Joan Rothchild Hardin
You Lost All That Weight & Now It’s Back – With a Vengeance
So distressing to find those pounds you laboriously managed to lose creeping back and bringing more of their unwanted friends along too. Here’s an explanation of why that happens and some hope from research on the gut microbiome.
It turns out that being obese alters the composition of micro-organisms residing in the gut microbiome, causing them to subvert any effort we make to keep lost weight off. In fact, just the opposite happens: After living in an overweight body, our gut microbes ENCOURAGE the body to regain the lost weight by storing more calories as fat – perhaps an evolutionary mechanism to help us survive in times of famine. About 95% of us who lose up to a tenth of our body weight gain it back within 12 months – along with some additional pounds. (Healy, 2016)
New research at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel demonstrated that the composition of the gut microbiome has a great influence on post-dieting weight regain. The research was done with mice but has clear implications for humans.
After the mice in the study gained and then lost weight, all their body systems fully returned to normal – except their gut microbiomes, which retained an abnormal ‘obese’ microbiome for about six months after they lost the weight.
In a series of experiments for the study, the researchers essentially created a yo-yo dieting situation for their mouse subjects by cycling them between diets of high-calorie feed, which made them obese, and healthy feed, on which they lost the weight in a month or so. But, when the mice were again fed the high-calorie feed, they often gained even more weight than they had before.
These yo-yo dieting mice also became less healthy than mice who had been overweight only once. The serial dieters had proportionately more body fat, higher cholesterol profiles, and more serious metabolic problems, such as insulin irregularities and glucose intolerance.
So what accounted for this extra weight gain and descent into poor metabolic health? Even though it took a little over a month for a mouse to lose the weight it had gained on the high-calorie diet, it took another six months for the composition of its gut microbiome to return to its normal, pre-obesity state.
For about six months after losing weight, post-obese mice retained an abnormal “obese” microbiome.
Then, in another series of experiments, the scientists demonstrated that the gut microbiomes of obese mice became less able to utilize a class of important phytonutrients in their diet: flavonoids, the pigments that give plants their bright colors.
A flavonoid deficiency has a deleterious effect on the body’s energy-burning system: It creates brown fat, which converts calories to energy more efficiently. So a higher proportion of brown fat causes the body to uses up incoming calories more sparingly, storing what’s left over as more fat.
To counteract this deficit, the researchers fed some of the mice a daily flavonoid supplement in their drinking water during the post-dieting window, before their gut microbiomes returned to normal.
This worked! Compared with the yo-yo dieters who didn’t get the supplements, those who received the daily flavonoids burned up more calories when they were put back on a high-fat diet and regained less weight.
“We call this approach ‘post-biotic’ intervention. In contrast to probiotics, which introduce helpful microbes into the intestines, we are not introducing the microbes themselves but substances affected by the microbiome, which might prove to be more safe and effective.” (Weizmann, 2016) Some tasty sources of flavonoids
FLAVONOIDS – THE GOOD NEWS The article doesn’t identify the specific flavonoids these researchers used to protect the mice against post-dieting weight regain. Over 6,000 flavonoids have already been identified – one of the largest nutrient families known to science.
The large family of flavonoids provides us – and apparently mice – with many health benefits, including:
Inhibiting the destruction of collagen by white blood cells
Cardiovascular system support
Nervous system support
Help protect blood vessels from rupture and leakage
Enhancing the power of Vitamin C
Protecting cells from oxygen damage
– George Mateljan Foundation (2016) & NDhealthFACTS (2014) You’ve probably heard the advice to “Eat the colors of the rainbow every day”. In part, this is to urge us to get adequate amounts of the various flavonoids we need to support good health.
Signs of flavonoid deficiency:
Frequent nose bleeds
Excessive swelling after an injury
Frequent colds or infections
– NDhealthFACTS (2014)
DISCOVER WHAT MICROBES – HELPFUL AND PATHOLOGICAL – LIVE IN AND ON YOUR OWN BODY uBiome, a biotechnology company based in San Francisco and a leader in microbial genomics, gives individuals and organizations access to technology to sequence their microbiomes, particularly gut flora, at a reasonable cost. It is a pioneer in the new era of microbiome-based precision medicine.
Take a look at the uBiome site for more information about who they are and the services they offer. If you’d like to discover the make up of your own gut microbiome, you can get it sequenced by uBiome for $89.
If you want to discover even more about the microbes co-existing with you in and on your body, you can get five of your body’s important microbiomes sequenced: gut, mouth, nose, skin, and genital. uBiome is currently offering test kits for all five areas at the sale price of $89 instead of the usual $399.
Go to ubiome.com/explorer. Enter discount code 5FOR1BF16 at checkout to take advantage of the special 5-in-1 deal.
The results you’ll get from these tests will show how your microbiomes compare with the world’s largest human microbiome database. uBIOME’S SMARTGUT™ KITS
To get even more detailed results that you and your doctor can use to identify specific pathogens and microbial imbalances in your gut that might be making you unwell, Ubiome also offers a SmartGut™ comprehensive screening test.
The SmartGut™ screening test can detect the micro-organisms associated with several common gut symptoms, including:
Crohn’s disease/Ulcerative Colitis
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
Irritable bowel disease (IBD)
You can also sign up to receive an interesting and often amusing newsletter from Jessica Richman, one of uBiome’s co-founders, about every two weeks. Many thanks to Zell Watson for bringing the Weizmann Institute article to my attention. REFERENCES
Healy, M. (11/24/2016). Why yo-yo dieters often can’t keep the weight off. Los Angeles Times. See: http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-microbiome-diet-success-20161124-story.html
George Mateljan Foundation. (2016). Flavinoids. The World’s Healthiest Foods. See: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=nutrient&dbid=119
NDhealthFACTS. (2014). Flavonoids. See: http://www.ndhealthfacts.org/wiki/Flavonoids uBiome. (2016). See: https://ubiome.com/
Weizmann Institute of Science. (11/24/2016). Gut microbes contribute to recurrent “Yo-Yo” obesity: New research in mice may in the future help dieters keep the weight off. See: http://wis-wander.weizmann.ac.il/life-sciences/gut-microbes-contribute-recurrent-%E2%80%9Cyo-yo%E2%80%9D-obesity © Copyright 2016. Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.
DISCLAIMER: Nothing on this site or blog is intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Comments submitted prior to 8/25/2021
This is fascinating and very welcome information! In addition to eating more flavonoid-rich foods, are there any flavonoid supplements you would recommend?
In reply to Sonnische
I’m not knowledgeable enough about flavonoids to have an answer to your question. I suspect flavonoids are best consumed in their original form – from foods we consume daily (non-GMO or organic). I found these article that may be helpful in deciding whether you want to take supplements.
WHICH SOURCES OF FLAVONOIDS: COMPLEX DIETS OR DIETARY SUPPLEMENTS?
BEWARE OF PLANT SUPPLEMENTS CALLED FLAVONOIDS; THEY COULD MAKE YOU SICK, WARN UC BERKELEY PUBLIC HEALTH EXPERTS
In reply to Joan Hardin
Thanks. I’ll do that!
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