WELLNESS

GROUNDBREAKING STUDY REVEALS LINK BETWEEN INTERMITTENT CALORIE RESTRICTION, GUT, AND BRAIN CHANGES IN OBESITY FIGHT

Researchers from China uncover dynamic shifts in gut microbiome and brain activity during intermittent energy restriction program, shedding light on potential new strategies for combating obesity.

10.04.2024
BY YUKE RATNA
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In a groundbreaking study aimed at addressing the global obesity crisis, scientists from China have unveiled a pivotal discovery: intermittent calorie restriction triggers significant alterations in both the gut microbiome and brain activity, offering promising avenues for maintaining a healthy weight.

Conducted over a span of 62 days, the research involved 25 obese volunteers participating in an intermittent energy restriction (IER) program. This regimen, characterized by controlled calorie intake and periodic fasting, yielded notable outcomes, with participants shedding an average of 7.6 kilograms (16.8 pounds) or 7.8 percent of their body weight.

Lead researcher Qiang Zeng, from the Second Medical Center and National Clinical Research Center for Geriatric Diseases in China, emphasized the profound impact of IER on the intricate interplay between the brain, gut, and microbiome. "Here we show that an IER diet changes the human brain-gut-microbiome axis," Zeng stated.

The study, published in December 2023, underscored the dynamic nature of the observed changes, both in the composition of gut bacteria and in the activity of obesity-related brain regions. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans revealed shifts in areas crucial for appetite regulation and addiction control, such as the inferior frontal orbital gyrus.

Further analysis illuminated correlations between alterations in gut microbiota and specific brain regions. Notably, bacteria such as Coprococcus comes and Eubacterium hallii exhibited associations with activity in regions linked to executive function and willpower regarding food intake.

Medical scientist Xiaoning Wang from the State Clinic Center for Geriatrics in China elucidated the intricate communication pathways between the gut microbiome and the brain. "The microbiome produces neurotransmitters and neurotoxins, influencing brain function, while the brain, in turn, regulates eating behavior," Wang explained.

With obesity affecting over a billion individuals worldwide and predisposing them to various health complications, understanding the symbiotic relationship between the gut and brain holds immense significance in combating this epidemic. "The next question to be answered is the precise mechanism by which the gut microbiome and the brain communicate in obese people, including during weight loss," remarked biomedical scientist Liming Wang from the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Published in Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology, this research marks a significant stride forward in unraveling the complexities of obesity and paves the way for innovative strategies in weight management and prevention.

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