Doctor: “This study is the first of its kind to prove in humans that preservation of an ‘ideal’ gut microbial composition can be used at a later time point to achieve metabolic benefits.”
BEER-SHEVA, Israel — Over the years, we’ve seen a slew of outlandish ways that dieters try to facilitate and maintain weight loss. A new theory from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev surely takes the proverbial cake. Researchers say that taking frozen microbiome capsules created from one’s own feces after dieting may help prevent lost pounds from returning.
The concept takes the old adage “you are what you eat” to an entirely new level. Yet scientists say there’s good science behind the cringeworthy capsule. The key, however, is using this unconventional method after already losing weight. As many dieters know, keeping those pounds from coming back can be an even greater struggle than losing them.
“It is well known that most weight-loss dieters reach their lowest body weight after 4-6 months, and are then challenged by the plateau or regain phase, despite continued dieting,” says Dr. Shai. a member of the School of Public Health, in a release.
Testing fecal microbiome capsules on dieters
Researchers came to these conclusions after a groundbreaking 14-month clinical trial held in Israel. At the beginning of the weight loss trial, a group of participants who were either obese or had high cholesterol were randomly separated into three dietary groups: healthy dietary guidelines, Mediterranean diet, and green-Mediterranean diet. After all the subjects had followed these regimens for six months, they submitted fecal samples that were turned into frozen, opaque and odorless microbiome capsules.
Next, subjects were again randomly assigned to one of two groups. One group received 100 legitimate capsules containing their own microbiome. Another group was given placebos.
Subjects in the green-Mediterranean diet group were provided with 28g of walnuts, green tea, and a shake containing Mankai (a duckweed aquatic strain) to eat on a daily basis during the six-month diet period.
It was these participants who showed the most significant changes in their gut microbiome compositions.
Plant-based ‘green-Mediterranean’ diet works best
On average, and across all three diet groups, participants lost 18.2 lbs while dieting. But, it was only subjects following a green-Mediterranean diet who successfully limited their weight gain after taking the microbiome capsules. Green-Mediterranean subjects who took a placebo after dieting ended up regaining about 50% of the weight they had lost. Those who took the real capsules only regained 17.1%.
“The green-Mediterranean diet also resulted in preservation of weight loss-associated specific bacteria and microbial metabolic pathways, mainly glucose transport, following the microbiome intervention, compared to the control,” says Dr. Rinot.
“This study is the first of its kind to prove in humans that preservation of an ‘ideal’ gut microbial composition can be used at a later time point to achieve metabolic benefits,” says Dr. Ilan Youngster, director of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Unit and the Center for Microbiome Research at Shamir Medical Center. “Using the patient’s own stool after optimization is a novel concept that overcomes many of these barriers. It is my belief that the use of autologous fecal microbiota transplantation will be applicable in the future for other indications as well.”
One step for man, one giant leap for Mankai
“These findings might be a good application of personal medicine,” Dr. Shai concludes. “Freezing a personal microbiome bank could be an effective way to maintain healthy weight while dieting as the rapid weight loss phase is accompanied by optimal cardiometabolic state. By optimizing the composition and function of the gut microbiome within the host, we have a novel approach for metabolic-memory preservation: taking a sample of the gut microbiome in its ideal phase, and administrating it when dieters start regaining their lost weight.”
The study is published in Gastroenterology.