What you eat on a daily basis affects the type of bacteria in your gut and it’s activity, which, in turn, affects the level of inflammation in your body. But there are other influences as well. Take endotoxin, for instance. Those are molecules (lipopolysaccharide or LPS)— that come from the outer membranes of gram-negative gut bacteria, such as E. coli. These endotoxin molecules profoundly drive the inflammation that is characteristic of obesity and metabolic disorders, such as diabetes.
Researchers recently attempted to test this sequence of events another way. They wanted to confirm that endotoxin is responsible for obesity-linked inflammation and metabolic disturbances.
People with too much belly fat—what I call “sick fat”—were recruited for 23-week study. The 123 volunteers ate a 1,000-1,600 calorie diet. Their meals were high fiber, rich in vegetables and low in animal protein. Prior to breakfast and dinner, they subjects ate a water-soluble nutrition formula (Formula 3) containing bitter melon and prebiotic fiber (oligosaccharides) designed to have a mild-antimicrobial effect while providing ample growth media for intestinal bacteria. (Formula 3 contained soluble prebiotics, including guar gum, pectin, konjac flour, fermentable dietary fiber (Fibersol 2, resistant starch, hemicellulose), and oligosaccharides.)
The diet also contained whole grains, such as oats and buckwheat, and traditional Chinese medicinal foods such adlay (Coix lachrymal-jobi L.), white bean, yellow corn, red bean, soybean, yam, big jujube, peanut, lotus seed, and wolfberry. These were prepared in a kind of canned gruel.
During the second phase of the trial, the Formula 3 dose was reduced slightly every two weeks.
For the third and final phase, study subjects ate a diet consisting of vegetables, rice and lean protein.
At the end of 23 weeks, the researchers found the following:
1. The metabolic syndrome of a third of the 54 study subjects who had it was resolved.
2. Bifidobacteriaceaesignificantly increased from 0.51±0.83% to 1.24±2.20%.
3. Enterobacteriaceae decreased from 2.84±4.90% to 0.97±3.50%.
4. Proteobacteria significantly decreased from 5.29±5.48% to 3.25±4.19%.
5. The proportion of the LPS-containing microbiota (Escherichia/Shigella, Klebsiella, and Citrobacter) that contain opportunistic pathogens decreased significantly.
6. Sulphate-reducing Desulfovibrionaceae, another endotoxin producer, decreased.
The increase in Bifidobacterium is an important finding, since it protects the gut. An increase in this bacteria should reduce gut permeability and prevent antigen/toxin from entering the circulatory system.
An ancestral-type diet, rich in fiber and polyphenols from vegetables, fruits, herbs and spices, improves metabolic health and reduces whole-body inflammation. As reported in this study, the health benefits observed from such a diet stem from beneficial changes within the intestine. More specifically, reduced levels of harmful endotoxin-producing bacteria in the intestine and increased levels of protective intestinal bacteria; both of which strengthen gut barrier function.