New research suggests bacteria living in our guts impact our body weight, fat and good cholesterol levels.
The new health study, led by Jingyuan Fu from the University Medical Center Groningen in the Netherlands, offers new evidence which proves that gut microbes plays an important role in human health.
Fu and her team used state-of-the-art deep sequencing technology to examine the relationship between the microbiome and blood lipid levels in 893 people using data collected in the Netherlands as part of the LifeLines-DEEP population cohort study.
They found 34 different microbial sequences that appeared to influence body mass index (BMI)- a measure of weight in relation to height, triglycerides and HDL levels. Triglycerides are connected to an increased risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, whereas HDL cholesterol is linked to a decreased risk of these conditions.
After taking into account factors like age, gender, and genetics, it was found that gut bacteria contributed to 4.6 percent of the difference in body fat, six percent in Triglycerides and four percent in HDL.
“As less than 30 percent of bacteria in the human gut have been cultured, we know very little about who they are and what they do […] With state-of-art deep sequencing technology, we are now able to identify them.” said Jingyuan Fu.
Interestingly, the researchers found that the bacteria do not affect low-density lipoprotein (LDL), which is also known as the bad cholesterol.
The research team said they hope that the identification of the bacteria will aid in the development of treatments to prevent heart disease.
“Our study provides new evidence that microbes in the gut are strongly linked to the blood level of HDL and triglycerides and may be added as a new risk factor for abnormal blood lipids, in addition to age, gender, BMI and genetics,” Fu said.
The paper has been published in Circulation Research, an American Heart Association journal.