In the Scientific Publication, “Evaluating Causality of Gut Microbiota in Obesity and Diabetes in Humans,” (2018) in the 39th volume, 2nd issue of Gut Microbiota and Human Metabolic Disease, authors Meijnikman, Gerdes, Nieuwdorp and Herrema review the relationship between the gut microbiome and metabolism changes in Obesity and Type II Diabetes Mellitus. This is a summary and interpretation of their findings.
TROUBLES OF TODAY
Currently, the CDC estimates that more than 1 in 3 U.S. adults are obese (36.5% of the Adult U.S. population). In an alarming trend, we are now seeing higher rates of obesity in children and adolescents. Obesity has been linked to several metabolic disorders and chronic inflammatory diseases such as Cancer, Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease. It is now reported that 9.4%, or about 1 in 10, U.S. adults suffer from Type II Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM). If numbers like these do not get your attention, you may not be fully aware of the situation we face.
FACADE OF FREEDOM
We are living in a society that only pretends to be free. We say, “I have the freedom to drink a 96 oz. soda if I want” or, “I have the freedom to eat what I want, when I want it.” The delusion of this way of thinking assumes that the “rules” do not apply to you. Do we think that the mechanisms of the human
body that have worked in perfect harmony with microbes and healthful foods from the beginning of mankind have suddenly changed in the last 80 years? The way our body works has not changed, but our diets, lifestyle and gut microbes have. The very foods that we fight to consume, like sugar and processed carbohydrates are the same ones that remove our freedom to live life to the fullest. If consumed for long enough, they steal our mobility, our joy, our finances, our relationships, and if nothing changes they could steal our very lives.
“ALL DISEASE BEGINS IN THE GUT”
If the nutrition advice of the past 50 years had found the root cause of the problem with the “eat less calories and increase physical activity” mantra, wouldn’t the obesity problem be under control by now? Maybe the issue is more complex than that. The very generation that has been hit the hardest by Obesity, Diabetes and related Chronic Inflammatory Disease is privileged enough to be living during the discovery of the Human gut microbiome as the driving factor influencing weight regulation and insulin resistance. Maybe Hippocrates was right way back in 400 B.C. when he said that “all disease begins in the gut.”
THE INFLAMMATION CONNECTION
Authors Abraham S. Meijnikman, et. al. explain that a “chronic, low-grade inflammatory state is often found in patients with obesity, insulin resistance and T2DM.” This inflammatory state is believed to be the reason that patients develop insulin resistance, as is found in T2DM. The thought is that food and certain gut microbe particles are leaking out of tiny holes in the intestines into the blood, causing the body’s immune system to react. This results in inflammation. If the holes are not fixed, the inflammation doesn’t stop and becomes “chronic,” or long-term. Studies have even found significantly higher levels of these bacterial pieces in the blood of patients with T2DM. This chronic, low-level of inflammation is thought to lead to insulin resistance.
BILE ACIDS & FOOD INTAKE
If you’ve ever seen a pictogram of human anatomy, you may have noticed the small, green sac below the liver, called the gall bladder. This organ functions to store bile, a yellowish digestive enzyme made from cholesterol in the liver. Bile acids are very important in metabolism because they are signals that activate certain things in the gut, liver and fat tissues. We have now learned that primary bile acids are changed in the gut for absorption into the blood by bacteria of the Phylum, “Firmicutes.” This is the same type of bacteria that has been shown to be increased in the guts of Obese and Diabetic patients. Why is this important? Bile acids are thought to regulate food intake! It seems that Obese patients with Type II Diabetes have higher levels of bile acids in their blood. The higher the Body Mass Index(BMI), the higher the level of bile acids found circulating in the blood. This link may explain why food intake is higher for many Obese and Diabetic patients.
Now that we are starting to see a connection between metabolism, food intake, inflammation and the gut microbiota, let’s explore three keys that have the potential to unlock the clutch of obesity and diabetes.
1. Biggest influence on the gut microbiota is DIET.
3. Pre-biotics, Pro-biotics, Bariatric surgery and Fecal microbiota transplant can all have positive effects on the gut microbiome.
With research in the area of gut microbiome health advancing at a rapid pace, you will start to see many changes in the way we approach and heal chronic diseases, such as Obesity and Diabetes. However, now that you have these three keys, why not decide to start your healing process today? The human body is resilient and you would be surprised by how much healing can be achieved by choosing a healthful diet!
If you are interested in reading more, this article is based on the following publication:
Meijnikman, A., Gerdes, V., Nieuwdorp, M., Herrema, H. (2018) Evaluating Causality of Gut Microbiota in Obesity and Diabetes in Humans. Endocrine Reviews. 39(2): 133-153. Doi 10.1210/er.2017-00192
Kenda Rigdon, Ph.D. Nutrition Sciences Research Associate, Wife, Mother of 3 and Enthusiast for all things Microbiome and gut related!
Check out this blog in the April, 2018 edition of the Birmingham Metro magazine: b-metro.com/b-yourself-kenda-rigdon/34337/
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