"You Struggle to Burn Off Your Muffin Top"
While the blame for a big belly doesn't lie entirely with its wee inhabitants, the wrong microbes can contribute to it and make it harder to lose. In a study led by Liping Zhao at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, a 385-pound patient had unusually high counts of a fat-loving bug called Enterobacter in his gut. Zhao transferred the bacterium to his lab mice—and here's the shocker—they became fat and diabetic (control animals on the same high-fat diet did not), suggesting that Enterobacter helped cause obesity. As it turns out, the bug triggers chronic low-grade inflammation, which leads to insulin resistance and weight gain. The patient lost 113 pounds in 23 weeks on a diet of whole grains and "prebiotics"—nondigestible high-fiber foods (examples include garlic, onions, chicory root, dandelion greens and asparagus) that feed friendly bacteria, like the Bifidobacterium in your yogurt, and starve the bad. (Within weeks, the Enterobacter was completely wiped out.)