Ill start with a little rant. I normally eat in moderation with occasional breaks in the regiment. But even then I do break I do not overeat. For years I’ve been curious how I can eat only veggies for weeks in a row and still gain weight. Then I’ve come to a conclusion that evolution has tuned my metabolism to be more efficient than the average person’s and I’ll try to demonstrate how. The bottom line is: no matter what I eat I can not loose weight. If I eat “normally” (3 medium meals a day) I gain weight. if I starve completely, I loose weight but at a very slow rate. As I can’t starve completely indefinitely (eventually psychology kicks in) I find myself in a vicious cycle of loosing a bit of weight then regaining it with a vengeance.
I believe my metabolism (starting with my digestion) was tuned to survive prolonged famines which weren’t uncommon during prehistoric times. At prehistoric times this was probably a blessing but now I perpetually struggle with obesity.
About half a year ago, an Israeli startup, DayTwo, has come up with the idea of mapping one’s microbiome (the microbial content of one’s gut) and providing food recommendations based on this mapping. The guiding idea behind this is to maintain one’s insulin level at a steady level without peaks and without slumps. I decide to hitch a ride on their (quite affordable) service in order to attain my gut microbiome mapping. So I submitted my stool sample and a month later my microbiome mapping had arrived. I will now go through the main culprits of my microbiome in attempt to demonstrate how my digestion is abnormal.
Underlying assumption: our digestive track relies on microbes to break down complex foods into more basic components from which our digestion can extract energy. In order to be able to talk about “normal” digestion one’s microbial gut content should be close to norm in the general population. If it diverges from the norm one derives less or more energy from the various complex food types.
List of my “usual suspects” – The ones causing me to derive more energy from “normal” food
Now lets review the culprits one by one:
This microbe can break dietary fiber (that’s the stuff that’s normally isn’t digested by humans). It’s a “known” fact human’s can’t digest cellulose. Basically they can’t indeed as they have a very minute quantities of this bacterium 2.75% on average. I’m “blessed” with a tenfold quantity. Its true that my immune system can cope with almost anything and I attribute it to the presence of this bacterium but cant say its disadvantageous in terms of digestion.
This guy eats different sugars especially starch. You probably heard that “normal” humans can’t digest starch directly (average humans have less that 1% of this bacterium). Well, about a quarter of mine is of this type. So I can digest cellulose and starch (even uncooked).
This guy contributes to my ability to digest polymeric carbohydrates which are indigestible by humans. An average person has 1.23% but I was “blessed” with a tenfold increase. So I can digest cellulose, raw starch AND polymeric carbohydrates. Now am I blessed or what?
Same holds for this guy. It also contributes to my ability to digest polymeric carbohydrates. This guy is present in my gut in a 15 fold quantity and put together these microbes enabling me to digest polymeric carbohydrates are present in my gut in an 11 fold quantity.
Same holds for this guy. It also contributes to my ability to digest polymeric carbohydrates. This guy is present in my gut in a 13 fold quantity and put together these microbes enabling me to digest polymeric carbohydrates are present in my gut in an 11.8 fold quantity.
So now, combing these 5 culprits, and noticing that more than 75% (compare to about 5% in an average human) of the microbes populating my gut contribute directly to digesting food types which are not digestible by average humans. I do believe this tells the whole story of my digestion and my obesity.