IMG_20150107_122902Traditional thinking has long ignored established science and insisted that obesity is simply caused by eating more calories than one burns over time. It is therefore a problem of gluttony or laziness or both combined. One must simply eat less or exercise more and weight will be lost in a predictable manner. The corollary to that way of thinking is that a calorie is a calorie such that 1000 calories worth of Twinkies has the same effect with regard to fat storage as 1000 calories of broccoli. At Trinity Medical and VitalSigns, we have long followed the science of metabolism found in our medical school physiology texts. (Yet unfortunately ignored when we were taught about the causes of obesity.) There we learned that different kinds of nutrients have profoundly different effects on fat storage, hunger and metabolic rate. For example, we learned about the effect of carbohydrates on insulin release and fat storage. When eaten in excess, sugars are converted to fats in the liver which are ultimately ushered into fat cells by insulin. In short, we learned what we have long taught: obesity and metabolic disease are related to a complex interaction of factors and not a simple equation involving calories. Now it appears that another piece of the puzzle is coming in – perhaps a very significant piece. Fascinating studies are now showing that our gut microbiome plays a role in the development of obesity and diabetes. This is especially interesting to me because it reveals one more lifestyle intervention that may have a profound effect on health. Traditional diets from all cultures have included fermented foods which contain live probiotic cultures. Science is now showing us why these foods are so important to our health. In the next few posts, I will go over some of these findings and make some recommendations.