HARAI, Weight Control and a Healthy Gut
While the world grapples with the late stages of the COVID pandemic, and debate rages on proper measures to limit mutations and new outbreaks, Western countries, and the U.S. in particular, have long been in the throes of a greater pandemic that garners scant medical debate and even less effort at intervention.¹
Indirectly linked to heart disease, stroke and cancer, this affliction affects more than 65% of American adults. Unlike the corona virus, there is no vaccination to protect against its worst consequences.
We’re talking about obesity.
In fact, years ago it was theorized that obesity might be a genetic, or at least inherited, condition. More recently, studies indicate that while it could be the latter, it is probably not the former.
As early as 2017 – a long way back in the relatively short history of gut microbiome research – researchers were exploring the connection between gut bacteria and obesity. One study, published in the online journal Gut², investigated how a certain bacterium, Dysosmobacter webionis, appeared more frequently in lean people than those who were high on the body mass index (BMI.). Because of its inverse association with “diet-induced obesity” and “fat mass gain” in tests, the researchers referred to this microbe as a “next-generation beneficial bacterium.” High praise for a germ of the gut!
Yet this is not the first bacteria of the human digestive tract to be isolated and studied for its relationship to healthy body weight. Another, Akkermansia Muciniphila, not only was found to appear in higher concentrations in lean subjects; it did not even need to be alive to exhibit health-promoting properties. When tested on rodents in pasteurized form, it continued to counteract an obesity-inducing diet. Researchers were quick to note that this correlation did not explain the causal mechanism of the observed effects.
On the other hand, the research on D. webionis did find a link between this microbe and lower levels of adipose inflammation. Inflammation is notably higher in obese individuals than in those with normal BMIs, with high rates of inflammation correlating to the lifestyle diseases mentioned above. If it is true that commensal bacteria like D. webionis can combat weight gain and reduce inflammation, it could have far-reaching consequences for the treatment of serious weight-related illnesses, from diabetes to heart disease.