Weird Medicine

Gut Bacteria Transplant For Weight Loss: Debunking The Myth

Fecal transplant has been getting extra attention in the past years due to its effects that could help people lose weight. Previous studies suggested transferring a healthy person’s gut microbes to another overweight or obese person could help make changes in the body that would lead to significant weight loss. 

But a new study appears to debunk the myth that fecal transplant is the solution for being overweight. So if you are thinking of getting this done to yourself, then you may want to think twice after reading this. 

According to the study, fecal transplants may not help you significantly to cut extra fat. Researchers found that getting capsules containing gut microbes have little to no effect to the recipients’ weight. The levels of a hormone that help signal fullness also do not change after taking the foreign gut microbes, Science News reported Thursday.

Analyzing Fecal Transplant Effects

The study involved 11 obese people who took 30 capsules containing gut microbes from lean people, while another group of obese people received identical-looking capsules but without any gut bacteria. Obese people have different types of gut microbes compared to lean people. 

The participants continued to take the capsules for eight weeks. The researchers then assessed each participant’s gut microbe mix, weight, bile acid production and levels of a protein called GLP-1, which promotes the feeling of fullness. 

Results show no indication that the transferred bacteria led to weight loss. However, the individuals who received the fecal transplant had increased production of certain bile acids, which helped reduce fat. 

Jessica Allegretti, one of the researchers and head of fecal microbiome transplant program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, said that bile acid could help alter the metabolism of fat in obese patients. 

“We did not expect to answer the question. ‘Does [fecal transplant] work to treat obesity?’ from this first step,” she said. “[But] I’ve seen enough from this data that makes me want to continue exploring it further.” 

Allegretti’s study is small and further analysis is required to explore the direct effects of fecal transplant in a larger group of participants. The researchers will present the study at the Digestive Disease Week 2019 medical conference on May 20 in San Diego.