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Area Doctor Discusses Potential Link Between Bacteria And Weight Loss

Scientists are researching to see if microbes in the colon may play a role in obesity.
Scientists are researching to see if microbes in the colon may play a role in obesity. Photo Credit: Genetic Literacy Project

NEW YORK, N.Y. -- Can a mysterious microbe be the key to solving America's obesity epidemic? According to some scientists, this might be possible. Dr. Anthony Starpoli of Greenwich Village Gastroenterology and director of the American Obesity Center explains how scientists are attempting to discover exactly how human bacteria makeup can effect ones health.

The crux of current research centers around what is know as the microbiome, according to Dr. Starpoli. "The microbiome is the bacterial world within the colon. This environment has its own ecosystem," he explains. "There is in essence a bacterial community living within each of us." According to experts, the colon contains over 100 trillion microorganism, the largest contingent of any part of the human body.

Initial studies have shown that organisms within the microbiome are always changing and evolving, due in some part to what we put into our bodies. The extent and control we have over this development is not fully known.

Scientists and doctors have hypothesized that the introduction of antibiotics at an early age can change the balance of bacteria in places such as the colon. They theorize that medications not only kill harmful bacteria, but good ones as well. The lack of bacteria can in turn be attributed to a host of medical issues including diabetes, allergies, and most increasingly, obesity. These reports show the development of obesity include increasing dietary energy harvest, promoting fat deposition, triggering systemic inflammation, perhaps modifying bowel wall motion or motility , and having brain related neurological effects on satiety.

"The causes of obesity can be multifactorial," says Dr. Starpoli. "The failure of diet, exercise, and even weight loss procedures for obesity may not be as effective due of characteristics of the microbiome" As director of the American Obesity Center, he is particularly attuned to how new discoveries in the makeup of the colon can help patients lose weight.

However, doctors don't fully know the relationship of microbes in the human body and therefore cannot speak in absolutes, cautions Dr. Starpoli. "In doing this research, scientists hope to make people aware of things which alter their biome, and ultimately may or may not being in their control," he explains.

As digestive science continues forward, look for more information and discoveries examining the relationship between the bacteria in our body and its impact on living a healthy life.

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