Category: Brain Maker

Dramatic Weight Gain After Fecal Transplant

We are now learning that differences in the various species of bacteria that live within the intestines actually have a profound role in regulating metabolism. For example, researchers have demonstrated that when fecal material (rich in intestinal bacteria) from an obese human is transplanted into the colon of a normal laboratory rat, the animal will gain significant amounts of weight even though it’s diet remains unchanged.

One explanation for this phenomenon has to do with the idea that certain species of bacteria are actually able to extract more calories from food that is consumed. So transplanting these thrifty bacteria allows the animal to actually obtain a higher calorie delivery to its system, even though the diet wasn’t changed.

In fact, researchers have now characterized the complexion of the gut bacteria in humans associated with obesity in contrast to the gut bacteria found in lean individuals. Obese individuals have higher levels of one large class of bacteria called Firmicutes and lesser amounts of another large group, the Bacteroidetes bacteria. The reverse is true, by and large, in those who are lean.

The big question that has been on the minds of researchers who deal with this area of science is whether or not fecal transplantation from an overweight person to one who is lean would induce weight gain.

In a new report published in Open Forum Infectious Diseases, researchers reported the case of a lean 32-year-old woman who develop a life threatening infection of the gut caused by the organism C. difficile. As it turns out, the most effective treatment for this illness is a fecal microbial transplant (FMT), a procedure that involves taking fecal material from a healthy donor and transplanting this material into the colon of the patient suffering from the C. difficile infection. And this is how this patient was treated.

In this case report, it was revealed that after 16 months, the woman who had received the FMT experienced a weight gain of 34 pounds. Her body mass index increased dramatically, going from 26 to 34.5, well over the threshold for being defined as obese. Dr. Colleen R Kelly, author of the case report, stated:

We’re questioning whether there was something in the fecal transplant, whether some of those “good bacteria” we transferred may have had an impact on her metabolism in a negative way.

This is indeed a fascinating bit of information. FMT has proven itself to be the most effective treatment for C. diff infection, an illness that affects tens of thousands of Americans, often actually caused by antibiotic administration.

Moving forward, we are now seeing research studies employing the use of FMT for the treatment of other illnesses such as inflammatory conditions of the bowel and autoimmune diseases. Generally, donors of fecal material for this procedure are screened for communicable diseases like HIV or hepatitis. Based upon the results of the study described above, it would seem appropriate to reconsider the use of donor material from obese individuals even though they may otherwise qualify.

But beyond these considerations, what did this case report truly brings to our attention is the profound role of gut bacteria in modulating our health. Obesity is associated with increased risk of any number of serious medical conditions from diabetes to cognitive decline, and we now I understand that issues related to dietary choices can induce the exact change in the gut bacteria correlated to obesity, and you will learn specifically how to nurture healthy gut bacteria through food choices and other lifestyle factors in Brain Maker: The Power of Gut Microbes to Heal and Protect Your Brain–for Life.

  • Lynn Dell

    This article states probiotics will not alter the bacteriodetes/firmicutes state. That consumption of fat increases firmicutes, and complex carbs and beans help increase bacteriodetes. This is getting rather frustrating: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alan-christianson/four-way-to-get-firm-and-_b_6344320.html

  • TechnoTriticale

    If the supposed professionals involved in this mishap thought that doing
    an FMT from an obese donor was a swell idea, one needs to ask what
    else they don’t know.

    In what detail I was able to find, I saw nothing about attention to diet. Both donor and donee were likely on, and remained on, a typical full-time glycemic SAD, loaded with gut-adverse junk like gluten-bearing grains.

    They did a “… routine stool culture for enteric pathogens were negative …”,
    but I saw no detail on exactly what they were looking for. Did they really have a clue? They may only have looked for C.Diff.

    Here’s a possibility: in his book “The Fat Switch”, Dr. Richard J. Johnson reported that the obese frequently have a gut bacterium (which he didn’t identify) that metabolizes fructans to fructose. He also reports that the top dietary source of fructans is wheat. That plus the normal bumbling ignorance on diet would do the trick, and I’m sure it’s far from the only viable scenario.

  • Holly Louise

    What was the woman’s normal weight BEFORE she was ill with C. diff. ?

    • Lorelle Hatcher

      She was normal weight. The donor, her daughter, was overweight.

      • Holly Louise

        Thanks. I had misunderstood something in the article when I first read it.

  • gagurl

    Wondering how this relates to the blood type diet and how food is supposed to affect different blood types due to gut bacteria and lectins.

  • don’t want to be overweight

    If you are overweight from 10 years old to 21 years old & you struggle with your weight & have stomach issues, will you always be overweight? Most of my family is overweight & things like diabetes & alzheimers & tons of mental health issues run in both sides of my family. I feel like my destiny is already set for me & I’m a victim of the family curse : (

    I really want to not be overweight for as long as I am alive & I’m willing to dedicate my life to following Dr.Perlmutter’s advice.

    I’m especially worried because I’m heavier (10 lbs overweight now) despite being only 21, exercising, & eating healthier than so many people around me. I watch my friends eat trash food, but they are so much skinnier than I am & it makes me afraid that I’m going to get fat no matter what I do. I refuse to take medication for my MDD because of my weight & fear of weight gain..I think I’d rather die than gain weight from a medication.

    I’m terrified for a doctor to tell me to diet & exercise, & then if I do, I still cant lose weight (like due to a psychotropic medication notorious for irreversible weight gain).

    I don’t ever want to become overweight/obese & resistant diet & exercise especially from a medication, bad genetics, or bad gut bacteria, WHAT CAN I DO TO NOT BE OVERWEIGHT & HAVE HEALTHY LEAN PERSON GUT BACTERIA

    • Lynn Dell

      I too, would like to learn more. Last night I was a little frustrated, but when that happens I remember life is a gift, and we are living in some very exciting times, where so much helpful information is coming our way where we can make good use of the gifts we have received.

      From some internet reading on recent articles early this am – if you want to follow Dr. Perlmutter’s advice and raise the level of fats in your diet, and lower carbohydrate consumption, as I do, then there are several things you can do to normalize the gut bacteria.

      First of all, if you struggle with an illness or illnesses where there is indication of success and improvement with FMT, then consider it as a treatment. If there is a gut problem with a bad kind of yeast overgrowth or something like that, that needs to be addressed by following the advice of very smart people who are experts in helping with these issues.

      But generally speaking, the concept of caloric restriction via fasting/intermittent fasting, along with the consumption of probiotic foods seems to be a common theme among the articles I’m reading, along with taking in lots and lots and LOTS of fiber – again, the call to eat unlimited quantities of dark green leafy vegetables in Grain Brain. Kale tops the list, along with spinach, broccoli, etc.. Prebiotic fibers, such as some peeled, cleaned raw potato or green banana in smoothies, or hummus, or items containing inulin, help the probiotic organisms you are taking in to thrive, according to Dr. Davis (of Wheat Belly fame). I, personally, take some hummus on celery, and some very dark chocolate (maybe 2 squares) most days. We consume bags of kale, and I grow a couple kinds in our garden each year. I am starting on Dr. Perlmutter’s probiotic for three months, along with two of my daughters, and I am seeing a change already in one of them. We shall see if it persists.

      Then, too, the issue of fat consumption. As an aside, keep in mind that firmicutes and bacteroidetes are large classes of bacteria, and we all have both – the thing is to keep them in good proportions to each other. IOW – do not plan on wiping out firmicutes. For one thing, there are common probiotics that are subgroups of firmicutes. The key here is some kind of proper ratio, not eradication.

      Back to fat consumption. The articles I’m reading call for a restriction on fat consumption, which is contrary to the advice of Dr. Davis and Dr. Perlmutter. If this is a concern to you, then consider a ketogenic diet. The following article says the gut bacteria imbalance of more firmicutes goes UP when you consume fat, BUT, and here is a kicker – the imbalance will NOT be harmed by a ketogenic diet, which paradoxically calls for higher fats and lower carbs. I don’t know why as of yet, but this is what this article claims – http://drpassov.com/grow-thin-gut-bacteria-by-eating-more-veggies/

      So, while I was frustrated yesterday, my frustration turned to fascination and a desire to read the latest on these items. A lot of the advice I’m seeing says – FERMENTED FOODS, PREBIOTIC FIBERS, LOTS of FIBER, and if you are going to consume a higher fat diet, go KETOGENIC, and CALORIC RESTRICTION via intermittent fasting or fasting is also a very good thing to help normalize the gut.

      Sounds like Grain Brain, no? Be encouraged.

    • Anna D

      Read “The Gabriel Method”

    • marci

      Look up Trim Healthy Mama

    • Diane

      Try giving up all processed foods for a few weeks and see if that helps.

  • I could find nothing in the literature (Pubmed search) comparing FMT to high dose probiotic infusion (by enema or NG tube). Wouldn’t this bypass the need for potentially unhealthy donors? Is there something other than a direct infusion of microbiota into the gut that makes FMT beneficial?

  • Auto
  • Denise Ashley

    Am curious if the opposite will prove true. FMT on an obese donee from a normal weight donor will result in weight loss. Interesting for the future of bariatrics.

  • nigra truo

    Obesity is associated with increased risk of any number of serious medical conditions from diabetes to cognitive decline,
    Cognitive decline? Where did that come from? It is nothing new that obesity is the catch all, cause all, reason for any health condition. It is conveniently blamed as the cause of it all. If an obese individual has a heart attack or back pain, that is just random, but when an obese person has these two, it must be (unquestionably) caused by the overweight 😉
    I have to say, science and the medical establishment is taking the easy way on these causations, blaming something that is very unpopular, so nobody questions the correlations.
    Some links would be appreciated. I tried for example to find out how obesity is causing cancer, as is often quoted and finding studies, one finds the term “it is believed that…” over and over, pointing to a half assed and not scientific assumption that has no solid proof.
    But obesity is the ultimate evil, so it must be the cause.

  • Zach Mouche

    Not to be out of line here, and speaking of bacterial transporrt, I was actually wondering if certain forms of love-making (think cunnilingus, here) can transfer good/so-so/bad bacteria to someone else? Just for the record, I’m in a monogamous relationship with my wife and was just wondering about it. I’ve never seen or read anything, anywhere about that. I hope I don’t offend anyone here, this is not my intent.

loading symbol Loading More