Bacteria's connection to health and weightBy Mayo Clinic staff
Original Article: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/bacteria-and-health/MY02168
- With Mayo Clinic nutritionists
Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.read biographyclose window
Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.Katherine Zeratsky and Jennifer Nelson
Jennifer K. Nelson, M.S., R.D., L.D., C.N.S.D.
Jennifer Nelson is your link to a better diet. As specialty editor of the nutrition and healthy eating guide, she plays a vital role in bringing you healthy recipes and meal planning.
"Nutrition is one way people have direct control over the quality of their lives," she says. "I hope to translate the science of nutrition into ways that people can select and prepare great-tasting foods that help maintain health and treat disease."
A St. Paul, Minn., native, she has been with Mayo Clinic since 1978, and is director of clinical dietetics and an associate professor of nutrition at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine.
She leads clinical nutrition efforts for a staff of more than 60 clinical dietitians and nine dietetic technicians and oversees nutrition services, staffing, strategic and financial planning, and quality improvement. Nelson was co-editor of the "Mayo Clinic Diet" and the James Beard Foundation Award-winning "The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook." She has been a contributing author to and reviewer of many other Mayo Clinic books, including "Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight for EveryBody," "The Mayo Clinic Family Health Book" and "The Mayo Clinic/Williams Sonoma Cookbook." She contributes to the strategic direction of the Food & Nutrition Center, which includes creating recipes and menus, reviewing nutrition content of various articles, and providing expert answers to nutrition questions.
Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.
As a specialty editor of the nutrition and healthy eating guide, Katherine Zeratsky helps you sort through the facts and figures, the fads and the hype to learn more about nutrition and diet.
A Marinette, Wis., native, she is certified in dietetics by the state of Minnesota and the American Dietetic Association. She has been with Mayo Clinic since 1999.
She's active in nutrition-related curriculum and course development in wellness nutrition at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and nutrition related to weight management and practical applications of nutrition-related lifestyle changes.
Other areas of interest include food and nutrition for all life stages, active lifestyles and the culinary arts.
She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, served a dietetic internship at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, and worked as a registered dietitian and health risk counselor at ThedaCare of Appleton, Wis., before joining the Mayo Clinic staff.
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July 18, 2012
Bacteria's connection to health and weight
By Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.
Bacteria. We can't see them, but we spend much of our lives washing and sanitizing to rid our hands, surfaces and food of them. Most people view bacteria as undesirable, dirty and unwanted.
More and more research is emerging, however, about the potential benefits of bacteria. In fact, bacteria are critical to maintaining normal gastrointestinal and immune system function.
It appears that bacteria can even affect energy absorption. Researchers have identified a difference in the types of bacteria found in a lean person's gut versus those that live in the gut of someone who is obese. The amount of energy is small, but researchers wonder if over time this could be a factor in weight maintenance.
Are you wondering how you might encourage these beneficial bacteria to set up shop in your gut?
- Eat fermented foods. The bacteria that make fermentation possible may also be beneficial to your health. A variety of dairy products and vegetables such as sauerkraut and pickles all contain beneficial bacteria. Vinegar is also a source. Use vinegar on salads, in soups and on sandwiches.
- Eat fruits and vegetables. The fiber and type of sugar (oligosaccharides) in fruits and vegetables set up a healthy intestinal environment that allows good bacteria to thrive.
A healthy diet of nourishing foods in moderate portions and regular exercise are the mainstays of achieving a healthy weight. But what you eat goes beyond just calories. Feed yourself and your gut well. Bacteria may play a bigger role in our health than we've given them credit for.
Thinking about trying more fiber or fermented foods to be more bacteria friendly? Already eating this way and reaping benefits? Share your experiences.
To your health,
- DiBaise JK, et al. Gut microbiota and its possible relationship with obesity. Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 2008;83:460.
- Conterno L, et al. Obesity and the gut microbiota: Does up-regulating colonic fermentation protect against obesity and metabolic disease? Genes & Nutrition. 2011;6:241.
- Zeratsky K (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. July 16, 2012.