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Fat? Take a Breathalyzer Test

How much a person eats may be only one of many factors that determines weight gain. A recent study suggests that a breath test profile of microorganisms inhabiting the gut may be able to tell doctors how susceptible a person is to developing obesity.

How you tell if YOU'RE one of those unlucky people? Take a breathalyzer test!

On the LiveScience.com website, Christopher Wanjek reports that doctors say they can smell obesity on your breath, because certain gas-emitting microbes living in the human gut may be responsible for one person's propensity for gaining too much weight. These microbes can be detected by the presence of methane and hydrogen on our breath.

People whose breath has high concentrations of both those gasses are more likely to have a higher body mass index and higher percentage of body fat. Researcher Ruchi Mathur says, "Usually, the microorganisms living in the digestive tract benefit us by helping convert food into energy. However, when this particular organism becomes overabundant, it may alter this balance in a way that causes someone to be more likely to gain weight. Essentially, it could allow a person to harvest more calories from their food."

Maybe the NEXT treatment for obesity won't be diet or stomach stapling, it will be changing the microbes inside our guts.

Not everyone is fat and happy: eating those fatty and sugary foods we all love so much causes chemical changes in the brain. This means that DIETING can be compared with drug withdrawal--If you're "high" on sugar, you may get the "dieting DTs."

Researcher Stephanie Fulton says, "By working with mice, whose brains are in many ways comparable to our own, we discovered that the neurochemistry of the animals who had been fed a high fat, sugary diet were different from those who had been fed a healthy diet. The chemicals changed by the diet are associated with depression. A change of diet then causes withdrawal symptoms and a greater sensitivity to stressful situations, launching a vicious cycle of poor eating."

And new research suggests that drinking sweetened beverages, especially diet drinks, is associated with an increased risk of depression in adults (while drinking coffee is tied to a slightly LOWER risk). Neurologist Honglei Chen says, "Sweetened beverages, coffee and tea are commonly consumed worldwide and have important physical--and may have important mental--health consequences."

(By the way, if you're stuck in a "vicious cycle of poor eating," YOU need Anne Strieber's famous diet book, with a special chapter on how to deal with sweets. It's now been reduced in price, so YOU can reduce too!)

The research team fed one group of mice a low-fat diet and a high fat diet to a second group over six weeks, monitoring how the different food affected the way the animals behaved. Fat represented 11% of the calories in the low-fat diet and 58% in the high-fat diet, causing the waist size in the latter group to increase by 11% (not yet obese). Next, Fulton and her colleagues used a variety of techniques to evaluate the relationship between rewarding mice with food and their resulting behavior and emotions. Mice that had been fed the higher-fat diet exhibited signs of being anxious and avoided open areas.

Fulton says, "It's interesting that these changes occur before obesity. These findings challenge our understanding of the relationship between diet, the body and the mind. It is food for thought about how we might support people psychologically as they strive to adopt healthy eating habits, regardless of their current corpulence."



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