Can Consuming Your Own Poop Help With Weight Loss?
August 27, 2020
The Jerusalem Post — Can consuming your own microbiome from your feces help you maintain weight loss? A new study published in the journal Gastroenterology seems to have proven that it can.
BGU researchers have discovered a solution to the problem that anyone familiar with dieting and losing weight has encountered – regaining lost weight after a diet.
Yet, the answer to this widely experienced phenomenon isn’t one that many people might jump right on, as it requires people to consume frozen microbiome capsules derived from their own feces.
One might ask why someone might chose to do such a disgusting thing?
“It is well known that most weight-loss dieters reach their lowest body weight after four to six months, and are then challenged by the plateau or regain phase, despite continued dieting,” explains Prof. Iris Shai, a member of BGU’s School of Public Health.
In light of this, the BGU research team explored whether preserving the optimized personal microbiome from fecal transplants after six months of weight loss helps maintain weight loss by transplanting back the optimized microbiome during the subsequent expected regain phase: a process called autologous FMT (aFMT).
The answer to the solution was theorized and tested in an unprecedented 14-month clinical trial in Israel, in which Prof. Shai, BGU Ph.D. student Dr. Ehud Rinott and Dr. Ilan Youngster from Tel Aviv University collaborated with a group of international experts from American and European research institutes.
During the trial, abdominally obese or high cholesterol participants in Israel were randomly assigned to one of three groups and were told to follow general healthy dietary guidelines, a Mediterranean diet or a green-Mediterranean diet.
After the initial weight-loss phase of six months, a period in which weight begins to plateau or be regained, remaining eligible participants were were provided a fecal sample that was processed into aFMT frozen opaque and odorless capsules.
Both Mediterranean groups consumed 28g a day of walnuts which contain 440 mg of polyphenols, and the green-Mediterranean dieters further consumed three to four cups of green tea in addition to being provided with Mankai, a specific duckweed aquatic strain consumed in a green shake, providing them with 800 mg/day of polyphenols.
After six months, 90 participants remained eligible and were randomly assigned to the groups that received 100 capsules containing their own fecal microbiota or placebo, which they ingested until month 14.
Ultimately, the the green-Mediterranean diet induced the largest significant change in the gut microbiome composition during the weight loss phase.
The study found that participants who lost weight on a healthy diet and were then fed capsules containing fecal material collected during the diet period for months after the six month turning point of maximal weight loss, regained less weight than participants given placebo tablets, by modulating the intestinal microbiota.
A plant-based diet in participants or a Mankai diet (in mice) produced the optimal fecal microbiome for preventing weight regain.
The Mankai duckweed aquatic plant is being grown in Israel and other countries in a closed environment and is highly environmentally sustainable – requiring a fraction of the amount of water to produce each gram of protein compared to soy, kale or spinach.
Ultimately, the researchers concluded that aFMT, collected during the weight loss phase and administrated in the regain phase, might preserve weight loss and glycemic control and is associated with specific microbiome signatures.