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High Fat Diet and Obesity: Its More Than Just Calories

Eating a diet high in fat not only contributes excess calories which can lead to weight gain, but it also can cause microbiological changes in the stomach that are implicated in the development of obesity.


Recent research has delved into the little bugs that live within our digestive system – known as our gut microbiome. Some studies have found that these guys are not just passive bystanders, but actually are involved in our health processes.

One of these microbiome residents is a type of fungi that may play a role in obesity.

Cheryl Gale MD, an associate professor at the University of Minnesota says that fungi have been shown to affect gut inflammation. Obesity is associated with an altered gut microbiome which causes chronic low-grade inflammation in the human host. This inflammation can then interfere with metabolic processes, such as insulin signaling and result in dysfunction that leads to health conditions such as obesity and diabetes.

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Mice fed a high fat diet caused changes not only within the bacteria, but also within the fungal community which affected the overall microbiome and led to these metabolism alterations.

There is still much more research that needs to be done, but there is something we can do in the meantime that has been proven to promote health continue a vegan diet.

Plant-based diets are most often low in fat – when we choose whole foods over processed/sugary foods. They are also more typically lower in calories and high in fiber, which help fight weight gain.

Vegan diets may also positively affect the microbiome by reducing inflammation and lowering oxidative stress damage to cells.

Journal References:
1. Timothy Heisel, Emmanuel Montassier, Abigail Johnson, Gabriel Al-Ghalith, Yi-Wei Lin, Li-Na Wei, Dan Knights, Cheryl A. Gale. High-Fat Diet Changes Fungal Microbiomes and Interkingdom Relationships in the Murine Gut. mSphere, October 2017 DOI: 10.1128/mSphere.00351-17
2. Marian Glick-Bauer, Ming-Chin Yeh. The Health Advantage of a Vegan Diet: Exploring the Gut Microbiota Connection. Nutrients. 2014 Nov; 6(11): 4822–4838. Published online 2014 Oct 31. doi: 10.3390/nu6114822