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"Thin people have more gut microbes than fat people"

amandaeveamandaeve Member Posts: 706 Member Member Posts: 706 Member
"Thin people have more gut microbes than fat people; having hungry microbes may at least partly account for thinness."
Says Bill Bryson in the book "The Body".

What are your thoughts?
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Replies

  • amandaeveamandaeve Member Posts: 706 Member Member Posts: 706 Member
    The book has dozens of pages of citations, but they aren't linked. I'm certain he didn't do research on his own, the book reads like an overview. I thought it would be easier to find someone with knowledge of the claim here than that filter through each of his citations and read the study once I found it (yes, I'm lazy today, which is why I'm reading a book instead of something more ambitious).
  • threewinsthreewins Member Posts: 618 Member Member Posts: 618 Member
    The whole digestive bacteria issue is too new and controversial for some of the folks at my fitness pal. They won't accept that a fecal transplant from a thin mouse to an obese mouse results in it getting thin.

    However one online comment from years ago has stayed with me. How will the thinness causing bacteria react to junk food? Each bacteria has a preferred type of food to munch on. Will eating copious amounts of junk food kill off the thin bacteria? They thrived on a healthy diet. That's gone.

    Anyway fecal transplant research for weight loss is advancing glacially slowly, it would not surprise me if 10 years from now it hasn't advanced past tiny human trials.
  • shaumomshaumom Member Posts: 952 Member Member Posts: 952 Member
    The idea of 'hungry microbes' sounds ridiculous, honestly.

    But there's a lot of research out there right now about weight and our gut biome that are pretty interesting. And some of them might end up being pretty significant, even if many are still only suggestive of things that we need to research in the future.


    Colonies of Escherichia coli (E.coli) bacteria release certain proteins when they’ve had enough nutrients and these can activate appetite-related neurons to make you feel full. So you're likely to eat less.
    https://www.sciencealert.com/your-gut-bacteria-appear-to-be-controlling-your-appetite

    Obesity seems to correlate with lower diversity of gut bacteria (not levels, but strains of) - they don't know why.
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19043404/

    Human twins' gut bacteria - one obese and one not - were injected into mice with no gut bacteria, and the mice would develop weight to match the gut bacteria donor's. Not sure why, but it had an impact.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3829625/

    A mouse study found that "the gut microbiota is an important environmental factor that affects energy harvest from the diet and energy storage in the host." Or basically, gut bacteria might alter our fat storage.
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15505215/

    There's more on studies looking at weight and bacteria that digest more fiber, weight and the ratios between certain bacteria in the gut, all sorts of things.

    So while the theory 'The Body' author had seems crap, the concept that our gut biome may have an impact on a lot of how the body works has been gaining traction for a number of years now (the gut is also being looked at for its impact on food allergies and auto-immune diseases, too).
    edited July 7
  • mom23mangosmom23mangos Member Posts: 2,996 Member Member Posts: 2,996 Member
    threewins wrote: »

    However one online comment from years ago has stayed with me. How will the thinness causing bacteria react to junk food? Each bacteria has a preferred type of food to munch on. Will eating copious amounts of junk food kill off the thin bacteria? They thrived on a healthy diet. That's gone.
    .

    I can tell you that my gut bacteria has lived on a relatively all junk food diet and been just fine. I’ve been thin on a healthy diet and I’ve been thin on an unhealthy diet.

    I think I should write a book based on my completely unfounded, unscientific, observationally based theory that weight has more to do with anxiety response than anything else. Here’s my theory. The world is split up into three groups.

    1st group - Can’t eat when stressed/anxious. As it seems the majority of us tend to live under fairly high stress environments, these are your “naturally thin/ hard gainer” people, although they will gain weight during times of happiness/low stress. They tend to drop the weight naturally the next time another stressful incident arises.

    2nd group - Overeat when stressed/anxious. These are your overweight since childhood people who lose weight through willpower and determination.

    3rd group - your emotionally stable, average weight group. These are the people who go through life not ever really thinking about their weight.
  • janejellyrolljanejellyroll Member Posts: 23,765 Member Member Posts: 23,765 Member
    threewins wrote: »

    However one online comment from years ago has stayed with me. How will the thinness causing bacteria react to junk food? Each bacteria has a preferred type of food to munch on. Will eating copious amounts of junk food kill off the thin bacteria? They thrived on a healthy diet. That's gone.
    .

    I can tell you that my gut bacteria has lived on a relatively all junk food diet and been just fine. I’ve been thin on a healthy diet and I’ve been thin on an unhealthy diet.

    I think I should write a book based on my completely unfounded, unscientific, observationally based theory that weight has more to do with anxiety response than anything else. Here’s my theory. The world is split up into three groups.

    1st group - Can’t eat when stressed/anxious. As it seems the majority of us tend to live under fairly high stress environments, these are your “naturally thin/ hard gainer” people, although they will gain weight during times of happiness/low stress. They tend to drop the weight naturally the next time another stressful incident arises.

    2nd group - Overeat when stressed/anxious. These are your overweight since childhood people who lose weight through willpower and determination.

    3rd group - your emotionally stable, average weight group. These are the people who go through life not ever really thinking about their weight.

    I have both the first issues. When I'm mildly or moderately stressed, I do strongly tend to want to manage that with food (which I can usually control with conscious thought and strategies for anxiety reduction). But once my stress gets over a certain amount, it's really hard to eat enough to meet my needs.

    I guess terms like "stress" and "high stress" can be relative, but I've struggled with both. I do agree with you about the categories, I just think it's possible for individuals to flow between different categories during different periods/seasons of their lives. On an average day, I am much more a type 1.
  • mom23mangosmom23mangos Member Posts: 2,996 Member Member Posts: 2,996 Member
    @janejellyroll - I agree that people can fluctuate between groups at different points in their life and I've also heard from other people that are like you-Group 2 with moderate stress and Group 1 with extreme stress. I don't know if I have a very low stress tolerance or just have more than my fair share of extreme stressors, but tend to fall mostly in Group 1.
  • AnnPT77AnnPT77 Member, Premium Posts: 16,447 Member Member, Premium Posts: 16,447 Member
    threewins wrote: »

    However one online comment from years ago has stayed with me. How will the thinness causing bacteria react to junk food? Each bacteria has a preferred type of food to munch on. Will eating copious amounts of junk food kill off the thin bacteria? They thrived on a healthy diet. That's gone.
    .

    I can tell you that my gut bacteria has lived on a relatively all junk food diet and been just fine. I’ve been thin on a healthy diet and I’ve been thin on an unhealthy diet.

    I think I should write a book based on my completely unfounded, unscientific, observationally based theory that weight has more to do with anxiety response than anything else. Here’s my theory. The world is split up into three groups.

    1st group - Can’t eat when stressed/anxious. As it seems the majority of us tend to live under fairly high stress environments, these are your “naturally thin/ hard gainer” people, although they will gain weight during times of happiness/low stress. They tend to drop the weight naturally the next time another stressful incident arises.

    2nd group - Overeat when stressed/anxious. These are your overweight since childhood people who lose weight through willpower and determination.

    3rd group - your emotionally stable, average weight group. These are the people who go through life not ever really thinking about their weight.

    Not just pot stirring when I say this: AFAIK, I don't have either the group 1 or group 2 issues. I overate because food is good, and I enjoy pleasure. I ate a little above maintenance when under stress and when not under stress, until reaching an approximate point of stable weight just into class 1 obese, then stayed roughly around there for years, through stress and non-stress, and through major changes in exercise or daily life activity (not calorie counting).
    TMI section:
    I stayed fat but didn't noticeably gain when my work responsibilities became so intense that I worked 7 days a week (10-18 hours a day) for 3 solid months except one Sunday when I went to my parents-in-laws' 50th anniversary party, and I still stayed fat/didn't gain when that project was over and I gradually resumed normal life. I stayed fat but didn't gain when my huband got cancer and died, and after; nor when my dad fell and blinded himself and I had to help him move from fully independent in his own home to assisted living at age 83. I admit I lost a few pounds during cancer treatment, but jeesh, there were a lot of times I couldn't eat, and since I lost only maybe 10 pounds in around 6 months it was only around a 100 calorie average daily deficit (I'm not counting the surgical loss), and I gradually regained it after. I stayed at about the same weight when I went from completely inactive to competing athletically, I stayed about the same weight when I retired and stress evaporated from my life to a large degree (and non-exercise activity probably dropped).
    End TMI.
    From reading anecdotes here, it seems like there are quite a few people (maybe still a minority, dunno) who gained weight when they switched from being an active teenager/twenty-something to being a sedentary-job 30+ person (and some kept creeping up in weight from there).

    I'm not denying that the groups in your post exist: I think they do. I just don't think it's universal.
    edited July 13
  • mom23mangosmom23mangos Member Posts: 2,996 Member Member Posts: 2,996 Member
    AnnPT77 wrote: »
    threewins wrote: »

    However one online comment from years ago has stayed with me. How will the thinness causing bacteria react to junk food? Each bacteria has a preferred type of food to munch on. Will eating copious amounts of junk food kill off the thin bacteria? They thrived on a healthy diet. That's gone.
    .

    I can tell you that my gut bacteria has lived on a relatively all junk food diet and been just fine. I’ve been thin on a healthy diet and I’ve been thin on an unhealthy diet.

    I think I should write a book based on my completely unfounded, unscientific, observationally based theory that weight has more to do with anxiety response than anything else. Here’s my theory. The world is split up into three groups.

    1st group - Can’t eat when stressed/anxious. As it seems the majority of us tend to live under fairly high stress environments, these are your “naturally thin/ hard gainer” people, although they will gain weight during times of happiness/low stress. They tend to drop the weight naturally the next time another stressful incident arises.

    2nd group - Overeat when stressed/anxious. These are your overweight since childhood people who lose weight through willpower and determination.

    3rd group - your emotionally stable, average weight group. These are the people who go through life not ever really thinking about their weight.

    Not just pot stirring when I say this: AFAIK, I don't have either the group 1 or group 2 issues. I overate because food is good, and I enjoy pleasure. I ate a little above maintenance when under stress and when not under stress, until reaching an approximate point of stable weight just into class 1 obese, then stayed roughly around there for years, through stress and non-stress, and through major changes in exercise or daily life activity (not calorie counting).
    TMI section:
    I stayed fat but didn't noticeably gain when my work responsibilities became so intense that I worked 7 days a week (10-18 hours a day) for 3 solid months except one Sunday when I went to my parents-in-laws' 50th anniversary party, and I still stayed fat/didn't gain when that project was over and I gradually resumed normal life. I stayed fat but didn't gain when my huband got cancer and died, and after; nor when my dad fell and blinded himself and I had to help him move from fully independent in his own home to assisted living at age 83. I admit I lost a few pounds during cancer treatment, but jeesh, there were a lot of times I couldn't eat, and since I lost only maybe 10 pounds in around 6 months it was only around a 100 calorie average daily deficit (I'm not counting the surgical loss), and I gradually regained it after. I stayed at about the same weight when I went from completely inactive to competing athletically, I stayed about the same weight when I retired and stress evaporated from my life to a large degree (and non-exercise activity probably dropped).
    End TMI.
    From reading anecdotes here, it seems like there are quite a few people (maybe still a minority, dunno) who gained weight when they switched from being an active teenager/twenty-something to being a sedentary-job 30+ person (and some kept creeping up in weight from there).

    I'm not denying that the groups in your post exist: I think they do. I just don't think it's universal.

    I think those people most likely fall into Category 3. They are emotionally stable and didn't have to think about weight until something changed to throw off the stasis (ie less movement). Now maybe there's a category 4 out there for those with hedonistic tendencies, but I would postulate that they may be Category 2's in disguise (ie food = comfort).

    But as you know, my method of deductions are PURELY scientific. :tongue:
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