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Microbes Can Influence Our Weight

Nov 07, 2014 09:52 PM EST
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We all know weight control is a tricky art. Even with dozens of diets and nutritional guides to help us stay healthy, what works to maintain a healthy waistline can vary from person-to-person. Aside from lifestyle, research has shown that DNA has a lot to do with this. Now researchers have found that your genes no only influence how your body reacts to food, but how your body's residents do too.

That's at least according to a study recently published in the journal Cell, which details how your genetic makeup can help determine what type of bacteria live in the gut.

This work goes hand-in-hand with previous work, especially in the case of a study published last Sept, which illustrates how a high population of certain types of gut microbes can facilitate greater weight gain with a high-fat diet.

"Up until now there had been no direct evidence that anything in the human gut is under... genetic influence," Ruth Ley, the new study's senior author, explained in a statement.

Now however, it has been shown that not only are gut microbe populations influenced by human DNA, but some could be protective against obesity, while others could encourage weight gain.

This was determined after Ley and her colleagues assessed the gut microbial populations of 171 identical and 245 fraternal twins.

Because the twin pairs were living in the same households, "you can assume that environmental influences are going to be very similar to one another," researcher Julia Goodrich added. However, while the fraternal twins showed a decent matching of gut microbial populations, the similarities between identical twin gut bacteria was uncanny, implying that genetics were certainly at play.

"This is the first study to firmly establish that certain types of gut microbes are heritable - that their variation across a population is in part due to host genotype variation, not just environmental influences," Ley added in a release. "These results will also help us find new predictors of disease and aid prevention."

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