Army of gut microbes keep us fit and healthy

June 7th, 2012 - 6:13 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, June 7 (IANS) An army of gut micro-organisms, comprising some 500 to 1,000 distinct bacterial species and uncountable billions, keep us both fit and healthy with proper body weight, a study says.

Rosa Krajmalnik-Brown and colleagues of Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute with John DiBaise from the Mayo clinic’s gastroenterology division, reviewed the role of gut microbes in nutrient absorption and energy regulation.

“Malnutrition may manifest as either obesity or under-nutrition, problems of epidemic proportion worldwide,” said Krajmalnik-Brown, the journal Nutrition in Clinical Practice reports.

“Micro-organisms have been shown to play an important role in nutrient and energy extraction and energy regulation although the specific roles that individual and groups of gut microbes play remain uncertain,” added Krajmalnik-Brown, according to a Arizona statement.

The study outlines the growth of varied microbial populations - from birth onwards - highlighting their role in extracting energy from the diet.

Based on current findings, the authors suggest that therapeutic modification of the gut microbiome may offer a much better option to treat nutrition-related maladies, including obesity and a range of health outcomes.

The microbes in our gut belong to three broad domains: Eukarya, Bacteria, and Achaea. Of these, bacteria reign supreme, with two dominant divisions - known as Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes - making up over 90 percent of the gut’s microbial population.

Conversely, the Achaea that exist in the gut are mostly composed of methanogens (producers of methane) and specifically by Methanobrevibacter smithii - a hydrogen-consumer. Methanogens appear in greater abundance in obese as opposed to normal weight individuals.

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