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If there was an infamous superhero which could punch fat right in the face it would be this little microorganism called Bacteroides. Gut Health has been a burning question in science as there are a great abundant of microorganisms living within each and every human. However, with new age technology and has advanced our understanding within the microbiome. Advancements in understanding the genetic code of humans started back in 2003 when scientist mapped out Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) in The Human Genome Project. This lead to a fascinating project in 2008, when scientist started mapping out the microbiota, and finishing The Human Microbiome Project in 2013.  This has allowed the understanding of microorganisms within a commensal community (living alongside/benefiting each other). Learning what is living alongside humans within our microbiota is becoming more important to everyday life as we are learning how much these microbes have an effect on humans on a daily basis. The microorganisms living within our microbiome is approximately 10 times more the number than our own cells that make up the whole human body. Scientist have calculated and estimated that there are 37.2 trillion cells within the human body, so just step back and think about how many microorganisms are living within us .

Within this population it is estimated that 90% of your microbiome is made up of two phylum’s, the Firmicutes, and the Bacteroides. There is a lot of research going into these two bacteria because the more we learn about gut health, the more links there are to obesity and disease epidemics. Within Western culture it seems obesity is becoming more common, and evolution has shown that its not our genes changing as this takes a very long time, however it is our lifestyles that are changing which is affecting our gut flora.

What are Firmicutes:

These little bugs are like hyper active little children hyped on sugar. What they do is tell your body to crave sugars so you consume more junk food so they can live. Firmicutes can also generate inflammation, in which has an impact on slowing down your body’s metabolism. Firmicutes also compete and kill off surrounding microorganisms for their sugar supply. When there is an over consumption of all that extra sugar consumed, unfortunately it will only have one pathway and that is to be converted into fat. Studies have shown that when there is a higher ratio of Firmicutes within the gastrointestinal tract, that there is a link to obesity.

What people don’t know is that these little bugs are everywhere. One of the highest consumed Firmicute microorganism is in fact Lactobacillus acidophilus. This microbe is highly marketed as a probiotic which is meant to be a healthy microbe for your gut, however it could be the reason you are putting on weight. Probiotics are only beneficial if you have had anti-biotics or medication which has killed off good and bad microorganisms within the gut flora and if you need to build them back up.

When there is an imbalance of microorganisms within the gut flora, taking a probiotic is just adding more live bugs to a system which is already full, which is just going to lead to more sugar feeding bacteria.

Firmicutes would have had a positive effect on humans but this would have been a long time ago when humans would not consume as much calories as we do in this day and age. Firmicutes would have helped with the fasting periods to help our bodies to store onto our fat to get humans to the next meal and to also help within the colder months of the year. Just unfortunately things have changed, and we have access to a wide range of abundant foods which we can eat all year long due to importing/exporting from country to country. Within this rapid change comes an imbalance of gut microbes, which is where we are today with diseases, and obesity becoming more common.

What are Bacteroides:

Now let’s talk about the little superhero Bacteroides that never gets mention but is in the background fighting fat cells to make you look good. Studies show that when there are more Bacteroides found within the gut flora, the less likely the subject will have obesity. This is because your Bacteroides are fat feeders which block inflammation within the body which has a great impact on helping speed up the body’s metabolism. Bacteroides are anaerobic bacteria which can live without an oxygen supply which is why they can thrive when polyphenols are consumed. Polyphenols can be explained as the poisons on the skin of fruits, and vegetables which actually fight off invading pathogens. However, most firmicutes are aerobic which need a supply of oxygen to live and tend to die off when there are high amounts of polyphenols entering the gastrointestinal tract.