Certain gut bacteria may encourage obesity, according to a study that appears on Thursday in Nature, the weekly British science journal.
The intestine has two groups of bacteria — the Firmicutes and the Bacteroidetes — that help to break down food. They account for more than 90 percent of intestinal bacteria types.
Washington University researcher Jeffrey Gordon led a team that found the amount of Bacteroidetes is lower among obese people than among lean people.
They did further experiments in mice, finding that the gut bacteria of obese mice not only had fewer Bacteroidetes than their skinny counterparts, but also was rich in genes that broke down hard-to-digest foods more easily.
Fewer calories remained in the feces of the obese mice than in those of the lean ones, which suggests the chubby rodents were able to extract more energy from their food thanks to their stomach bacteria.
In another test, 12 obese people went on a diet for a year, eating either food that was low in fat or low in carbohydrates, and their gut germs were monitored during this time.
Before the diet, the intestines of the obese group were higher in Firmicutes and lower in Bacteriodetes than the control group.
After the diet, the Firmicutes fell back and the Bacteriodetes increased.
The human intestine has around 100,000 billion bacteria.
The rise in obesity is blamed almost universally on a shift to high-fat, high-sugar diets and an inactive lifestyle over the past few decades.
But scientists are also interested in additional factors that could explain why the obesity crisis has emerged so quickly and why some individuals are more likely to gain weight than others. (AFP)
1. gut bacteria n.
腸菌 (chang2 jun4)
例: We don't like to think about gut bacteria, but they break down our food for us!
2. counterpart n.
同等地位的人 (tong2 deng2 di4 wei4 de5 ren2)
例: The French President called his American counterpart, Bush.
3. extract v.t.
提煉 (ti2 lian4)，取出 (qu3 chu1)
例: Its not easy to extract iron ore from the ground.
4. intestine n.
例: I like pig intestines in my soup, but not with rice.
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