A plant-based diet of vegetables, fruits and grains may be the key to losing weight for some people, but as a new study shows, it’s largely dependent on what kind of bacteria we have in our gut.
Professor Arne Astrup, Head of the Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark tells Science Daily:
Human intestinal bacteria have been linked to the increasing prevalence of overweight and obesity, and scientists have started to investigate whether the intestinal bacteria can play a role in the treatment of overweight. But it is only now that we have a breakthrough demonstrating that certain bacterial species play a decisive role in weight regulation and weight loss.
The study is based on two groups of people following two different diets: the Danish national diet based on lots of fruit, vegetables, fiber and whole grains and the New Nordic Diet, which is also rich in plant-based foods in addition to fish, wild game and small amounts of dairy.
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The results were pretty shocking. Thirty-one subjects ate the New Nordic Diet for 26 weeks and lost an average of 3.5 kg (7.7 lbs), whereas the 23 subjects eating an average Danish Diet lost an average of 1.7 kg (3.7 lbs). New Nordic Diet, for the win!
Science Daily reports the key to weight loss is a bacteria called Prevotella:
When the subjects were divided by their level of intestinal bacteria, it was found that people with a high proportion of Prevotella bacteria in relation to Bacteroides bacteria lost 3.5 kg (7.7 lbs) more in 26 weeks when they ate a diet composed by the New Nordic Diet principles compared to those consuming an Average Danish Diet. Subjects with a low proportion of Prevotella bacteria in relation to Bacteroides did not lose any additional weight on the New Nordic Diet.
Approximately half of the population has a high proportion of Prevotella-bacteria in relation to Bacteroides-bacteria, but according toAssistant Professor Mads Fiil Hjorth at the Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports at the University of Copenhagen, “The other half of the population doesn’t seem to gain any benefit in weight from this change of diet.”
What does this all mean? Basically, that our gut bacteria could (and should) play a larger role in nutritional guidance by utilizing fecal, blood or other samples from our body versus the more common method of just guessing.