A new study found that fish oil-containing food and a diet rich in lard or animal fat such as bacon produce very different results, which may alter the composition of the gut bacteria in highly diverse ways.

The researchers from the University of Gothenburg performed the study by first feeding the study mice with either fish oil or lard for 11 weeks and then looking for indicators of metabolic conditions. The researchers were able to discover that a diet rich in lard fosters an environment conducive to bacteria named Bilophila, which have been associated with the inflammation of the gut. The fish oil diet, on the other hand, elevated the levels of the Akkermansia muciniphila bacteria, which have been linked to decrease weight gain and enhance the metabolic process of glucose in mice.

The scientists then transported these microbes into the other study mice to see the affectations that this may cause. Later on, they performed "fecal transplants" to examine whether the bacteria prevalent in mice fed with lard may benefit those fed with fish oil and vice versa. With this, the researchers were able to showcase that gut bacteria cannot only identify health problems due to poor diet but may also help individuals recover from them.

The findings of the study, published in the journal Cell Metabolism, generally showed the effects of fish oil and lard in mice. The group that was fed with fish oil was more protected from health problems associated with weight gain and gut inflammation compared to those fed with lard. This result indicates that gut bacteria are independent elements that exacerbate inflammations linked with diet-related obesity and thus provide hope that probiotic treatment may help lessen the effects of greasy diets.

The team wanted to identify if gut bacteria may directly add to the diverse metabolic effects linked with consumption of food rich in good and bad fats, says Robert Caesar, study first author from the University of Gothenburg. Although the research was performed in mice subjects, the main objective of the study remains to be improving the metabolism of humans.

The results of the study, particularly the very different microbiota communities yielded as well as its subsequent health effects, are quite surprising for the scientists because both fish oil and lard contain the same energy and dietary fiber contents, which are the main source of energy by the microbes.

Further studies are warranted to establish whether these bacteria may be utilized as probiotic strain and the manner in which it should be mixed with food intake to come up with optimal health results, Fredrik Bäckhed, the senior study author closed.

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