Monday, April 18, 2011

Flatulence and Body Fat

I recently speculated with another blogger that our diet change had reset our metabolism back to what it was in our teenage years.  We can eat a lot of the right kind of foods and not have problems of packing on fat.  Michael at Critical MAS says one of the downsides of this way of eating is a shrinking waistline creating a need for new pants.  There could be worse problems to have I guess.  Soon after that blog post, I heard a podcast while on my work commute where Chris Kresser talked about how gut flora could also effect body fat levels.  

This intrigued me so I did some Googling and found some interesting info.  I found many articles and studies discussing the microbiome.  This is the collective population of the bacteria that call the human body home.  It is estimated there are trillions of little bacteria that live off us, many of which are necassary for our survival.  I also found a mouse study where certain gut bacteria led to an increase in body fat.

Ok, maybe gut flora can contribute to an increase in body fat but how would diet change effect gut flora.  I am speculating but I feel if we decreased our consumption of certain foods, the bacteria in our gut that thrived off those foods would eventually decrease.  Here is an extremely informative blog post regarding the science behind flatulence.  So grains, beans, and carb dense veggies are consumed by bacteria in our gut and the by product is methane gas.  Those foods are either eliminated or greatly reduced in the paleo diet.  I'll say, my body produces much less methane since I've made my diet change and others have had the same experience.  Read this quote from Leroy on our blog a while back:
"....BIG thanks to Chuck for bringing up the whole flatulence thing last week.  He speaks the truth…it has drastically decreased."
Could it be one of the keys to losing body fat is to eliminate foods that make you fart?  Pardon my rudeness but I couldn't hold that word in any longer (pun intended).  Many who have made the paleo conversion have noticed that they pass gas way less and seem to be able to eat a lot of the right food without the problem of adding on body fat.  Adding in fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, kimchi, and saurkraut may also help to get the gut bacteria environment back to something that is more optimal.

Are the bacteria in the mouse study and the bacteria that ferment the food in our colon related?  I don't have that answer.  What I can tell you is the more I read the more it becomes obvious that the human body is a complicated machine with thousands, if not millions of interconnected systems.  What has happened in recent history is nutritional science (or lack there of) has ignored what evolutionary science knows about how the human diet developed over hundreds of thousands of years.  I hope science keeps striving to understand the intricacies of how the multiple systems work together and how food may effect that.  Until they figure it out, let's just stick the fuel that allowed the human machine to thrive without chronic illness and chronic obesity for hundreds of thousands of years.  Your waistline and friends will certainly appreciate it. 



MAS said...

I've been thinking more about your metabolism comment. Improving gut flora could be the reason. Is daily kimchi ramping up metabolism? Maybe.

Chuck said...

@MAS I really believe that something happens when you eat right and become healthy. the body starts to normalize and perform like it should.

Asclepius said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Asclepius said...

Just as we inhabit an ecological niche, so our gut flora inhabit a ecological niche within us. The complexity of life is absolutely amazing. The range and depth of dependencies and so forth are so interwoven.

I blogged about a podcast on UK radio in which they investigated gut flora and its impact on health:

"The idea of taking faeces from someone and transplanting it into the bowels of a loved one might sound disgusting. Medically, it might make good sense though. In fact a number of doctors have discovered that this procedure cures intestinal infections when all other treatments have failed. As Dr Mark Porter discovers, it's an illustration of the power of 'good' bacteria."

Here is a link to the article and the radio program:

Chuck said...

I had read about the fecal transplants. Amazing how something so simple and seemingly archaic could also be so quickly effective. It does make me wonder if this is a band aid solution and the adverse gut flora environment would eventually come back due to bad habits of the host. I am going to have to give that podcast a listen.

Asclepius said...

@Chuck - to be honest, it kind of blew me away. I mean it is an an amazing example of a practical (!) solution, yet so counter-intuitive.

I agree about the gut flora being damaged by the diet of the host. Just as we at the macro level need a suitable environment to thrive, obviously so must our beneficial gut flora. Otherwise the good stuff seemingly fails to thrive (or possibly is out populated by detrimental bacteria).

I'd LOVE to see an experiment involving gut flora and various diets of HFCS, wheat, O6, sugar, meat etc...

Chuck said...

We haven't even touched on the strong relationship of our gut flora and our immune system. the more one ponders the cascading and accumlative effects of eating bad stuff, it is no wonder why obesity, for example, has so many increased risks associated with it. the same can be said about diabetes, cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis. none of these problems are isolated....they are very much related to each other.

as i think about it, this is probably why doctors just treat each single issue independently. they are not trained to consider how everything may be related and it overwhelms them. i am just an interested onlooker without formal medical training and my head is spinning considering it all. the simple solution of eliminating neolithic food just makes so much sense and is effective in so many ways.