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How fasting could improve gut health of obese people

A new study shows that fasting, specifically intermittent fasting, might not only help people lose weight but also impact gut bacteria

Eating a plant-rich diet is one way to maintain a good gut health. (Pexels)

By Team Lounge

LAST PUBLISHED 22.12.2023  |  04:41 PM IST

In recent times, researchers have found an increasing impact of gut microbiome on overall health. Now, a new study shows that fasting, specifically intermittent fasting, might not only help people lose weight but also alter their gut bacteria.

The study, published in Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology, suggests that intermittent energy restriction, which refers to eating normally on some days and fasting on others, could alter people’s gut microbiota.

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According to Medical News Today, microbiomes consist of bacteria, archaea, viruses and eukaryotic microbes that live in and on our bodies. A healthy person will have about 1000 different species of bacteria and most are found in the gut. These gut microbiomes are different for different people as it is impacted by factors including body mass index (BMI), exercise frequency, lifestyle, and dietary habits.

For this study, the researchers analysed data from 25 people with a BMI of between 28kg/m2 (considered overweight) and 45kg/m2 (classified as severely obese). The findings showed that when they did highly controlled fasting, the number of gut microbiomes had increased from the baseline. The participants, on average, also lost 7.8% of their body weight.

“The alteration in gut microbe abundance induced by the diet is potentially beneficial, as these changes could help modulate metabolic and immune processes, though additional research is needed to fully understand the long-term effects," Kelsey Costa, a dietician and nutrition consultant told Medical News Today.

In the paper, the researchers suggested further research is needed to understand how long-term dietary intervention can be used to maintain weight loss and clarify the relationship between the gut microbiome and the brain in obese people.

Previous studies have also shown how gut microbiomes can impact health conditions such as cancer. For instance, a 2022 study, published in the journal Nature Medicine, suggested that a healthy gut microbiome influences the body's response to cancer immunotherapy therapy for melanoma.

However, maintaining a healthy gut microbiota can be challenging as several factors play a key role. A proper sleep schedule, an active and healthy lifestyle, and a plant-rich diet are some ways to promote good gut health.

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