Gut Bacteria and Obesity: Top 4 Intestinal Flora Linked to Weight Gain

When we gain weight, the fat tends to accumulate around the gut area. It’s safe to say that your stomach bacteria and fat tissue are in very close quarters. Therefore, it’s easy to assume that some gut bacteria and obesity are closely linked. Excess weight is not conducive to optimal health. Therefore, probiotic bacteria shouldn’t be abundant in people who have weight issues. Well, they’re not.

Researchers at Lund University conducted an analysis about gut bacteria and obesity [1]. They looked at the amino acids present in the blood of those with an obesity diagnosis. From there, they traced the amino acids back to four common stomach bacteria. Let’s take a look at their findings and discuss the strong link between gut bacteria and obesity.

Gut Bacteria and Obesity Link

Actually pic of our body
trying to keep us afloat

Our bodies are impeccably designed with systems that promote overall balance. Whenever homeostasis becomes unhinged, it starts a chain reaction of negative effects. Perhaps nothing in our system requires more balance than the stomach bacteria in our gut biome.

The microbiome is comprised of trillions of cells, fungi, bacteria, and other microbes. Don’t get alarmed by their presence. They’re essential. In fact, the more, the merrier. That’s because science shows that a diverse gut biome teeming with a variety of stomach bacteria leads to longevity.

An analysis of gut bacteria and health in the publication, Aging, concluded,

“Decreased diversity, considered an indicator of an unhealthy microbiome, has been linked to different chronic conditions such as obesity and type 2 diabetes. In addition to decreased diversity, the changes of the gut microbiome composition to an imbalanced state, i.e. dysbiosis, also correlates with frailty, inflammation, and neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease (PD) in the elderly [2].”

Aging (Albany NY).

As your gut biome becomes less diverse, it allows some pathogenic stomach bacteria to take advantage. They will start to take more resources, such as nutrients.

From there, the overabundance of specific bacteria will cause inflammation and uncomfortable gastrointestinal distress. With time, these tipped scales will cause your scale to tip, too. An imbalanced gut biome will lead to the buildup of fat tissue and, inevitably, obesity.

Amino Acids Role in Gut Bacteria and Obesity

The strong link between gut bacteria and obesity stems from a Lund University analysis that was studying which metabolites are present in obesity. Metabolites are byproducts of stomach bacteria that feast on our dietary fiber.

Whatever we eat, microbes eat

When there are a plethora of probiotic bacteria in the gut, the metabolites come in the form of short-chain fatty acids. That’s why Thryve Inside includes inulin in our probiotics. Live cultures in your probiotic supplement can start consuming dietary fiber so they can produce these healthy metabolites.

Like stomach bacteria, metabolites need to be in balance, too. When a stomach bacteria takes over, so does its metabolites. This realization caused scientists to pinpoint which amino acids are regular metabolites of which microbes. That way, they can find out the pathogens responsible for the gut bacteria and obesity connection.

Which Metabolites Are Connected to Gut Bacteria and Obesity?

Researchers looked at the blood plasma levels of 674 volunteers. The analysis noted that there were 19 metabolites that could serve as a link between gut bacteria and obesity. However, there are two, in particular, they felt fairly certain about.

Branched-chain and Aromatic Amino Acids (BCAA)

Branched-chain and aromatic amino acids (BCAA) are very popular among weightlifting communities. That’s because BCAAs are the building blocks for human growth. This connection between growth and amino acids is also why these metabolites are a key indicator of obesity.

gut bacteria and obesity bcaas
BCAAs get you swole

BCAAs are a clique of three essential amino acids:

  • Leucine
  • Isoleucine
  • Valine

These essential amino acids play a vital role in our metabolic signaling. When they are functioning with the system properly, BCAAs actually have anti-obesity properties. However, when they overtake the system, BCAAs can have the opposite effect.

As BCAA level rise, so does insulin resistance [3]. Furthermore, BCAA regulates hormones like ghrelin and leptin that control our appetite. Thus, an influx of BCAA can cause us to consume more food.

Lastly, excess BCAAs cause inflammation in the pancreas, making it harder for us to produce enzymes. In turn, we have fewer catalysts to help us break down fat tissues.

Glutamate

Glutamate is essential but can
be overpowering

Glutamate is one of the most abundant amino acids in the system. This building block has the ability to cross the blood-brain-barrier. Therefore, it’s an efficient neurotransmitter than improves our brain health. However, it’s easy for this amino acid to accumulate in the blood, and that can be an indicator of obesity.

Research suggests that excessive glutamate can overstimulate arcuate nucleus neurons [4]. These nerve tissues send signals to our hypothalamus. This region of the brain is responsible for producing our hunger hormones.

Excess glutamate disrupts communication between the hypothalamus and leptin hormone that causes us to put down the fork. Therefore, too much glutamate may cause us to overeat.

Top 4 Gut Bacteria and Obesity Indicators

With the abundance of glutamate and BCAAs, the scientists had a road map to follow. They were able to pinpoint four dominant strains of stomach bacteria that may shift the belly’s scales towards obesity.

Blautia

As we keep noting, life is about balance. It’s good to have Blautia in your system. This stomach bacteria exhibits antiviral traits and has shown to be useful in fighting off Graft vs Host Disease (GVHD) [5]. However, too much Blautia is also a gut bacteria and obesity indicator.

While the other three gut bacteria and obesity indicators seemed to happen more in one sex over the other, Blautia doesn’t discriminate.

One analysis of Blautia and visceral fat accumulation (VFA) found,

“At the genus level we found that Blautia was the only gut microbe significantly and inversely associated with VFA, regardless of sex [6].”

Biofilms and Microbes

The study noted that people with high levels of Blautia and obesity tended to have lower levels of Bacteroidetes. So, these probiotic bacteria may be crucial in finding balance between gut bacteria and obesity.

Dorea

beer gut bacteria and obesity
Too much this means
too much Blautia

Like Blautia, Dorea is abundant in people who are alcohol dependent [7]. Unlike Blautia, there are no known benefits of Dorea. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a role. Otherwise, Dorea wouldn’t be present in healthy microbiomes; which it is. With little known about the benefits of Dorea, letting it take over has shown that it’s not good for the rest of the gut biome.

One analysis looked at how Dorea and Blautia play a role in the development of multiple sclerosis (MS), noting,

“Although Dorea is considered a constituent of healthy gut flora, it has been linked with inflammatory diseases, such as Crohn’s disease, where patients exhibit an abundance of Dorea [8].”

Gut Microbes.

You might be noticing a pattern here, but Dorea has the same Kryptonite as Blautia. This stomach bacteria thrives in an environment sans-Bacteroidetes.

Ruminococcus

Ruminococcus strains were some of the first stomach bacteria discovered. It plays a crucial role in our metabolism. Unfortunately, too much of this stomach bacteria is a key indicator of Irritable Bowel Disease.

One study on the inflammatory properties of Ruminococcus found that it creates metabolites in the form of glucomannan polysaccharides [9]. 

Polysaccharides of Ruminococcus have found to ignite immune system cells, such as TNFα. Unfortunately for our gut, TNFα is an inflammatory biomarker for symptoms of Crohn’s Disease.

SHA-98

gut bacteria and obesity
A penchant for sweets can be passed down

Not much is known about the last gut bacteria and obesity connection. SHA-98 is present in healthy microbiomes. However, too much can lead to obesity. With the little information known about SHA-98, we can assume it might have to do with cases of hereditary obesity.

One analysis of the gut bacteria of twins found that this bacteria played a role in hereditary blood pressure levels [10]. Therefore, it can be assumed that elevated SHA-98 levels in obese individuals pass this bacteria to their offspring. After all, a child of obese parents has a 50-80% chance of becoming obese themselves [11].

Find Out If You Have Gut Bacteria and Obesity Indicators

Are you trying to lose weight and having a little trouble getting the pounds off? It might not be anything you’re doing. The problem might be the stomach bacteria in your gut.

Rid yourself of questions and get some answers. Take one of our at-home gut tests. We can analyze the stomach bacteria in your gut. With that knowledge, we can help you find balance with a custom probiotic and prebioitc-rich diet plan.

Together, we can find out if you have gut bacteria and obesity indicators. Then, we can create an easy-to-follow action plan. No one’s gut or weight loss journey is like anybody else’s. So, personalize your path to wellness today.

Thryve Probiotics Gut Health

Resources

[1] Lund University. “New Link between Gut Bacteria and Obesity.” ScienceDaily, ScienceDaily, 23 Feb. 2018, www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/02/180223092441.htm.

[2] Deng, F., Li, Y., & Zhao, J. (2019). The gut microbiome of healthy long-living people. Aging11(2), 289–290. https://doi.org/10.18632/aging.101771

[3] Lynch, C. J., & Adams, S. H. (2014). Branched-chain amino acids in metabolic signalling and insulin resistance. Nature reviews. Endocrinology10(12), 723–736. https://doi.org/10.1038/nrendo.2014.171

[4] Hermanussen, M, and J A F Tresguerres. “Does High Glutamate Intake Cause Obesity?” Journal of Pediatric Endocrinology & Metabolism : JPEM, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Sept. 2003, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14513871.

[5] Jenq, R. R., Taur, Y., Devlin, S. M., Ponce, D. M., Goldberg, J. D., Ahr, K. F., Littmann, E. R., Ling, L., Gobourne, A. C., Miller, L. C., Docampo, M. D., Peled, J. U., Arpaia, N., Cross, J. R., Peets, T. K., Lumish, M. A., Shono, Y., Dudakov, J. A., Poeck, H., Hanash, A. M., … van den Brink, M. R. (2015). Intestinal Blautia Is Associated with Reduced Death from Graft-versus-Host Disease. Biology of blood and marrow transplantation : journal of the American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation21(8), 1373–1383. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbmt.2015.04.016

[6] Ozato, Naoki, et al. “Blautia Genus Associated with Visceral Fat Accumulation in Adults 20–76 Years of Age.” Nature News, Nature Publishing Group, 4 Oct. 2019, www.nature.com/articles/s41522-019-0101-x.

[7] Leclercq, Sophie, et al. “Intestinal Permeability, Gut-Bacterial Dysbiosis, and Behavioral Markers of Alcohol-Dependence Severity.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 15 Sept. 2015, www.pnas.org/content/pnas/111/42/E4485.full.pdf.

[8] Shahi, S. K., Freedman, S. N., & Mangalam, A. K. (2017). Gut microbiome in multiple sclerosis: The players involved and the roles they play. Gut microbes8(6), 607–615. https://doi.org/10.1080/19490976.2017.1349041

[9] Henke, Matthew T, et al. “Ruminococcus Gnavus, a Member of the Human Gut Microbiome Associated with Crohn’s Disease, Produces an Inflammatory Polysaccharide.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, National Academy of Sciences, 25 June 2019, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31182571.

[10] Reporter, Staff. “Gut Microbiomes May Run in Families, According to Study of UK Twins.” GenomeWeb, 11 May 2016, www.genomeweb.com/sequencing-technology/gut-microbiomes-may-run-families-according-study-uk-twins#.XkrCyChKhdo.

[11] “Obesity.” UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital – San Francisco, www.ucsfbenioffchildrens.org/conditions/obesity/.