Weight management is a struggle for a majority of people. Now science is finally linking obesity to changes in the microbiome.

Our human body has about 20,000 human genes, but 2-20 million microbial genes, making us 99% bacteria. With so much of that bacteria living in our gut, it makes sense that the ecosystem we call the microbiome would have an overwhelming effect on our physiology.

A slew of recent studies have all linked obesity to changes in microbiome. “We’ve been losing microbes over the years through a combination of antibiotics, hygiene and also diet. The processing applied to this food has stripped out much of the good stuff and replaced it with synthetic analogues”, says Dr. Rob Knight from the University of California in San Diego. Clinical studies are showing that the microbes in our gut influence weight and fat gain.

Researchers identified that the microbial populations in the gut are different between obese and lean people, and when certain bacteria from lean people are re-introduced into obese people, they lose weight.

By simply assessing the bacterial make-up of your gut, researchers can determine with 90% accuracy whether you are lean or obese. “If I was going on human genes alone, the accuracy would be 57%”, claims Dr. Knight.

Furthermore, researchers are finding a fascinating correlation between the prevalence of antibiotic prescription in the US and the prevalence of obesity.

And this makes sense considering that antibiotic usage, as well as a diet high in processed foods, strips away bacterial strains that have beneficial effects on our physiology. This is important because the microbiome has been linked to an ever-growing number of health benefits including the well-known gut health and immune function to cardiovascular health, inflammation, mood health, oral health, diabetes and obesity.