Gut bacteria may be key to losing weight

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by JEAN ENERSEN / KING 5 News

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KING5.com

Posted on July 30, 2010 at 5:45 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 4 at 10:45 AM

If you want to lose weight, eat less. That's what any dietician will tell you, but researchers say the bacteria in your gut may play a huge role in the size of your waistline. The next step is figuring out how to get them to work for you instead of against you.

Alisa Martin has been battling the bulge for years.

"I have tried every diet known to man and constantly am disappointed, regaining the weight," said Martin.

Dr. Jane Sadler cites a recent study published in the journal nature, which finds that every person carries 160 different kinds of gut bacteria. Some bacteria can influence the metabolism, by either storing fat or burning less of it.

Some bacteria can slow down food moving through the intestine, so there is more time to grab calories.

"There may be some bacteria that might be capable of promoting weight loss and increasing metabolism," said Dr. Jane Sadler, Baylor Garland.

What kind of bacteria you have is mostly genetic, but researchers say the next step is retooling that bacteria either through special drinks or antibiotics. But those products are still years away.

Alisa's fighting fat now with an iPhone app, but hopes scientists will one day outsmart gut bacteria.

"I'm really optimistic about this as being another tool, not a magic bullet, but another tool in the tool box in the fight against obesity," said Martin.
 
So far, studies have been done on lab mice. Researchers say they still have a lot of work to do before human tests.

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