People living in northern climates may have certain bacteria in their guts that influence their risk of obesity.
This may sound like an unusual discovery, but the study of the human gut microbes has suddenly become a hot area of research. And in recent years, we’ve that learned different types of bacteria can play a role in various diseases.
In particular, we know a group of bacteria called Firmicutes seems to be dominant in people who are obese. Another group of bacteria, Bacteroidetes, dominates in slimmer people.
Researchers at UC Berkeley reasoned that, since humans in the north tend to be larger in size, perhaps their gut microbiota would contain a greater proportion of Firmicutes than Bacteriodetes.
To test the theory, the researchers reviewed six earlier studies that involved data on more than 1,000 people in Africa, Europe, North and South America and Asia.
Once the data was analyzed, the results were quite surprising.
They found people in higher latitudes had a higher proportion of Firmicutes and a lower proportion of Bacteriodetes.
Study author Taichi Suzuki says “This suggests that what we call ‘healthy microbiota’ may differ in different geographic regions… maybe in the past getting more fat and more energy from the diet might have been important to survival in cold places.”
Does this mean you’re destined for obesity if you live too far north of the equator?
Not necessarily. Other research shows that a diet low in fat and calories, but high in protein and fiber (vegetables and fruits), can positively alter the balance of bacteria in the gut.
This, in turn, decreases the chance of obesity and makes it easier to lose any extra pounds you are already carrying.
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