It really is all about lifestyle change. If you eat a special restrictive temporary diet, you may lose weight initially. But if you can’t stand to eat that way for the rest of your life, the weight will return. Better to find the balanced diet/exercise combination that works for you on a permanent basis. Small step permanent changes leading to a healthier lifestyle will have a better chance of success.
Simon, I’ve read the studies about fecal transplant and about the tribal group’s seasonal foraging practices. They are both fascinating.
The original fecal transplant study was done on mice. There were slim mice and mice that were genetically engineered to be prone to obesity. They were given the same diet as the slim mice, but they were kept separate from the slim mice. Some of the obese mice, were inoculated with feces from the slim mice and lost lost weight when fed the same diet as the slim mice. Their gut diversity was greater than it was initially. When the obese mice were fed the equivalent of a junk food diet, they gained the weight back and their gut bacterial diversity dropped. Slim mice inoculated with the gut bacteria of obese mice gained weight. The food the mice ate had a large effect on bacterial diversity over time, but the fecal transplant jump started the process in the short term.
The tribal people’s gut bacteria diversity changed seasonally depending on what they were eating. In the summer, when they ate a lot of fruit and plant material, they had one set of flora. Then in the dry season, they hunted and ate more meat, roots and nuts which resulted in a different variety of gut flora.
The old phrase, “you are what you eat” has quite a bit of truth in it. The greater the variety in your diet the better it is for the health of you and your colonies of bacteria.
For those who are obese, there are many factors which will work to keep them in that state. Bellydoc mentioned some of the hormonal studies that show imbalances in certain signaling compounds or their receptors in obese people (like leptin and ghrehlin that signal hunger or satiety). What isn’t clear is why these are different in obese people. Is it the cause or is it the effect? Is it due to the lack of diversity of their gut bacteria? Is it genetic?
There was a study where they looked at countries where there was famine. Mothers who became pregnant in times of famine gave birth to children with “thrifty” metabolisms. Those children would be more prone to gaining weight in times of plenty, but would most likely thrive in times of famine. The reverse was also true; in times of plenty, women gave birth to children who would not store food as fat as efficiently as the children born into famine.
So if one is obese, you may be struggling against the metabolism set in the womb, the lack of diversity in your gut bacteria, the food you choose to eat or not eat, and the general tendency toward stasis in the body. This is why fast changes may be difficult. Someone who is obese and restricts their calories severely, may find that their body is convinced that it is a time of famine and it should be more thrifty. They may lose no weight but they are hungry all the time. The trick is to make the changes over a period of time so the body still responds as if this is a normal time of plenty. That is why your doctor recommended that slow and steady was the way to do it, Scott.
The fecal transplant, like bariatric surgery, only works if you change your eating patterns. If you get a fecal transplant and then eat the same way you did before, the diversity again will drop; you have to support the new diverse bacteria with the right food. The bariatric surgery helps give you a jump start, but as Scott’s wife’s experience shows, if you eat the way you did before, the weight will return and the measures taken will be for nought.
When the sun shines, bask.
Classical Guitar forever!