Generally when we think “bacteria” and “guts”, we think of nasty things like food poisoning or the stomach flu. But in reality, there are large amount of bacteria living in our lower digestive system – what scientists call the Gut Microflora. In fact, some recent research has shown that the bacteria living in our guts aren’t simply enjoying a tenant-landlord relationship; in fact, they may actively contribute to our overall health. A good example of this is the much-hyped “probiotics” recently being promoted as the new “superfood” essential to successful diets. As Yogurt companies have been advertising left and right, “an exclusive probiotic culture … has been shown to survive passage through the digestive tract in sufficient amounts for Activia to help regulate the digestive system”. But is there any truth to this?
Some research has indicated that certain species of bacteria may contribute to the overall efficiency of energy extraction and affect overall levels of host obesity; and in fact, studies in mice have shown that mice with differing levels of obesity has different compositions in their gut microflora, showing quite the correlation between bacterial colonies in the gut and obesity. This begs the question, Would changing the bacteria help make you skinnier?
To make a long and complicated answer short, We don’t know. Though there has been trials done confirming the short-term effects on things related to obesity, so far no study has proven effective, as the gut microflora is a complicated subject with many facets to watch. That being said, There are current studies in the works, so keep an (critical) eye on your news feed, and feel free to eat all the yogurt you’d like.
– James L.
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