Research by doctors from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles will have a report released in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism based on information they found linking obesity and bad breath. According to Discovery News, the doctors say certain gas-emitting microbes in the human gut play a role in a person’s weight, and the presence of these microbes can cause a release of methane and hydrogen related to excess body weight and fat. Although doctors noted that overeating and a lack of exercise are overarching causes of obesity, other factors, such as the microbes, play a role.
The link between microbes in the lining of the intestines and obesity has been studied previously, but scientists are trying to determine the microbe that causes the most damage. The doctors from Cedars-Sinai paid close attention to Methanobrevibacter smithii, a methane-releasing microbe that is suspected to consume the hydrogen that is produced by other organisms. By lowering the hydrogen levels, the body is unable to absorb nutrients and energy from food, which is what causes people to gain more weight. An abundance of this microbe causes bad breath.
“Usually, the microorganisms living in the digestive tract benefit us by helping convert food into energy,” Ruchi Mathur, director of the Cedars-Sinai Diabetes Outpatient Treatment and Education Center and lead doctor, told Discovery News. “However, when this particular organism, M. smithii, becomes overabundant, it may alter this balance in a way that causes someone to be more likely to gain weight.”
In a 2007 study at Tel Aviv University, researchers found a direct link between obesity and halitosis. However, the researchers had no scientific evidence as to why obesity causes halitosis. A study published in the June 2012 issue of the International Journal of Obesity found that the microbe, Lactobacillus reuteri was most associated with participants who suffered from obesity, in conjunction with lower levels of M. smithii.
The study at Cedars-Sinai analyzed 792 people and their breath to determine the root cause of bad breath. The subjects had higher concentrations of methane, higher levels of hydrogen, high levels of both gasses in their breath, or normal breath content. The results found that individuals with a high content of both gases also had higher percentages of body fat.
The question now comes down to whether the obesity is caused by the microbial imbalance, or if the imbalance is directly related to a poor diet of highly processed foods that are low in nutritional value and high in fat and calories. Scientists and doctors will continue to research this, and it may be possible that both pose a threat to a person’s health and breath overall.
Steps to take
Although there are different views on the matter, research has shown that eating late at night can lead to obesity, according to a study published in the journal Cell Metabolism in May 2012. Researchers found that mice with restricted hours of eating are more prone to staying healthy and maintaining proper weight, even if they are consuming foods with a high fat content. By condensing the time frame of eating to a smaller number of hours, the research shows that people can combat obesity while still consuming the same amount of food of those who stretch out their time frame of food consumption. The group of mice that were given the same amount of food throughout the day and night were overweight and sick compared with those who were limited to daytime eating.
Researchers believe that a period of allowing the body to fast can boost the efficiency of organs that play a vital role in metabolism, making it easier for the body to regulate blood sugar and store fat. Instead of focusing on the amount of calories that are being consumed, researchers believe that it is better to concentrate on the time period because the body handles calories differently during the day compared to at night. Until recently, humans limited their eating hours to during the day. With our high speed culture and long hours, many people now are restricted to consuming food at later hours of the day. Many people graze over a 16 hour period or more.
Some recent studies have found that many body organs work on a circadian clock that alerts them to know when they work most efficiently. According to the research conducted by Satchin Panda, a molecular biologist, at the Salk Institute, mice who were given food at all hours of the day had developed high blood sugar, had liver damage and cholesterol levels that were twice as high as the group that were restricted to eating only eight hours a day.
What it means
Researchers believe that this can directly relate to humans, and may be an important tool in fighting obesity. However, researchers say this plan may require just as much willpower as a traditional diet, and may be very challenging for many people.