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Do you struggle to lose weight? Your microbiome could have something to do with it. A recent study implemented a 3-month lifestyle intervention in 26 overweight and obese adults (aged 18 to 65) and compared weight loss success (defined as losing 5% or more of baseline body weight) with microbial composition. Results showed an association between weight loss success and an increased abundance in Phascolarctobacterium, while weight loss failure (unable to lose 5% of body weight in the 3-month period) was associated with an increased abundance of Dialister and a gut microbiome that is genetically efficient in metabolizing carbohydrates. Mayo Clinic Proceedings →Takeaway: Microbial health plays a key role in our ability to reach and maintain a healthy weight. If you struggle with weight loss, focusing on balancing your microbiome (or rewilding!) could be an important first step. For a comprehensive plan to optimize microbial health in your everyday life, check out Dr. Robynne Chutkan’s book The…

Bariatric surgery results in long-term microbial depletion. Bariatric surgeries, adjustable gastric banding and Roux-en-Y-gastric bypass may improve gut bacteria richness in some, but microbial abundance remains depleted even up to 5 years after surgery. This study illustrates the need for microbial interventions, such as dietary interventions, prebiotic/probiotic supplementation, and possibly fecal microbiota transplantation before and/or after surgery for severely obese patients. Gut →Takeaway: The study found very low microbial gene richness in 75% of severely obese patients. Low microbial gene richness also affects the general population – 40% of overweight/moderately obese individuals and 23% of the general population have very low microbial gene richness, which is associated with insulin resistance, systemic inflammation, and type 2 diabetes. The number one way to improve microbial richness is to improve the fiber content and plant variety in your diet. Check out Dr. Chutkan’s book The Microbiome Solution for tips on how to grow a good gut garden.

Low fiber diets lead to gut bacteria extinction and have lasting effects on gut microbes in current and future generations. Mice studies show that when switching to a low-fiber diet for just 7 weeks, 60% of gut bacteria species dwindle dramatically and remain low even after reintroducing a high-fiber diet. In addition, as generation after generation eats low-fiber diets, the gut bacteria in each subsequent offspring dwindle more and more, leading to species extinction. In fact, when fourth generation low-fiber mice were fed a high-fiber diet, most of the missing microbes did not return. The Atlantic →Takeaway: “If you pass small stools, you have big hospitals,” Denis Burkitt, an Irish missionary-surgeon during WWII, said as he described the differences between Uganda and America. Small stools are indicative of low fiber diets, and as Burkitt pointed out, increased disease. If you do just one thing for your health, do this: Eat. More. Fiber! Women…

Unintended weight loss is the second highest predictor for ten types of cancer – prostate, colorectal, lung, gastro-esophageal, pancreatic, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, ovarian, myeloma, renal tract and biliary tree. Researchers analyzed 25 studies including data from over 11.5 million patients. In women over the age of 60, cancer was associated with 6.7% of cases of unintended weight loss, and in men over 60, the association was as high as 14.2%. British Journal of General Practice →Takeaway: Researchers conclude that unintended weight loss is highly predictive of cancer. More research is needed to identify the most appropriate testing and follow-up necessary in older individuals experiencing unintended weight loss.

Weight gain in young children has detrimental effects on liver health. A recent study found that an increased waist circumference in three year olds was linked to a greater likelihood of increased non-alcoholic fatty liver disease markers (elevated ATL levels – a liver enzyme that acts as a marker for liver disease) at age 8. Those children who had greater obesity gains between ages 3 and 8 were at greater risk of elevated ALT levels. While non-alcoholic liver disease is usually asymptomatic, it’s on the rise in overweight children and can lead to cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer in adulthood. The Journal of Pediatrics →Takeaway: ALT levels are usually tested in at-risk children starting at the age of 10, but this study illustrates that liver health is affected even earlier in children who are overweight and even more so in those who consistently gain excess weight between the ages of 3…

Studies show that overweight mothers are more likely to have overweight children, but why? A recent study, looking at 935 mother-infant pairs, found that infants born vaginally to overweight mothers were 3 times more likely to be overweight by the age of 3 when compared to infants born from normal weight mothers. Those born via C-section from overweight mothers were 5 times more likely to be overweight. In normal weight mothers, birth mode made no difference in the risk of overweightness for their offspring. Scientists hypothesize that this increased risk of overweightness in offspring is due to alterations in gut bacteria, specifically an over-abundance in Lachnospiraceae. JAMA Pediatrics →Takeaway: While overweight mothers are more likely to have overweight children, whether born C-section or vaginally, it’s not all doom and gloom. Practicing a lifestyle that cultivates a balanced microbiome can help maintain healthy weight throughout life. Make a vaginal birth (if possible) and breastfeeding a…