1. Regarding Dr. Ayers comment above about breastfeeding/infant formula, a large part of the difference was the lack of prebiotic polysaccharides in formula, which has very recently been addressed. Human milk contains a large amount of galactooligosaccharides, and now most formula does, as well. Still many shortfalls in formula, but a large improvement that should reduce the disparity in health outcomes.

    Different matter: Antibiotics can make people fatter, just like in livestock:
    "Vancomycin treatment of infective endocarditis is linked with recently acquired obesity."

  2. Chris, thanks for another great post.

    In fruit flies, mating success is related to gut flora,

    Since my wife is a lactation consultant, I am compelled to add that if a baby is exclusively breastfed, then it has a very simplified gut flora of just Bifidus and only a couple of other minor species. A single bottle of formula shifts the flora to an inflammatory mix from the adults near the baby. This alters immune system development in the gut and explains why formula fed babies have dramatically higher rates of GI and respiratory infections.

    There is also evidence that antibiotic treatment reduces resistance to flu infection.

  3. William, that's true, but the point of the paper was not to show that the bacteria are responsible for the entire phenotype of obesity, but that they were responsible for increased energy harvesting from food, which was one component of the obesity phenotype.

    Thanks for the props everyone!

  4. This is so Great post!!!
    Truly believe that the gut brain axis holds the key to much. Upper cool, and possibly a little creepy. I wonder if it's possible for mate preferences to be at all. I like this good knowledge. Thanks this informative post.

  5. Haven’t seen the ms yet, but: “the mice gained twice as much weight and 50 percent more fat” sounds like they could have ended up with a lower body fat percentage (?)

  6. Chris once again you hit a topic close to my heart……Truly believe that the gut brain axis holds the key to much of what we dont know about metabolism and leptin sensitivity and fat regulation. I too will be hitting this topic often and I expect my GI colleagues research dollars will be spent here inordinately going forward. Great post. One of your better ones. Dr K

  7. Fascinating information, Chris.

    From reading Hyperlipid, I knew that gut bacteria seem to be able to regulate fat mass of their host by controlling FIAF (fasting-induced adipose factor) secretion of the gut wall.
    If FIAF's "counterpart" leptin regulates gut bacteria, it almost seems like the "fat feedback loop" includes gut bacteria in some way.
    I think I need to let this information sink in for a while, and re-read this post lateron 😉 Thanks for sparking this train of thought.


  8. Responses to everyone.

    resenfetc, I will address this in my upcoming series on fructose. Thanks for the suggestion.

    Aaron, excellent questions that need to be addressed!

    Anne, my understanding is that culture-based studies have shown infants delivered vaginally resemble the mother and those born by C-section obtain flora from the hospital workers and environment. This study used fatty acid profiles in the feces, apparently, according to the abstract, which is a different method. It would be interesting to see what results would be gotten from bacterial DNA analysis. I'll try to look into it and post about it in the future.

    Dominic, thanks, and good points.

    Rob, thanks for the recommendation!


  9. A great kindle book which was subsequently based on a TED talk on this subject is "Homo Evolutis" by Juan Enriquez.

    The book is short and a few bucks on the Kindle and the Talk is available via the Ted Website (Just google it.)

  10. I like the way you present these microbes as "partners" in which there is a definite ecological system for which it becomes incumbent upon ourselves to be its steward. Living with the gut flora -the way you present it – is like living with a pet that was given to us. People sometimes like to think of themselves as a cat lover or dog lover -the pet becomes part of who were are; it become part of the family. We should take a liking to our intestinal "partners" – their health depends on us and vice versa.

  11. Super cool, and possibly a little creepy. I wonder if it's possible for mate preferences to be at all influenced by how compatible our resident microbes are to a potential mate's. I also wonder if the microbiomes between two individuals who become long-term mates become more similar over time. Looks like a neat project involving the marriage between an evolutionary psychologist and a microbiologist!

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