Systems biologists have found that the population of bacteria in your gut has a dramatic impact on how much weight you'll lose under different diets.
Everyone has up to 1,000 different types of bacteria and other microorganisms in their digestive system - even you. These microbes play a vital role in human metabolism, but the exact mix of organisms varies a lot from person to person - for reasons that are still unknown.
To investigate that, researchers at Chalmers University of Technology built a mathematical model that predicts how different patients will respond to a modified diet, depending on how the population of their gut is composed.
That makes it easier for people to adjust their diet for different factors - like weight loss, or reducing the risk of disease. Fairly soon it should be possible to design diet recommendations that take gut bacteria into account.
That's not all - it could eventually lead to people designing their own gut microbes. "In the long term we might be able to add intestinal bacteria for patients whose metabolism does not function properly." explained Karine Clement from the team who worked on the model.
Their work was published in the journal Cell Metabolism.
Image credit: NIAID // CC BY 2.0