Written by Hana McMahon-Cole
Look, us mere mortals never really get to find out what is going on in the world of science. Well, not unless it’s (sometimes) sensationalised in the press. So, we wanted to bring you a snapshot of the latest science to whet your appetite to find out more if it’s something that piques your interest. Or simply to keep you all in the “gut world” loop. Remember most of the studies are VERY new science, so keep your critical thinking cap on!
Our report is brought to you by our student research squad. They have their ears to the lab floor ground to keep us all informed.
Our microbiome is changing every minute and every day. This constant change is defined as gut microbiome plasticity, the constant variability in the structure and composition of our microbiota in a single day. Since our microbiome is in a constant state of flux, this led researchers to question if individuals’ microbiome profiles changed in a similar way among obese individuals enrolled in identical weight loss programs.
Type of study
This study looked at the gut microbiota of obese adults enrolled in either low-fat or low-carb dieting programs. They hypothesised that they would observe certain characteristic bacterial signatures in obese adults who lost significant weight in both dieting programs. They assessed this by taking faecal samples from their study population. These were the obese adults, both before their program and after ten weeks of their program.
The researchers anticipated finding some bacterial commonalities among the adults who lost significant weight. However, their analysis identified no specific bacterial groups as being significantly important to weight loss. However, interestingly, they did observe an overall correlation between gut microbiome plasticity and long term weight loss in both the low-fat diet and low-carb diet groups.
Unfortunately, high microbiome plasticity could indicate a range of things. It could suggest that an individual has a diverse microbiome due to dietary factors or it could be due to other lifestyle factors (such as the individual interacting with a diversity of people, pets or environments).
While these results are correlational rather than causational, this study does suggest that the plasticity of an individual’s microbiome contributes to sustained weight loss (in combination with specific dietary interventions such as low-carb or low-fat dieting). However, future research should focus on the causes of microbiome plasticity observed among individuals. Was this plasticity due to the individual’s highly diverse environment? Or due to the consumption of more bacteria-rich foods, such as probiotics?
About the author
Hana is a Senior at the Minerva Schools at KGI, studying cells and organisms, an interdisciplinary major combining biology, chemistry, and bioengineering and minoring in data science. She is interested in science communication, gut health, and neuroscience.