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How Bacteria Can Help You Lose Weight [news]

When it comes to bugs like bacteria and parasites, we've been trained to think that less is better. But there are some good guys in the microbial world — bugs that do the unglamorous work of keeping us regular and helping to relieve a range of disorders from diarrhea to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Now a new study suggests that the same microbes may even help us stay slim.
In the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers at Arizona State University's Biodesign Institute, the University of Arizona and the Mayo Clinic in Arizona report a very small study of nine individuals — three of normal weight, three who were morbidly obese and three who underwent gastric-bypass surgery. The team found that each group harbored a different intestinal zoo of microbes and that following their surgery, the gastric-bypass patients' gut bugs ended up looking much more similar to those of the normal-weight patients.