Gut Bacteria Promote Storage of Calories by Your Liver

Wednesday, March 30, 2011
By: Byron J. Richards,
Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist

The balance of power of the contents of your digestive tract has a powerful influence on your liver’s metabolic function, especially regarding the storage of calories and the potential malfunction of storing too many calories and causing health problems.

There are ten times the number of foreign cells in your digestive tract than human cells of your body. These foreigners are vital for your survival, doing massive amounts of lower-level chores (grunt work) that spares your human genome from excess work. We have known for a long time that part of their activity is involved with the proper digestion of food. It is now becoming clear that not only are they really good at helping your body absorb fat, they are really good at telling your liver to store it.  While this may not sound like a good thing to you, it was likely vital to human evolution and the survival of the human race, wherein food scarcity was a primary threat to survival. In this somewhat mystical new world of gene science it is now clear that the contents of your gut are influencing, even helping to orchestrate, the function of key organs in your body. In fact, the current study1 also shows that the gut bacteria are influencing the behavior of the primary cytochrome P450 detoxification pathway in the liver with profound implications to human health.

This is a field of rapidly developing research, thanks to mice that have been bred to have no digestive bacteria and then colonizing them with bacteria. Previously I have reported that when the diet is lacking in choline, these bacteria malfunction and cause the formation of fatty liver. I have also reported on the fact that the metabolic signaling of these bacteria directly influence the development of the brain. This is highly relevant to humans, as the colonization of the gut takes place after birth and is vital to optimal growth, immune function, liver function, metabolism, and apparently brain function. Antibiotics and a poor diet can drastically and adversely alter this bacterial evolution in the digestive tract of children. This fact is one that the medical profession would prefer to ignore.

Since I have started writing about this topic, I have received numerous reports of improved blood sugar metabolism and weight management efforts from those taking friendly flora and doing other steps to improve digestive balance. It is quite clear that one of the variables of immense importance to other key functions in your body, is the health of your digestive tract. Working diligently to fix any digestive issues you may have is likely to provide huge health benefits. Part of good parenting is helping children evolve good digestive function. This includes developing a liking for a wide variety of healthy foods and preventing them from entering a path of taste-driven sugar addiction.


Referenced Studies:
  1. ^ Gut Contents influence Liver Metabolism  mBio  S. P. Claus, S. L. Ellero, B. Berger, L. Krause, A. Bruttin, J. Molina, A. Paris, E. J. Want, I. de Waziers, O. Cloarec, S. E. Richards, Y. Wang, M.-E. Dumas, A. Ross, S. Rezzi, S. Kochhar, P. Van Bladeren, J. C. Lindon, E. Holmes, J. K. Nicholson

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