January is the month of new beginnings and lots of New Year’s resolutions! It is no coincidence that this is also the month of National Obesity Week, which is taking place between the 8th-13th of January.
What is obesity?
Obesity is defined as having a person having a Body Mass Index of 30+; a BMI of over 40 is defined as morbidly obese. According to data from the 2015 Health Survey for England, 27% of adults are obese and 36% are overweight, making 1 in every 4 adults in the UK obese. Trends suggest this number will rise over 50% by 2050. Overweight and Obesity constitute risk factors for a number of chronic diseases including diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer.
Causes of obesity?
Obesity results from an imbalance between energy intake and expenditure, which is associated with low grade inflammation.
The rise of obesity is due to the change in lifestyle, one being the ‘obesogenic environment’ which allows people to eat more high-calorie, unhealthy foods, driving instead of walking, desk jobs, using escalators instead of taking the stairs, etc.
Gut microbiome and Obesity
Along with dietary habits and environmental factors, our gut microbiota is suspected to be a key player in digestion and fat absorption.
Gut microbes are considered a contributing factor to body weight regulation and related disorders, by influencing metabolic and immune host functions. The gut microbiota improves the host’s ability to extract and store energy from the diet leading to body weight gain, whereas certain microbes exert beneficial effects on bile salt, lipoprotein and cholesterol metabolism.
Imbalances in the composition of gut microbiota have been associated with insulin resistance and body weight gain. The human gut is mostly dominated by two groups of bacteria; Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes, both essential for digesting food and metabolizing drugs.
Obesity is associated with an increase in Firmicutes and a reduction in Bacteroidetes; microbiota supplemented with Firmicutes showed a lower level of functional diversity than Bacteroidetes-dominant microbiota. As a result, obesity is associated with higher number of Firmicutes and this leads to an overall decrease in metabolic diversity.
A diet rich in fibre influences the microbiome in a way that is beneficial to health, through intake of prebiotics, and also by consuming foods that supply bacteria directly to the microbiome through probiotics.
At Taymount, we encourage decreasing the dependency on processed foods and consuming a diverse diet to ensure a wide range of gut microbes. Additionally, by implanting beneficial intestinal bacteria and yeasts from a healthy donor, FMT can modulate gut bacteria to aid optimal gut functionality.
FMT Nutritional Therapist
Nutritionist BSc Hons ANutr.
- Sanz, Y., Santacruz, A. and De Palma, G. (2008). Insights into the Roles of Gut Microbes in Obesity. Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Infectious Diseases, 2008, pp.1-9.
- Backhed, F., Ding, H., Wang, T., Hooper, L., Koh, G., Nagy, A., Semenkovich, C. and Gordon, J. (2017). The gut microbiota as an environmental factor that regulates fat storage. [online] PNAS. Available at: http://www.pnas.org/content/101/44/local/masthead.pdf [Accessed 19 Dec. 2017].
- Reisfeld, S. (2018). Which foods make you fat? The answer is in your gut. [online] haaretz.com. Available at: https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/culture/health/1.702776 [Accessed 5 Jan. 2018].