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Author Topic: Today's New York Times: Effect of Microorganisms on Obesity  (Read 2166 times)

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Offline sfpvguy41

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Today's New York Times: Effect of Microorganisms on Obesity
« on: August 13, 2006, 11:28:34 PM »
I just read a very interesting article in today's New York Times Magazine about "microbesity" - the study of the microrganisms in your system and how they affect whether or not you are obese.  It's very complicated, but well worth reading.

As a person with HIV, I couldn't help but wonder if this can be the key to lipodystrophy and other HIV-related weight problems.  I know since I seroconverted I gained weight, but don't know how common this is and how much was "my fault"....overeating from depression or not excercising enough due to lack of energy.  But the article talks about this - how it is possible that viruses can affect how we digest our food, allowing us to get more or less energy from the same amount.

Combine this with the recent news about how HIV lives in the gut and survives there even after HAART meds.  And what does HIV do?  It affects the immune system, much of which is based in our gut.  This jibes with my personal experience of having problems with digestion/loose stools which only recently have I been able to solve with the help of taking probiotics.

A quote from the article, which doesn't mention HIV:  "Scientists also point to a commonality between fat cells and immune-system cells, although the exact significance of the connection is unclear.  Immature fat cells, for instance, have been shown to behave like macrophages, the immune cells that engulf and destroy invading pathogens.  Mature fat cells secrete hormones that stimulate the production of macrophages as well as another kind of immune-system cell, T-lymphocytes."  The article also says that "of the trillions and trillions of cells in a typical human body....only about 1 in 10 is human.  The other 90 percent are microbial.  These microbes - including bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and a form of life called archaea - exist everywhere....the vast majority are in the gut, which harbors 10 trillion to 1000 trillion of them. "  I had no idea we were so, um, non-human!

Since HIV meds help us raise our T-cells, and HIV affects our immune systems, maybe this is why meds can make us fat.  Or fat in weird places.  Or not fat in others. Gain or lose weight.  In fact, interestingly, the article specifically sites research where some people, even twins, can show disparities in weight which is related to whether they've been exposed to a certain virus.  What if our HIV prevents us from fighting off these viruses and so we have even more weight issues? Seems to make sense since it works the other way - untreated HIV can lead to wasting...

I hope the research community can begin to focus more on the role of these microorganisms in the gut and how HIV interacts with them.  Maybe it damages our gut microflora in ways that aren't well understood, and if we could find a way to better restore them to "normal" - after taking meds - we'd solve a lot of other problems...

Here's a link to the article:  http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/13/magazine/13obesity.html?ex=1155614400&en=47be43828c1b109e&ei=5087%0A

« Last Edit: August 13, 2006, 11:52:15 PM by optionsf »
Labs: (undetectable since 2005)
12/13: 634 cdr, 37.3%, 758 cd8, total chol 183, triglycerides 131
8/13: changed to Edurant from Reyataz
12/12: 828 cd4, 34.5%, 1078 cd8, total chol 192, tri 196
12/11: 787 cd4, 37%, 979 cd8.
9/11: 758 cd4, 38%, 944 cd8, und.
8/11 dropped norvir, incr reyataz to 400 mg
6/11: 621 CD4 CD4% 41, CD8 680! Undetectable. Creatinine and eGFR are ok now.
Switched from Truvada to Epzicom in late April 2011
AGT/AST and creatinine back to normal mid-April.
Cut Norvir from regimen.
Switched back to Reyataz/Norvir late Feb 2011
2/11: CD4 664 34%, CD8 963, diagnosed with osteoporosis, high AGT/AST and creatinine.
12/10: CD4: 676 CD4%: 34 CD8: 1012
Switched from Reyataz/norvir to Isentress 10/10
8/10: CD4: 731 CD4%: 40 CD8: 866
Diagnosed Sept. 2002 started meds May 2005.

Offline BB

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Re: Today's New York Times: Effect of Microorganisms on Obesity
« Reply #1 on: August 14, 2006, 06:32:07 AM »
I can relate to your problems/side effects and can only hope science continues to find answers to the many problems we face.

My situation with weight gain is not helped by my couch potato and wine-o life style, but I was not like this prior to hiv. While I'm improving slowly over the years with hiv, I'm still running out of energy after sustaining aerobic exercise for only a few weeks.

Any help or ideas science can come up with is fine by me.

But right now I think I'll go make some lasagna and slurp some red wine.


Damn the Torpedoes! Full speed ahead! Adm. D. Farragut.

Started Atripla 8/18/06 and if I eat the right food when I take my meds, I get to go on a-trip-la.

Offline Boo Radley

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  • Not a "real man" and damn proud, mithter... FAB
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Re: Today's New York Times: Effect of Microorganisms on Obesity
« Reply #2 on: August 15, 2006, 12:06:23 AM »
As an AbFab character once said: "I don't know what this means, but it's simply forcing me to believe it."

I'm about half-way through the NYT article and already quite lost.  I thought humans were 97% water -- does that mean that 90% of our bodily water contains microbes?  Never mind... The article is quite interesting even if I have to consult a reference librarian to find explanations of a few issues.  9 of 10 cells in/on my body are bacterial?  Does this have anything to do with mitochondria?  They confuse the hell out of me too.

I've always been on the chubby side.  Even in baby pictures of me and my fraternal twin brother I was plumper at 18 months than he was.  Before getting ill with chronic hep B in late 2001 I was in pretty good shape for a few years but if I didn't run and exercise regularly the weight came easily. My stomach microbiota must still be pretty kickass though because I've always eaten just about every type of food and nothing bothers me.  Or at least didn't.  I'd never experienced the joy of acid reflux until hepatic infection occurred.  I wonder if one can eat yogurt or some veiny cheese and restore the necessary microbes to prevent the reflux?  Much more preferable to little purple pills.

When news of genetic links to obesity were published I knew I had that genetic makeup (of course, I'm also sure I have the CR5 trait (or whatevr it is...) that renders HIV 1 less harmful).  Likewise now with microbes -- ithat I eat only cheese sandwiches, bananas, untoasted pop tarts, and 1/4 gallon of mint chocolate chip ice cream almost every night and have for the last year or so is irrelevant (I do get out of bed for exercise...).  It's the flora and fauna of my alimentary tract. 

I've also deluded myself chubbiness helps me battle HIV but don't ask what I base that on.  Maybe after finishing the article I'll have a better idea, or will think I do.  Maybe it's that no one believes me when I say I have AIDS.  They've never met a tub o' lard with HIV, much less AIDS.  Now that lipodystrophy is having its way I resemble a clumsy Buddha more and more.

And finding out about archaea at my age makes me wish I'd retained more high school biology or were better read. I'll be googling for hours.  They exist everywhere!  Maybe the answer to HIV lies with archaea!  You heard it from me first.

But I digress.

String up every aristocrat!
Out with the priests and let them live on their fat!

Everything I do, say, think, excrete, secrete, exude, ooze, or write 2007 Sweet Old Boo, Inc.


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