Bacteria that helps digest food and absorb nutrients could be the key to decrease body weight.

Seattle’s Institute for Systems Biology (ISB) has discovered gut microbiomes in the intestines that influence weight loss.

Researchers studied microbiomes from 105 people who were trying to lose weight. Half of respondents did not shed any pounds despite making healthier diet choices. They maintained a constant body mass index (BMI).

The other half consistently lost 1% of their body weight each month for six to 12 months. This group had higher bacterial growth rates and were enriched in genes, according to Gadgets.

ISB study also showed those who were more resistant to losing weight had lower bacterial growth rates, and a higher capacity for breaking down non-absorbable fibres and starches into absorbable sugars.

“In this study, we set out to better understand interactions between baseline BMI, metabolic health, diet, gut microbiome functional profiles, and subsequent weight changes in a human cohort that underwent a healthy lifestyle intervention,” lead researcher Christian Diener said. “Overall, our results suggest that the microbiota may influence host weight loss responses through variable bacterial growth rates, dietary energy harvest efficiency and immunomodulation.”

The study concluded some people do not lose weight through solely changing their diet. They are likely require further intervention.

“At a minimum, this work may lead to diagnostics for identifying individuals who will respond well to moderate healthy lifestyle changes, and those who may require more drastic measures to achieve weight loss,” ISB assistant professor Sean Gibbons said in a statement.

“By understanding which microbes and metabolic processes help promote weight loss in the gut microbiome, we can begin to design targeted prebiotic and probiotic interventions that might push a weight-loss resistant microbiome to look more like a weight-loss permissive microbiome,” he added.

The research was published in the American Society for Microbiology’s open-access mSystems journal.

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