Think you’re the only one enjoying your food? Think again! You are sharing your breakfast with an entire community of microbes waiting in your gastrointestinal tract. But don’t worry; you want them to be there.
A study published in Cell Host & Microbe last Fall demonstrated the absorption of dietary fats in the intestine and their metabolism in the body is promoted by microbes resident in the gut.
The study was performed using zebrafish. Fatty acids were tagged with fluorescent dye and then fed to young zebrafish. Researchers were able to directly observe the absorption and transport of fats in the presence or absence of gut microbes, since zebrafish are transparent when young.
“Our findings indicate that the gut microbiota can increase the host’s ability to harvest calories from the diet by stimulating fat absorption,” says lead research Ivana Semova, PhD, who was a graduate student at the time the study was conducted.
The researchers hint at the prospects of harnessing this knowledge to develop avenues of treatment for victims of malnutrition or conversely, to lessen fat absorption in cases of obesity and other disorders.
John Rawls, PhD and associate professor in the Department of Cell and Molecular physiology at UNC says, “The results underscore the complex relationship between microbes, diet and host physiology.”
Science Daily: Gut Microbes Help the Body Extract More Calories from Food