Obesity, Hibernation, and Gut Microbes
Hibernating animals do something extraordinary every year. They become obese in the warm summer months, take a few month long “snooze” in the fall, and wake up in the spring to a new svelte figure and, most amazingly, do not develop any obesity related diseases like type II diabetes. How do these hibernators accomplish this? According to a new study the answer may lie in seasonal gut microbes. Science has already known that gut microbes play a role in food energy harvest and that obese humans have a shift in microbiota but what of these hibernators whose weight gain ramps up with little effect on glucose metabolism.
Researchers took fecal samples from hibernating brown bears (how? we may not want to know) and active brown bears then transferred the microbes to germ-free mice. The “summer” mice showed significant fat and weight gain while the “winter” mice showed neither. What’s more, the “summer” mice showed little changes in the glucose metabolism.
So a good long nap may help fight obesity? No, but this study gives researchers a new area to target for therapies. Click below to read more.