Diets high in fish oil as opposed to diets high in lard (e.g., bacon) make for dissimilar bacteria in the guts of mice, according to an article published in Cell Metabolism. Researchers transferred these different microbes into other mice to understand better how they affected health. The findings suggest that gut bacteria share some of the responsibility for the healthful effects of fish oil and the unhealthful effects of lard.
Specifically, the mice that received gut microbes associated with the fish oil diet gained resistance against diet-induced weight gain and inflammation compared with mice given gut microbes associated with and a lard diet. The shows that gut microbes are a separate factor aggravating inflammation associated with diet-induced obesity. It gives pause as a probiotic might help counteract a lard-laden diet.
“We wanted to determine whether good microbes directly contribute to the metabolic differences associated with diets rich in healthy and unhealthy fats,” states first study author Robert Caesar of the University of Gothenburg. Even though the study deals with mice, “our goal is to identify interventions for optimizing metabolic health in humans.” 2
Caesar, conducting the experiment in the lab of senior study author Fredrick Bäckhed, started by feeding either lard or fish oil to mice for 11 weeks monitoring signs of metabolic health. The ingestion of lard encouraged the growth of bacteria called Bilophila, which have been linked to gut
inflammation, while the fish oil diet increased the number of bacteria called Akkermansia muciniphila, known to reduce weight gain and improve glucose
metabolism in mice. Both of these bacteria are found in humans as well.
“We were surprised that the lard and the fish oil diet, despite having the same energy content and the same amount of dietary fiber–which is the primary energy source for the gut bacteria–resulted in fundamentally different gut microbiota communities and that the microbiota per se had such large effects on health,” Caesar says. 2
Cesar then conducted fecal transplants to see if fish oil diet microbes “could improve the health of mice fed only lard and vice versa.” 2 Results provide additional proof that gut microbes can both determine and reverse health problems caused by eating unhealthful diet.
“Our paper supports previous reports indicating the bacteria Akkermansia muciniphila is a promoter of a healthy phenotype,” Bäckhed says. “However, further investigations will be needed to determine if this bacteria can be used as probiotic strain and, in that case, how it should be combined with diet to optimize health outcomes.” 2
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- Cell Metabolism, Caesar et al.: “Crosstalk between Gut Microbiota and Dietary Lipids Aggravates WAT Inflammation through TLR Signaling ” doi:10.1016/j.cmet.2015.07.026
- SVAHN, K. (2015, 8 27). Fish Oil-Diet Benefits May be Mediated by Gut Microbes. Retrieved 8 28, 2015, from UNIVERSITY OF GOTHENBURG: http://www.gu.se/english/about_the_university/news-calendar/News_detail//fish-oil-diet-benefits-may-be-mediated-by-gut-microbes.cid1316367
- Press, C. (2015, August 28). “Fish oil-diet benefits may be mediated by gut microbes.” Medical News Today. Retrieved from