A new study has found that gut bacteria associated with obesity are able to survive outside the human body. The researchers believe this could mean that the gut bacteria could be transferred from person to person.
The researchers isolated 137 bacterial species and used whole-genome and metagenomic sequencing as well as computational and phenotypic analysis to determine whether or not the 137 species are transferrable. They found that 50%-60% of the bacteria in a healthy individual makes resilient spores which can survive outside the host, and therefore could possibly be transferred from human to human.
Their findings suggest that ingesting bacteria that came from an obese person’s gut could, potentially, cause a disturbance in another person’s gut microbiota. This could then possibly result in the development of inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, or obesity.
Researchers from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute on the UK conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on May 4, 2016, in the journal Nature.
While only 30% of the human gut bacteria has been mapped, previous studies have found that having a varied composition of bacteria in the digestive system is essential for good gut health and for good health overall. If you’re looking to improve gut bacteria diversity, consider taking a prebiotic or probiotic supplement. A recent study also found that exercise might help boost gut bacteria diversity.