See Gut infections keep mice lean in Science News.
In recent years, researchers have collected clues that suggest that gut microbes can tweak people’s metabolism. Fat and thin people have different microbes teeming in their intestines, for example.
Gut bacteria from thin people can invade the intestines of mice carrying microbes from obese people. And these invaders can keep mice from getting tubby, researchers report in the Sept. 6 Science.
These and other hints have led researchers to experiment with fecal transplants to flush out bad gut microbes and dump in good ones. The transplants can clear up diarrhea and may even help some obese people regain insulin sensitivity. But feces can house dangerous microbes as well as friendly ones.
Now the team is looking into adding microbes to diets to promote health and possibly even repair poor gut bacterial communities. The team identified one group of invading microbes called Bacteroidetes that could help protect against obesity. Gut microbes such as these, Gordon says, could be the next generation of probiotics -- bacteria people consume to improve their health.
I’m not quite ready for this weight-loss approach myself, and it sure is an awkward question to ask that lean cyclist out on the road!