CFS, Weight control and the Microbiome

Today I got an email from someone who is frustrated trying to control their weight. “Turns out I’ve been eating 1400-1600 a day for the last 4 months+ without any weight change.” and they are active and around 5’10”. This post does not apply solely to CFS patients, but to many people suffering with excessive weight that will not disappear.

Our understanding of weight has changed a lot in the last few years. Medscape has a nice but very technical article on it “Obesity and the Human Microbiome” which was published originally in Curr Opin Gastroenterol. 2010;26(1):5-11.

The summary says it all: “Summary Large-scale alterations of the gut microbiota and its microbiome (gene content) are associated with obesity and are responsive to weight loss. Gut microbes can impact host metabolism via signaling pathways in the gut, with effects on inflammation, insulin resistance, and deposition of energy in fat stores. Restoration of the gut microbiota to a healthy state may ameliorate the conditions associated with obesity and help maintain a healthy weight.”

Let us try to understand this a little better, food that you eat is processed by bacteria in your gut. Some bacteria are very efficient in extracting energy from the food and other are not. Further more, some bacteria send chemical signals to tell the body to store food. At one time, when food was very seasonal, these bacteria would thrive on “fall food” to build up energy stores for the winter when food may not be bountiful. Traditional seasonal variations in food would result in changes of bacteria (volume of different types) that were adapted to the best survival strategy for the human (who is the host!). With food no longer being seasonal, the bacterial shifts become disrupted .

From the above article there are some possible actions:

  • “Thus, the frequency with which food enters the bowel and its transit time may be important factors to control for, or at least note, when comparing studies in humans.” – longer time between meals, or even fasting a day may help
  • “those who became overweight by age 7 had had lower levels of Bifidobacteria and higher levels of Staphylococcus aureus as infants compared with those that kept a healthy weight.” — this implies adding herbs against S. Aureus [See this list] and Bifidobacteria probiotics may help.
  • “An earlier report indicated that gut microbiota can regulate enteroendocrine cells and influence the release of gut hormones.[47]”
  • “Interestingly, the administration of probiotic microbes[one pill per day of Puritan’s Pride] after the [Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery] procedure has been shown to accelerate weight loss,

There are a large number(1600+) of newer studies:

Bottom Line

With our current available literature, an action plan could be: