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2013-12-02

Intestinal Microbes and Transit Time

So this is not really "new" in the sense we didn't know this, but this new study gives proof that food transit through the small intestine is regulated by bacteria. We already knew that probiotics can improve constipation, but this study sheds light on the mechanism of how.

This is particularly important because how food moves through the intestines affects the body's absorption of nutrients and, consequently, our health. This study discovered that food transit time is regulated by a hormone that is influenced by bacteria, and indicates new ways to increase the intestinal absorption of nutrients, and thus potentially treat malnutrition (or obesity).

One of the tasks of the gut bacteria is to break down the nutrients from our diet to provide a usable energy source in the colon. The researchers behind this study have now shown that lack of energy in the colon leads to increased release of GLP-1, a hormone primarily associated with appetite control and insulin secretion. Importantly, they also showed that the released GLP-1 regulates how quickly food passes through the small intestine.
Food transit through the small intestine is a complex balancing act, in which the gut lining must be given time to absorb nutrients but without allowing pathogenic bacteria sufficient time to colonize the small intestine. This new study shows another mechanism in how our bacteria influence intestinal health.

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Source: Microbial Modulation of Energy Availability in the Colon Regulates Intestinal Transit

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