Health updates

The following is new information regarding gut bacteria in babies and the link to obesity, plus new studies on green tea aiding digestion.

Gut bacteria predicts obesity

The types of bacteria in a baby’s gut may determine their risk of becoming overweight or obese later in life, according to Finnish researchers.

After analyzing fecal samples from 49 infants, 25 of whom became overweight or obese by the age of 7, they found that babies with high numbers of bifidobacteria and low numbers of Staphylococcus aureus appeared to be protected from excess weight gain.

On average, the bifidobacteria counts taken at 6 months and 12 months were twice as high in healthy weight children than in those who became overweight, while S. aureus levels were lower. The researchers suggested that S. aureus may cause low-grade inflammation in the body, which could contribute to obesity. Further, the findings may help explain why breast-fed babies are at a lower risk of obesity, as bifidobacteria flourish in the guts of breast-fed babies.

Green tea can help your digestion

Two new studies have confirmed that green tea extract can increase fat oxidation and improve insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance, even in healthy young adults. In the first study, 12 healthy men performed a 30-minute cycling exercise before and after taking green tea extract.

In the second, 11 healthy men took an oral glucose-tolerance test before and after taking green tea extract. In both cases, their results improved after consuming the tea. On average, fat oxidation rates were 17 percent higher and insulin sensitivity 13 percent higher, after participants drank green tea extract, compared with taking a placebo.


Sources: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, March 2008:87(3): 534-538 and American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, March 2008:87(3): 778-784.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 27, Number 4, August/September 2008.

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