Dr. Michael Ruscio, DC is a clinician, Naturopathic Practitioner, clinical researcher, author, and adjunct professor at the University of Bridgeport. His work has been published in peer-reviewed medical journals and he speaks at conferences around the globe.
A study was just published in which a group of women received a microbiota treatment, with prebiotics, while having their microbiota’s and weight tracked. Did the microbiota shift? Did this cause weight loss? Let’s review the findings.
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Dr. Michael Ruscio: Treating the microbiota in obesity.
Hi. This is Dr. Ruscio, and a very interesting study was just published looking at manipulating or treating the microbiota in a group of obese women and looking at what sort of an effect that had.
Essentially, again, what this study did was it gave around 30 obese women a prebiotic, which is known to influence your microbiota or the world of bacteria that inhabit your gut. This prebiotic was derived from flaxseed, and the researchers then tracked various markers in these women and their microbiotas to see if the prebiotic affected the microbiotas and if the effects on the microbiota correlated with any sort of other health impacts from the treatment.
Again in recap, a group of women was given a prebiotic, which influences your microbiota. Then the microbiotas were tracked and a number of health parameters, like weight and insulin sensitivity, were also tracked to see if there was any correlation.
Very interestingly, what was found is these women experienced an improvement in insulin sensitivity—or blood sugar, you could say—and a reduction in inflammation. But—and this is a key point—these changes did not correlate with any changes in the microbiota. The microbiota did shift, and about 30 species were noted to shift or move around, but none of the changes in the microbiota correlated with the health improvements seen in these women. (CORRECTION 8/9/16: there was no reduction in inflammation)
This leads me to a very important concept, which I’ll be expanding upon quite thoroughly in the eBook I’m currently writing on the microbiota and as it pertains to your health, and this has to do with manipulation versus optimization. In my opinion, we cannot custom manipulate the microbiota. We just don’t see that borne out anywhere in the literature, meaning, “You need more of this bacteria or less of this bacteria and so we are going to custom manipulate things down and things up.” We can’t do that. There’s really no scientific evidence to support that. However, what we can do is we can optimize the environment. If we create a healthy environment, we will enable healthy bacteria to live and thrive, and then you can derive the health benefits from those healthy bacteria. This is something like using a prebiotic. The prebiotic can derive health benefits—in this case, improved insulin sensitivity and less inflammation—but those benefits are more so secondary to providing an optimal environment for healthy bacteria, in this case, an environment that had a bit more prebiotic. So we cannot custom manipulate, but we can optimize. A healthy environment will allow the growth of healthy bacteria, and that should enable you to have healthy function overall.
Hopefully this helps. I know there’s a lot of information right now circulating about the microbiota, and I want to try to provide people with reasonable information that they can use to get healthy and not get pulled into some crazy fad that recommends unproven testing and unproven treatment, because I’m a very big believer that we need to be very much more so cost effective in functional and natural medicine and deliver treatments that have been very well validated and verified. So I hope this helps you understand this issue a bit more. Much more on this in the eBook, and I hope this helps you get healthy and get back to your life. Thanks.
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