Bacteria and the "food fight" in your gut

A new study discussed in this recent post on Scientific American looks at the role of gut bacteria, such as Firmicutes, may plan in the zebrafish in “managing” calories. Before you ask "Firmicutes in zebrafish?," consider:

Studies with people and mice have also shown that high-calorie diets stimulate the growth of Firmicutes in the gut, hinting that this particular group of bacteria may respond to its host’s diet in similar ways across many different species. What remains unclear is whether Firmicutes helps animals absorb more calories from their food in a mutually beneficial partnership or if the relationship is more complex—and sometimes less than benevolent.

So, what role might these Firmicutes play in the “food fight” in your gut?

Are Firmicutes graciously helping us extract more calories from our food, taking only a modest cut for themselves? Are they selfishly increasing their own numbers when the eating is good, forcing our cells to sweat to get the most out of our food? Are they in fact making digestion too easy, liberating so many calories from our food that we absorb far more than we need? Perhaps there is truth in all these scenarios.



The Food Fight in Your Gut: Why Bacteria Will Change the Way You Think about Calories