugh, a postdoctoral researcher at Harvard University and co-author of the study, and his team found when they harvested microbes from mice that underwent gastric bypass surgery and transplanted them into mice with no gut bacteria, those mice experienced a weight loss (up to 5 percent of body weight). The loss included a decrease in fat tissue.
Researchers surmised the results could potentially lead to future non-surgical methods to tackle obesity. Mimicking the production of the good fat-fighting bacteria, which germinates after gastric bypass, may be applicable to a probiotic pill and taken to combat weight gain.
[Image via Shutterstock]